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EPA’s Pruitt Faces Senate Scrutiny

Senators grill EPA’s Scott Pruitt on spending, security. NBC: “Embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said he doesn’t remember asking his security detail to use lights and sirens to speed his government-owned SUV through Washington traffic, even as Democratic senators disclosed an internal email saying he did… The hearing was the toughest grilling Pruitt has yet faced about ethical issues, ranging from his use of taxpayer money to fly first class to outsized spending on his personal security. Time and again, Pruitt responded by claiming he either couldn’t recall details or was unaware of decisions made by some of his closest aides.”

GOP Hardliners Want Immigration Floor Vote

GOP leaders scramble to kill House immigration rebellion. WaPo: “House Republican leaders made a full-court press Wednesday to forestall a GOP immigration rebellion that they fear could derail their legislative agenda and throw their effort to hold the majority in doubt. The effort began in a closed-door morning meeting where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that a freewheeling immigration debate could have sharp political consequences. It continued in the evening, when the leaders of a petition effort that would sidestep were summoned to a room with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), McCarthy and three other top leaders. Their message, according to attendees, was that efforts were underway at the highest levels, including with the White House, to get immigration legislation on the House floor before the midterm elections.”

Farm Bill Battle Escalates

Battles loom large ahead of major farm bill vote. CNN: “The lead-up to a Friday vote in the House of Representatives on a massive farm bill has become a messy battle wrought with fights over sugar prices, food assistance programs and now an unrelated but dramatic clash over an issue that has for years proved exceedingly divisive across the Republican Party: immigration.
With Democrats already vowing to oppose the bill, House Republicans will need to pass it with only GOP votes, but it was still unclear Wednesday night whether they had support within their own ranks to do it. The five-year farm bill was the primary focus of the GOP’s weekly meeting Wednesday morning, according to members who attended. Leaders were still trying to assuage concerns by conservatives concerned with the bill’s assistance to the country’s sugar industry. The vast majority of the bill’s funding addresses food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Republicans want to require more people to work in order to receive the benefits, extending the mandate to parents of school age children and to those in their 50s. That’s the main reason why Democrats are rejecting the bill — they worry the new requirements will prove too onerous for some of the very beneficiaries in need of the assistance. Those who fail to work or enroll in job training could be locked out for up to three years.”

Senate Votes To Save Net Neutrality

Senate votes to save net neutrality rules. The Hill: “The Senate on Wednesday voted to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, passing a bill that has little chance of advancing in the House but offers net neutrality supporters and Democrats a political rallying point for the midterm elections. Democrats were able to force Wednesday’s vote using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president’s signature, to overturn recent agency moves. Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John Kennedy (La.) — joined the 49 Senate Democrats to pass the bill 52-47. They argue that without the net neutrality regulations, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally, companies such as Verizon and Comcast will be free to discriminate against certain content or boost their partner websites.”

Trump Calls Border Migrants ‘Animals’

Trump calls some unauthorized immigrants ‘Animals’. NPR: “Trump, speaking on Wednesday to a gathering of officials from California who oppose the state’s ‘sanctuary’ law, compared some people who illegally cross the U.S. southern border to ‘animals.’ During a White House roundtable discussion with law enforcement officials and political leaders, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims expressed frustration that California law signed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown forbids informing U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement of undocumented immigrants in the state’s jails, even if police believe they are part of a gang. Trump’s response: ‘We have people coming into the country — or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country, you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals,’ the president said.

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