Congress

U.N. pick asked why almost half her days as Canada’s ambassador were spent elsewhere
Menendez noted the U.N. ambassador was away from her post for 300 days from Oct. 23, 2017, to June 19, 2019

Kelly Knight Craft, nominee to be ambassador to Canada, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017. She was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.N. ambassador, who is also a close friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada.

Kelly Knight Craft, a longtime Republican Party fundraiser and business consultant from Kentucky whose billionaire husband’s fortune comes from the coal business, does not have the diplomatic resume typical for envoys to the U.N. But her friendship of McConnell, R-Ky., virtually guarantees her confirmation.

Pentagon aid to Taliban gets blocked by House vote
The House adopted an amendment that would bar the Pentagon from spending any funds to aid the Taliban

Members of the Taliban surrender themselves to the Afghan Government, on August 26, 2011 in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. The House adopted an amendment late Tuesday night barring the Pentagon from spending any of its funds to aid the Taliban insurgent group in Afghanistan. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

The House adopted late Tuesday night an amendment to its fiscal 2020 Defense appropriations bill that would bar the Pentagon from spending any of its funds to aid the Taliban insurgent group in Afghanistan.

CQ Roll Call disclosed last month that the Pentagon had asked Congress earlier this year for a $30 million fund that would at least partly be used in the coming fiscal year to defray the Taliban’s expenses associated with participating in talks to end the nearly 18-year-old war.

Mitt Romney and Rand Paul speak up against ‘no budget, no pay’
Senate panel attaches proposal to government shutdown prevention measure

Sen. Mitt Romney opposes withholding member pay because of government shutdowns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Rand Paul might not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but the two former presidential candidates agree that it’s a bad idea to withhold lawmaker pay because of government shutdowns.

The senators from Utah and Kentucky spoke up against the latest “No Budget, No Pay” proposal — this one from Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida as well as a similar offering from Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona  —during a meeting of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Sen. Rubio wants to stop Huawei from filing U.S. patent lawsuits
‘We should not allow China government backed companies to improperly use our legal system against us,’ Rubio said in a tweet

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., talks with reporters after the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon on May 14, 2019. Rubio filed an amendment to a defense authorization bill barring Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from pursuing intellectual property claims against U.S. Companies if the administration finds the company poses an "undue risk" to telecommunication systems. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio wants to make sure that the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies can’t pursue intellectual property claims against U.S. companies if the administration finds the company poses an “undue risk” to telecommunication systems.

The Florida Republican filed the amendment to a defense authorization bill. It anticipates a finding from the Commerce Department that Huawei poses the risk and comes amid reports that the Chinese company is considering taking U.S. companies to court over patent disputes.

Trump’s military transgender ban blocked in House spending bill
The House move lines up what will surely be a battle with the Senate during conference negotiations later this year.

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. The House decision to block a Trump ban of transgender people from serving in the military in the 4-bill spending package lines up what will surely be a battle with the Senate during conference negotiations later this year. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Tuesday used a massive spending bill to block the Pentagon from enforcing President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people from serving openly in the military.

By a vote of 243-183, the House adopted an amendment to the four-bill spending package that includes the defense appropriations measure, lining up what will surely be a battle with the Senate during conference negotiations later this year.

Pelosi against censuring Trump: ‘If the goods are there, you must impeach’
Democrats will consider impeachment ‘when we stop finding even more information,’ Pelosi says

Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday, June 13, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday made her strongest comments on impeachment to date in rejecting an idea some House Democrats have floated to censure President Donald Trump. 

“No. I think censure is just a way out,” the California Democrat said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, when asked if she would support a censure resolution against Trump. “If you want to go, you have to go. In other words, if the goods are there, you must impeach.”

Debate on e-cigarettes lights up 10 years after FDA tobacco law
Calls grow for agency, Congress to do more after spike in teen use

Florida Rep. Donna E. Shalala says Congress must update the 2009 law that gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A decade after Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products, there is a growing sense that the law should be revisited to address a product that lawmakers barely knew about in June 2009: electronic cigarettes.

The tension lies in how to balance e-cigarettes’ potential benefits with their clear risks. While e-cigarettes may offer a less harmful alternative for adults who smoke combustible cigarettes, they can appeal to young people who never would have smoked.

Congressional leaders, White House give spending caps talks another try
Fall government shutdown looms if both sides can’t agree on a deal

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, center right, here with ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, says both sides are closer to a deal on spending caps than they have been to date. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials plan to meet with congressional leaders Wednesday — for the second time in as many months — to reach a deal on spending limits that would prevent another government shutdown this fall.

The first meeting, on May 21, produced some initial hopes that a bipartisan deal could be reached relatively quickly, avoiding a breakdown in the appropriations process when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Drums of looming Iran war resound in Congress
As NDAA debate begins, McConnell urges colleagues ‘to keep these deadly serious developments at the top of our minds’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged colleagues to keep Iran developments at the top of their minds. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is launching a debate on its annual defense authorization bill this week amid the specter of war with Iran.

It is not clear to what extent possible U.S. military strikes on Iran will play a role in debate on the $750 billion measure or, for that matter, in a separate vote this week on blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch foe.

Public to get rare look inside the Congressional Research Service, with attrition, morale points of contention
Former employees knock management as stifling quality work, innovation

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., center, chairs the House Administration Committee, which will hold a rare public examination into the Congressional Research Service. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Clarified 3:05 p.m. | Thursday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing into the Congressional Research Service is the first in more than a decade — and is long overdue, according to former employees who say the agency is mismanaged, stifles expert research and results in a lesser work product.

The hearing will examine increasing attrition rates, low employee morale and a lack of diversity at the agency, among other issues, according to a committee spokesperson. Since 1914, the Congressional Research Service, or CRS, has provided expert policy and legal analysis to staff, members and committees in the legislative branch.

House Democrats vote to block diplomats’ funds from going to Trump hotels, golf resorts
Republicans slam amendment as ‘partisan stunt’

General views of the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, Ireland, where President Donald Trump stayed during his visit to the country earlier this month. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Updated 8:24 p.m. | House Democrats offered another rebuke to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, this time by voting to block the State Department from spending taxpayers' money at his domestic and overseas golf clubs and hotels.

The House voted 231-187 to adopt an amendment that would prohibit the department from spending funds at any of the Trump Organization’s hundreds of hotels, golf resorts and other properties. The provision was voted on as part of an en bloc package of amendments that Democratic leaders put together to avoid the risk of floor time being eaten up by roll call votes on each.

Blunt: Border deal slowed by provision that Dems worry may lead to deportations
Some argue inter-agency information sharing could lead to ICE deportation of family members agreeing to take in unaccompanied children

Sen. Roy Blunt speaks with reporters following the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol in Washington on June 11, 2019. Blunt said that a border deal has been slowed by inter-agency information sharing provisions that Democrats worry may lead to deportations. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A dispute over information-sharing between agencies about potential sponsors for unaccompanied children is holding up a bipartisan deal on border-related supplemental spending ahead of a scheduled Wednesday morning markup by the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to a senior GOP panel member.

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said Tuesday that while he thinks a deal is close, there’s still a hang-up due to proposed restrictions on information-sharing between the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security departments. 

Judge who said being transgender is a ‘delusion’ nearing confirmation
Democratic senators and LGBT advocates have voiced concerns over one of Trump’s most controversial nominees

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is seen before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Collins announced she would oppose Matthew Kacsmaryk’s nomination because his “extreme” statements “indicate an alarming bias against the rights of LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic senators and LGBT advocates want to stop the confirmation of one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees this week, but the fight underscores just how powerless they are to do so without help from Republicans.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled floor votes starting Tuesday afternoon for a slate of appointments including Matthew Kacsmaryk to be a judge for the Northern District of Texas. The Kentucky Republican has used a 53-47 majority and streamlined floor rules to quickly confirm 34 judicial nominees this year.

Senate Democrats prioritize defense amendments to boost election security
Schumer makes public push for McConnell to allow NDAA votes on election security

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is prioritizing election security amendments to the NDAA. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

In one of the few chances they have to offer amendments this year, Senate Democrats are trying to prioritize efforts to keep Russia from further meddling in U.S. elections.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer made that clear Tuesday morning, highlighting Democrat-led efforts to amend the fiscal 2020 national defense authorization measure that is in line for floor consideration after several nomination votes.

Spending talks between White House, Hill leadership to resume Wednesday
A round of meetings on May 21 with the same principals involved got off to a positive start, but then petered out in the afternoon

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference in the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. He told reporters he planned to push for “robust” funding levels during spending talks, and also said he’d make a pitch for election security funds to combat foreign interference. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The four top congressional leaders from both parties plan to sit down again Wednesday morning with senior Trump administration officials to try to hammer out an agreement on next year’s spending levels.

The talks at the Capitol will include acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and acting budget director Russell Vought, according to sources familiar with the plans.