Christopher S Murphy

Senate learns pushing back on Trump can be hard work
After rejecting U.S. role in Yemen war, senators will vote Thursday on terminating the border security emergency

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., announced support for the termination resolution after President Donald Trump said he opposed a Lee measure to limit national emergencies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate is learning this week that exercising atrophied constitutional muscles can be hard work — and it comes with political repercussions.

Thursday’s chamber agenda features debate and votes on a joint resolution that would terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for border security, which is part of his attempt to move money around to build a wall at the border with Mexico. It will be considered under an expedited procedure that will allow for Senate passage without the need for 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

Members of Congress are rich with student debt
Reauthorization of Higher Education Act could affect repayment, affordability

68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members have student loan debt. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

As lawmakers look to reshape the federal loan process in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a cohort knows firsthand the pain of rising college costs — 68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members are mired in student debt.

Collectively, the 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans have higher education liabilities of $2.5 million, according to recent financial disclosures. The median student loan debt is $15,000, while average debt is $37,000.

Senators unveil new plan to counter Vladimir Putin’s energy influence in Eastern Europe
Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson leading bipartisan effort to improve energy infrastructure

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy is introducing a new effort to counter Vladimir Putin’s influence in Eastern Europe. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bipartisan lawmakers are unveiling Thursday the latest Capitol Hill effort to counter Vladimir Putin’s energy activities in Eastern Europe.

This time, a contingent of senators led by Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is introducing a bill that would authorize as much as $1 billion in financing for the next few years for energy sector projects in Europe.

One year after Parkland, gun control advocates eye 2020
Advocates say midterm results proved gun control was a winning policy issue

Students rally on the West Front of the Capitol on March 14, 2018 as they participate in a national school walkout to call for action on preventing gun violence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One year after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that galvanized young voters and jump-started a movement to combat gun violence, gun control advocates say there’s still more work to be done.

“We’re just gearing up,” said Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and proponent of stricter gun laws. “There were a lot of candidates who got it in 2018. But there are more candidates that are going to learn the lesson from 2018.”

Trump congratulates Juan Guaidó on assuming power, amid unrest in Venezuela
The call comes amid some criticism regarding the timing of recognizing the new interim president

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) shakes hands with Carlos Vecchio (3rd L), a representative of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, outside the West Wing of the White House after a meeting January 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Trump Administration has imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil company in order to put pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to give up his power and step down. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump Wednesday morning spoke by phone with Juan Guaidó, whom he has recognized as Venezuela’s interim president, amid violence and political unrest there.

Trump called Guaidó to “congratulate him on his historic assumption of the presidency and to reinforce President Trump’s strong support for Venezuela’s fight to regain its democracy,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. During the call, Guaidó “noted the importance of the large protests across Venezuela against former dictator [Nicolás] Maduro, set to occur today and Saturday,” she added.

Democrats want to defund President Trump's ‘Muslim ban’
Legislation may have a better chance with House now controlled by Democrats

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., leads the House version of legislation to block funding for the travel ban. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats in the House and Senate have again introduced legislation seeking to block funding for President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel from certain countries, which has been widely criticized as a “Muslim ban.”

“The Muslim Ban — now in its third iteration, but wrong in any form — is just one of the weapons Donald Trump is using to foment xenophobia and bigotry and drive wedges in our communities. It is simply un-American. We do not create policies based on religion and we do not target people because of who they worship,” said Rep. Judy Chu, who is leading the House measure.

Will Democrats stop the Senate from doing other legislating until the government shutdown ends?
Chris Van Hollen leads call to block other bills until the Senate votes on House-passed appropriations bills

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is leading an effort in the Senate to do nothing until the chamber votes on House-passed funding bills to reopen the government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Will Senate Republicans be stopped from working on anything else legislatively before the partial government shutdown ends?

Whether or not the Senate debates a new package of Syria sanctions and an effort to block boycotts of Israel this week could hinge on whether Maryland’s Democratic senators can convince their colleagues to do nothing until a deal is reached on ending the shutdown.

No Deal in Sight: Shutdown Here to Stay Amid Border Wall Stalemate
‘This is all just a political game to the President,’ says Democratic senator

Trash accumulates along the National Mall due to a partial shutdown of the federal government. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Trump administration and Senate Democrats remain locked in a stalemate over how to end a partial government shutdown, with neither side reporting any progress or substantive talks since before Christmas.

The funding standoff, which affects about a quarter of the federal government, entered its sixth day Thursday with President Donald Trump returning to Washington around 5 a.m. from an unannounced trip to visit U.S. troops in Iraq. House GOP leaders didn’t even bother to summon members back to the capital for that chamber’s pro forma session this afternoon, and while the Senate will convene at 4 p.m., senators have not been summoned to vote on any shutdown-ending package.

Mattis Out as Defense Secretary
Trump announces departure in wake of Syria withdrawal

Defense Secretary James Mattis is leaving his post amid intensifying disagreements with President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Defense Secretary James Mattis will leave the Trump administration early next year, President Donald Trump announced Thursday evening — one day after he unilaterally announced he is removing all American military troops from Syria.

In a resignation letter to Trump, Mattis made clear he had grown too disillusioned by his boss’s treatment of other U.S. allies and his “America first” philosophy.

Senate Flexes Congress’ War Powers Authority, For First Time Ever
Resolution would end military assistance to Saudi Arabia over war in Yemen

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., was one of the sponsors of the resolution to pull U.S. support of the Saudis in Yemen. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday ordered the Pentagon to cease its military involvement on behalf of Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni civil war. It marked the first time since the 1973 passage of the War Powers Act that the Senate has ordered the executive branch to end an unauthorized military campaign.

The Senate passed, 56-41, the joint resolution, as amended, that would direct the president to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except forces engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda or associated forces, within 30 days of the joint resolution’s adoption of the joint resolution, unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization of such use of force has been enacted.