senate

Envoy says Mexico ready for Congress’ questions on trade deal
Mexico is committed to enforcing labor and environmental protections

Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., is scheduled to meet Friday with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss enforcement of labor provisions that Mexico enacted into law earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mexican officials believe they have strong arguments to assure Congress that their country is committed to enforcing labor and environmental protections in the proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican Ambassador Martha Barcena Coqui said Thursday.

Mexico is willing to take on the role of answering lawmakers’ questions, but Barcena said at an event hosted by CQ Roll Call that the Trump administration has the ultimate responsibility for winning congressional approval for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Senators roll out pilot program to speed asylum claims
Plan would streamline process for migrant families who have legitimate claims

Republican senators behind the asylum proposal include Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of nine senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — is proposing a new pilot program to better manage the influx of families seeking asylum at the southwest border.

“Operation Safe Return,” as the group calls it, would be the first bipartisan step to address the situation at the border, the senators said in a letter Thursday to Trump administration officials. Their plan would streamline the process by which migrant families who have legitimate claims for asylum are processed at the border, and swiftly weed out those who do not.

White House offers up extensive menu of cuts for spending caps deal
The administration wants at least $150 billion in savings

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the talks for her side of the aisle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration has laid out a wide array of spending cuts and tweaks to mandatory programs for Democratic leaders to consider for inclusion in a two-year discretionary caps and debt limit package.

The White House offsets menu includes $574 billion culled from items in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, according to a source familiar with the proposal. In addition, there’s $516 billion in “structural reforms” obtained by extending current discretionary spending limits by another two years, through fiscal 2023.

Ghosts of Confederate Mississippi endure in the Capitol
Jefferson Davis, James Z. George were Confederates, white supremacists

A statue of James Z. George, a Confederate colonel and U.S. senator, is on display in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

While answering phones in the Mississippi congressional office where he worked, Ty James was called the n-word by someone on the other end of the line. It was 2017 and marked the second time he had been called that.

Those kinds of experiences have helped convince James, a native Mississippian and African American who is press secretary for Rep. Bennie Thompson, that the two statues representing the state in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection shouldn’t be devoted to men who were Confederates and white supremacists.

Are you cut out for the campaign trail?
How to tell if you’re a campaigner or meant for the Hill life

Jennifer Wexton campaign manager Ray Rieling points to CNN’s coverage of the Virginia 10th District race as Wexton’s staff and family watch election returns in the campaign’s war room on election night 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Half-eaten doughnuts. Late-night conference calls over multiple cups of coffee. The life of a campaigner can be hectic and unpredictable. It’s also more physical, whether it’s spending hours in a car driving from the Tallapoosa County Democratic Women’s luncheon or logging miles on Saturday morning door knocking in the summer heat.

It’s best suited for those with a high tolerance for chaos.

Esper, Milley nominations head to floor; Hyten‘s fate unclear
McConnell lined up Monday cloture vote, which Esper is expected to clear easily, and a final confirmation vote by Wednesday

Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper prepares to testify during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday advanced to the floor the nominations for Mark Esper to be Defense secretary and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promptly filed cloture on the nomination, lining up a Monday cloture vote, which Esper is expected to clear easily, and a final confirmation vote by Wednesday.

Senate schedules debate on 9/11 victims compensation bill
The bill sailed through the House last week, but Senate fiscal hawks worried about price tag

Comedian and advocate Jon Stewart along with 9/11 responders are seen on the Speaker’s balcony after a meeting in the Capitol with Speaker Nancy Pelosi about funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders have agreed to take up a bill Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The bill sailed through the House last week on a 402-12 vote, but has faced resistance in the Senate from fiscal hawks worried about its price tag. The measure would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims.

Senate seeks to make sure that hacking election systems is a federal crime
Senators unanimously pass narrow legislation, but no broad action is expected

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would clarify that hacking election systems and machines is a federal crime. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate took another small step to improve election security Wednesday evening, even as there is no plan for a broader debate on the floor.

As the chamber was closing for the evening, senators passed by unanimous consent a bipartisan bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee designed to make sure that hacking election systems is actually a federal crime.

Catholic nuns, priests protesting migrant child treatment arrested on Capitol Hill
The protest was organized by several faith-based organizations to condemn treatment of migrant children at U.S.-Mexico border

Capitol Police arrest protesters participating in civil disobedience in the Russell Rotunda at the Capitol on Thursday, July 19, 2019. A coalition of Catholic activists organized the protest to pressure the Trump administration and Congress to end the practice of detaining immigrant children. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Seventy demonstrators from a Catholic coalition were arrested Thursday in the Russell Senate Office Building as they protested the conditions migrants are being held in at detention facilities abutting the U.S. southern border.

The protest was organized by several faith-based organizations, including Faith in Public Life, Faith in Action and Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Catholic priests, nuns, and lay members converged on Capitol Hill to put pressure on Trump administration and lawmakers in Congress to end “the immoral and inhumane practice of detaining immigrant children.” 

Secret Service pressed for plan to avoid future Mar-a-Lago security breaches
A 33-year-old Chinese woman was arrested with malware, other suspicious items

President Donald Trump walks to speak with supporters after arriving on Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport to spend Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort on April 18, 2019. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Three senior Senate Democrats are pressing the U.S. Secret Service on whether security has been beefed up at President Donald Trump’s Florida and New Jersey resorts after a 33-year-old Chinese woman talked her way into his Mar-a-Lago property while he was there.

Yujing Zhang, 33, pleaded not guilty on charges of trespassing and lying to U.S. Secret Service agents after being arrested March 30 at the president’s Florida resort. When searched, she was found carrying a pair of passports, four mobile devices, a laptop computer, a thumb drive allegedly containing malware and one external hard drive.