weather icon Clear

House Dems take up defense bill, prepare for Mueller appearance

Updated July 8, 2019 - 6:10 am

WASHINGTON — House Democrats plan to take up their version of the Senate-passed defense bill this week as well as a possible ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and preparations for special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on his Russian election meddling investigation later in the month.

The House and Senate were in recess for the week of the Fourth of July and return early this week to pick up where they left off on legislation to authorize defense spending. A version has already passed the Senate, but the House version is still being written in the Armed Services Committee.

Senators also passed resolutions to block the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. President Donald Trump proposed the arms sales without congressional review by declaring an emergency because of an escalation of military activity and strained relations with Iran. Trump cited Iran’s shooting down of a U.S. military drone in declaring an emergency that allowed him to bypass Congress and conduct arms sales with Middle Eastern countries.

“When we come back, we will be doing national security issues,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a news conference before House members left Washington. House lawmakers will return on Tuesday.

The House is expected to pass similar legislation rejecting Trump’s emergency and the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and other countries, despite the president’s vow to veto the Senate resolutions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposed the Senate resolutions rejecting the president’s actions, but even Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it was the wrong signal to send to Saudi Arabia, which is accused of human rights abuses and the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also involved in the war in Yemen, opposing Iran-backed rebels, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives and been categorized by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

In addition to the arms sales resolutions, the Senate also passed the defense authorization bill before recess, 86-8.

McConnell has scheduled votes on judicial and executive branch nominations when the Senate returns Monday evening.

Meanwhile, the House judiciary and intelligence committees are preparing for testimony by Mueller on his report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Though Trump was cleared by the special counsel of criminally conspiring with the Russians, the report contains damaging details of the president’s attempts to thwart and shut down the probe by suggesting that Mueller be fired. In his report, Mueller left it to Congress to determine whether obstruction charges should be leveled against the president.

Democrats have seized on the report to spotlight the president’s behavior in advance of the 2020 elections. Testimony by Mueller before the two committees on July 17 will present an opportunity to have the special counsel appear on television for viewers who have not read the dense report.

Republicans have defended the president and are expected to grill Mueller on the conclusions and methods of the investigation.

The appearance by Mueller could precede an impeachment inquiry by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., which he said he is prepared to launch if the facts bear out the need to take such action against the president.

Though a growing number of House Democrats favor an impeachment proceeding against Trump, any such action would likely die in the GOP-controlled Senate, where McConnell and Graham have vowed to move on from the yearslong Mueller investigation.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Joe Biden leads fundraising in Nevada

Joe Biden, the former vice president, outpaced all his Democratic rivals for the 2020 presidential nomination in Nevada fundraising in the second quarter of 2019.

US’s ‘remain in Mexico’ expanded to dangerous part of border

The U.S. government on Friday expanded its policy requiring asylum seekers to wait outside the country to one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities, where thousands of people are already camped.

British say Iran seizes 2 vessels in Strait of Hormuz

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it has seized a British oil tanker that was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Dems questioning Mueller will focus on obstruction

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee who will question former special counsel Robert Mueller next week plan to focus on a narrow set of episodes laid out in his report.

County commission cautiously open to working with school district

The Clark County Commission on Thursday signaled a cautious willingness to partner with the Clark County School District on education initiatives that would be funded through a potential quarter-percent sales tax, but stressed the need for accountability, information and easier public access to school grounds.