Fox on the HillJuly 5, 2016 – Newsletters
2016 Presidential Election
A number of national polls show Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by approximately five percentage points, 44 percent to 39 percent, while other national polls show the race virtually tied. When looking at the breakdown of the issues, a poll conducted by Morning Consult showed the candidates virtually tied on almost every issue, including: strong leader, shares your values and better impact on your household’s income. The three issues where Trump leads Clinton are: who will create more jobs, do more to grow the U.S. economy and help boost the stock market more.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Friday that she will accept the recommendations of career prosecutors and the FBI with regards to the criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. Agents are investigating whether the private server led to any mishandling of classified information. The decision by Lynch removes the possibility and ability for a political appointee to overrule investigators in the case. It also removes the ability of the Justice Department to decline to follow the full recommendation of the career prosecutors and the FBI. This is significant because the FBI will at times recommend criminal charges where Justice Department officials did not believe they were warranted or worth prosecuting. The FBI is expected to make their recommendation to the Department of Justice within weeks. Calls for the Attorney General Lynch to recuse herself in the case escalated this week when it was revealed that she had a private meeting with former President Bill Clinton. Prior to serving as the U.S. Attorney General, Lynch served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a post to which she was appointed by former President Clinton. Critics contend her relationship with the former President has compromised her ability to remain neutral in the investigation of his wife.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has begun to rollout her agenda for a Clinton administration. A key component is ensuring every household in America has access to high-speed internet service by 2020. Clinton also pledged her support of the Obama Administration’s net neutrality rule.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are emerging as the top candidates to be Donald Trump’s running mate. Gingrich is seen as a party elder and would serve as a retrospective critic of Bill Clinton’s administration, while Christie has been publicly supporting Trump and working behind the scenes with GOP leaders and donors since suspending his own campaign. Others rumored to be under consideration include Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Bob Corker (R-TN), and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
The House is expected to vote next week on a legislative package of “anti-terrorism” measures. A part of this package is Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) bill that would give law enforcement agencies 72 hours go to court to prove “probable cause” that a person is involved in terrorism before that person can be banned from purchases a firearm.
State-Foreign Operations bill passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. This coming week the Senate can be expected to vote on the Defense Appropriations bill.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) has proposed legislation that would repeal caps on debit interchange fees, also known as the Durbin amendment – an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act. More than 50 state bankers associations have joined to support Neugbauer’s legislation. House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) also has legislation that would make adjustments to the Durbin amendment.
Foreign Affairs and National Security
Puerto Rico debt repayment aid package passed in the Senate last week and the President signed it before the July 1 deadline. The legislation was deemed imperfect by members of both parties, who ultimately came together to pass the legislation to avoid Puerto Rico defaulting on their debt payment.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber exploded outside of the Istanbul Airport allowing two other suicide bombers to enter the airport and explode inside. The attack took the lives of 41 people and injured more than 200. CIA Director John Brennan warned that terrorists may try to carry out similar attacks within the United States.
The Benghazi Committee released its final report regarding the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. The committee ultimately concluded that the Obama Administration, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, failed to sufficiently protect the American diplomats. The recommendation from the committee is that “the Executive Branch should provide for a central planning and coordination mechanism (likely within an existing entity) for interagency threat assessment and tracking for “force protection” of U.S. facilities abroad as well as planning, operations and response to potential attacks.”
The Senate failed to pass a $1.1 billion funding package to combat the Zika virus. The package was opposed by the Senate Democrats because it was funded by cuts to the Affordable Care Act and funds for combating the Ebola virus. The Senate Democrats also opposed provisions in the legislation that would block new funding for Planned Parenthood and it make allowances for pesticide spraying near water sources.
Before the Senate recesses for the summer, it will vote on whether to restrict federal funds going to “Sanctuary Cities” – cities that do not report convictions of undocumented immigrants for deportation. Known as “Kate’s Law,” the legislation stems from the case of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant with a record of several felony convictions. The Senate previously voted on “Kate’s Law” in October. The legislation failed then as it was combined with a proposed increase in mandatory minimum prison sentences for foreign nationals who enter the country illegally multiple times.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced an end to the Defense Department’s restriction on transgender troops. Service members will no longer be medically discharged for being transgender. The Pentagon is expected to issue a guidebook to military commanders and doctors on transgender issues and care. The military will begin to accept openly transgender recruits in approximately one year when the training and education of all current service members is complete.
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down decisions before adjourning for the summer. The justices struck down two key provisions of an anti-abortion law that required facilities to meet hospital surgical standards. The ruling is heralded as the most significant abortion ruling in a generation, and was decided by a 5-3 majority with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with the Court’s liberals.
In another decision, the court unanimously overturned the corruption convictions of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, because no “official act” was performed in exchange for the lavish gifts he received. In 2014, McDonnell was convicted by a jury on 11 corruption-related felony counts. McDonnell and his wife were both charged with accepting more than $175,000 worth of loans and gifts from a Virginia businessman who was seeking state help in promoting a tobacco-based dietary supplement.
In another one of its final decisions, the Court declared that those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions may not own a gun. The decision is not expected to change the current debate around gun control following the mass shooting in Orlando earlier this month.