Fox on the HillJuly 11, 2016 – Newsletters
FBI Director James Comey announced last Tuesday that the FBI is recommending to the Department of Justice (DOJ) that no charges be filed against Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a personal email server during her time as Secretary of State. Although the FBI found documents that were classified at the time she transmitted them, it saw no indication that she purposefully intended to share classified information. The DOJ has accepted this recommendation and will not be pursuing any charges against the former Secretary of State and current presidential nominee.
Director Comey subsequently testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the agency’s recommendation. He acknowledged the contradiction in Secretary Clinton’s public statements and the FBI’s findings, but explained that she did not lie to the FBI, which would have been a felony. When asked whether Clinton perjured herself in sworn statements before Congress, Director Comey advised that the FBI does not investigate matters before the Legislative Branch, due to separation of powers, without a referral from Congress. The Committee is expected to formally refer the matter to the FBI next week.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst have taken themselves out of the running to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate. Still on the short list are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. A new name also surfaced when several news organizations reported that Trump is considering retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Trump was on Capitol Hill last week to meet with House and Senate Republicans. Speaker Paul Ryan commented that the meeting united Republicans against Hillary Clinton.
The House has postponed consideration of an “anti-terrorism” package, which included gun control provisions that were added in the wake of the Orlando massacre. The legislation was opposed by Democrats for not being a strong enough move and by the House Freedom Caucus for infringing on due process rights. Democrats are also calling for a vote on standalone “no fly, no buy” legislation, but even if a vote were to occur, it would be merely symbolic since the measure has already failed in the Senate.
The House approved legislation appropriating funds for Fiscal Year 2017 for Financial Services and General Government. The bill cuts the allocation by 6.5 percent from the current funding and by 11 percent from what was requested by the President, ultimately allocating $21.7 billion. The legislation cuts funding for the IRS, SEC, Consumer Product Safety Commission and Government Services Administration, while increasing funding for the federal judiciary and Small Business Administration. Notably, the legislation changes the funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by making it subject to annual appropriations by Congress.
Foreign Affairs and National Security
Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry are convening the nations committed in the fight against ISIL for a defense and foreign ministerials at the end of July. It is also expected that the U.S. will be pushing for NATO and NATO member countries to commit to fight ISIL.
The House passed bipartisan legislation on mental health reform. The legislation was watered down from the version passed out of committee; however, it is still considered a landmark accomplishment that, according to its sponsor Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), “lays the foundation for how we should handle prevention and treatment.”
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor approved legislation appropriating funds for Fiscal Year 2017. The bill cuts the Labor Department’s spending by approximately 1 percent and the National Labor Review Board’s budget is cut by approximately 22 percent, each from the previous year’s enacted level. The legislation also includes language to block the Labor Department’s overtime and fiduciary rules.
The House voted to go into conference with the Senate on the National Defense Authorization Act. The conference is not expected to be resolved before the two chambers recess for the remainder of the summer on July 15. One of the most contentious issues to be resolved in the conference is the war funds in the Pentagon’s base budget. If left out, the U.S. war efforts would be funded only through April 30. It is expected that Secretary Ash Carter will request additional war funds in order to keep troops in Afghanistan.
House and Senate Leaders of Transportation Committees agreed to an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. The bipartisan agreement extends funding for the FAA through September 2017. Members of Congress would like to draft a long-term authorization, however, there is still a dispute among members and the Department of Defense, which controls 20 percent of the airspace, over spinning the Air Traffic Controllers off of the traditional Federal Aviation Authorization to become privatized.