Lawmakers to face Trump questions in return to Washington

AP24151776714306 e1717105518953

Former President Trump’s conviction in his New York hush money trial is poised to dominate the conversation on Capitol Hill this week, as lawmakers return to Washington and face questions about the guilty verdict and how they think it will affect the presidential election and down-ballot races as the calendar inches closer to November.

A handful of vulnerable House Republicans has remained mum on the former president’s conviction, while other GOP lawmakers are vowing action in response to the conviction — two dynamics that will take center stage when lawmakers in both chambers make their way to the Capitol on Monday.

Also this week, Anthony Fauci is set to testify before a House panel, marking the first time in nearly two years that he will appear publicly before lawmakers. The hearing — focused on the U.S.’s COVID-19 response — could get fiery, as Republicans vow to grill the public health expert who has become a boogeyman on the right.

On the House floor, lawmakers will consider legislation to sanction International Criminal Court officials after the ICC requested arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli and Hamas leaders. The lower chamber will also vote on the first of 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2025.

On the other side of the Capitol, senators will vote on a bill to protect access to contraceptives, as Democrats seek to highlight reproductive rights in the lead-up to the November elections.

Trump conviction to dominate conversation

Lawmakers are sure to face questions about Trump’s 34 guilty verdicts when they arrive at the Capitol on Monday, which marks the first day many will come face-to-face with reporters since a 12-person jury voted to convict the former president for falsifying business records in the case, which was centered on a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The members most sought out will likely be a group of vulnerable House Republicans who have yet to comment on Trump’s conviction. The GOP lawmakers hail from districts President Biden won in 2020, a dynamic that makes their reaction to the guilty verdict more complicated as they vie for reelection in November.

That GOP list includes California Reps. Mike Garcia, Michelle Steel, David Valadao, John Duarte and Young Kim, in addition to Reps. Tom Kean Jr. (N.J.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and David Schweikert (Ariz.). They did not respond to The Hill’s requests for comment last week.

As the GOP group’s silence persists, the House Democrats’ campaign arm is beginning to go after the front-line Republicans, upping the pressure as they leave people wondering when — and how — they will respond to the historic conviction.

“If these shameless, self-serving GOP representatives cared a single bit about ‘law and order’ in California, they’d be condemning this 34-time convicted felon instead of endorsing him to be President of the United States,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Dan Gottlieb said in a statement, name-checking many of the California lawmakers who have remained silent.

The vast majority of the Republican Party, meanwhile, has continued to hammer away at the guilty charges, labeling the process that led to the conviction politically motivated and criticizing the prosecution’s star witness, Michael Cohen, as untrustworthy.

Top Republicans have signaled that their outrage will translate into action on Capitol Hill in the near future. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) announced last week that he will “demand” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and another top prosecutor who worked on the hush money case appear for a hearing on June 13.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Sunday said the purpose of that event is to “investigate what these prosecutors are doing at the state and federal level to use politics, you know, political retribution in the court system to go after political opponents, federal officials like Donald Trump.”

“We have to fight back, and we will, with everything in our arsenal,” he added during a “Fox News Sunday” interview. “But we do that within the confines of the rule of law. We believe in our institutions.”

House GOP set to grill Fauci

House Republicans are set to grill Anthony Fauci during a high-profile hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic this week, which will mark the first time since September, 2022 that the public health expert has testified publicly.

The hearing, before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, is slated for Monday at 10 a.m.

The event comes after Fauci — who stepped down as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the end of 2022, after nearly 40 years in the post — sat for two closed-door interviews with the panel in January, during which Republicans pressed him on the “lab-leak” theory of the COVID-19 origins and the six-foot social distancing guidelines, among other topics.

The panel released those transcripts on Friday, ahead of Monday’s hearing.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), the chairman of the panel, said he is interested in asking Fauci about his role in the response to the pandemic and the origins of COVID-19. Republicans are also expected to ask Fauci about allegations that a NIAID official evaded public records laws to conceal records related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Retirement from public service does not excuse Dr. Fauci from accountability to the American people,” Wenstrup said in a statement last week.

House to vote on ICC sanctions legislation, appropriations bill

The House this week is slated to vote on a bill to sanction the ICC after its chief prosecutor filed arrest warrants for Netanyahu and other Israeli and Hamas leaders last month, a move that sparked widespread bipartisan outrage in Washington.

The measure — led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) — calls for imposing sanctions on ICC officials who “engaged in any effort to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any protected person of the United States and its allies.”

The sanctions would include blocking U.S. property transactions for individuals, deeming them inadmissible to the U.S. and revoking any visas they have.

“If the ICC insists on targeting Israel, a democracy defending itself against evil, the U.S. must stand against them and ensure there are consequences for these international bureaucrats,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) wrote in a floor lookout Sunday night.

The vote is sure to fracture the Democratic Caucus, which has been split on the ICC’s move. Pro-Israel Democrats have slammed it, accusing the officials of drawing a false equivalency between Israel and Hamas, while pro-Palestinians liberals — who are up in arms over the mounting humanitarian deaths in the Gaza strip — have called for the court’s independence to be respected.

Adding to the internal politics, the White House last week said it was opposed to sanctioning the ICC, complicating bipartisan negotiations that had been ongoing for days.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan filed the arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the leaders of Hamas last month, arguing that they “bear criminal responsibility” for a handful of war crimes, such as starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and extermination as a crime against humanity.

ICC judges will not determine whether or not to grant the warrants.

The House this week is also set to vote on the first appropriations bill for fiscal year 2025, kicking off floor consideration of government funding measures ahead of the Sept. 30 shutdown deadline. 

The legislation — one of 12 appropriations bills — funds military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The House Appropriations Committee advanced the measure in a 34-25 vote last month.

Senate to vote on bill protecting right to contraception

The Senate this week will vote on a bill to protect access to contraception as Democrats look to lean in on the issue of reproductive rights ahead of the November elections.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Sunday that the upper chamber would vote on the legislation — titled the Right to Contraception Act — on Wednesday.

The vote comes ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that struck down Roe v. Wade — the case that established a constitutional right to abortion — sending the question of abortion rights to the states.

The contraception legislation is unlikely to clear the Senate, where the 60-vote filibuster exists. But the vote will give Democrats an opportunity to put Republicans on the record on reproductive rights, and help fuel pro-choice messaging on the campaign trail ahead of November.

“Democrats have been clear we will not stand for these attacks and we will fight to preserve reproductive freedoms,” Schumer said in his Sunday letter.

“The hard-right MAGA Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade opened the floodgates for Republicans to force their anti-reproductive freedom, anti-women agenda down the throats of all Americans,” he added.

Consideration of the contraception bill comes after Schumer teed up a messaging vote last month on the bipartisan border deal, which a group of senators unveiled earlier this year. Republicans ultimately blocked the measure, which meant to give vulnerable Senate Democrats an opportunity to cast a vote on the record in favor of cracking down on the situation at the southern border, a matter emerging as a key campaign issue this cycle.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top