cabinet

Amid Shutdown, White House Says Senate Democrats ‘Out of Control’
Administration officials, lawmakers signal quick resolution is unlikely

The previous government shutdown took place in October 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House officials on Saturday described Senate Democrats as “out of control” with their demands to end a government shutdown and signaled negotiations have stalled, raising questions whether the federal apparatus will be open when the workweek begins.

President Donald Trump is spending the anniversary of his swearing-in calling congressional GOP leaders and other lawmakers in pursuit of an agreement to reopen the government, aides say. But with both sides trading barbs and insults, a resolution on the shutdown’s first day appears unlikely.

Opinion: White People in Norway? Who Knew?
Kirstjen Nielsen displays the rhetorical contortions necessary to serve under Trump

Kirstjen Nielsen might want to stay away from categories on Norway or basic geography if she ever appears on “Jeopardy” — especially if the answer is, “What’s a Scandinavian country with lots of white people?” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the conclusion of more than four hours of testimony Tuesday before an often hostile Senate Judiciary Committee, Kirstjen Nielsen, the new secretary of Homeland Security, slowly gathered up her papers, shared a few laughing words with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake (the last senator in the room) and confidently exited surrounded by an armada of aides.

Depending on her level of self-awareness and the degree of flattery from her staffers, Nielsen may have nurtured the belief that she aced her Capitol Hill exam. After all, the loyal Cabinet secretary avoided saying almost anything controversial, even when pressed by Democrats over Donald Trump’s doubly confirmed reference to “shithole countries” during last Thursday’s White House immigration meeting that she attended.

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 profane 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 Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” in last Thursday’s meeting with House and Senate lawmakers.

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.

States Alarmed by Delay in HHS Family Planning Money
Title X grant recipients play the waiting game, fearing revival of abortion gag rule

The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to announce a new round of Title X funding for family planning, leaving advocacy groups fearing for the future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

State officials are dismayed that the Trump administration has stalled the process for applying for new family planning money the states are counting on. Abortion advocacy groups worry that the delay may mean the administration is planning to target abortion providers or rewrite family planning policies. 

The funding announcement was expected by November, with states’ applications for 2018-19 due Jan. 3. But the announcement still isn’t out. The funding is provided by the Title X program, through the only federal grants focused on family planning.

Thursday's Hangout With Steven Mnuchin and Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Global elitism, FISA, a possible stock market dive pepper White House day

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak in October as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a press briefing. Kelly is leading White House efforts to strike an immigration deal. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Treasury secretary says the Davos gathering of global elites isn’t a hangout for global elites. A press secretary says tweets that seemed to contradict each other didn’t contradict each other. A president predicts a stock market dive if he doesn’t get his way. In other words: Thursday at the White House.

Among the business-as-usual moments were White House officials blaming Democrats for delays on immigration and government-funding measures, even while the White House chief of staff was trying to close the deal, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announcing that taxpayers should see bigger paychecks next month — as long as new withholding tables the IRS is circulating work like they are designed to. 

Fact Check: Trump’s Dossier Tweet Full of Dubious Claims
Tweet registers high on defensive scale, but low on accuracy meter

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday labeled a dossier of information about his alleged Russia ties “disproven,” suggesting it was directly paid for by the Democratic Party and used by the FBI to tip the scales in the 2016 election.

But each of those claims is dubious at best.

Analysis: Defiant Trump Returns After ‘Performance’ for Members
With arms crossed, president says Mueller interview ‘seems unlikely’

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway in the East Room at the White House, on January 10, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump was back Wednesday to his defiant manner after playing the role of accommodating host and facilitator-in-chief on Tuesday when he told lawmakers he would sign just about any immigration bill that funds a border wall.

Trump crossed his arms behind the presidential podium when asked during a joint press conference with his Norwegian counterpart if he is willing to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Justice Department’s Russia probe. The president several times reiterated his long-held stance that his 2016 presidential campaign did not collude with any Russians.

Florida to Be Spared In Offshore Drilling Expansion, Zinke Says
Sen. Bill Nelson alleges move was aimed at helping rival score political points

The Interior Department has backed away from a proposal to expand offshore drilling on Florida’s two coasts. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

A plan to open Florida’s tourism-dependent Atlantic and Gulf coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling was dropped by the Trump administration on Tuesday after a bipartisan backlash that also threatened to complicate a must-pass fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department on Jan. 4 revealed a draft five-year plan for expanding the sale of federal offshore drilling leases to the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans, as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico, announced Tuesday night on Twitter that Florida’s two coasts would not be included in the expansion.

White House Reiterates Wall Demand Ahead of Key Meeting
Sen. Graham, other lawmakers look to pair DACA with border security upgrades

Aurelia Lopez and her daughter Antonia overlook construction of border wall prototypes on Oct. 5, in Tijuana, Mexico. Prototypes of the border wall proposed by President Donald Trump are being built just north of the U.S-Mexico border. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images file photo)

Just hours before a high-stakes White House meeting with Republicans and Democrats, the Trump administration continued to hold tight to its demand that funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall be included in a possible immigration overhaul bill.

“President Trump looks forward to meeting with bipartisan members of the House and Senate today to discuss the next steps toward achieving responsible immigration reform,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.