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President Trump: ‘From This Day Forward ... Only America First’
45th president signals major policy shifts in inaugural address

Donald Trump greets President Barack Obama moments before Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, on the West Front of the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump, very much still in campaign mode, vowed in his inaugural address to use his new powers to turn the country inward and “rebuild” America, telling his countrymen and the world he will govern with a simple principle: “It’s going to be only America first.” 

In a striking scene, the bombastic businessman and former reality television star, spoke from the very spot where American political giants like Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama delivered their first remarks as commander in chief.

A Ceremony of Stability for a Shake-It-Up President
Inaugurals are meant to unify the nation, a fundamental Trump challenge

Since his election, President-elect Donald Trump has not backed away from his headline-grabbing approach of responding to every perceived slight with a combative brickbat, Hawkings writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No ritual embodies the stability of the American government more than an inauguration. And no one in modern times has arrived for the ceremony as a more purposeful destabilizer of governing norms than Donald John Trump, who becomes the 45th president of the United States on Friday.

The inaugural is this country’s ultimate civic rite, designed to assure the orderly transfer of enormous power, bolster patriotism and bind together a diverse people behind their new leader. The pageantry of the day, in so many ways fundamentally unchanged since the 18th century, almost cannot help but imbue each new holder of the office with similar auras of credibility and historic import.

Obama and Trump: Two Presidents, Same God
Mixing politics and religion is a longtime tradition

If some faith leaders see the hand of God in Donald Trump’s victory last November, how do they explain President Barack Obama’s two previous, more decisive wins? Mary C. Curtis asks. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

If Franklin Graham did not actually endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, he stepped right up to the line — the one separating church and state. Graham was absolutely giddy post-election, when he gave credit to a force greater than the electorate. The evangelist and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse credited the “God factor” for Trump’s poll-defying win.

You might be seeing a lot of Graham, starting at Friday’s inauguration where he is one of the faith leaders invited to offer a prayer for America’s new president. It marks a resurgence of a familiar name when it comes to mingling politics and religion, and a continuation of a tradition in a country that doesn’t have an official faith but celebrates a National Day of Prayer and seems most comfortable with leaders who praise a higher power.

More Republicans Face Contentious Town Hall Meetings
Amash, Duffy hear criticism over Obamacare repeal

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., faced criticism when he said states would bear the responsibility for replacing the Affordable Care Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican House members heard from more constituents in town hall meetings on Tuesday about GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., the Gerald R. Ford Museum was packed at capacity of 250 people for a town hall meeting with Rep. Justin Amash, MLive reported. Dozens more were outside and a security guard had to push the doors closed.

Low Approval Ratings Could Speed Possible Trump-GOP Clash
President-elect at 40 percent in 2 polls, around half of Obama’s 2009 rating

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that the opinion polls that show him with a lower transition rating than his predecessors were “rigged.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President-elect Donald Trump tried to cast doubts Tuesday on his low approval ratings, but the numbers — around half of those of his predecessor in 2009 — could accelerate an emerging collision with his own party. 

Two new polls put Trump’s approval rating at 40 percent just three days before he will be sworn in as the 45th president. At the same point in President Barack Obama’s transition period eight years ago, one of those polls, conducted by CNN/ORC International, had his approval rating at 84 percent.

Here Are the Democrats Skipping Trump’s Inauguration
Nearly 70 Democratic House members won’t attend Friday’s swearing-in

Virginia Rep. Gerald E. Connolly is one of the latest Democratic House members to say that he won’t attend Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even before President-elect Donald Trump attacked Georgia Rep. John Lewis on Twitter over the weekend, a handful of Democratic lawmakers had planned to boycott Trump's inauguration on Friday.

But by the end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday night, that group had ballooned. As of Friday morning, nearly 70 Democrats in the House said they will not attend out of protest. Several other House Democrats are not attending for medical or other reasons. No Democratic senators have announced intentions to boycott. 

Obama Doubts Trump Can Govern Via Twitter, Admits Some Missteps
Outgoing president: Bitter partisanship means ‘we’re weakening ourselves’

President Obama, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrive in the Capitol Visitor Center on Jan. 4 for the meeting of House and Senate Democrats to discuss Obamacare. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama used his final national television interview to express doubts that Donald Trump will be able to effectively govern by firing off tweets and offered some advice about the president-elect’s feud with the intelligence community.

In a lengthy interview that aired Sunday evening on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program, Obama also acknowledged some mistakes — a rarity for the outgoing chief executive. Among them were missteps he made in dealing with Congress.

No Sophomore Slump for Marco Rubio
Senator appears to be carving out his own role in Trump’s Washington

With his vote, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio could decide the fate of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For a guy who didn’t want to be in the Senate anymore last year, Florida’s Marco Rubio is certainly making a tall glass of lemonade out of the lemons he got running for president in 2016. With a single hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Rubio went from being the Republican Most Likely to Miss a Vote, a distinction he earned on his way to losing the GOP nomination, to being the Republican Most Likely to Hold Donald Trump’s Feet to the Fire. It’s a role that holds both risks and immense power. That, for Rubio, could be more important than anything.

The hearing, of course, was to consider the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be Trump’s secretary of State. Although Sen. Jeff Sessions’ hearing to be attorney general was expected to have the most fireworks of the week, the Tillerson hearing went off-track as soon as Rubio began grilling the former Exxon Mobil CEO about the reams of accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin of widespread corruption and human rights abuses. 

Progressives Outraged Over Booker, Democrats’ Vote on Prescription Drugs From Canada
12 Republicans voted for amendment to GOP budget resolution that begins dismantling of Obamacare

Sen. Cory Booker defended his vote on the amendment, saying it “didn’t adequately make sure foreign drugs meet American safety standards.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the Democratic Party are outraged after 13 Democrats voted against an amendment that would have allowed Americans to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, saying it’s a sign that Big Pharma has too much power in the party. 

The amendment was unlikely to pass, but critics say that’s why it should have been a safe way for Democrats to show their support for combating high drug prices.

Is Jeff Flake the GOP Senator Most Vulnerable in a Primary?
Republicans are worried the Arizona senator’s penchant for criticizing Trump has landed him in trouble with GOP voters

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters about immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Flake has vocally criticized his party’s freshly elected president, raised little money, and backed a moderate approach to an immigration overhaul. 

In other words, the first-term senator from Arizona has all but begged a Donald Trump-like Republican to run against him. Now, his friends and allies fear that’s exactly what will happen — with no guarantee that the incumbent lawmaker will win.