Politics & Government

Politics, elections, law, military and veteran's affairs

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If the election results of 2016 were really about rejecting the political establishment, then Congress didn't get the memo. After all, 97 percent of incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives seeking re-election won even as national polls show overwhelming disapproval of Congress.

The Trump administration has gone to court to try to bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under its control. The bureau is an executive branch entity, but the president doesn't have direct control over the six-year-old agency.

The Justice Department filed a brief with a federal appeals court in Washington on Friday, making the case that the structure of the agency violates the Constitution.

NPR's Chris Arnold reports that, by law, the head of the bureau can be fired by the president — but only for "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance." Chris adds:

It wasn't the common ground that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was looking for. When President Trump was asked at their joint press conference Friday about the White House claims that President Obama had enlisted British intelligence in spying on him, Trump looked toward Merkel and quipped, "At least we have something in common, perhaps."

Trump was referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped the German leader's phone during the Obama administration. Merkel wasn't laughing.

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Updated at 3:25 a.m. ET Sunday

Late Saturday night, another person threatening the White House was taken into custody, making the third threat in just over a week, and the second in one day.

The Secret Service says a driver was detained after "a suspicious vehicle" approached a White House checkpoint, according to Reuters.

Republican leaders plan to bring the American Health Care Act to the floor of the House for a vote next Thursday, and President Trump is now publicly applying his deal-making skills to ensure passage.

"I just want to let the world know, I am 100 percent in favor," Trump told reporters brought to the Oval Office to see the tail end of his meeting with about a dozen members of the Republican Study Committee. That group of House members includes some who'd been lukewarm about the bill going into the meeting.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

At a wide-ranging and occasionally tense news conference after their first in-person meeting Friday, President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed trade and border policy — and had one notable exchange when Trump was asked about his unproven claims that former President Obama tapped the phones at Trump Tower last year.

President Trump's budget blueprint calls for eliminating dozens of government programs and zeroing out funding for 19 independent agencies. And that may only be a preview of things to come as the Trump administration seeks to reorganize the executive branch.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

The House has approved legislation that would make it harder to keep veterans who are "mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent" or prone to blackouts from buying guns. Critics of the bill say it could raise the suicide rate among veterans — a rate that has risen in the past decade.

At least a dozen Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill, which was approved by a 240-175 vote.

President Trump has developed a consistent tactic when he's criticized: say that someone else is worse.

Many in Texas are keeping a close eye on the Republican bid to replace the Affordable Care Act. One of the big changes is how it would affect low-income people, seniors, and people with disabilities who get help from Medicaid. And people on both sides of the political spectrum say the Lone Star State is not going to fare well.

As the GOP bill, the American Health Care Act, works its way through Congress, Anne Dunkelberg with the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin says she's a little stumped.

Advocates for the poor say the budget plan the Trump administration rolled out on Thursday would be a kick in the shins for low-income Americans.

Sheryl Braxton, who relies on public housing, explained at a hearing in New York City this week that her community needs reinvestment, not less funding.

At most Supreme Court confirmation hearings, questions focus on hot-button social issues — abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage — and the hearings next week on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will be no exception.

But senators are also likely to spend a lot of time examining the nominee's views on federal regulations — of the environment, health and safety laws for workers, and laws on consumer rights and business.

In question is a doctrine that Gorsuch has criticized but that also once helped his mother.

The Chevron doctrine

Germany's Angela Merkel To Meet With Trump

Mar 17, 2017

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A friend of President Trump warns him not to lose his way on health insurance. Christopher Ruddy is CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax. He talks with the president from time to time.

With the Senate Judiciary Committee set to open hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, the game of confirmation cat and mouse is about to begin. Senators will try to get a fix on Gorsuch's legal views — and the nominee will try to say as little as possible.

Supreme Court scholars and practitioners on the right and left may disagree about whether they want to see Gorsuch confirmed, but in general there is little doubt about the nominee's conservatism. Indeed, his conservative pedigree is the reason he was picked.

President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, collected more than $50,000 from Russian companies, including a Kremlin-backed television network, according to documents released in a congressional inquiry.

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President Trump's proposed budget calls for big cuts in a wide array of domestic programs — among them, agencies that fund the arts, humanities and public media.

Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be cut to zero under the proposal, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely, the first time any president has proposed such a measure.

Ask any veteran lawyer about her worst fear, and you'll hear this: the client who digs a hole for himself — and then keeps on digging.

The challenge of defending a difficult client is once again in the news this week as the Justice Department has struggled to convince federal judges that President Trump's executive order, imposing limits on travelers from six majority Muslim countries, is not, in fact, a ban on Muslims.

Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET

If there was any doubt over President Trump's views on climate change, those doubts evaporated with the unveiling of his proposed federal budget on Thursday.

The budget would end programs to lower domestic greenhouse gas emissions, slash diplomatic efforts to slow climate change and cut scientific missions to study the climate.

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