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McCain Absence Felt Well Beyond Health Care
Defense, immigration are among his top priorities

Arizona Sen. John McCain frequently finds himself at the center of high policy debates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The effect of John McCain’s absence from the Senate goes well beyond the vote-counting on health care.

The Arizona Republican has long been in the middle of major legislative battles, always willing to mix it up with his colleagues and spar with reporters in the Capitol’s hallways. (Few senators would video-bomb a CNN correspondent during a live shot.)

Photos of the Week: A Health Care Bill Stalemate Hits D.C. Amid Heat Wave
The week of July 17 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

On Monday, U.S. Capitol Police officers prepare to arrest several demonstrators protesting the GOP health care legislation in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. Dozens of protesters chanted during the demonstration before police cleared the atrium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

By BILL CLARK and TOM WILLIAMS

The week of July 17 began with health care negotiations in the Senate, amid protests in the hallways of the Senate office buildings, and is coming to an end with an essentially stalled process on a new health care bill in the chamber. The Republican effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature law continued to be the focus of Congress watchers on the Hill this week.

Energy Pipeline Permitting Bills Passed by House

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., authored a bill that would transfer pipeline permit authority from states to the federal government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Republicans rush to join the Trump administration’s efforts to boost oil and gas production, the House pushed two measures on Wednesday aimed at easing the permitting process for pipelines that cross state and international lines.

Lawmakers voted, 254-175, to pass a bill by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., which would transfer authority to issue permits for pipelines and power transmission lines that cross international borders from the State Department to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mullin and other Republicans argued the measure is necessary to keep politics out of the pipeline permitting process.

House GOP Disgruntled Over Path on Spending Bill
Divisions over latest plan to break omnibus into chunks

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., thinks Republicans will end up where they usually do: with a continuing resolution for the appropriations process until they can strike a deal after the start of the fiscal year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Much of the congressional focus lately has been on Senate Republicans’ intraparty divisions on health care, but House Republicans are having struggles of their own on other issues. And the frustration is mounting.

The House GOP Conference faced its latest setback Wednesday after their leadership announced the previous evening that they would move a four-bill, security-related appropriations package on the floor next week instead of a measure combining all 12 appropriations bills.

Barbara Lee to Take AUMF Repeal to Foreign Affairs
GOP leadership drop language from spending bill

Rep. Barbara Lee on Wednesday vowed to take her long-time efforts to repeal the current Authorization for Use of Military Force, which dates to 2001 but is used for a wide range of conflicts now, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee after Republican leaders removed it from a spending bill the California Democrat successfully attached the repeal to.

Tiptoes on the Hill Back Into War Debate
A bipartisan push for Trump to seek fresh authority to combat terrorism

Soldiers with the New York Army National Guard patrol in New York City’s Penn Station in June following a terrorist attack in London. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sixteen years on, Congress seems to be getting genuinely close to forcing itself into a fresh debate on how to prescribe the use of military force against terrorism.

Writing a new war authorization will not happen before the end of the year, meaning those deliberations would be influenced by the dynamics of the midterm election campaign. But proposals to force the issue onto the agenda have the potential to blossom into sleeper hits on this summer’s remarkably blockbuster-deprived roster of consequential legislation.

House Takes Up Bill to Delay Ozone Rule Compliance

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to alter the current standards for ground level ozone pollution, something the House bill would give him legal cover for. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans plan to vote this week on a measure that would delay the compliance date for an Obama-era ground level ozone standard that they say would put an undue economic burden on industry.

The bill (HR 806) would also give legal cover to the Environmental Protection Agency as its administrator, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, looks to replace the current standards with levels more flexible for states and their economic development plans.

EPA Inhofe Alumni Group Closer to Expanding

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has seen a number of former staffers head to the EPA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s nominations for an assistant EPA administrator and two members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were advanced Wednesday by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Lawmakers on the panel voted, 11-10, to move forward with the nomination of Susan Bodine to become the EPA’s assistant administrator of enforcement and compliance assurance. The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance enforces EPA’s rules and oversees the agency’s environmental justice and compliance.

House Not as Antsy About August Recess Delay
GOP leadership position contrasts with Freedom Caucus

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said his Republican conference was discussing the schedule, including whether to alter the recess calendar. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

UPDATED 5:08 p.m. | House Republican leaders appear content sticking to their planned month-long August recess, but some rank-and-file members say they will push to stay in session if they don’t start ticking items off their to-do list.

House leaders remain in discussions about the schedule, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday, a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his chamber would stay in Washington for two extra weeks in August.

Amid Trump Jr. Emails, Leaders Stay on Health Care
Majority, minority leaders stay on message

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence talk as they leave the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walked up to his weekly Tuesday presser faced with damning evidence that President Donald Trump’s son and key advisers met with individuals connected to the Russian government on the promise of comprising information against candidate Hillary Clinton.

But McConnell opted not to weigh in on the news that sent shock waves through Capitol Hill and reignited attention on the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.