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WASHINGTON- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he is not pleased that the governor of his home state has decided to join the Republican party.

“I am disappointed by Gov. Justice’s decision to switch parties,” Manchin said in a Thursday evening statement following Justice’s announcement at a Huntington rally alongside President Donald Trump.

“While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia,” he explained.

Justice has occupied the state’s highest office since January and is expected to officially change his party registration today.

Manchin, who served as governor of West Virginia before being elected to the Senate, is regarded by many political pundits to be one of the few remaining conservative-leaning Democrats. Manchin’s voting record suggests he is generally pro-life as well as pro-Second Amendment.

West Virginia was long considered a Democratic bastion due to strong support from card-carrying union members who worked in coal mines but as the party became more environmentally conscious and socially progressive Mountain State voters began supporting Republican candidates.

Bill Clinton in 1996 was the last Democrat to carry the state in a presidential election.

President Donald Trump, who has promised to bring dissipating coal mining jobs back to West Virginia, carried the Mountain State by 42 points in last year’s  presidential election.

Republicans occupy West Virginia’s three congressional seats. The Mountain State’s representation in the upper chamber is evenly divided.

WASHINGTON- Red-state Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) said Thursday they will vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Federal District Judge Neil Gorsuch.

“After considering his record, watching his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee and meeting with him twice, I will vote to confirm him to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court,” Manchin said in a statement.

“After doing my due diligence by meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his record and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve decided to vote in favor of his confirmation,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said that he will filibuster Gorsuch and more than a dozen fellow Senate Democrats also have suggested that they would participate in the filibuster.

A filibuster is a procedural tool that allows a senator to hold the floor and delay or prevent a vote on a proposal.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and several fellow Republicans on committee have suggested that they would be willing to invoke the  “nuclear option” in response to a Democratic filibuster.

Invoking the nuclear option would change Senate rules because it lowers the threshold for breaking a filibuster from 60 votes to a simple majority.

Republicans occupy 52 seats.

Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing last week before Grassley’s committee faced tough questioning from Democrats regarding his judicial philosophy on issues such abortion, Affordable Care Act contraception mandates, and the separation of church and state.

Gorsuch responded to critics on the committee by stating that his judicial rulings are based on the interpretation of law rather than ideological preference.

Many Democrats are still outraged that Senate Republicans refused to grant a hearing for D.C. federal appellate judge Merrick Garland who had been appointed to the high court by then-President Barack Obama in early 2016 to occupy the seat left vacant by deceased conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

The seat has been vacant since that time.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Gorsuch Monday and a floor vote is expected next Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On The Hill with Doug Christian

From Washington, DC, this is On the Hill. Doug Christian reporting.

Today’s headlines:

  1. North Korea’s launch of another ICMB tests International Resolve
  2. President Donald Trump pushes for another attempt to Repeal and Replace Obamacare
  3. Sen. Joe Manchin said Democrats will lose without a Healthcare fix.
  4. Russia Orders U.S. to Cut Diplomatic Staff by 755
  5. Jimmy Hoffa disappeared 42 years ago, now a break.

(Opening soundbite – Trump on Chinese President)

Body:

    1. President Trump heaped praise on China’s President, Xi Jinping, in France last month. Now North Korea’s launch of an ICBM, this time landing in Japanese waters, rattles the International Order. Now, President Trump tweeted:I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!

      However, China appears to be as worried by North Korea’s actions as the United States is. China has been bolstering defenses along its 880-mile frontier with North Korea and realigning forces, special forces, airborne troops, and other units that could be sent into North Korea in the even of a crises.

      Meanwhile the US Air Force flies B-1 bombers in a ‘North Korea nuke drill’ as Donald Trump may be ‘poised to launch military strike’ against the rogue state.

    2. Regarding the Senate’s failed attempt to repeal and replace of Obamacare, President Trump tweeted is frustration with the legislative process:

      Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!

    3. The Democrats shouldn’t get comfortable with the GOP’s failure. Sen. Joe Manchin warned that the Democrats will lose if they don’t address Obamacare’s faults and must seek to fix the Affordable Care Act. (Manchin)
    4. US-Russia relations continue to deteriorate. President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Sunday that the American diplomatic mission in Russia would have to cut its staff by 755 employees, a response to the new American sanctions that escalated the tensions between Washington and Moscow.
    5. Forty-two years ago, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) union from 1958 til 1971, disappeared. His disappearance has become one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th Century. FoxNews spearheaded an investigation into his death and Frank Sheeran’s claim he killed Hoffa in a house near the parking lot Hoffa was last seen. Blood evidence found in house by the investigators. (Sheeran Prosecutor)

This is On the Hill. Doug Christian reporting from Washington.

WASHINGTON- Following the shooting Wednesday at a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Va. that wounded five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) some members of Congress still do not believe extra security is warranted.

 “This is a pretty safe occupation… we have good protection here. And when I go back home and I’m in any type of a setting I have state police and all the people back home have been very good at working with us,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

Manchin previously served as governor of West Virginia and during his tenure in office received around-the-clock protection from a state police security detail. All 50 states provide similar protective measures to state governors as well as other key state officials.

Members of Congress are generally not entitled to a protective detail unless they are elected to a leadership position. However in some cases there has been a security detail for members who do not hold leadership positions, but it’s rare.

The Democrats who practice at Gallaudet University do not have a senior leadership member on their team, and they do not have a security detail assigned to their practice.

Scalise as the number three Republican in Congress had a security detail present at the time of the shooting. Two officers and two aides sustained injuries. The assailant was killed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also said the current security measures are sufficient.

“I’ll let the law enforcement people look at that. I don’t think we need to dramatically change our lives,” he said.

When asked if members of Congress should carry firearms Graham said: “If their state allows them and they want to they can.”

Graham brushed off an ensuing reporter’s suggestion that the Scalise shooting might reignite the national gun control debate by explaining that he owns an AR-15 and like most gun owners has responsibly exercised his Second Amendment rights.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refused to speak with TMN when addressed in the hallway of the Dirksen Senate Office Building but a staff member provided a statement acknowledging that the senator had been informed that the alleged shooter had volunteered for Sanders’ 2016 Presidential Campaign.

He later spoke on the Senate floor, saying, “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

West Virginia hops on medical marijuana train
West Virginia became the 29th state to enact legislation to allow the use of medical marijuana, thus jumping onto a train that is hurtling toward a head-on collision with federal law enforcement authorities. The Marijuana Policy Project noted that six states have adopted medical marijuana laws in the past year. Pointedly, three of the states—Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota—voted for Donald Trump in last November’s presidential election; and, the legislatures of the other three states—Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia—are controlled by Republicans.

Georgia voter registration law faces legal challenge
A Georgia voter registration law that could have an impact on the June 20 runoff election to select a successor to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) came under legal challenge from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The suit, filed in a federal district court in Georgia, cites a National Voter Registration Act provision that allows any person to vote if registered at least 30 days prior to a federal election. However, in Georgia, only persons who were registered no later than March 20 to vote in the April 18 special election will be eligible to vote in the June 20 runoff election.

Increased pill consumption linked to Obamacare
A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found evidence that the number of prescriptions filled by adults with Medicaid benefits increased 19% in states that used the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to expand their Medicaid programs. According to the study, the largest increases were for medications used to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, and for birth control.

Recalled: 55 tons of chicken nuggets
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said that Conagra Brands Inc. has recalled 110,817 pounds of frozen chicken nugget meals because the brownie dessert may be contaminated with Salmonella. The product, sold under the Banquet brand name as Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese, was distributed to retail locations nationwide.

FISA court was busy in 2016
Last year, the U.S. intelligence agencies submitted 1,752 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret tribunal that approves or denies permission to conduct surveillance under the USA FREEDOM Act. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the FISA court approved 1,378 applications as submitted, another 339 applications were approved with modifications, 26 applications were partly denied, and 9 applications were denied in their entirety.

Ocwen KO’d by federal and state regulators
Ocwen Financial Corp., of West Palm Beach, Fla., among the nation’s largest nonbank mortgage loan service providers, was hit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the bank regulators of 20 states. CFPB filed a lawsuit that accused Ocwen of “failing borrowers at every stage of the mortgage servicing process” and compiling a record strewn with “errors, shortcuts and runarounds” that caused some borrowers to lose money and others to lose their homes. State regulators, led by the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks, issued a cease-and-desist order that hampers Ocwen’s ability to remain in business.

Strike force demolishes Mexican drug gang
A strike force led by the Drug Enforcement Administration ended a year-long investigation by arresting 10 of 17 members of a Mexican drug gang that smuggled cocaine and methamphetamine into California and transported it to a distribution site in Colorado. DEA identified four of the arrestees as naturalized U.S. citizens. DEA said the gang sold narcotics through the El Rancho Market in Aurora, Colo., which has a money transfer station that was used to send money back to Mexico.

Straw donor pleads guilty
Adam H. Victor, 64, of New York City, pleaded guilty to violating the federal election law when he reimbursed family members for contributions made in 2011 to two federal candidates. The Department of Justice didn’t identify the recipients of Victor’s funds, but Federal Election Commission records show he and another family member contributed to West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s re-re-election campaign, and to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Victor is president of Transgas Development Systems LLC which announced plans in 2008 to build a $4 billion coal-to-gasoline plant in Mingo County, W.Va.

Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.

The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Wednesday, April 19

WASHINGTON – After a historic rule change, the Senate voted mostly along party lines, 54-45, to narrowly confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday.

Gorsuch’s confirmation as the high court’s 113th justice marks the end to a bitter partisan battle.

Gorsuch, 49, serves as a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. President Donald Trump nominated him in January to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly on Feb. 13, 2016.

Three Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – joined their Republican colleagues to vote “yes” on Gorsuch’s nomination. One Republican senator, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, abstained from the vote.

On Thursday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked  “nuclear option” to stop Senate Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination. The GOP leadership effectively changed Senate rules so that Supreme Court nominees no longer have to win 60 votes but can be confirmed by a 51-vote simple majority.

McConnell had led Republicans in refusing to consider former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

When asked by TMN on Friday if the Democratic filibuster was merely preparation for when a seat opens up that could change the ideological composition of the court, McConnell responded: “I don’t know. We don’t have another seat right now but [what] I’d like to see after the recess is to get back to some semblance of normalcy.”

“And you’ve watched these all-night sessions on cabinet appointments and a lot of other things that I think are pretty obviously a response to the core base of the Democratic Party, which is still really in deep depression over the outcome of the election, and I think it’s time to move past that,” he added.

Vice President Mike Pence called Gorsuch in Colorado after the vote. Gorsuch is expected to be sworn in on Monday in Washington.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

The upper chamber approved the nomination in a 52-46 vote following 30 hours of debate that began on Thursday when the Republican-led body voted to break a Democratic filibuster.

Senators Joe Manchin (W. Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) were the only Democrats who voted in favor of Pruitt’s nomination while Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) was the only Republican who opposed the nomination.

Pruitt has been criticized by environmental activists for actions that include eliminating a unit within the Oklahoma attorney general’s office that was charged with prosecuting polluters as well as having sued the EPA more than a dozen times during the Obama administration.

Pruitt has expressed doubt as to whether human activity has exacerbated global warming and has received substantial campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel industry.

On Thursday an Oklahoma judge ordered that Pruitt’s office provide a liberal watchdog group about 3,000 emails said to contain conversations between the attorney general’s office and representatives of oil, gas, and coal companies.

The emails had been requested under the state’s Open Records Act but the petitioners were consistently denied access.

Pruitt’s office must hand over the emails by Tuesday.

Prior to the vote, Senate Democrats unsuccessfully tried to push through a measure that would extend debate over Pruitt’s nomination to Feb. 27  when Congress returns from Presidents’ Day recess  to give lawmakers sufficient time to review the emails.

Reports emerged Thursday claiming EPA employees had lobbied against Pruitt’s confirmation by contacting their respective senators and urging them to vote nay.

President Trump during the campaign promised to roll back environmental regulations that were believed to have caused chronic job loss in the energy sector.

Trump signed legislation on Thursday nixing the Stream Protection Rule, which had been issued during the final days of the Obama administration. The Stream Protection Rule is designed to protect streams located near mines from coal contamination.

Congressional Republicans used the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress in certain circumstances to overturn regulations issued by the executive branch, to gut the Stream Protection Rule.

WASHINGTON – A conservative Washington group launched a $10 million ad campaign Wednesday targeting vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018 in states President Donald Trump won to try to pressure them into voting to confirm Supreme Court nominee federal Judge Neil M. Gorsuch.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, said the campaign is initially focusing on senators in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana because they are viewed as most likely to join Republicans in confirming Gorsuch.

The network is leading 50 conservative groups in the campaign, with paid network and cable TV ads and grassroots activity in the states.

“Some Democrats may be tempted to obstruct [Gorsuch’s] nomination,” Severino said. “But we have already launched a robust campaign in key states, and we will ultimately force vulnerable senators to choose between obstructing and keeping their Senate seats.”

She said the campaign, whose initial efforts in the four states will cost $2 million, will roll out in other states in the coming weeks.

“This campaign is anticipated to be the most robust operation in the history of confirmation battles,” Severino said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have insisted Gorusch would need 60 votes to overcome hurdles to a final confirmation vote. Republicans hold 52 Senate seats. Schumer has repeatedly vowed to block the nomination of any nominee deemed outside the “mainstream” and said Tuesday night, “Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard.”

For his part, Merkley said, “This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court.”

But already, six Democratic senators have said they support hearings for Gorsuch.

For Jon Tester (D-Mont.), that means breaking with Schumer, a longtime ally.

“I look forward to sitting down with Judge Gorsuch, looking him in the eye, asking him tough questions, and finding out if he shares our Montana values.” Tester said, He said he would be “thoroughly reviewing” Gorsuch’s qualifications.

And Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) said he would not support a filibuster and called on fellow Democratic senators to “put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed.”

Four other Democratic senators have said they support hearings for Gorsuch: Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-S.D.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

And Obama administration acting solicitor general Neal K. Katyal, who has argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, said he wished the nominee were a Democrat, but joined the senators’ calls Wednesday to give Gorsuch fair hearing.

“With environmental protection, reproductive rights, privacy, executive power and the rights of criminal defendants (including the death penalty) on the court’s docket, the stakes are tremendous. I, for one, wish it were a Democrat choosing the next justice,” Katyal wrote in The New York Times op-ed.

“Right about now, the public could use some reassurance that no matter how chaotic our politics become, the members of the Supreme Court will uphold the oath they must take: to ‘administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.’ I am confident Neil Gorsuch will live up to that promise,” wrote Katyal, a Georgetown University professor and partner the international law firm Hogan Lovells.

Gorsuch, 49, of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver is perhaps best known for his decisions in challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, requiring employers to offer female employees the full range of contraceptives as part of their health insurance. He sided with the Catholic order of nuns Little Sisters of the Poor and the evangelical Christian family owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores.

Gorsuch is also known for sharing the views of the justice he would succeed, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, on issues including abortion, firearms, affirmative action and capital punishment.

WASHINGTON – As thousands of people stream into Washington, D.C. this week to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president, a growing list of Democratic lawmakers are planning to boycott the event.

Nearly 50 Democrats in the House of Representatives have indicated that they will not attend Trump’s swearing-in ceremony Friday, particularly because of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and Trump’s rebuke of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Saturday.

“Obviously it’s a shame that these folks don’t want to be part of the peaceful transfer of power, but it’s within their right, and I think it frees up some great seats for the millions of people who are excited to see this president come to power and bring real change,” Sean Spicer, Trump’s incoming White House press secretary, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.

Spicer said the expected crowd at the inauguration, which Department of Homeland Security officials expect will number between 700,000 and 900,000 people, will demonstrate “that this will be an inauguration for all Americans.”

Trump lashed out at Lewis Saturday after the lawmaker said in a Friday interview he didn’t view Trump as “a legitimate president.” Lewis said at the time that it would mark the only time he has missed a presidential inauguration since he entered office in 1987 after playing a pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Trump responded to Lewis via Twitter, saying that he “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”

“Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!” Trump said via Twitter hours later.

Trump then Tuesday questioned Lewis’ claim that he had never missed an inauguration before, alluding to a Jan. 21, 2001 Washington Post article about Lewis skipping George W. Bush’s inauguration. The article records that Lewis spent Bush’s inauguration day in his Atlanta district.

“John Lewis said about my inauguration, ‘it will be the first one that I’ve missed.’ WRONG (or lie)! He boycotted Bush 43 also because he ‘thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush’s swearing-in….he doesn’t believe Bush is the true elected president.” Sound familiar! WP,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

In both the 2000 and 2016 election, the Republican candidate won the electoral college vote and hence the presidency, while losing the popular vote.

Many of the House Democrats, in explaining their reasoning for missing the swearing in, said they did not wish to condone or “normalize” Trump’s divisive rhetoric and agenda.

“I was planning on attending the Inauguration on Friday out of respect for the office of President, while still making it back home on Saturday to attend the Women’s March in Madison,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said in a statement released Sunday. “However, after long consideration based on reading the Classified document on Russian hacking and the Trump candidacy on Thursday, the handling of his conflicts of interest, and this weekend’s offensive tweets about a national hero Rep. John Lewis, I am no longer attending the event.”

Lewis’ remarks also have been met with some push back.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) called Lewis’ “not legitimate” charge against Trump “nonproductive” and “uncalled for.”

“The bottom line is if we’re concerned about the Russians and we know the Russians want to be involved, Putin wants to be involved in altering our process, then he will succeed if he sees this bickering going back and forth,” Manchin said Sunday on CBS.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday called Trump “the freely elected president,” emphasizing just as the Obama administration has that U.S. voters chose Trump. The report from the intelligence community on Russian election meddling did not conclude that Russia tipped the election, nor interfered with vote tallies.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that, to his understanding, President Barack Obama has not had any conversations with lawmakers to dissuade them from attending the inauguration.

Some of the lawmakers who plan to skip out on Trump’s swearing-in have indicated they will attend the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday while others said they will participate in community organizing in their home districts.

All eight U.S. Supreme Court justices will attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, a court spokeswoman said Tuesday. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will swear in Trump,  and Justice Clarence Thomas will administer the oath of office for vice president to Mike Pence.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had called Trump a “faker” in July interviews. Trump fired back with a tweet, saying, “Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot – resign!” Days later, Ginsburg then expressed regret for her comments. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office,” she said in a statement issued by the court. She called her comments “ill advised” and said, “In the future I will be more circumspect.”

WASHINGTON – The United States Senate late-Friday night approved a continuing resolution (CR) that maintains funding for federal agencies until late-April and averts a potential government shutdown.

The CR passed the upper chamber 63-36.

The measure passed the House 326-96 on Thursday afternoon but faced considerable opposition in the Senate.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) had previously insisted that the CR include a provision that would permanently maintain pension benefits for coal miners and their families who face losing their health care benefits in lieu of the United Mine Workers of America’s near obsolete trust fund.

Manchin then lowered the ante and said a one-year benefit guarantee would suffice.

“We’re talking of 60-, 70-, 80-year old widows,” Manchin told his colleagues in a speech Thursday. “Most of their husbands have died. And they’re still depending on this. This is the health care they have.”

On Friday evening Manchin essentially conceded defeat after realizing he did not have sufficient support to achieve the benefit extension.

“I don’t think we are going to get to the 41,” Manchin told reporters.

The CR maintains miner’s health benefits until April 28.

Manchin had previously pressured other lawmakers to quash the CR in the event his proposal was denied but later stated that he did not want to cause a potential government shutdown.

The senior West Virginia senator is reportedly planning to meet with President-elect Donald Trump on Monday to discuss a potential cabinet position. Many political pundits have speculated that Manchin might be asked to serve as Secretary of Energy.

Controversies surrounding funding to combat the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan were resolved on Tuesday evening when House Republican leaders reached an agreement with Congressional Democrats to include $170 million allocated for Flint in the CR.

The authorization for that money was contained in the re-write of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA).

The House approved the CR and WRDA on Thursday afternoon but several Congressional Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), voted nay in part because of the insertion of an eleventh-hour rider into the water bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would among other things grant the incoming administration near complete authority over the construction of dams in several western states.

Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Friday afternoon briefly filibustered in response to the rider and also unsuccessfully attempted to introduce an amendment that would have stricken that provision from water the bill.

Boxer argued that adoption of the rider might prove detrimental to future water projects in California and elsewhere by essentially amending the Endangered Species Act of 1973 so as to allow activities that might harm the environment.

“You’re destroying the Endangered Species Act,” Boxer said, “and what right does anybody have to do that, in the middle of the night?”

The water bill passed the Senate following passage of the CR.

Earlier in the week Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a defense-related proposal included in the CR that would make it easier for the Senate to confirm retired Gen. James Mattis, whom President-elect Donald Trump has selected as Secretary of Defense.

Republicans requested a waiver that would exempt Secretary of Defense nominees from a statute that requires former military personnel to wait seven years before being eligible to serve in that position.

Democrats eventually capitulated in support of a motion that would limit debate over whether to allow the waiver and that decision will likely expedite Mattis’s confirmation.

Had the Senate rejected the $1.7 trillion CR, the federal government would have run out of funds after midnight on Friday.

That in-turn would have raised the possibility of federal contractors going without pay as well as certain non-emergency personnel being subjected to a temporary furlough.