The Pentagon has been studying its options since the chemical attack took place on Tuesday. Senior officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have been working closely on the issue against the backdrop of President Trump’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his private estate in Palm Beach, Fla., which began Thursday.
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CHINA’S XI COMES TO FLORIDA
That a meeting between the presidents of the United States and China is not the most important story of the day shows just how inundated with big news we are in the Trump era.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday to engage in what Tillerson described as “very frank discussions” about North Korea and trade.
Trump, in an echo of the presidential campaign, repeated his grievance about the large U.S. trade deficit to China to reporters on Thursday.
“We have been treated unfairly and have made terrible trade deals with China for many, many years,” Trump said. “That’s one of the things we are going to be talking about.”
On North Korea, Trump is hoping to persuade Xi to place more pressure on Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
SENATE GOES ‘NUCLEAR’ TO CONFIRM GORSUCH
It was an enormously consequential day in the Senate, as Republican leaders embraced the nuclear option and eliminated the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations.
The move was aimed at ensuring confirmation for Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, who will receive final approval in a vote on Friday.
The change means all presidential nominees for the executive branch and the federal courts can pass with only a simple majority of votes.
As our colleagues wrote, the decision paves the way for increased partisanship in the already deeply divided Senate and raises questions about whether the legislative filibuster will survive.
“Several senators openly fretted that eliminating the minority party’s right to block high court nominees could lead to the end of filibusters on legislation,” they wrote, “effectively transforming the Senate’s traditional role in the legislative process as the slower, more deliberative chamber.”
NUNES OUT AS LEADER OF HOUSE’S RUSSIA PROBE
Questions have been swirling for weeks about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and whether he is fit to lead the chamber’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.
Now, those questions are being answered.
Nunes temporarily recused himself Thursday from all matters related to the probe as the House Ethics Committee announced it would investigate his handling of classified information. He has denied any wrongdoing.
WHERE DO THINGS STAND ON HEALTH CARE?
As Congress leaves for a two-week recess, we want to provide a final update on the effort to revise Obamacare.
Under pressure from Vice President Pence, House Republican leaders unveiled a tweak to their original health-care plan that would set up a federal insurance pool for people with serious and expensive medical conditions.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) touted the amendment as bringing Republicans “closer to the final agreement that we all want to achieve.”
It is unclear, however, whether the conservative and moderate wings of the GOP will feel that the change goes far enough to address their concerns.
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