congressional-affairs

Justice Department Issues Indictment for 2013 Congressional Trip to Azerbaijan
Feds allege nonprofit concealed that trip was funded by foreign government

A 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan has resulted in an indictment being handed down to the head of the nonprofit, whom the government alleges concealed the source of funding for the journey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Justice Department has issued an indictment of former non-profit head Kevin Oksuz for his role in a plot to hide the fact that a 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan was funded by that country’s government.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed Monday, Kevin, also known as Kemal, Oksuz allegedly lied on disclosure forms filed with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics prior to, and following, a privately sponsored congressional trip to Azerbaijan. Oksuz ran a Houston based nonprofit that he is accused of using to funnel money to fund the congressional trip from an oil company controlled by the Azerbaijan government.

Thursday Could Be Most Consequential Day of Trump’s Tumultuous Tenure
Kavanaugh and accuser face senators as president meets with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein

President Donald Trump speaks at the United Nations on Monday. When he returns to Washington, a big day awaits him on Thursday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — Circumstance, confusion and chaos have collided to ensure Thursday will be one of the most consequential — and perhaps the most by a wide margin — days of the tumultuous Trump presidency.

Washington has rarely seen the kind of spectacle ahead in just a few days, and the inevitable ramifications will trigger ripple waves that will be immediately apparent but not fully known until voters head to the ballot box on Nov. 6. For President Donald Trump, the already high stakes seem to only grow by the day.

Democratic Candidate for Tom Rooney’s Florida Seat Dies Unexpectedly
April Freeman was expected to face Republican Greg Steube in November

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., is retiring after five terms. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

April Freeman, a Democrat who was running for retiring Rep. Tom Rooney’s Florida seat, has died unexpectedly, according to media reports Monday.

Her husband, David Freeman, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that his wife appeared to have had a heart attack Sunday night.

Republicans Push Back Against States Seen as Too Pro-Regulation
GOP favors independence by state governments unless they don’t like a state’s decision

Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming and ranking Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware talk before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hears from acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in early August, the energy and environment community was watching.

It was Wheeler’s first appearance since his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, resigned after months of ethical, spending and personnel scandals. Washington was eager to see how Wheeler would right the agency.

Former Rep. John Dingell Expects to Be Released From Hospital Soon
Longest serving member of Congress had a heart attack last week

Former Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., is expected to be released from the hospital as early as Tuesday following his heart attack last week. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Michigan Democratic Rep. John D. Dingell could be released from the hospital as early as Tuesday following his heart attack last week.

Dingell, 92, who retired at the end of 2015 as the longest serving member of Congress, announced his pending hospital release on Twitter on Monday in his usual joking style. 

Amid Reports of Rosenstein Firing, Democrats Want Vote to Protect Mueller
One Democrat suggest Judiciary hearing on Trump obstructing justice, GOP member wants Rosenstein to testify

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrives in the Capitol for a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Russia investigation in May 24. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As news broke Monday morning that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was resigning or expecting to be fired, Democrats were quick to call for congressional action to protect the special counsel investigation that Rosenstein has managed. 

“With Rosenstein’s departure there is one less barrier protecting the Mueller investigation from President [Donald] Trump’s interference,” Florida Rep. Val Demings said in a statement. “Congress must take immediate steps to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law — which protects all of us — by shielding the Mueller investigation against President Trump’s obstruction."

Iowa Republicans Rally Christian Coalition Behind Brett Kavanaugh
Rep. Steve King suggests any man could now be accused of sexual misconduct

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh amounted to "character assassination." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Steve King fiercely defended Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over the weekend at an Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event, saying that accusations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman who went to high school with him amounted to “character assassination.”

King and other Iowa GOP leaders, including Sen. Joni Ernst, Rep. David Young, and Gov. Kim Reynolds, rallied the nearly 700 Christians in the crowd behind Kavanaugh, the Des Moines Register reported, as Iowa’s senior senator, Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, negotiates the conditions of a public hearing this Thursday with the nominee's accuser, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.

Trump on Kavanaugh: ‘I Am With Him All The Way’
President stands by pick despite second accusation of sexual misconduct

President Donald Trump defended his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh while speaking to reporters at a meeting on the global drug problem at the United Nations on Monday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday said he is sticking with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, telling reporters “I am with him all the way.”

“There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything,” the president said on the sidelines of a United Nations conference in New York hours after another accuser came forward alleging sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh Controversy and Violence Against Women Act Collide on Capitol Hill
Not the first time a Supreme Court fight and VAWA have been linked

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., hold a press conference with Holton-Arms alumnae in support of Christine Blasey Ford in the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh upended his confirmation process and brought sexual misconduct back into the spotlight on Capitol Hill. While the Senate Judiciary Committee digs into what happened more than 30 years ago, other lawmakers are working to extend and expand protections for victims under the Violence Against Women Act.

The competing claims from Ford and Kavanaugh have divided both the Senate and the country, with Ford accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers, and Kavanaugh issuing blanket denials and saying he welcomes the chance to “clear my name.” 

‘Regular Order’ Still Not Out of the Woods
Current appropriations process is still a far cry from before the late 2000s

Sens. Richard C. Shelby, left, and Patrick J. Leahy ride the Senate subway in 2011. Shelby, now the Senate Appropriations chairman, has touted the return to regular order in this year’s appropriations process. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Senate leaders have spent the past few months crowing about the return to “regular order” on appropriations, justifiably in many respects. They’ve passed nine spending bills, the first time that’s happened since 2009, and a first before September since 1999. And Congress sent three spending bills to the president’s desk before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year, which hasn’t happened in 10 years.

But by several metrics, the Senate hasn’t matched the fuller appropriations debate in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” that existed prior to the late 2000s. Senators have spent roughly 16 days this year debating their appropriations bills on the floor; the average was nearly 28 days from fiscal 1986 through 2006. The Senate has considered 165 amendments to fiscal 2019 spending bills, compared with 269 per year during the fiscal 1986-2006 period.