Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congress yesterday sent a funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services to President Trump's desk — the first time it has completed that bill in more than 20 years.

Why it matters: For all the chaos consuming Washington, this is a notable achievement for leadership, especially Speaker Paul Ryan. This bill has historically been bogged down by the politics surrounding abortion and the Affordable Care Act.

How it happened: Leadership in both chambers committed early on to passing appropriations bills through regular order this year. A few strategic decisions helped get the HHS bill — usually the most difficult one — over the finish line.

  • Leadership paired HHS funding with defense funding because conservatives weren't likely to vote against defense spending.
  • If the two hadn't been combined, "I think that the overwhelming majority of Republicans would be voting no," said Rep. Mark Walker, adding that it was "frustrating, because they take an issue that needs to be taken care of – defense, that’s been depleted for a decade – and attach it to something that maybe 40 Republicans would vote yes for.”
  • Because the Trump administration can pursue anti-abortion policies through the executive branch, congressional Republicans felt less of an imperative to vote to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • The bill doesn't provide any new funding for the Affordable Care Act, but also didn't cut any — a status quo Democrats could live with.

Democrats also say Republicans wanted to avoid a government shutdown right before into the midterm elections.

Go deeper

Appeals court allows House Democrats to continue lawsuit for Don McGahn testimony

Don McGahn in an October 2018 Cabinet meeting. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A D.C. appeals court on Friday allowed House Democrats to continue their case for testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn before the House Judiciary Committee.

Why it matters: The ruling has broader implications beyond this specific instance, agreeing that Congress has the standing to sue to enforce subpoenas against executive branch officials even if the White House refuses to comply.

There's little consensus on TikTok's specific national security threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok has become a Rorschach test for how U.S. politicians view China, with little consensus on the specifics of its threat to homeland security.

The big picture: Much of what D.C. fears about TikTok is fear itself, and that's reflected in President Trump's executive order to ban the app by Sept. 20 if it's not sold by parent company ByteDance — alongside another focused on Chinese messaging app WeChat and its parent company Tencent.

U.S. sanctions Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

The Treasury Department on Friday placed sanctions on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, following months of tension as she has allowed continued overreach by Beijing to subvert Hong Kong's autonomy.

Why it matters: It's the toughest sanction yet imposed on China for its destruction of Hong Kong’s relatively free political system.