House of Representatives

Winery Partly Owned by Nunes Sued After Fundraiser

“In 2015, Alene Anase was asked by her employer Alpha Omega Winery to serve guests as part of a charity cruise on the San Francisco Bay. But what she expected to be a routine shift serving wine turned into a nightmare,” the Fresno Bee reports.

“The guests aboard the yacht that night — described in her 2016 lawsuit as 25 of the Napa Valley-based winery’s top investors, all men — were openly using what appeared to be cocaine and ‘drawing straws’ for which sex worker to hire.”

One of the investors: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Garrett May Quit Congress

Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) “has abruptly parted ways with his chief of staff and is considering not seeking reelection in November,” Politico reports.

“The first-term Garrett represents a conservative district that stretches from southern reaches of the state to more northern areas. His seat has become more competitive this election year in part because he’s posted anemic fundraising totals. In recent months, the congressman has struggled to keep pace on the fundraising front with his Democratic opponent, journalist and filmmaker Leslie Cockburn.”

The Cook Political Report rates Garrett’s seat as Lean Republican.

A Bad Month Ahead for Paul Ryan

Playbook: “There is no question June is going to be absolutely brutal for the speaker, given the Republican leadership’s curious decision to elevate immigration as an election-year issue after more than a decade of division on the topic.”

“If Ryan is to be removed, Republicans have two choices: try to oust him on the House floor, or find a candidate with 218 votes to tell him he’s gotta go. Neither option is viable at the moment, even according to Ryan’s most fervent detractors. That doesn’t mean it won’t be at some point. That means today, May 23, neither option is viable.”

Washington Post: “Multiple Republicans said this week that the only factor that could accelerate Ryan’s departure is intervention from Trump, who is caught between his friendship with McCarthy and conservative allies who want to force a race. For now, the White House is not convinced that Ryan staying as speaker through the end of this term is a tenable situation.”

Ryan Losing Grip on House GOP Conference

Speaker Paul Ryan “is losing his grip on the feuding House Republican conference just months before pivotal midterm elections, caught between dueling factions vying for power inside the party and facing scattered calls for his departure ahead of a planned year-end retirement,” the Washington Post reports.

“But there is no clear way out for the party. Numerous aides and lawmakers said Tuesday there is not a viable alternative to Ryan who can win enough support within the GOP for a clean transition before November — and there is little stomach at the moment for the messy battle that would ensue when Ryan departs.”

Ryan Pushes Back on Pressure for Early Exit

Speaker Paul Ryan defended himself “amid reports of threats to his leadership position and reiterated his view that it’s not in Republicans best interest to have a divisive leadership race before the November midterm elections,” Roll Call reports.

Said Ryan: “Obviously I serve at the pleasure of the members; those are the people who drafted me in this job the first place. But I think we all agree the best thing for us is to complete our agenda and not wedge into the completion of our agenda divisive leadership elections.”

Playbook: “More than two years after running for speaker for the first time, Ryan is still reminding people he was drafted into the speakership. He’s making clear that he isn’t clinging to power — this job wasn’t even his first choice. But what would happen if he were to leave right now? Chaos, most likely, in the middle of an election year.”

Democrats Dream of Subpoena Power

Boston Globe: “If Democrats win the House in November, more than 20 Democratic chairmen would suddenly gain the power to compel reluctant witnesses to testify in front of their committees and cough up documents. The result would be a made-for-TV bonanza of committee investigations, with Democrats able to consistently land hearing-room punches on President Trump for the first time in two years.”

“The prospect has Democrats dreaming of what they could do if they were able to take the majority.”

Ryan Facing Growing Doubts About Hold on Speakership

“Top House Republicans are privately questioning whether retiring Speaker Paul Ryan can make it through Election Day. No one’s plotting to take him out at this point, and Ryan insists he’s not going anywhere. But rank-and-file Republicans, including moderates who’ve been unflinchingly loyal to Ryan during his three-year tenure, have become increasingly willing to defy the lame-duck leader. And White House officials have also discussed whether Ryan should remain in the job, administration sources said, though there is no effort by the Trump White House to push out Ryan.”

“The doubts have been fueled by a series of high-profile embarrassments for the Wisconsin Republican. The most recent was the collapse of the Republican farm bill on the House floor Friday. But centrist Republicans have also backed Ryan into a corner on immigration, the most contentious issue facing the party. And this week, those moderates are expected to reach the 218-vote threshold needed to force bipartisan votes to protect Dreamers — despite Ryan’s effort to stop them.”

Mulvaney Wants Ryan to Step Down

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney “strongly endorsed the idea that House speaker Paul Ryan should step down in order to trigger an election that would force House Democrats to vote for unpopular Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi,” the Weekly Standard reports.

Said Mulvaney: “I’ve talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly. Wouldn’t it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That’s a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it.”

Top Republicans Consider Pushing Ryan Out

“Top Republicans in Congress and the White House have in recent days entertained a plan to push House Speaker Paul Ryan out of his post over the summer, in an effort to clear the way for his presumed successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to assume the speakership,” the Weekly Standard reports.

“A source involved in the conversations and who has discussed the idea with President Trump told The Weekly Standard that Trump believes there is merit to the plan, but has not formed a final position. McCarthy has been weighing the effort alongside a small group of trusted advisers, considering the pros and cons of forcing Ryan’s hand, and debating the best time to launch the effort. As of last week he had not spoken to Ryan about the idea.”

Paul Ryan’s House Is Collapsing

Jonathan Swan: “Paul Ryan’s House is collapsing, and if the chaos keeps accelerating it could force him out of the speakership before his planned graceful exit at the end of the year.”

“A group of about 20 moderate Republicans are threatening to help Democrats force a vote on a DACA bill. If this works, it could trigger a larger rebellion — likely driven by the Freedom Caucus — similar to the revolt that brought down Ryan’s predecessor John Boehner.”

“On Friday, House Republicans failed to pass the farm bill — one of Congress’s few remaining must-pass projects. Ryan, a lame duck Speaker, has little power over his members. He can’t convincingly threaten them. And nor can he cajole them or make any promises to help members in the future. He’s stuck.”

“The Republican House is careening into chaos at the moment its members most need to rally together. We’re less than six months away from the midterms, and the House is on the line. Hill Republicans are anxious and effectively leaderless. Nobody fears repercussions from a lame duck Speaker. So even the usually well-behaved moderate members are wreaking havoc.”

Republicans Claw at Each Other Over Farm Bill Implosion

“House Republicans are at each other’s throats after the Freedom Caucus delivered a shock to party leaders on Friday by killing a key GOP bill over an unrelated simmering feud over immigration. Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team were sure the group of three dozen rabble-rousers would cave. The partisan farm bill, after all, includes historic new work requirements for food stamp beneficiaries that conservatives have demanded for years. Plus, President Trump leaned in, tweeting his support for the bill Thursday night to up the pressure on the far right,” Politico reports.

“But Ryan’s team sorely miscalculated. In an embarrassing show of weakness, the bill went down on the floor after a last-minute leadership scramble to flip votes.”

“Almost immediately, Republicans pointed fingers at each other.”

Playbook: “Blame who you’d like. This is a House Republican Conference that is limping toward Election Day, unable to do something as simple as pass an all-Republican farm bill.”

House Fails to Pass Farm Bill

“A sweeping farm bill failed in the House on Friday in a major embarrassment to GOP leaders who were unable to placate conservatives demanding commitments on immigration,” the Washington Post reports.

“Leadership put the bill on the floor gambling it would pass despite unanimous Democratic opposition. They negotiated with conservative lawmakers up to the last minutes.”

“But their gamble failed. The vote was 198-213.”

Republicans In an Immigration Nightmare

Playbook: “Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise have spent this week trying to get Republicans to not sign a discharge petition that would open the House floor to a wide-ranging immigration debate. As of now, it’s been a failure.”

“After the trio spent the morning making the argument that this was not the path to go down, two Republicans — New York Rep. John Katko and Michigan Rep. Dave Trott — signed it anyway. That Republicans are openly defying their own leadership is relatively stunning. McCarthy has made the argument that an immigration vote could cost Republicans the majority. That clearly isn’t resonating.”

“Republicans are in a box. The discharge petition is a bad look for a lot of conservatives, who rightly think that the process will lead to a bill that will be carried mostly by Democrats. But it’s a central part of how the House works… Make no mistake this is a mess for the GOP.”

James Hohmann: “This open rebellion really is extraordinarily unusual. These renegade Republicans risk retribution from party chieftains by signing onto this petition over the strenuous public and private objections of leadership. But these lawmakers feel caught between a rock and a hard place: They also realize that they may lose reelection in November if they do nothing.”

Shouting Match Erupts Over House Chaplain

Politico: “No. 4 House Democrat Joe Crowley (D-NY), who is Catholic, and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) got up in each other’s faces on the House floor and squabbled over the merits of a special investigation into the dismissal. The exchange was so heated that some lawmakers and aides watching worried they’d come to blows, though Crowley’s office said that was never going to happen.”

“MacArthur walked over to the Democratic side of the chamber and accused Crowley of politicizing the issue. According to one source who witnessed it, MacArthur said he prays with Conroy regularly and he’s a Republican — so this is not a partisan issue and Crowley shouldn’t make it one. MacArthur, who is Episcopalian, said he was offended by Crowley’s actions. Crowley grew angry and started yelling at MacArthur saying, ‘I’m offended!’ He pointed to the speaker’s chair, arguing that Ryan was the one who made it a political issue when he fired the chaplain.”