cabinet

3 Takeaways From the Pence ‘Space Force’ Sales Pitch
Vice president ignores white elephant: a skeptical military and Congress

Space Force was on the mind of Vice President Mike Pence, seen here in the Rotunda last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s a new applause line in President Donald Trump’s campaign spiel.

It’s not quite up there with “Crooked Hillary” or demanding professional football players who kneel for the National Anthem to “get the hell out of here.” Crowds react with loud cheers when the president touts his envisioned “Space Force.”

Don’t Let China Snag Another Foreign Port, Senators Warn
Possible Chinese military moves in Pakistan latest worry for lawmakers

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and 15 other senators wants the Trump administration to work with the IMF to offer developing countries in need of infrastructure financing alternatives to Chinese credit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Trump administration to counter China’s economic expansion as the lawmakers fear that Beijing plans to leverage its foreign investments and lending for infrastructure projects into strategic military footholds.

Georgia Republican David Perdue, along with 15 other senators, raised the issue in a Friday letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

So... How Does the White House Really Feel About Russia?
Trump undercuts security officials again with ‘the Russian hoax’

President Donald Trump on Thursday dismissed criticism of his Finland summit with Vladimir Putin just hours after his national security team warned Putin is overseeing an ongoing campaign to upend the U.S. political system. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images file photo)

Senior U.S. national security officials were clear Thursday afternoon: The Kremlin was involved in meddling in the 2016 American election and continues to be oversee efforts to do so again. Hours later, however, President Donald Trump described himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin as buddies.

As it often does, the Trump White House on Thursday sent mixed — starkly opposite, really — messages about Moscow’s ongoing hostile actions to upend the American political system and U.S.-Russian relations. The confusion leaves those very officials and lawmakers — including Republicans who have criticized Trump as too weak on Putin — still searching for the official administration stance on election meddling and posture toward America’s Cold War rival.

Wyden to Delay Treasury Nominee Amid Tax and Oversight Fights
Oregon Democrat wants information on Trump lawyer Cohen and Russian operatives

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is holding up the nomination of Justin Muzinich to be deputy Treasury secretary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden said Wednesday he will place a hold on President Donald Trump’s nominee for a top Treasury Department post because Democrats have been stymied by the department in their oversight efforts.

The Oregon Democrat, ranking member on Senate Finance, said at a committee meeting that he’ll hold up the nomination of Justin Muzinich, tapped for deputy Treasury secretary, but he will support Michael Desmond’s nomination for chief counsel at the IRS and assistant general counsel at Treasury.

No Obstruction in Trump Tweet on Mueller Probe, Sanders Says
‘Ax could fall on the Mueller investigation at any time,’ former Obama aide warns

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered with questions Wednesday about whether President Trump gave his attorney general a direct order to end the Russia probe, and whether it amounts to obstruction of justice. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The White House pushed back Wednesday on the notion that President Donald Trump obstructed justice with a morning tweet saying Attorney General Jeff Sessions should “stop” the Justice Department’s Russia election meddling probe “right now.”

“The president is not obstructing, he’s fighting back,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “He’s certainly expressing the frustration,” he has long felt over “corruption” by former Justice Department officials like former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, she said.

John Kelly Intends to Remain Trump’s Chief Through 2020, Official Says
Former DHS secretary has yet to secure sweeping immigration bill

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly could be in for the whole first term of President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

John Kelly intends to stay as White House chief of staff until 2020 amid speculation he could leave soon, a White House official confirmed Tuesday.

The retired Marine Corps four-star general was initially viewed as a savior last year when he became Trump’s second chief of staff, with members of both parties predicting he would bring order and experience to a chaotic and green staff — and commander in chief.

US, EU Trade Officials Split Over Agriculture in Trade Talks
“We feel the EU has become increasingly aggressive in their agreements,” Perdue says

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says agriculture will be a part of upcoming trade between U.S. and EU officials, contradicting a statement by a European Commission spokeswoman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The apparent U.S.-European Union trade truce is less than a week old and the two parties disagree on whether agriculture will be on the table in follow-up discussions to flesh out an agreement, adding more uncertainty to the American farm economy.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reiterated the U.S. trade representative’s position that agriculture will be part of further talks. Robert Lighthizer last week told Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Chairman Jerry Moran that no matter what the EU says, the U.S. “view is that we are negotiating about agriculture, period. That’s part of the process.” The panel questioned Lighthizer about the administration’s overall trade strategy.

Lawmakers Renew Efforts to Pass Family Separation Bill
But with House already out for recess, no legislative solution possible until September

A girl participates in a rally at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington on June 27 to to protest the Trump administration policy that separated migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers say they are renewing efforts to find what has been elusive legislation to keep families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the Trump administration announced it would meet the latest court deadline for reuniting more than 1,400 children it had separated from their immigrant parents.

Department of Homeland Security officials said they expected to complete all “eligible” reunifications by midnight Thursday, Pacific time. Beyond those, 711 children remain in custody because they’re not “eligible” for reunification, according to the department. Of those, 431 have a parent who was deported from the U.S. without them, officials said.

‘Undeterred’ Trump Administration to Push Ahead With Medicaid Work Rules
Despite Kentucky setback, Alex Azar says HHS is “fully committed” to work requirements

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the administration will continue to litigate the Kentucky case and is “fully committed” to work requirements in the Medicaid program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration will continue to approve state Medicaid work requirement proposals, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday, despite a federal court recently blocking Kentucky from implementing such rules.

The administration will continue litigating the Kentucky case and is “fully committed” to work requirements in the Medicaid program, Azar said during an address at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Trump Trade Czar Talks Lobsters, ‘Farmers of the Sea’ and ‘Playing Chicken’
Robert Lighthizer tells Senate panel trade dispute with China won’t end soon

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the Trump administration’s aggressive trade push will eventually result in better deals for American companies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Senate appropriators Thursday it could take years to get China to change trade policies that he says undercut U.S. businesses. But he added that the Trump administration’s aggressive push for change in Beijing will eventually result in better deals for American companies.

While Lighthizer defended the administration’s tariffs action on Chinese imports, lawmakers on the Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee pressed for quicker action to open up additional export markets for U.S. products.