Speaker John Boehner is facing the boldest challenge yet to his job, but one that's highly unlikely to end up costing him the House gavel.
He's been fighting with the far-right wing of his caucus, and on Tuesday Rep. Mark Meadows, a hard-line North Carolina conservative, introduced a resolution that would "vacate" the chair — meaning oust Boehner.
But in a sign that the resolution was a warning, not a real shot at Boehner, Meadows did not seek to designate it as "privileged." That would have required a vote by the House. Instead, his resolution was referred to the House Rules Committee, where it will surely die an ignominious death.
Still, it's a reminder that the anti-Boehner forces in the House are trying to gather steam before the beginning of the next Congress, when they will have another chance to try to elect a different speaker.
Meadows said Tuesday that he was trying to force a "family conversation" among Republicans on the course of congressional leadership after a series of conflicts between Boehner's leadership team and a cadre of a few dozen conservatives. "It's really more about trying to have a conversation on making this place work, where everybody's voice matters, where there's not a punitive culture," he said. "Hopefully, we'll have some discussion about that in the days and weeks to come."
Meadows was at the center of a recent tiff when he was stripped of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee chairmanship after voting against a leadership-backed procedural vote on trade legislation. The post was restored after an uproar from fellow conservatives, but bad blood has lingered. Meadows filed the motion a day before the House is set to take its final votes before leaving on a six-week summer recess.
Here are 9 more things you should know before you start the day.
1) You'll hear this again during the campaign: A Donald Trump aide said a husband can't rape his wife
Time magazine reports on an aide and lawyer to insurgent Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offering up the kind of views about rape that could reverberate in the campaign:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump distanced himself on Tuesday from his lawyer and top aide, Michael Cohen, who had sparked controversy for saying sexual intercourse with a spouse can never legally be considered rape.
"When I first saw [Cohen make the comments] I said, ‘Wow.’ You know it is something I disagree with. But that’s the way it is. He’s speaking for himself. He’s not speaking for me obviously," Trump said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
Spousal rape has been against the law in all 50 states since the early 1990s.
Cohn "apologized on Tuesday for making 'inarticulate' comments on the subject of marital rape that have ignited the latest in a series of political controversies involving the Republican presidential candidate," Reuters's Emily Stephenson writes.
Don't expect this to go away anytime soon.
2) Marco Rubio finds a home away from home in South Carolina
Marco Rubio is a little bit like the state of South Carolina: conservative and trying to show he's ready for the future. Perhaps that helps explain why he's getting a warm reception in the Palmetto State. The New York Times writes that his approach to politics is representative of South Carolina's values:
if there is one group that encapsulates what the Rubio base is, it would probably be the Republican voters of South Carolina. The electorate here, with its close replication of all three legs of the Republican Party’s stool of fiscal, social and national defense conservatives, essentially fits the Rubio campaign’s playbook.
Mr. Rubio spent the last two days testing the waters here as he made a relatively quiet trip through the central and northeastern parts of the state, drawing curious but not especially large crowds. His approach at this point — six months before the first voting starts — is to keep his profile and the expectations around his campaign low, but not so low that he fades into the background of a noisy 16-person field.
3) Hillary Clinton unveiled her climate change plan this week, which has highlighted her dodging on the Keystone XL pipeline
This was pretty predictable. Clinton's release of a climate change plan focused on increasing solar energy use has backfired in that it has concentrated attention on her ongoing refusal to say whether she supports the Keystone XL pipeline. She dodged again — with a new twist — on Tuesday, as MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald writes:
Clinton has been dodging questions on the controversial pipeline for years, both in the U.S. and especially Canada, where it would originate. She has found novel ways of saying "no comment" each time. Interest in the pipeline ebbs and flows, and for months, her silence has not ruffled any feathers.
But the issue came roaring back to life Tuesday as Clinton rolled out her climate plan in New Hampshire, when a man asked her to "please" answer "yes or no" whether she supports it. Clinton once again recused herself, saying it would be inappropriate for her, as a former secretary of state, to comment while her predecessor is still considering it.
"If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question," Clinton replied. "This is President Obama’s decision and I’m not going to second-guess him."
4) Speaking of Hillary Clinton, the New York Times's botched story on her email was a prime example of how the Clinton rules affect reporting
I wrote for Vox about how the New York Times's since-corrected story about an investigation into the handling of email at the State Department reflects the unwritten Clinton rules that guide reporters who cover the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state:
The Times's failure on this story is a triple whammy for Clinton: There's the hit of the original report itself, the echo effect of other reporters reinforcing the storyline by writing their own versions, and the reminder for fatigued voters that a Clinton presidency would be characterized by endless investigation and hypercharged political debate. Ultimately, the Times treated her unfairly. That happens. Journalists aren't perfect, and sometimes they get the story wrong. But the incentives to destroy Clinton are so strong that it happens to her a lot. The public suffers not just for that but for the liberty it grants Clinton and her allies to conflate erroneous reports with solid stories and argue that it's all bogus.
5) The "billionaire class" likes Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush has put together more than $100 million for a Super PAC that is taking on some of the basic functions of his campaign. That's a big number, and it required the help of some pretty prominent Bush backers, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
A Texas oil man, a Wall Street financier and several former U.S. ambassadors are among the top donors to Jeb Bush’s super PAC, providing hard evidence the Republican establishment is rallying to his presidential candidacy as he girds for a long primary battle.
Mike Fernandez, a Cuban-American billionaire who gave $3 million, is the biggest donor to the Right to Rise super PAC, which set a record fundraising pace and bested all of Mr. Bush’s rivals—Democrats and Republicans—by amassing $103 million in the first six months of 2015.
The names help confirm that the Republican establishment, supplemented with a healthy dash of Florida financial backers from Mr. Bush’s days as governor, are prepared to deliver a powerful flow of money that no other GOP candidate is likely to match.
6) The incredible shrinking Rand
Rand Paul has all but disappeared from the national political discussion. At one point he was considered enough of a threat to win the primary that Republican leaders thought about the best way to counter him. Apparently, it was to let him run. Because he's losing traction, and that's creating tensions at his campaign, according to Politico's deep dive into his campaign:
They described an operation that pitted a cerebral chief strategist against an intense campaign manager who once got into a physical altercation with the candidate’s bodyguard. And they portrayed an undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win — a man who obsessed over trivial matters like flight times, peppered aides with demands for more time off from campaigning and once chose to go on a spring-break jaunt rather than woo a powerful donor.
They sketched a portrait of a candidate who, as he fell further behind in polls, no longer seemed able to break through. Paul, lionized as "the most interesting man in politics" in a Time magazine cover story last year, was supposed to reinvent the Republican Party with his message of free-market libertarianism, his vision of a restrained foreign policy and his outreach to minorities. Instead, he has been overshadowed by louder voices like Donald Trump’s and better-funded figures like Jeb Bush.
7) Congress will punt on highway bill
Erica Werner of the Associated Press reports on the decision by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to try to pass a short-term reauthorization of transportation and infrastructure laws, just days after a big fracas in the Senate over its version of a long-term bill:
House Republicans announced plans Tuesday for a quick vote on a three-month highway spending extension, as Congress stared down a deadline to act or see states lose money for road projects during the summer driving season.
The leadership-driven plan would have the House vote on the legislation Wednesday, and then leave town for a five-week summer recess. The Senate would be forced to follow suit or face a lapse in highway programs.
The approach amounts to an admission of failure to come up with a longer-term bill despite claims from all sides that that is the goal. And it kicks the issue into what is shaping up as a messy fall on Capitol Hill, with deadlines on President Barack Obama's Iran deal and funding to keep the government open, among other thorny issues.
8) The Fed's interest rate calculus
It's not a matter of if, but of when and how fast, the Fed will raise interest rates. And, of course, a matter of how it will affect markets. The betting now is this fall and perhaps not much, as USA Today's Adam Shell explains:
The question is what financial markets have priced in? Is a September rate hike already in the market? What about hints from the Fed that it is leaning toward a more robust tightening cycle, which would mark a major change from their emphasis on a deliberate pace of hikes?
"I think the markets are prepared for a rate hike since the Fed has been pretty transparent about its intent," says Bill Hornbarger, chief investment strategist at Moneta Group. "The big question facing the market is how aggressive the Fed will be. If (Yellen) indicates the Fed will be anything but methodical and patient, it could spook the markets. (Investors) are still pricing in a very patient Fed with a rate only at 1% a year out (vs. about 0% now). If rates move faster than that, you (will) see more volatility."
9) GOP will try again to defund Planned Parenthood
The uproar over Planned Parenthood is now generating legislative action, as Roll Call reports:
A working group of Republican senators has reached a deal on the details of a bill to stop funding Planned Parenthood that will get a vote before the August recess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began the procedural gears to bring that bill directly to the floor just before the Senate adjourned Wednesday.
"The horrendous videos of senior executives from Planned Parenthood discussing in callous tones and shocking detail their role in a national scandal requires a congressional response. Our constituents demand it; the unborn deserve it," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. "This legislation would ensure taxpayer dollars for women’s health are actually spent on women’s health — not a scandal-plagued political lobbying giant."