-- Trade promotion authority legislation advanced by a 62 to 38 vote on Thursday, after Republican leaders promised Democrats a vote on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. Republicans left the vote open for about 40 minutes to give them time to sway the last remaining Democratic votes. Final passage is likely, perhaps as soon as this weekend. (Washington Post)
-- The Senate has at least three more votes to go on TPA, and they still have to deal with a highway funding extension and provisions of the PATRIOT Act before they bolt for Memorial Day recess. The House is gone, and they're not coming back. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote on an NSA reform measure sponsored by Sens. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), despite his own support for a full extension.
-- White House officials brought senators to the Situation Room to lobby them in support of the Leahy-Lee USA Freedom Act, which has already passed the House. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who's with McConnell on a full extension, said the briefings showed the bill doesn't have enough support to pass. The Senate could vote as early as Saturday on the bill. (Bloomberg)
-- Whip Count: More than half of, but not quite 60, senators support the House-passed bill. A handful, probably enough to reach 60, think a full extension is too much and the House-passed bill isn't enough. (New York Times)
-- President Obama said the U.S. is not losing the battle against the Islamic State, though he said more needs to be done to recapture lost territory in Iraq. Obama repeated his refusal to send troops; instead, he put the onus on Sunni fighters. "There’s no doubt that in the Sunni areas, we’re going to have to ramp up not just training but also commitment, and we better get Sunni tribes more activated than they currently have been," he said. (The Atlantic, New York Times)
-- The Obama administration is expected to announce a big new clean water regulation that would give the federal government the authority to limit pollution in lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. The announcement could come as early as today. But the House has already passed legislation that would block the EPA from moving forward, and the Senate is advancing legislation that would require fundamental changes before the rule is implemented. (New York Times)
-- Obama wants to visit Cuba, and he could do so before his term ends in 2017. Obama said in December that he and Cuban President Raul Castro weren't about to go traveling together. But the State Department said talks between U.S. and Cuban diplomats would continue on Friday, a sign of progress. (Washington Post)
-- Former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal said in a statement Thursday he will cooperate fully with the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which issued a subpoena seeking his testimony earlier this week. The committee asked Blumenthal to come in for a transcribed interview in June. (Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with the trade bill's progress in the Senate. WSJ finds health insurers seeking big rate increases ahead of next year. NYT and USA Today report on the fall of Palmyra, Syria. LA Times has a heartbreaking front-page photo of an oil-covered sea lion.
-- Every week, our friends at Facebook give us a peek behind the curtain at the stories that generated the most buzz online. Here's what was hot this week:
-- 10. George Stephanopoulos faces questions after revelations he donated to the Clinton Foundation. 9. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) says members of Congress should get a raise. 8. Islamic State commander Abu Sayyaf killed in U.S. Special Forces raid. 7. Nine dead after shootout between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco. 6. Military Religious Freedom Foundation calls for Air Force general to face court martial for speech in uniform at National Day of Prayer Task Force event.
-- 5. Elian Gonzalez reflects on his life and return to Cuba 15 years ago in interview with ABC. 4. Court documents allege Bill O'Reilly abused his ex-wife. 3. Republican presidential hopefuls struggle to answer whether the Iraq war was a mistake. 2. Hillary Clinton's correspondence with Sidney Blumenthal on Libya and the Benghazi attack faces scrutiny. 1. FTC accuses four cancer charities of fraud.
White House 2016
-- Clinton: The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday it failed to disclose another $26.4 million in payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups. The foundation counted that money, fees for speeches given by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, as "revenue," rather than donations, which is why it wasn't disclosed. The Clintons have given 97 speeches to benefit the foundation since 2002. At least one speech was paid for by a foreign government, Thailand. (Washington Post) Clinton's big announcement speech and rally is scheduled for June 13. (Washington Post)
-- Christie: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) didn't bother to reprise his 2012 video alongside Sen. Cory Booker (D) for an annual state roast with journalists because "we just don't give a s--- anymore." Christie had heard about a reporter getting in a car accident on the way to the event: "Why wasn't the car bigger and why weren't more of you in it?" he asked. And because he said a few adult words, the speech was "expletive-laced." (Bloomberg) Hey, C-SPAN folks, you any good at bleeping speeches?
-- Bush: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) offered some rare criticism of his brother's tenure on Thursday, over the size of government: "I think that in Washington, during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money," Bush said. "I think he could have used the veto power -- he didn't have line-item veto power, but he could have brought budget discipline to Washington, D.C." (Washington Post)
-- Debates: Here comes the criticism. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said Fox News is wrong to require candidates to place in the top 10 in the five most recent polls to guarantee a spot on the debate stage on Aug. 6. Santorum is one of a handful of serious contenders, along with Ohio Gov. John Kaisch (R), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) who wouldn't make it if the debate were held today. (Washington Post)
Outside The Beltway:
-- Nevada: Rep. Dina Titus (D) told supporters Thursday she'll make a "big announcement" about the race to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D) in short order. "I promise you a decision will be coming soon," Titus wrote in an email. (Ralston Reports) A Titus campaign is not what Democrats want. Reid has made clear his candidate is former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
-- Pennsylvania: Rep. Bob Brady (D) on former Rep. Joe Sestak's (D) relationship with the state party: "There's not a lot of love there." Reid, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) have called Montgomery County commissioner Josh Shapiro (D) to gauge his interest, though they've talked to Sestak and others as well. (Politico)
-- Kansas: Residents who receive welfare will be limited to $25 in cash withdrawals per day beginning July 1, under a new law critics say will seriously cut into their already-limited benefits. ATM fees will take a big chunk of the roughly $400 a single mother with two children would receive every month. The new state rules may conflict with federal rules that require states to provide "adequate access" to benefits. (Washington Post)
-- Maryland: Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews resigned her post this week as she moves towards a bid for Rep. Chris Van Hollen's (D) House seat. Matthews will formally leave in June. Her personal spokeswoman, Anita Dunn, said Matthews will make clear her next move in a few months. (Washington Post) That's a pretty experienced spokeswoman she's got there.
-- President Obama this morning visits Adas Israel Congregation, a synagogue in the D.C. area this morning, to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month. This afternoon, Obama hosts the diplomatic corps for a reception in the East Room.
-- Vice President Biden heads to Annapolis this morning to give the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy.
-- The House is gone for the week.
-- The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. to resume consideration of trade promotion authority legislation. If they can't agree on an earlier vote, they'll take the next roll call vote at 5 p.m., followed by a cloture vote and then final passage. They're also expected to take up a highway funding extension bill and a PATRIOT Act measure before the Memorial Day recess, all of which could happen today.
-- Congratulations to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the first member of Congress (as far as we know) to use ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ on the floor of the Senate. (The Hill) How does that show up in the Congressional record?
-- Former city council candidate Marion C. Barry backed away from his plan to run for his father's old seat again next year at a sentencing hearing for a run-in with a bank teller in January. Barry received a 270-day suspended sentence and 12 months probation for the incident, in which he heaved a trash can over a barrier. (City Paper)
Business, Politics and the Business of Politics
-- Crossroads, pioneer of the outside group era, is lowering expectations for its own performance ahead of 2016. "Our goal is not to make American Crossroads the big dog of 2016," president Steven Law said. "We're a first baseman who effectively plays our position. ... We're a critical player, but part of a team." Crossroads plans to get involved in some Senate primaries and to defend the GOP majority. (New York Times) Buried nugget: Crossroads political director Carl Forti is in talks with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) campaign!
-- Stock futures are flat this morning after a pretty tame day on Thursday. Asian markets closed higher on Friday, while European shares were mixed. (CNN)
-- Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, now president of the Boy Scouts of America, said Thursday the group should end its ban on gay adult leaders. In an address to the Boy Scouts' annual meeting in Atlanta, Gates said the current rules "cannot be sustained." (Washington Post, New York Times)
-- The Post's $20 Diner says DCity Smokehouse and Fat Pete's are the two best barbecue joints in the D.C. area. Full rankings here.