Pompeo and Haspel Face Confirmation Headwinds

Wall Street Journal: “Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director and Mr. Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of state, is in danger of receiving an unfavorable committee recommendation, over concerns that his past hawkish statements complicate his ability to conduct diplomacy. While the full Senate could still vote to confirm him, that would mark the first time in more than 70 years the chamber would have bypassed a committee to do so.”

“Gina Haspel, the nominee to lead the CIA and now the agency’s deputy director, is expected to face questions about her involvement in a post-9/11 interrogation program that detractors say amounted to torture. Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said he would oppose her nomination over her role in the interrogation program, while Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.)—who was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam—has asked for additional details about Ms. Haspel’s involvement. Several other Republicans have told The Wall Street Journal they have concerns about Ms. Haspel and haven’t decided whether to support her nomination.”

Tillis Draws Fire with Effort to Protect Mueller

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) “isn’t the kind of Republican who typically challenges Donald Trump,” Politico reports.

“But now he’s a lead sponsor of a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from interference by Trump — enraging conservatives and potentially risking the president’s ire. It’s the biggest gamble Tillis has taken as a Republican senator, but one he believes is philosophically consistent with how the GOP would be treating a Democratic president.”

Said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): “I can tell you conservatives in my district are not happy about it.”

Dems Prep a Plan if Rosenstein Is Fired

“With rumors swirling that President Trump could soon fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, key Democrats this week began putting together an emergency action plan,” National Journal reports.

“Step one: Don’t call for impeachment.”

Said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): “The first 24 to 48 hours, if and when that happens, we should stay calm; we should do our best to reach out across the aisle and talk to our colleagues and say, ‘Seriously, we cannot allow this to happen.’ Just don’t go immediately to DEFCON-1,” said a member of Congress who attended the meeting but asked for anonymity to discuss it candidly. “We should not say anything—let the dust settle for a minute. What I took from it is it’s better to build a coalition across the aisle than just to come out guns a-blazing saying, ‘We’ve got to impeach him now.'”

GOP Senators Send Signal to Not Fire Mueller

First Read: “Yesterday, we posed this question: Would congressional Republicans draw a line in the sand when it comes to protecting special counsel Robert Mueller? The answer we got 24 hours later: While they haven’t raced to pass legislation, several GOP senators did fire warning shots at President Trump.”

“So these are definite cracks in the ground between Trump and his party, at least in the Senate. And they come at a time when congressional Republicans are upset at Trump on other matters like the tariffs.”

GOP Fears They Couldn’t Confirm Pruitt Replacement

“There’s one big reason Senate Republicans are standing staunchly with Scott Pruitt: Confirming a replacement might be impossible. Even as the embattled EPA administrator faced another day of difficult headlines on Monday, there is no push from the Senate GOP to shove Pruitt out,” Politico reports.

“Instead, Republicans are gently rapping him for his ethical transgressions and praising his deregulatory regime. There’s no question that GOP senators are growing tired of defending Pruitt. But turning on him would likely backfire, as the shrunken Republican majority would struggle to confirm any EPA administrator, let alone another one as conservative and driven to overturn former President Barack Obama’s environmental rules and regulations.”

Duckworth Gives Birth to a Girl

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) “on Monday gave birth to a daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, becoming the first sitting senator to have a baby while in office,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

“Duckworth, who turned 50 on March 12, is one of only 10 women in the history of the nation to give birth while in Congress, with the other babies born to members serving in the House.”

Zuckerberg Preps for Congressional Spotlight

New York Times: “Ahead of Mr. Zuckerberg’s trip to Washington, Facebook has hired a team from the law firm WilmerHale as well as outside consultants to coach him on questions lawmakers may ask, and on how to pace his answers and react if interrupted, according to people close to the preparations, who would speak only anonymously because the sessions were private. Facebook has also set up mock hearings involving its communications team and outside advisers who role-play members of Congress.”

“Internal staff has pushed Mr. Zuckerberg to answer lawmakers’ questions directly, and not to appear overly defensive. Their goal is to make Mr. Zuckerberg appear as humble, agreeable and as forthright as possible.”

McConnell Says Judges Are His Biggest Accomplishment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Kentucky Today that the biggest accomplishment of his career is the rapid confirmations of conservative judges to every level of the federal judicial system, not passing a massive tax bill.

Said McConnell: “You’ve heard me say before that I thought the decision I made not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Scalia died was the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career. The things that will last the longest time, those are my top priorities.”

He added: “It’s noteworthy that when we did comprehensive tax reform 30 years ago, we left it alone for four years before the political winds shifted and we started playing with it again. Believe me, the next time the political winds shift, and the other guys are in the ascendancy (he snapped his fingers indicating a rewrite). But they won’t change these judges for a generation.”

Why Senate GOP Isn’t Going Nuclear

“President Trump might need to hire a vote counter in the West Wing. That person would be able to explain to the president why Senate Republicans are in no rush to eliminate the legislative filibuster despite his constant pleas,” the Washington Post reports.

“Their reluctance is not just some longing for the better, bygone days of bipartisanship, but also a recognition that Republicans have passed just about all they can on a simple majority.”

“Senate Republicans are too divided to pass party-line legislation, whether on a border wall or the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and instead need Democratic support to get just about anything done. All of that makes the ‘nuclear option,’ as the heavily partisan way of changing Senate rules is known, pretty pointless. There’s nothing that they can’t pass with 60 votes that they can pass with 51 votes.”

Senators Fume Over McConnell’s Tight Grip

Politico: “When Mitch McConnell took over as majority leader in 2015 after years in the minority, he vowed to make good on a central campaign pledge of returning to a more ‘free-wheeling’ Senate. And in the early days of his tenure, he did: McConnell presided over open, raucous floor debate on the Keystone XL Pipeline, winning praise even from some Democrats.”

“But the Senate has reverted to form. The body has taken just 25 roll call votes on so-called binding amendments so far during this two-year Congress, a sharp decrease from the 154 amendments voted on by this point during the 114th Congress under Barack Obama. Each year since McConnell took over, the Senate has voted on fewer nonbudget amendments: 140 in 2015, 57 in 2016, 19 in 2017 and six so far this year.”

Said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): ‘There’s a lot of weeks I’m not sure why I show up.”

Corker Says He Won’t Become a Lobbyist

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) says he has “no idea” what he’ll do once he leaves Congress in January, but he does know one thing his future won’t include: Following the well-worn Washington path from lawmaker to hired-gun lobbyist, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Said Corker: “You won’t see me around here. I don’t think I’ll be up here. You certainly won’t see me doing any kind of government relations work or anything like that. But, you know, we’ll see what happens.”