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.

Trump EPA answer to Obama Clean Power Plan ‘does virtually nothing‘ to curb CO2
The new rule combines a Clean Power Plan repeal with new, less stringent emissions reductions guidelines

A flag hangs over an entrance to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on April 22, 2017. The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan, scrapped by President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan and give states more flexibility in emissions reduction, even as environmental advocates worry about the potential for increased pollution and threaten to sue.

The Affordable Clean Energy rule is the Trump EPA’s answer to the 2015 Clean Power Plan, which for the first time set nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants across the country.

James Inhofe and the art of the bipartisan joke
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 78

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe and ranking member Jack Reed have a warm relationship that enables them to move bipartisan legislation, something Inhofe discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. James M. Inhofe is one conservative guy, and he is proud of it, trumpeting vote-tracking organizations that peg him as the most right-wing in the chamber. And yet, the Oklahoma Republican has an equally proud history of working with some of his most liberal colleagues on bipartisan legislation. 

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking Democrat, constructed the highly popular defense authorization bill the last two years. And before that, he worked quite productively with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the yin to Inhofe’s yang on environmental issues, as leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee. This, despite Inhofe writing a book that claimed global warming was, as the title attested, “The Greatest Hoax.” And yet, “We prided ourselves in getting things done,” he says. 

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.

Joe Biden, in call for political ‘civility,’ invokes segregationist senators
Biden boasted about finding common ground with Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge

Former Vice President Joe Biden recollected partnering with two segregationist senators at a fundraiser in Manhattan Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Presidential candidate Joe Biden invoked the names of two segregationist senators at a fundraiser Tuesday night in a call for greater “civility” in politics.

Speaking to donors at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, Biden recalled caucusing with late Senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia — both staunch opponents of racial integration — in an appeal for greater bipartisanship.

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.

Bill de Blasio is wrong about New York City’s schools
The mayor and presidential candidate is papering over an inconvenient truth

Mayor Bill de Blasio is missing the point, Winston writes. Instead of trying to close the diversity gap in New York City’s elite public schools, he should be focused on upping standards across the board. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There are numbers that matter. I look at them everyday. They tell me what people think and what they want from their political leaders, what they want for themselves and their families and the future.

And then there are some numbers that stop you cold.

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.

Trump kicks off re-election bid that could extend key legal protections into 2025
Federal statute of limitations on Mueller’s findings would expire in second term, ex-U.S. attorney says

President Donald Trump, here at a rally in Pennsylvania last month, kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign at a rally in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday night started his re-election bid, ending years of speculation that he might return to private life and opt out of seeking a second term that could provide him legal protections into 2025.

Political operatives since before he took office have suggested the 73-year-old former real estate mogul and reality television host might tire of the grueling job of president, choosing to enjoy running his businesses alongside his children in Manhattan and his various resort properties around the world. He put an end to that talk Tuesday during a raucous campaign rally in Orlando, Florida.

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.