Brian Schatz

Senators move ahead with enhancing Olympics oversight
Commerce Committee advanced bill after debate about role of Congress

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., left, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., are leading legislation to give Congress more authority over Olympic sports. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators moved ahead with an effort to enhance congressional oversight of U.S. participation in the Olympics on Wednesday, part of an ongoing response to recent sexual abuse scandals in sports.

The voice vote by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to advance an amended version of a bipartisan bill came despite concerns raised by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Facebook, other social media sites pressured to protect census
Members of Congress are pushing social media companies like Facebook to protect the census from disinformation

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, arrives to testify during the House Financial Services hearing on Oct. 23, 2019. Members of Congress are pushing social media companies like Facebook to protect the census from disinformation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress are increasing pressure on social media companies to protect next year’s census from disinformation online, concerned that foreign governments and internet trolls could disrupt the 2020 enumeration.

The latest push comes in a letter the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus sent Thursday to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, asking her to speak with group members about steps to both promote the census and “combat interference and disinformation on its platform.” Russia or another country may try to push the census off course, they say, and Facebook and other companies should be prepared.

Spouse of Brian Schatz chief of staff has substantial fossil fuel investments
Eric Einhorn lists stock owned by spouse valued at $168,000-$445,000

The spouse of Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz’s chief of staff has substantial stock holdings in fossil fuel companies, according to the chief of staff’s financial disclosure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While Sen. Brian Schatz aims to lead the charge in fighting climate change as chairman of a special panel dedicated to the issue, his top staffer’s spouse has substantial holdings in fossil fuel companies that produce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

 

Zuckerberg to face criticism over cryptocurrency, other issues
Democrats and Republicans will interrogate the Facebook CEO on Wednesday over a number of issues

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to face bipartisan criticism Wednesday when he appears before the House Financial Services Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conciliatory-sounding Mark Zuckerberg will face questions Wednesday about Facebook’s world-altering ambitions from congressional critics of both parties.

Democrats and Republicans are expected to interrogate the Facebook CEO over the plan to launch Libra, a cryptocurrency pegged to a basket of global currencies and managed by a consortium of multinational corporations, as well as the company’s role in the spread of political propaganda, alleged violations of housing legislation, dominance of online advertising, monetization of users’ data and censoring of right-wing media.

Trump ‘even more unhinged than usual’ as impeachment heats up, Democrats warn
President passed along civil war threat, said House chairman should be arrested and continued peddling ‘debunked’ Biden conspiracy theories

President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress continued peddling conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son over the weekend as Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry of the president. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From “unhinged” to “reprehensible” to  “wacky,” Democratic lawmakers had harsh words for President Donald Trump and Republicans after the president and his allies in Congress over the weekend tried to defend his phone call pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

Since Sunday, Trump has blamed the “corrupt media” for not accepting conspiracy theories about Biden and his son Hunter, called for House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to be arrested for treason, demanded to meet the whistleblower who alerted the public to his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr  Zelenskiy, and retweeted a sentiment that removing him from office would result in a “Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

Senate Democrats prepare marathon floor session on gun violence
Late night is expected as 22 senators are prepared to call for legislation

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., will lead nearly two dozen senators in a marathon of floor speeches on gun violence Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats plan to make it a late night on Tuesday, speaking out on the Senate floor about the impact of gun violence and legislative proposals Congress could explore.

The speeches are expected to begin around 5:30 p.m. and run late. Connecticut Democrat Christopher S. Murphy is leading the effort, spurred by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio during the August recess and the lack of clear response from the White House on what, if any, gun control measures they could agree to.

Democrats object to Trump’s threatening Iran over Saudi oil attack
U.S. is ‘locked and loaded’ if Tehran believed to be behind strikes, president warns

President Donald Trump leaves after chairing a U.N. Security Council meeting last September. He will be back there, along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, next week. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

The United States should not take orders about using military force against Iran even if Saudi Arabia’s government declares Tehran was behind an attack on its oil facilities, congressional Democrats are telling President Donald Trump.

Trump signaled on Sunday evening and again on Monday morning that he is standing by for Saudi officials to sort out just what happened and who launched what U.S. officials said appeared to be armed drone and cruise missile strikes on the Saudi facilities. The attacks are expected to pare Saudi production and drive up oil and gas prices — but Democrats are concerned the incident might compel Trump to launch retaliatory strikes on Iran, which they say would be contrary to American interests.

Census Bureau defends ‘efficiency’ changes ahead of 2020 count
Avoids details on gathering citizenship data through administrative records

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, prepares to testify during his 2018 Senate confirmation hearing (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call )

Census officials on Monday defended plans for next year’s count that they said would make it the “most efficient ever," as Democrats pressed the bureau to do more to ensure hard-to-count populations are not overlooked.

The latest salvo from Democrats came from members of the Illinois congressional delegation, led by Richard J. Durbin, the Senate minority whip, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, along with the rest of the state’s Democratic representatives. In a letter, they urged greater investment in outreach like Questionnaire Assistance Centers to avoid missing minorities, children, rural residents and the urban poor.

Senate Banking members take skeptical look at cryptocurrencies
Blockchain firms have tried selling lawmakers on the potential for dramatically reduced transaction costs.

Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, sees data privacy as one of the primary risks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Concerns over data privacy and skepticism about just how unique and beneficial cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based digital assets could be dominated Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on regulating the new technology.

“This new digital currency and blockchain technology is a very real — and potentially helpful — innovation,” said Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho. “It’s also potentially harmful as there can be some serious risk involved in it.”

Bipartisan bills push carbon tax, as GOP pollster offers Democrats help on climate
Frank Luntz pledged to help Democrats with their climate messaging

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, pledged to help Democrats address climate change in a nonpartisan, dispassionate way. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Climate change policy may be in for a softer, less polarized atmosphere with Republicans and Democrats teaming up on a flotilla of legislation to tax carbon emissions and decarbonize American industries, and a longtime Republican spin guru pledging to help Democrats with their climate messaging.

For instance, in the Senate, Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Cory Booker of New Jersey joined with Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana on Thursday to introduce a bill targeting emissions from the industrial sector.