Politics

GOP Leaders Under the Gun to Avert Partial Shutdown

The fate of the DACA program is one of many issues affecting the shutdown talks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress begins the week with growing uncertainty about how the effort to pass another temporary spending bill will play out and the possibility of a partial government shutdown after midnight Friday.

No budget talks were held over the long weekend after the breakdown in negotiations last week, people familiar with the talks said. Talks had stalled over the fate of roughly 690,000 “Dreamers,” or young adults brought to the United States illegally as children, who are currently able to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Top DHS Official Says She ‘Did Not Hear’ Trump’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Comment
Kirstjen Nielsen was present at White House meeting

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin is shown on a television monitor questioning Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The top official at the Department Of Homeland Security on Tuesday declined to say directly whether President Donald Trump used a vulgar slur to describe several foreign countries during a recent White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration that she attended.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee she “did not hear” whether Trump referred to countries like Africa and Haiti as “shithole countries” in last Thursday’s meeting with House and Senate lawmakers.

More Democrats Say They’ll Skip Trump’s State of the Union
Lawmakers cite president’s ‘racist’ comments, say they’ll have ‘state of our union’ event

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Fla., will not attend President Donald Trump's State of the Union address later this month, joining four other Democrats in protest. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Add two more Democrats to the list of House members catting on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address later this month.

Reps. Frederica S. Wilson and Pramila Jayapal announced over the weekend they will join three other lawmakers boycotting the event held in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol.

Soto Takes Heat for Telling Puerto Rican Evacuees to Say They’re Staying
Evacuees should say they’re staying in Florida to access Medicare or Medicaid, South Florida Democrat says

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., made waves over the weekend for comments to Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Florida Democrat caught heat over the weekend for telling a group of newly arrived hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to say they intend to stay in the state so that they can access health care benefits.

If the evacuees do not check that box on a federal form for Medicare and Medicaid, they will be ineligible to be recipients of those programs.

Diaz-Balart Isn’t Saying What Trump Said
South Florida Republican rep says he wants to keep his seat at the table in discussing Dreamers

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., would not comment about whether President Donald Trump used the word “shithole” in describing the countries from which some immigrants are coming to the U.S. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said he would not delve into whether President Donald Trump called Haiti and African countries “shithole countries.”

Diaz-Balart was in the immigration meeting with other lawmakers in which Trump is reported to have made the remarks, but told Florida TV station WPLG he would not comment on whether Trump made them.

Schiff Wants Fusion GPS Transcript Released
Ranking House Intel member says Republicans have provided selective leaks of testimony

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says Republicans have provided selective leaks of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff is calling on Republican chairman Devin Nunes to release the transcript from the committee’s interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.

Schiff’s office said in a statement to Business Insider said he supported doing so because the role of Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm, has been mischaracterized after selective leaks of Simpson’s testimony.

Inspired by #MeToo, Some Staffers Are Telling Congress’ Secrets
Beneficiaries of confidential settlements challenge code of silence

A former staff member of Oregon Rep. Greg Walden says he was inspired by the #MeToo movement to release documents outlining a $7,000 workplace discrimination and disability settlement with Walden’s office in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cody Standiford is not exactly saying #MeToo.  He’s never been a victim of sexual misconduct.

But he may end up helping congressional staffers who have. The Iraq War veteran recently defied a legal agreement to shed light on how Congress handles harassment and discrimination complaints.

Illinois House Primaries Will Be Early Testing Ground for Democrats
Democrats have several pickup opportunities, but they need viable candidates first

Democrats are confident they’ll have a general election nominee who can take on Illinois GOP Rep. Peter Roskam. The primary is on March 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With early voting starting in less than a month, Illinois will be a testing ground for Democrats’ ability to nominate general election candidates they think can win out of crowded primaries. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting four Republican-held districts, but the committee is not explicitly picking favorites in all those primaries. 

Analysis: Tough Road Ahead for Ryan in 2018
Will he want to stay in Congress after navigating immigration, budget and midterm challenges?

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., pictured arriving at the Capitol for a meeting to kick off 2018 spending negotiations, has a tough road ahead this year that could make him question his future in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan insists he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, but he has a tough road ahead in 2018 that could test his patience with his conference, their Senate counterparts, the president and Washington. 

The Wisconsin Republican is known for keeping his cool under pressure. Thus far in his still young speakership, he’s managed to diffuse disagreements within the House Republican Conference before they’ve reached a boiling point. He also claimed a significant victory last year with passage of the landmark tax overhaul bill, a long-held priority for the former Budget and tax-writing chairman.   

Pot Debate Latest Complication for Replacing U.S. Attorneys
Gardner has concerns about process in Colorado, which still has no nominee

A standoff over marijuana guidance for federal prosecutors between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and pot-friendly states like Colorado is complicating efforts to fill the ranks of U.S. attorneys. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions might soon find himself working with court-appointed U.S. attorneys, in part because his hard line on marijuana is throwing a wrench in the nominations process.

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, met with the attorney general last week to voice concerns after the Justice Department reversed course on an Obama-era policy and allowed federal prosecutors wider discretion to pursue criminal charges related to marijuana — even in states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Why Democrats Don’t Want to Talk About Legalizing Marijuana
Still stinging from being called soft on drugs a generation ago

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is one of a few Democrats in the Senate who vocally support legalizing marijuana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Trump administration begins to crack down on states that legalized marijuana, advocates for legalization hope Democrats will take their side.

But many Democrats are still squeamish about fully embracing the drug. 

Blaming Dems, Trump Says DACA Deal Likely ‘Dead’
President also doubles down on ‘merit-based’ immigration

President Donald Trump said Sunday that the deal on the DACA immigration program is likely dead and blamed Democrats. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Sunday declared a deal on the DACA immigration program likely “dead,” tweeting his view that Democrats don’t really want one.

Democratic lawmakers “just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military,” he wrote.

Texas Redistricting Case Heads to Supreme Court
Lower court ruling found vote dilution and racial gerrymandering

Shirley Connuck of Falls Church, Virginia, right, holds up a sign representing a district in Texas as protesters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 3, 2017, as the court was hearing a case on partisan gerrymandering. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Texas must redraw its congressional maps because of gerrymanders, in a case that could have major implications for this year’s elections in the Lone Star State.

The justices announced Friday they will review an August ruling from a panel of three federal judges that the current map needs to be changed because it has intentional vote dilution in the 27th District and racial gerrymandering in the 35th District. Those districts are currently held by Republican Blake Farenthold and Democrat Lloyd Doggett, respectively.

North Carolina Asks Court to Halt Congressional Map Change
Partisan gerrymandering at issue

North Carolina lawmakers have asked the Supreme Court to stop a lower court order that ruled the state needed to redraw its congressional districts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

North Carolina lawmakers asked the Supreme Court to stop a lower court order to redraw its congressional map ahead of the 2018 midterms, arguing that it could “hopelessly disrupt North Carolina’s upcoming congressional elections.”

In an emergency application, the Tar Heel State lawmakers focused on time constraints — as well as “multiple entirely novel theories” the lower court adopted in Tuesday’s ruling — that struck down the state’s 2016 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Questions Could Derail Confirmation of Trump’s Indian Health Nominee
Robert Weaver was already under scrutiny over his qualifications

Participants in a “Rock Your Mocs” fun walk/run in Shiprock, New Mexico, sponsored by the local Indian Health Service facility. (Courtesy Indian Health Service/Facebook)

President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee health care services for two million Native Americans — who already faces questions about whether he is qualified — failed to disclose donations to the Trump campaign in his official Senate questionnaire, Roll Call has learned.

Robert Weaver, a health insurance salesman and consultant who was nominated in October to lead the $6.1-billion Indian Health Service, has been touted by the administration as “a staunch advocate of innovative programs to improve Native American health.” But some lawmakers are concerned that the administration inflated his qualifications. The questions surrounding his nomination raise the possibility that he might not have the votes to win confirmation.