Michael R Turner

Trump dings Biden during post-shootings trip, as lawmakers handle visits differently
‘Take these assault weapons off the streets,’ Sherrod Brown tells president in Dayton

Demonstrators line a street in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday before a visit from President Donald Trump. From there, he visited El Paso, Texas. Both cities were scenes of mass shootings last weekend that collectively left 31 people dead and dozens wounded. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump met privately Wednesday in Ohio and Texas with survivors of two deadly mass shootings, but he found time to publicly ridicule 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden as several local lawmakers took differing approaches to his visits.

The day’s traveling press pool was not allowed access to Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they met with shooting survivors and local officials at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president flew to El Paso, Texas, for a similar meeting that Trump was not there for a “photo op.” (The White House, however, released its own photos in a tweet.)

Emotional Portman hopes for consensus on combating gun violence after Dayton, El Paso mass shootings
Ohio Republican, at the Capitol on Tuesday, appeared shaken by deaths

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman was back at the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ohio Republican Rob Portman said Tuesday that after seeing blood being cleaned from sidewalks in Dayton, he hopes his fellow senators can emerge from their predictable partisan corners to find agreement on more legislation to address gun violence.

Portman pointed to working on “red flag” grants to encourage states to  keep firearms from individuals with mental health challenges as perhaps the most immediate step. Asked about an expanded background check bill sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III, Portman said, “I think we should look at everything.”

Report: Former members used ‘zombie campaign’ funds in lobbying for foreign interests
Members turned lobbyists used dormant campaign funds to make donations to the legislators they lobbied on behalf of foreign clients

Then-Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., left, and Michael Michaud, D-Maine, talk before a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in 2012. The men have pursued very different post-Washington careers: Miller now lobbies for Qatar. Michaud ran for town selectman in Maine last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress who depart Capitol Hill for a lobbying job have a few advantages: deep knowledge of legislative inner workings, rapport with former colleagues and sometimes, according to a new report, a chest of leftover campaign money.

At least 17 former lawmakers lobbying for foreign governments or foreign political parties maintain dormant campaign accounts — so-called “zombie campaigns,” according to a report published Friday by the Campaign Legal Center. And about half of them have used funds from those campaigns to make donations to the same legislators they lobby on behalf of foreign clients. 

House approves NDAA with no Republican votes
Progressive amendments helped Dems earn votes from the party’s more dovish members in the face of Republican opposition

Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., talks with ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, right, before a House Armed Services Committee markup in Rayburn Building on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Friday approved its defense authorization bill after adopting a slew of progressive amendments that helped Democrats earn votes from the party’s more dovish members in the face of Republican opposition.

The final vote on the fiscal 2020 bill was 220-197. No Republicans supported the typically bipartisan measure that traditionally has earned more than 300 of the 435 available House votes.

Panel approves pilot program to take military sexual assault cases outside chain of command
The number of sexual assaults at military service academies more than doubled 2013 to 2018, Speier said

Rep. Jackie Speier succeeded in getting her amendment to establish a program taking prosecution of military sex assault cases outside of the chain of command at the service academies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Advocates of taking the decision for prosecuting military sexual assaults — a persistent problem within the ranks — outside the chain of command scored a significant victory Wednesday when the House Armed Services Committee approved a pilot program that would do just that at the service academies.

Rep. Jackie Speier, chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, pushed through a four-year program that would require the commandants of the service academies to follow the recommendation of an independent prosecutor in cases of sexual assault.

House passes plus-upped disaster aid package

Relief for Puerto Rico after deadly hurricanes is among the issues hanging up a broader disaster aid package in Congress. (Angel Valentin/Getty Images)

The House passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid package to help victims of recent storms and flooding rebuild, with the price tag growing by about $1.8 billion on the floor through amendments to add funds for repairing damaged military facilities, highways, levees, dams and more.

The vote was 257-150, with 34 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the bill drafted by the Democratic majority. President Donald Trump and GOP leaders tried to tamp down defections on the bill, which they oppose because it would pump more money into Puerto Rico, which hasn’t yet been able to spend much of the $20 billion previously appropriated after 2017′s Hurricane Maria.

Air Force defends plan to buy new F-15s, fewer F-35s
Over the next five years, the Air Force plans to buy two dozen fewer F-35s than it had planned just last year

Ground crew members prepare an F-35 fighter jet for a training mission at Hill Air Force Base on March 15, 2017, in Ogden, Utah. Air Force officials got pushback from House Armed Services members, concerned about plans to purchase more F-15 jets instead of buying more F-35 planes. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Air Force officials on Thursday faced pushback from House Armed Services members concerned that the service’s plan to buy upgraded fourth-generation fighters won’t come at the expense of state-of-the-art F-35 jets.

The Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget request includes $1.1 billion slated to buy eight F-15EXs, with plans to purchase another 136 by 2024. At the same time, the service reduced the number stealthy F-35As to 48, although it later included 12 of the jets on a wish list of items that didn’t make the budget cut.

Lawmakers spar big-time on behalf of rocket companies
Billions of dollars in business, and the future of national security, are at stake in fight over developing a new generation of rockets

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on February 6, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world and is carrying a Tesla Roadster into orbit. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

More than two-dozen House members have thrown the latest punch in a bare-knuckled fight that pits competing U.S. rocket manufacturers and their allies on Capitol Hill against one another.

A bipartisan group of 28 House members urged Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson in an April 12 letter not to alter the service’s blueprint for developing a new generation of rockets to lift U.S. military and spy satellites into orbit. But plenty of other lawmakers have pushed for several changes.

White House braces for Mueller report as obstruction questions linger
Only a ‘bombshell’ would dramatically change public opinion, expert says

President Donald Trump talks with journalists before departing the White House on March 20. He is expected to depart the White House via Marine One on Thursday just hours after a redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report is released — and possibly take reporters’ questions about it. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

The White House is bracing for the public’s first glimpse at some of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings, but it likely would take a bombshell to alter President Donald Trump’s approach to campaigning for a second term.

Attorney General William Barr is set to release on Thursday morning a version of the former FBI director’s report — though a substantial portion is expected to be blacked out, redacted that is, for legal and security reasons. White House aides have long echoed Trump’s contention that his 2016 campaign did not conspire with Russians to influence the race, besides mirroring his denials about obstructing justice since taking office.

Some Republicans with bases in their districts break ranks with Trump over wall funding
Money shouldn’t be diverted from necessary military construction projects, lawmakers say

Ohio Rep. Michael R. Turner is among the Republican lawmakers with a military base in their districts who opposes the president’s circumvention of congressional spending powers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Though typically aligned with the White House, some Republicans who have military bases in their districts oppose President Donald Trump raiding $3.6 billion in military construction projects to finance walls along the southern border.

Recent polling finds that most Americans oppose Trump’s circumvention of Congress to divert already-appropriated funds to build a wall, and the percentage of voters who endorse the idea tracks closely to the president's approval rating.