Politics

Trump Message at Davos: Invest in America
Despite rhetoric, economic adviser says U.S. is not pulling back from world

Gary Cohn, White House Economic Advisor, left, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster brief reporters on President Donald Trump's upcoming trip to the World Economic Forum later this week in Davos Switzerland, at the White House on January 23, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Senior White House officials denied that President Donald Trump is withdrawing the United States from the worldwide trade scene on the eve of his departure for a major global economic forum.

“The U.S. is pulling back from nothing,” said Gary Cohn, chief White House economic adviser when asked about worries around the globe that the Trump administration is turning inward.

Report: Meehan Still Running for Re-election Amid Sexual Harassment Probe
Meehan said he told his former staffer they were soul mates

Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa., has been accused of sexual harassment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Patrick Meehan told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that he is still running for re-election amid a sexual harassment investigation. He said he expressed “affection” for a former staffer and told her they were soul mates, but he is still denying that he sexually harassed her. 

The New York Times first reported over the weekend that Meehan used an undisclosed amount of taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment case brought by his former staffer, who has not yet been named. Meehan told the Inquirer that he would repay the settlement if the House Ethics Committee finds that he did harass the staffer.

Lobbying Hits $3.9 Billion in Trump’s First Year
But number of disclosure reports falls short of President Barack Obama’s inaugural year in office

Lobbying was up during the Trump administration’s first year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lobbyists reported an uptick in tax and other federal policy work during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, but the money spent to influence the federal government still didn’t surpass the inaugural year of the Obama administration, a Roll Call review of new disclosure reports found.

The number of federal disclosure reports that lobbyists filed last year — 50,000 — fell short of the 58,000 reports filed during 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office. Despite the fewer reports last year, companies and trade organizations spent roughly the same amount of money to influence Congress and the executive branch — $3.9 billion — in both years.

Republicans Weigh Ways to Block Trump on Trade Actions
Despite concerns about pocketbook effects, president imposes tariffs, bad-mouths trade pacts

President Donald Trump is pursuing his America First approach to trade, even as it makes some Republicans nervous. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Even as members of his own party weigh whether Congress has the authority to push back on his trade actions, President Donald Trump on Tuesday slapped new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines.

“It will provide a strong incentive for LG and Samsung to follow through on their recent promises to build major manufacturing plants for washing machines right here in the United States,” Trump said during an Oval Office signing event, adding the actions “uphold a principle of fair trade and demonstrate to the world that the United States will not be taken advantage of anymore.” That echoes a major theme of his 2016 campaign and the first year of his presidency.

NRCC Launches Digital Ads Targeting Democrats After Shutdown
Facebook ads take aim at 10 Democrats

Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, center, is a target of the NRCC’s new post-shutdown ads. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee wants to make sure Democrats don’t forget the three-day government shutdown. The group launched digital ads Tuesday that target 10 House Democratic members.

The ads, which will run on Facebook for one week, are part of a “five-figure buy,” according to details provided first to Roll Call. Five of the Democratic targets represent districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Senate PSA: Be Nice or Get Rule 19’d
Sherrod Brown was read the decorum rule, and questioned why

Sen. Sherrod Brown, center, was reminded of decorum rules on Sunday, but questioned why. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate prides itself on being the world’s greatest deliberative body, but that doesn’t mean one can say just anything. In fact, if you say something out of bounds, a colleague can invoke a rule that forces you to sit down and be quiet. 

This dynamic came into focus over the weekend. As shutdown tensions ran high, Rule 19 was pulled out for a fresh reading as a reminder about the chamber’s standards for decorum.

After 2016 Failures, Facebook Faces New Test in 2018 Midterms
Social media giant accused of being too passive on foreign interference in 2016 elections

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are sworn into a Senate Judiciary Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee hearing on “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions” in  October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just a few months out from the 2018 midterm primaries and less than a year away from general elections, Facebook appears determined to stamp out foreign interference.

The tech and social media giant was the subject of intense criticism after the 2016 election cycle for failing to curb the spread of misinformation and break down so-called echo chambers of news-sharing and political discourse.

Kristin Gaspar is the Latest Republican to Run for Issa’s Seat
Comes after a slew of Republicans jump in.

Kristin Gaspar said she met with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan last week in Washington before getting into the race for Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat. (Supervisor Kristin Gaspar via Facebook)

San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar is the latest Republican to jump into California’s 49th District race to replace departing Rep. Darrell Issa.

Gaspar’s decision comes a week after visiting Washington, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, following Issa’s announcement that he would not seek re-election.

Renacci Says Trump and Pence Will Campaign for Him
Ohio Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown

Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, said President Donald Trump's team convinced him to run for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Jim Renacci said both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will campaign for him in Ohio in his Senate race.

Renacci, who announced he would challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown, told the Vindicator that he initially did not want to run for Senate and was running for governor.

Democratic Challengers Join Picketers Outside Meehan’s District Office
Ethics Committee taking up sexual harassment case at congressman’s request

Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., has asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate a sexual harassment settlement he reached with an employee over a 2016 case. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As traffic rushed by Rep. Patrick Meehan’s district office in Springfield, Pennsylvania, on Monday, two Democratic candidates hoping to unseat the GOP congressman stood alongside 50 or so picketers calling for him to step down.

“If he doesn’t resign, they should take away his committee assignments,” Daniel Muroff, a former chief of staff on Capitol Hill who has raised the most money of any Democratic challenger still in the race, said of Meehan, in an interview with the Delaware County Daily Times News.

Corrine Brown Loses Bid to Stay Out of Jail
Two courts reject former congresswoman’s request to delay start of sentence while appeal is pending

Former Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., was denied a request to delay her reporting to prison. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Florida Rep. Brown lost her bid to stay out of jail while she appeals her conviction on fraud charges. 

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected her request to delay the start of her jail time by another month on Monday after federal judge Timothy Corrigan directed the request there, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Trump Celebrates Democratic ‘Cave’ on Shutdown
President vows to meet lawmakers at ‘negotiating table’ for DACA bill

President Donald Trump signs a three-week stopgap funding bill that ended a government shutdown in the Treaty Room at the White House on Monday night. He later took a victory lap on Twitter, saying Democrats caved. (Joyce N. Boghosian/White House photo)

Add Donald Trump to the manifest of Republicans who have jumped aboard what might be called The Democrats Caved Train.

While lawmakers and sources say he was not heavily involved, the president was in full celebratory mode after Senate Democrats on Monday ended a government shutdown they forced over objections to immigration policy after just three days. Even though public opinion polls showed voters placed more blame on Trump and Republicans (48 percent) than Democrats (35 percent) over the shutdown, Trump’s tweets show he is sounding a message of victory.

Senate’s Radical Reasonable Caucus Finds Its Moment
Will a group of 20 senators be able to gain influence?

A bipartisan group of Senators hold a new conference in the Capitol on Monday after they voted to end debate on a continuing resolution to reopen the government. From left, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Tim Kaine, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin III, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, Amy Klobuchar and Maggie Hassan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a Senate environment where party discipline has been the norm, a group of senators that lobbied leadership to accept a resolution to end the government shutdown Monday now has leverage, if they decide to use it.

“One of the good outcomes is that we had a group of 20 … that built a lot of trust with each other. So it could create an environment, at least over the next month or so, where some really positive things happen,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a GOP participant, said Monday. “On the Democratic side, it was necessary to have a large group of Republicans [who] were committed to try and resolve these issues.”

Trump Takes Back Seat in Shutdown-Ending Talks
Despite past rhetoric and boasts of deal-making, president let Congress figure it out

President Donald Trump addresses staff at the White House on Saturday while lawmakers worked on an agreement to end the government shutdown. (Courtesy Joyce N. Boghosian/White House)

President Donald Trump on Saturday, amid a government shutdown that tarnished the anniversary of his first year in office, was surrounded by a room of people at the White House, apparently hanging on his every word. But these were his own staffers, not lawmakers working to turn the federal lights back on.

Trump and his top aides, even before the government went dark at 12 a.m. Saturday, tried to assign blame for the shutdown to Democrats as well as responsibility for ending it. Yet there is a sense in Washington that the president, who as a candidate said his business-world success made him uniquely qualified to cut deals with Congress, left the heavy lifting to others.

Supreme Court Hops Into Case About a Frog and Property Rights
But the justices will leave bearded seals alone

The dusky gopher frog has emerged as a touchstone for environmentalists and business groups feuding over property rights and government power. (Courtesy The Wildlife Society)

The Supreme Court jumped into a case about the government’s power to designate private land as critical habitat for an endangered frog species, but is staying out of another case seeking to protect the bearded seal from future threats of climate change. 

The justices announced Monday they will hear oral arguments about the dusky gopher frog and a 1,500-acre tract of Louisiana forestry land that could lose $34 million in development value because of the Fish and Wildlife Service designation under the 1973 endangered species law. The arguments will likely be scheduled for the next Supreme Court term that starts in October.