cabinet

Administration Pushes Abstinence Promotion
Latest moves alarm reproductive rights advocates

Recording artist Ciara, center, performs in honor of National Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month in New York’s Times Square in 2011. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images file photo)

Recent administrative actions signal a shift from promoting comprehensive sexual health information to abstinence-only education, which concerns reproductive rights advocates who question abstinence promotion’s efficacy at preventing teen pregnancy.

The administration already announced last year the discontinuation of a teen pregnancy prevention, or TPP, program that funded grants to communities that study ways to prevent teens from getting pregnant and run prevention programs. The Department of Health and Human Services has promoted more abstinence-only alternatives and increasingly uses the phrase “sexual risk avoidance,” another term for abstinence, in materials.

‘Harden’ Schools to Combat Shooters, Trump Says
Calls for offensive measures, training and arming teachers

Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence outside the White House on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump wants to “harden” schools to secure them like banks, but the security guards he envisions would be teachers and other school employees.

For the second consecutive day, the president pitched the notion of giving firearms and specialized training to some teachers and school staffers so they could combat individuals who enter schools with the intent of killing people. He further drove home that he opposes existing laws allowing individuals under the age of 21 to purchase assault rifles.

House Oversight Probes Scott Pruitt’s Travel Expenses
EPA administrator has been under fire for first-class travel and luxury hotel stays

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is among several Trump administration officials under scrutiny for possible travel violations . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As questions about the official travel habits of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt mount, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is demanding documents and other information on his first-class flights, as it looks into whether federal laws were broken.

Pruitt has for several months been under fire for incurring high travel costs at taxpayer expense. After recent news reports of Pruitt’s use of expensive first-class flights and stays at luxury hotels, an EPA spokesman said the administrator had been given a “blanket waiver” to fly first class for security reasons.

Shooting Survivors, Victims’ Families Tell Trump Emotional Stories
Father of Parkland victim: ‘I’m pissed … I’m never, ever going to see my kid again’

Students calling for Congress to act on gun control demonstrate on the East Lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday. Later, President Trump met with survivors of three school shootings at the White House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:38 p.m. | President Donald Trump heard powerful testimonials Wednesday from survivors and family members of teenagers killed in last week’s Florida high school shooting massacre. But he signaled his focus is on related issues, not gun control.

The president started an emotional “listening session” at the White House vowing to be “very strong on background checks” and “very strong” on tackling mental health issues. He initially only vaguely referred to also being strong on “other things,” but later floated ideas such as arming specially trained school workers, setting age restrictions on some guns and opening new mental institutions.

Pence: Give Police, Families Tools for Mentally Disturbed
VP vows massive job creation via beefed-up space program

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-Va., speaks with D.C.-area students and supporters as they hold a protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration intends to give law enforcement and families the “tools they need to deal with” people who have health issues that might drive them to commit violent acts like mass shootings, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

As during similar remarks late last week, however, the vice president did not specify how much that might cost or whether the administration will seek emergency funds or push Congress to include the required monies in fiscal 2018 and 2019 spending measures.

Kelly Admits Missteps With White House Aides’ Clearances
Embattled chief of staff to phase out interim security clearances

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, seen here with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, has altered how the West Wing handles aides’ security clearances after the Rob Porter domestic assault scandal. (AP/Andrew Harnik file photo)

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, under fire after a former staffer’s domestic abuse scandal, has admitted the Trump team mishandled aides’ background investigations, and ordered new steps in how the West Wing handles security clearances.

In a five-page memo to staffers released Friday afternoon by the White House, Kelly alluded to the Rob Porter scandal but also attempted to spread the blame for a process he said was flawed but was one he inherited.

After Shooting, Trump Focuses on Mental Health, Not Guns
President says safety at schools will be priority, not limiting access to firearms

Members of the West Ohio Minutemen practice their right to carry firearms near the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An American citizen’s use of a military-style semi-automatic weapon to carry out a mass murder on U.S. soil thrust President Donald Trump into a somber spotlight on Thursday, and he sent a clear signal he views the incident as about mental health, not guns.

The president offered his condolences to the loved ones of the 17 people law enforcement officials say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He also spoke in the same measured tone he and his predecessor, Barack Obama, have used following shooters’ murderous rampages.

Trump Divided, Conquered in First Year in Office
An analysis of votes cast in 2017 shows GOP senators voted with the president 96 percent of the time

President Donald Trump speaks in January. An analysis of congressional votes suggests that Trump’s first year in office was a time of deepening partisanship. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump campaigned as a successful business mogul whose negotiating skills made him uniquely qualified to be a president capable of ending Washington’s decades of bitter partisanship to get things done.

Trump, in fact, got his way on almost every vote last year where he publicly stated a position, setting a record for success. The results of votes by both House and Senate combined show he won 98.7 percent of the time on issues he supported. That set a new bicameral record, besting Obama’s 96.7 percent success level in 2009 (the last time a president’s party controlled both chambers.)

‘Crisis Budgeting’ Likely Ahead Despite White House Claim
‘All sorts of riders’ could bring new shutdown threats, experts say

Copies of President Donald Trump’’s 2019 budget request are unpacked by House Budget Committee staff on Monday. Experts say it won’t end Washington’s decade of ‘crisis budgeting.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials contend the two-year budget deal that became law last week will end Washington’s spending crises and government shutdown threats. But President Donald Trump’s new budget request suggests otherwise.

Trump himself was lukewarm about the spending package he signed last week, which raised defense and domestic spending caps for the remaining seven-and-a-half months of this fiscal year and the next. And the president had little to say about the fiscal 2019 budget blueprint his administration sent to Capitol Hill on Monday. But his top aides painted each one as game-changing documents.

The Other Memo Lawmakers Want the Public to See — But Trump Doesn’t
The White House has shrouded a seven-page memo outlining POTUS’ interpretation of war powers

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban in May 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine is demanding that the White House release a secret memo outlining President Donald Trump’s interpretation of his legal basis to wage war.

The Virginia Democrat, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday requesting that he hand over the seven-page document drafted last spring.