Democrats’ “two centrist coalitions, the Blue Dogs and New Democrats, are reporting a boost in membership for the 115th Congress, with slightly fewer than half of the incoming freshman Democrats joining their ranks. Leaders of the groups are touting the increase as a promising sign for the party as it struggles to win back economy-minded voters in swing seats. And some members hope to leverage their numbers into a larger strategic role in preparations for the midterms.”
“With six new recruits and three departing members, the Blue Dogs saw a modest increase from 14 to 17 members. The New Democrats, who started the previous Congress with 52 members, are expecting around 60 this year. Ten freshmen increased the group’s membership to 54, but leaders said they are reviewing about half a dozen more applicants … the new numbers are significant for both groups—the New Democrats haven’t reached 60 members and the Blue Dogs haven’t seen net growth since the party’s House ranks were decimated in 2010.” (Hotline reporting)
MULLING IT OVER. “The House Freedom Caucus is currently down seven members from the 114th Congress — and possibly two more” as Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC 05) and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK 01) could join the Trump administration. “Five candidates endorsed by the caucus’ political arm, the House Freedom Fund, won in safe Republican districts last November. But not all of them have committed to join if invited.” Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN 03), Andy Biggs (R-AZ 05), and Mike Johnson (R-LA 04) did not definitively say whether they were joining the group. (Roll Call)
MAKING PROMISES. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA 05) promised no one who has coverage under Obamacare would lose coverage if the act is repealed. (CNN)
But “House Democrats … see a silver lining as Republicans are poised to launch an ambitious legislative agenda …The Democrats say that early GOP divisions on issues as varied as budget deficits, ObamaCare repeal and Russian hacking create a host of political opportunities they are hoping to exploit.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY 14): “There’s a treasure trove here. It’s a lot tougher to govern, and that’s what they’re realizing.” (The Hill)
What We're Following See More »
"Congress is considering attaching a narrow background check bill for gun purchases to a must-pass government funding package before the end of the week, when thousands of high school students are expected to congregate in Washington for the March to End Gun Violence. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday said leadership was talking to its members about adding the background legislation, even as news broke of a new school shooting on Tuesday morning in Maryland."
"The House likely will not vote until Thursday on an omnibus spending bill, according to numerous lawmakers who attended a GOP conference meeting this morning. Some two dozen issues are still outstanding, members were told. The $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 measure must be passed before government funding runs out Friday."
"President Trump is preparing to impose a package of $60 billion in annual tariffs against China, following through on a long-time threat that he says will punish China for intellectual property infringement and create more American jobs. The tariff package, which Trump plans to unveil by Friday, was confirmed by four senior administration officials. Senior aides had presented Trump with a $30 billion tariff package that would apply to a range of products, but Trump directed them to roughly double the scope of the new trade levies."
"President Trump’s attorneys have provided the special counsel’s office with written descriptions that chronicle key moments under investigation in hopes of curtailing the scope of a presidential interview, according to two people familiar with the situation. Trump’s legal team recently shared the documents in an effort to limit any session between the president and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a few select topics" on order to "minimize his exposure. ... The lawyers are worried that Trump, who has a penchant for making erroneous claims, would be vulnerable in an hours-long interview."
White House Lawyer Ty Cobb said that President Trump not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Speculation swirled after Trump attacked the investigation on Twitter, and called out Mueller directly for the first time. “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration," Cobb said, "...the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller." Several members of Congress, "including some top Republicans, warned Trump to not even think about terminating Mueller."