GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the Week in Congress (May 15-19, 2017)

3 min read

Gavel Down - Closing out the week in Congress

Not a stretch…

to say that this was one of the crazier weeks in American political history. 

Most of the Capitol Hill coverage centered around reactions to revelations of former FBI Director Comey's notes about interactions with the president reports that the president gave classified information to the Russians, and the appointment of a special counsel for the Russia investigation.

Also this week, the FCC voted to begin the process of rolling back net neutrality rules; the tax-writing committee held a hearing to kick off tax reform efforts; and a group of senators met to discuss the outlines of a potential bipartisan health bill. Efforts to reform and upgrade government technology also got a boost with a House vote and a White House pow-wow. And the House passed several bills to mark National Police Week.


Russia Investigation


Lawmakers spent much of the week responding to developments from the White House and the FBI.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump last week, reportedly kept copious notes of all interactions with the president, which include conversations that appear to attempt to end the investigation into former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.

Oversight Chair Chaffetz fired off a letter to FBI requesting memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings. Sen. Graham invited Comey to testify before his Judiciary Committee subcommittee. 

In addition to the Comey developments, lawmakers responded to reports the president shared highly classified information with the Russians (which the president confirmed). Israel was revealed as the source of the information, which was from the "most valuable" source of information on ISIS’ plots.

Patience wore thin on the Hill, with members finding unique & not-so unique ways of expressing themselves. Call it the Capitol Hill two-step.

On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director, Robert Muller, as special counsel to investigate interference in the 2016 election and related matters. Lawmakers from both sides responded positively to special counsel announcement. 

While the special counsel will work as a prosecutor to look into any matters that rise to the level of criminal offenses, many members continued to call for the formation of a special independent commission (like the 9/11 commission) that would provide a public report. House Democrats filed a discharge petition to force a vote on a Swalwell bill establishing an independent commission. The petition needs 218 signatures to force a vote and is currently at 191.

Net Neutrality


The Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 to begin rolling back the 2015 Net Neutrality regulations that prevent Internet service providers from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites. It will take public comments for 90 days on the proposal. Congressional Republicans may consider codifying the changes.


#ICYMI: (In Case you Missed It) / DC

  • President Trump leaves today for his first foreign trip abroad
  • Senate Dems attended health care meeting with Republicans on the down-low
  • Capitol Hill is not embracing administration’s plans to gut Office of National Drug Control Policy and new DoJ sentencing directive, where bipartisan consensus for reform was emerging
  • Wheels starting to turn in Senate for infrastructure bill
  • A really adorable thing actually happened on Capitol Hill
  • Another really cute thing happened – this time at the Library of Congress
  • Rep. Chaffetz will resign from Congress at the end of June with Rep. Gowdy taking the Oversight gavel
  • Is he headed to Fox News?
  • The House tax-writing committee, Ways and Means, held the first tax reform hearing this week
  • Speaker Paul Ryan says tax reform is happening in 2017.
  • Washington small talk ain’t what it used to be
  • HHS Sec Price receives blowback for comments on opioid treatment
  • White House requesting comments from Americans on how to reform government
  • Office of Congressional Ethics looking into Rep. Collins’ biotech investment
  • Sen. Hatch open to keeping the ACA's individual mandate
  • Lobby groups to watch in the healthcare debate
  • We have a new "fastest lawmaker" in DC
  • Dem leaders are "afraid of the 'i'-word"; Rep. Curbelo was the first Republican to mention the i-word; Rep. Amash was second
  • Speaker Ryan says tax reform happening in 2017
  • Photos of senators just hanging out go viral
  • Sen. Cruz dominated this caption contest
  • House GOP leaders talked gov modernization with president and aides yesterday
  • How people in Washington are handling this insane week
  • Former-Rep. Weiner pleads guilty
  • Trump transition team knew that Michael Flynn was under investigation for improperly lobbying for Turkey without registering as a foreign agent
  • Flynn used his influence to halt Obama administration's plan to arm the Kurds, against the wishes of Turkey
  • DC cops intervened as security guards attacked Kurdish protesters outside Turkish embassy on the same day as President Trump’s meeting with Turkish president
  • Rep. Lofgren calls to rescind visas from Turkish bodyguards who attacked protesters in DC
  • House passed bipartisan Hurd bill to modernize government technology




#ICYMI: (In Case you Missed It) / Nation

  • The folks back home understand the Freedom Caucus
  • The laptop ban is coming… and brings its own problems
  • Apple’s new mothership
  • Initial Facebook effort to fight spread of fake news had opposite effect
  • Chelsea Manning has been released and returned to active duty after then-President Obama commuted her remaining sentence
  • The Emoji States of America dataviz is amazing
  • Seattisco Valley?
  • How easy is it to hack into Mar-a-Lago?
  • 21st Century gov: San Francisco may ban sidewalk delivery robots
  • Will we one day elect an algorithm?
  • This is why you are stressed out




ICYMI / World

  • The president set out on his first overseas trip, with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Brussels, and Sicily
  • The messy Saudi “Game of Thrones” succession power struggle that may need delicate handling
  • What’s in the Saudi arms deal anyway? And how did it happen?
  • What atomic scientists are saying about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities
  • The Dutch king’s double life
  • What do Canadian PM Trudeau and French president Macron have in common?

Please keep in mind that highlighting specific legislation does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.