What to Know in Washington: Trump Wades Into U.K. Politics

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Donald Trump sent off Theresa May yesterday by both applauding and needling a prime minister with whom his relationship was never special — and May showed her successor, whoever that is, how unpredictable the American president can be.

May opened a news conference following what could be her last meeting with Trump by outlining the many substantial rifts that have opened between their countries since he took office. Washington and London, she said, are now at odds — to varying degrees — over Iran, climate change and China.

Trump helpfully added another — suggesting that the U.K.’s cherished National Health Service be included in future trade talks with the U.S. There was immediate backlash from British lawmakers, and Trump later told ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” that the NHS wouldn’t be on the table.

The relationship between the two leaders remains as fraught as when it began. May will soon step down after Parliament rejected her latest proposal for a Brexit deal.

Trump is still around for at least another year and a half, and showed once again on his trip — ostensibly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings — that he feels free to intervene in the domestic politics of America’s closest ally. Read more on Trump’s trip from Josh Wingrove.

Photographer: Neil Hall/Pool via Bloomberg
Trump and May arrive for a news conference in London on Tuesday.

Trump joined other leaders at events today in Portsmouth, England, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion that was decisive in the allied victory in World War II.

As events started, Trump met with Queen Elizabeth II. The event is also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Theresa May and other leaders.

Pitstop at Home of Duty-Free Shops, Irish Coffee: On his way to check out his golf course in the Irish village of Doonbeg, Trump will stop at the airport today for a brief meeting with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

But not just any airport. The perfunctory encounter is most notable for its setting: Shannon Airport, which bills itself as the home of Irish coffee, duty-free shopping and the backdrop for a handful of diplomatic incidents.

The airport, situated on Ireland’s western coast outside Limerick, made its name in the 1940s as a way-station for the first trans-Atlantic flights from the U.S. Every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy has passed through its gates. The airport claims that Irish coffee was invented by its chef in 1942, and that it opened the first duty-free shop in the world in 1947.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the early front-runner in the Democratic contest to challenge Trump’s re-election in 2020, so often visited Shannon’s chapel and shopped Ray-Bans at the duty-free that his picture hung on the wall. Current Vice President Mike Pence has greeted deploying U.S. troops in the airport’s lounge. Read more from Margaret Talev and Dara Doyle.

Onward to France: Trump heads to France tomorrow for commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings. The U.S. president remains deeply unpopular among the French, but his support in the country has grown. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Huffington Post, the percentage of French who have a positive image of Trump is 19%, up from 7% in November 2017. By comparison, the approval rating of France’s own president, Emmanuel Macron, hovers around 30%. Read more from Gregory Viscusi. Trump joined other leaders at events today in Portsmouth, England, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion that was decisive in the allied victory in World War II.

As events started, Trump met with Queen Elizabeth II. The event is also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Theresa May and other leaders.

Happening on the Hill

House Passes Immigrants Bill: Legislation to provide legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants passed the House on a vote of 237 to 187. The bill would legalize over 2 million young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. It also would provide lawful status to immigrants covered by temporary protected statuses and deferred enforced departure, and immigration programs for foreign nationals whose home countries are unsafe due to an armed conflict or natural disaster. Read more from Laura D. Francis and Genevieve Douglas.

Senators to Rebuke Trump on Mideast Arms: A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce 22 resolutions of disapproval in reaction to the Trump administration’s move to override congressional holds on more than $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, according to a person familiar with their intentions. An emergency declaration issued on May 24 allowed Trump to circumvent the normal process for congressional approval, letting the disputed sales go through immediately “in the national security interests of the United States.” The move angered lawmakers, who vowed to take legislative action to block the arms sales.

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) will be joined in the bid to reverse the administration action by Sens Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (D-Ky.), according to the person, who asked not to be identified before the move is announced. Read more from Daniel Flatley.

Nadler Rejects Demand to Cancel Contempt Vote: House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler(D-N.Y.) said he won’t accept a demand that the House cancel its scheduled contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr in exchange for the Department of Justice returning to negotiations over the subpoena for the entire and unredacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Ben Livesey reports. “I cannot help but wonder what role the imminent floor vote played in you finally responding on June 4 to letters that have been pending for weeks,” Nadler, in a letter to Barr, wrote. “At any rate, we are ready to proceed without conditions.”

Senate Republicans Block Bipartisan Retirement Bill: A handful of Senate Republicans is holding up a House-passed retirement tax package. Individual senators disagree with the bipartisan measure to varying degrees. The House passed the measure on a 417-3 vote before leaving town for the Memorial Day recess. But Senate tax writers weren’t able to clinch unanimous consent in their politically charged chamber to send the bill to Trump’s desk.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will continue work on winning over some half-dozen detractors who still need to be convinced, as he put it, that passing a retirement bill is better than getting nothing at all. The GOP colleagues still pressing him for answers include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Read more from Warren Rojas.

Neal May Bring IRS Bill Without Free-File: House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal(D-Mass.) is likely to bring up an IRS tax administration bill without a controversial free-file provision, according to people familiar with discussions. The House could then pass the measure and send it to the Senate. An April House-passed measure (H.R.1957) which codifies the IRS’s Free File program, is stuck in the Senate because of the provision. Read more from Kaustuv Basu.

Trump Tax Returns Fight: House Democrats clamoring for Trump’s tax information have eagerly awaited a newly passed New York law allowing limited access to the president’s state returns. But they’re about to be disappointed. Neal would be the only Democrat allowed by the new law to ask for the documents, but so far he has said he won’t do it. Neal has said he fears that getting the state returns would bolster Trump administration arguments that Congress is on a political fishing expedition — and not, as Neal has claimed , overseeing the IRS’s annual audits of the president.

Yet some of Neal’s colleagues have little interest in legal nuance and say the state tax returns are better than none at all. They’re pointing to the measure passed recently by the New York State Legislature, which Governor Andrew Cuomo is widely expected to sign. Read more from Laura Davison.

Big Tech Could Get Subpoenas in House Probe: The House panel conducting an antitrust investigation of technology firms is prepared to issue subpoenas focusing on the impacts of digital platforms on news organizations, the lawmaker leading the probe said. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the Antitrust, Commercial & Administrative Law Subcommittee, said he’d consider proposing a bill to reform antitrust laws before the current session of Congress ends at the end of 2020. Read more from Naomi Nix.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who chairs the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, urged House lawmakers to refrain from launching a bipartisan investigation into technology companies’ dominant market powers. “Antitrust is a highly technical inquiry, not something that lends itself to easy generalizations or blanket condemnations,” Lee said in a press release. Read more from Victoria Graham.

Movers and Shakeups

FAA Pick Gets Double Take: The Senate is taking extra time to review Steve Dickson’s nomination to lead the Federal Aviation Administration after reports of a safety whistleblower lawsuit from his time at Delta Airlines that he did not disclose. “New information has come to the committee’s attention that merits further examination. The committee has been reviewing this information and I have asked the Department of Transportation and the White House to do the same,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in a statement.

A Delta employee alleges she was retaliated against after she raised concerns to officials, including to Dickson, about pilot fatigue, pilot training, training records, and Delta’s Safety Management Systems, according to the lawsuit. Safety issues were at the forefront of Dickson’s confirmation hearing because he would take the helm at the agency while it’s under review for how its certification processes may be related to two fatal Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes. Read more from Shaun Courtney.

Space Force Nominee Gets Early Nods: Gen. Jay Raymond, nominated to head a new U.S. Space Command, sailed through a confirmation hearing yesterday at the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel’s members appeared satisfied with Raymond’s pledges to coordinate space operations with the military service branches and warfighting commands.

“One of the things we are doing with the stand-up of U.S. Space Command, and if confirmed I’ll work very hard to do this, is integrate more effectively with the geographic combatant commands around the world,” said Raymond, currently commander of Air Force Space Command in Colorado. “That is what all of us on this side of the table are wanting to see,” said Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Travis J. Tritten reports.

Labor Relations Chief Questioned on Ending Talks: Colleen Kiko, the leader of the federal government’s labor relations agency, faced criticism from House Democrats yesterday over her decision earlier this year to no longer recognize the union representing the agency’s staffers. “The FLRA chairman has exhibited unprecedented anti-union bias,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations. Read more from Louis C. LaBrecque.

Tarbert for CFTC Advances: The Senate yesterday advanced the nomination of Heath Tarbert to be chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The vote to limit debate on the nomination was 82-9. Tarbert, who has been the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for international markets for the past year, would replace J. Christopher Giancarlo at the helm of an agency that is the primary U.S. watchdog for the $595 trillion global derivatives market, Ben Bain reported in December.

Politics and Elections

Climate Change Test for Dems: Democratic voters are using climate as a litmus test for 2020 candidates — who are proposing solutions that would have been viewed as politically unthinkable just four years ago. The candidates are outdoing one another with multitrillion-dollar plans in a bid to win over progressive voters. These expansive proposals, which go far beyond the policies of President Barack Obama, could make Democrats less palatable to the blue-collar and Midwestern voters who fear the impact of tough climate rules on jobs and the economy.

“The policies that are being advocated on the left right now may be alienating the voters they are attempting to reach,” said Paul Bledsoe, who advised President Bill Clinton on climate issues and now works as an adviser with the Progressive Policy Institute. “Candidates on the left are outbidding each other on the costs and ambitions of their plans to appeal to climate activists.”

Mike McKenna, a GOP energy strategist and pollster, said the plans were a “tremendous gift” to Republicans. Read more from Ari Natter.
Meanwhile, front-runner Joe Biden released a $5 trillion climate change plan yesterday that lifted several passages from other sources without attribution, which his campaign blamed on an oversight. His campaign staff corrected the mistake by adding attribution, but the episode threatens to serve as a reminder to voters of the plagiarism scandal that hobbled Biden’s first presidential campaign more than 30 years ago. Read more from Tyler Pager and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.

Booker’s Housing Plan: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) wants to cut housing costs with a tax credit for Americans who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. “Making sure all Americans have the right to good housing is very personal to me,” Booker said in a statement that accompanied the release of his housing proposals today. “I’m determined to tear down the barriers that stand in the way of every American being able to do for their families what my parents did for mine.” Read more from Emma Kinery.

Sanders Takes Populist Message to Walmart: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is bringing his populist presidential campaign to the front door of Walmart, attempting to pressure the country’s largest private employer to improve pay and working conditions for the working-class voters he’s counting on to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders will be at Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting in Rogers, Ark., today to introduce a proposal, which has no chance of passing, to let one of the company’s hourly workers have a seat on its board. Read more from Laura Litvan and Josh Eidelson.

What Else to Know

Trump Says ‘No Bluff!’ on Mexico Tariffs: Republican lawmakers eager to halt a new round of tariffs on Mexican goods next week have spent days urging the Trump administration to negotiate a solution with Mexico’s government. But Trump is making clear he has no intention of cutting a quick face-saving deal, warning on Twitter late yesterday that he’s not “bluffing” in his threat to impose 5% tariffs on all imports from Mexico starting June 10.

That’s raised the stakes for a meeting today between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and White House officials that may be Mexico’s best chance to offer concrete steps to curb the flow of migrants into the U.S. Read more from Erik Wasson.

  • Food Trade in Crosshairs: Meat and grains, fruits, vegetables and even sugar. These are the dinner-table goods that are regularly imported back and forth between Mexico and the U.S. About $26 billion in farm and food goods moved north to the U.S. in 2018, while $19 billion in such items traveled south to Mexico, according to lender CoBankACB. Read more from Shruti Date Singh and Kevin Varley.
  • Steelmakers Push Back: Executives of three of the largest U.S. steelmakers are pushing back against Trump’s announcement he’s intending to levy duties on Mexican goods, fearing it will stymie the new North American free-trade deal. U.S. steelmakers are heavily integrated with industries like the automotive sector, which has key parts of its supply chains in Mexico. Joe Deaux and Matt Townsend have more.

U.S.-China Trade: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this weekend will have his first chance to break an impasse in a deepening trade war with China — if officials from the two countries decide they want to jump-start talks at an international summit in Japan. Mnuchin is set to meet Chinese central bank Governor Yi Gang during a gathering of G-20 finance ministers from June 7 to 9 in Fukuoka, according to a Treasury department statement yesterday. Read more from Saleha Mohsin.

Trump Says ‘Always a Chance’ of War With Iran: Trump said there’s “always a chance” of the U.S. taking military action in Iran, though he’d prefer to engage verbally with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “I’d rather not, but there is always a chance,” Trump said when asked about the prospect of conflict in an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “I’d much rather talk.” Read more from Alyza Sebenius.

Fewer Policies From FDA With Acting Chief: Fewer initiatives will come out of the FDA until the White House installs a permanent head, the agency’s longtime drug chief said yesterday. “It’s very difficult for an acting commissioner to make new policy directions and so forth,” said Janet Woodock, who leads the agency’s drug center. “Fortunately Scott [Gottlieb] left us with plenty to do.”

Gottlieb stepped down as FDA commissioner in early April after about two years in office. Ned Sharpless, who came over from the National Cancer Institute to be acting commissioner, made clear from his first speech he will continue Gottlieb’s push for a flexible regulatory approach to new and emerging technologies while cracking down on youth use of nicotine. Read more from Jeannie Baumann.

White House Data Strategy Focuses on Privacy: The White House released a federal data plan that would create a single agency-wide approach to the ethical use and sharing of data within the government while protecting privacy, security and confidentiality. The draft 2019-2020 action plan and memorandum—both released yesterday—outline the consistency of skills, interoperability, and best practices for the use and management of agency data, the administration’s chief information officer said on a press call. Read more from Rebecca Kern.

Trump Eyes Sanctions Against Democrats: Trump is using the Mueller report to take the offensive against Democrats suing him for scheming with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s final report has “definitively refuted” that there was a conspiracy to steal information from the Democratic National Committee, lawyers for Trump’s campaign said, asking a federal judge yesterday to dismiss the DNC’s lawsuit and make the Democrats pay legal bills. Read more from Kartikay Mehrotra.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com

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