Brian Schatz

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.

Urgency of marijuana policy was on full display Tuesday
Senate Banking hearing and bills unveiled give an early look at key 2020 issue

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., left, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., testified before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on marijuana and banking. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

“In short, the sky is not falling in Colorado.”

That is how Republican Sen. Cory Gardner summed up his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday morning, where he was advocating legislative action to give legal marijuana businesses access to banks and protection for banks from being viewed as money launderers under federal law for handling their money.

Photos of the Week: We’re howling at the moon
The week of July 19 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar responds to the media scrum as she leaves the Capitol after the last votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday. Rep. Omar was the target of derogatory comments made by President Trump about her and other freshmen members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate sets new record for longest vote
Senators began voting at 5:02 a.m. Friday

Senators began voting at dawn and have made history as the longest Senate vote in modern history. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Friday’s prolonged roll call vote to limit debate on a Tom Udall amendment that would bar U.S. attacks on Iran without Congressional authorization made history as the longest Senate vote in modern history.

The vote opened at 5:02 a.m., to allow Senators with early morning flights to vote and then leave town for the Independence Day recess. It is being held open to accommodate the Democratic Senators who were in Miami this week for presidential primary debates. The vote was held  open for a total of 10 hours and 8 minutes, gaveling closed at 3:10 p.m. New Jersey’s Cory Booker was the first of the 2020 candidates to return, casting a yea vote just after 7 a.m.

Progress on federal data privacy bill slows in both chambers
Consensus is elusive, say congressional aides, industry sources and lobbyists

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker says “there has been no timetable” for a data privacy bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and industry groups want to pass a federal data privacy law this year, but progress on the measure has slowed. It’s now unclear whether legislation resembling California’s tough requirements on the tech industry can clear hurdles in Congress and be signed into law before the end of the year. 

Small bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both chambers are working on draft legislation that was supposed to have been unveiled in May but has been delayed and is now expected to be released sometime before the August congressional recess.