Politics

Brooks Suggests Sessions Could Return to Senate if GOP Candidates Drop Out
Alabama lawmaker criticizes “public waterboarding” of attorney general

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks criticized the “public waterboarding” of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks is calling on his fellow Republicans vying for the GOP nod for Senate to drop out of the race to allow Attorney General Jeff Sessions to return to the Senate.

“If all Republican candidates collectively agree to simultaneously withdraw from this race, then we clear the way for the Republican Party of Alabama to nominate Jeff Sessions to be the Republican nominee for the December 12, 2017 general election,” Brooks wrote in a Wednesday afternoon statement from his campaign. 

Trump, GOP Leaders Near Deal on Tax Principles

Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, left, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, are part of a group that has been working on principles for the GOP effort on overhauling the tax code. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By ALAN K. OTA and LINDSEY MCPHERSON

Top Republican leaders said Wednesday they are close to a deal with the Trump administration on a broad set of tax goals that will guide overhaul efforts.

Veterans in Congress Criticize Trump’s Military Transgender Ban
Pushback against policy announcement is bipartisan

Sen. Tammy Duckworth called President Trump’s announcement banning transgender individuals from the military “discriminatory and counterproductive.”  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Veterans in Congress from across the political spectrum pushed back against President Donald Trump’s announcement banning transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military.

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said that based on the advice of military experts, transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to “serve in any capacity in U.S. Military.” The president cited medical costs and unit disruption as part of his reasoning.

Senate Rejects Obamacare 'Repeal and Delay' Proposal
Updated 2015 proposal turned back as health care reconciliation debate continues

Sen. Rand Paul has championed the “repeal and delay” approach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans on Wednesday were unable to garner the votes necessary to pass a measure to repeal large portions of the 2010 health law with a two-year delay.

Seven GOP senators joined with Democrats to sink the proposal, 45-55. The failure highlights the continued struggle Senate Republican leadership is facing in coalescing their conference around one health care proposal. Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio voted no. 

Ron Johnson Targets Member Health Care in Obamacare Debate
Seeks vote on a plan reminiscent David Vitter quest

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has an amendment regarding member health insurance benefits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ron Johnson is reviving a proposal to strip federal contributions for lawmakers’ health insurance on the exchanges set up by the 2010 health care law.

The Republican from Wisconsin filed the amendment to the pending health care reconciliation measure on Tuesday, and speaking Wednesday on a Milwaukee-based radio show, Johnson sounded intent on getting a vote as part of the process of unlimited amendments known as the vote-a-rama.

Key GOP Senators Mum on 'Skinny' Repeal Support

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn has said it is important to get to a conference committee with the House on health care legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Key Republican swing votes are withholding judgement on a plan from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a “skinny” bill to repeal the 2010 health law in order to get to conference with the House.

That approach, however, has won early support from a number of GOP members, as Republicans look to try to continue a dialogue around a broader health care overhaul package after this week.

Scalise to Begin Rehab for Gunshot Wound
House majority whip discharged from hospital Tuesday, six weeks after shooting

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise spent six weeks in the hospital after sustaining a life-threatening gun-shot wound to the hip. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is set to begin “intensive inpatient rehabilitation” six weeks after he was shot in the hip during a congressional baseball practice in Virginia.

The Louisiana Republican, who sustained a life-threatening single rifle shot to the left hip, was discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Tuesday, the hospital said in a statement.

Organizations, Activists React to Trump's Transgender Soldier Ban
Human Rights Campaign calls transgender ban an "all out assault on service members"

Then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces the expanded policy of accepting transgender U.S. military service members in June 2016. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images file photo)

The LGBT rights organization the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) led the charge against President Donald Trump’s newly announced ban on transgender military service members Wednesday, calling it an “all out assault on service members.”

HRC said the ban would threaten more than 15,000 currently serving troops. Other estimates range from 4,000 to 6,000 members of the military.

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer Running for Senate
GOP primary candidates have already been sparring

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer announced he’s running for Senate on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:30 p.m. | Indiana Rep. Luke Messer announced on Wednesday he’s running for Senate.

In declaring his bid to challenge vulnerable Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly, the third-term Republican congressman tweeted, “We’re in!!” with a link to his new campaign site just before noon.

Brooks: ‘Swamp Critter’ McConnell Should Be Replaced
Alabama Senate hopeful slams majority leader, filibuster rules

Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks is among nine Republicans running for a safe GOP Senate seat in Alabama. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mo Brooks attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, saying he would vote to change how the chamber works if he wins the special election in Alabama.

McConnell “is a swamp critter,” Brooks told reporters at an event organized by the Heritage Foundation. Instead of “draining the swamp” as President Donald Trump has promised, McConnell is enabling old ways of doing business in Washington, Brooks said.

House Democrats Want to Use Minibus to Target Trump Ethics
Rules Committee likely to nix attempts to force issue

Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes says Democrats will use the tools at their disposal to force action on President Donald Trump's ethics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats this week are trying to hitch a slate of amendments to the appropriations minibus, all targeting the business, family members and scandals of President Donald Trump.

The amendments, offered in the Rules Committee, are part of the minority party’s larger effort to tie their Republican colleagues to Trump’s possible conflicts of interest stemming from his business holdings and the government’s probe of alleged collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russia to influence the 2016 elections.

Internal Poll Shows Tight Nevada Race if Titus Challenges Heller
Congresswoman would first face Jacky Rosen in Democratic primary

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus is expected to make her decision on whether to challenge Sen. Dean Heller after the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An internal poll shows Nevada Rep. Dina Titus in a tight race against Sen. Dean Heller if she decides to challenge him in 2018.

The 1st District Democratic congresswoman is mulling a run against the vulnerable Republican, but would have to first face off against Rep. Jacky Rosen of the 3rd District in a primary.

Trump Announces Transgender Troops Not Allowed
Reversal of Obama administration policy

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the Navy and shipyard workers on board the USS Gerald R. Ford in March. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. military would not allow transgender troops to serve, citing the “the tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

In a series of tweets, Trump tweeted that the U.S. government “will not accept transgender individuals to serve in the military in any capacity.”

Russia Sanctions Bill Still Not a Done Deal
Corker says Senate likely to remove North Korea provisions in House-passed version

Sen. Bob Corker anticipates the Senate will remove North Korea language from a House-passed sanctions bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 11:38 a.m. | The question of when Congress will strengthen sanctions against Russia remains unclear.

The House overwhelmingly passed a package Tuesday that includes new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, sending the measure to the Senate ahead of the August recess. Only three members of the House voted against the combined bill.

Documents: Prosecutors Feared Brady Would Interfere in Investigation
Former aide says Pennsylvania congressman’s campaign paid opponent to drop out

Rep. Robert Brady is at the podium while then-Vice President Joe Biden puts down a challenge to President-elect Donald Trump’s Electoral College count during a joint session of Congress in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Newly released court documents show that federal prosecutors feared Rep. Robert Brady would influence a witness in an alleged payoff scheme his campaign used to force a former opponent to drop out of the race.

Prosecutors asked to keep the records sealed until after the witness’s plea deal, warning of a “significant danger” the Pennsylvania Democrat posed toward the investigation.