Debbie Stabenow

Republican John James will run again, this time against Sen. Gary Peters
The Michigan businessman’s run could shape the presidential race in a key swing state.

Republican businessman John James will challenge Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in 2020. (Courtesy Facebook)

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, one of the two most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, picked up a Republican challenger on Thursday that national Republicans hope will put the Wolverine State in play in 2020. 

Army veteran John James, the 2018 Senate nominee, announced Thursday that he’s challenging Peters, one of just two Democratic senators up for reelection in a state that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Futures product to test Wall Street taste for cryptocurrencies
Startup company plans to start trading futures contracts in bitcoin

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have sought clarity from the Commodity Future Trading Commission on guidelines for cryptocurrencies on the futures market. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cryptocurrencies have been viewed skeptically by some old-guard financial institutions — the head of one bank famously called bitcoin a fraud a few years back — but there’s a new plan to offer derivatives based on bitcoin that may show how deeply Wall Street is adopting new financial technology.

A startup company plans in July to start testing futures contracts in bitcoin, and begin trading them shortly after. The products, unlike cryptocurrencies themselves, aren’t designed for the masses. Bitcoin futures are meant for financial firms that want to find new ways to profit from fintech, and launching the futures contracts is essentially a bet that there’s enough demand from the big players.

Photos of the Week: Protests, celebrities and even some cute ducklings
The week of May 13 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

A protester with the group By The People is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police in the Cannon House Office Building rotunda on Tuesday. About 20 protesters gathered to occupy the rotunda to call for the House to initiate Impeachment hearings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Trump‘s latest immigration plan came with no Democratic outreach
Proposal appears going no further than White House Rose Garden

A life-size cage installation by artist Paola Mendoza is set up on the Capitol lawn on May 7 to coincide with the anniversary of the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ family separation immigration policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump unveiled his latest immigration overhaul plan Thursday, but given its lack of outreach to Democrats, it likely will go little further than the Rose Garden setting where it first saw light. 

Trump used the White House backdrop to also reiterate some of his familiar hard-line immigration stances that may ingratiate him to his conservative base, but usually only repel Democrats and many independents.

Mental health clinics wait on Congress
If federal lawmakers don’t renew a promising program before the end of June, it will be up to the states to find the money

Sen. Debbie Stabenow is leading the charge in the Senate to renew a promising mental health program. The clock is ticking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The promise of higher federal Medicaid payments is giving eight states the chance to show that one-stop mental health clinics with 24-hour crisis care could offer patients a better option than the de facto safety net of police departments and emergency rooms.

But the two-year experiment is drawing to a close now, leaving the program with an uncertain future if Congress doesn’t extend it.

Klobuchar plan to combat addiction draws on experience with her dad
Policy proposal comes as part of her 2020 presidential campaign platform

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., unveiled a mental health policy proposal on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s mental health plan, unveiled Friday morning, draws on proposals from several of her Senate colleagues — and it’s also a highly personal quest for the senator.

One of the early major proposals of the Minnesota Democrat’s 2020 White House campaign, it calls for aggressive investments to support mental health and treatment for addiction, including an increased focus on early intervention. It also draws on her experience with her father’s alcoholism.

Bill making sure university presidents know about alleged sexual abuse introduced
The effort led by members from Michigan following scandal at Michigan State

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is among the lead sponsors of the new legislation, known as the ALERT Act, which effectively mandates that university presidents cannot claim ignorance in Title IX cases. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s a new push for legislation to effectively mandate that university presidents cannot claim ignorance when allegations of sexual assault are made against their employees.

A bill being introduced in both the House and the Senate would require colleges and universities annually certify that top officials, including at least one trustee, have reviewed all of the sexual assault allegations if they want to keep getting federal funding.

White House stalls on endorsing $2 trillion for public works
Two sides will meet again in three weeks to discuss ways to pay for massive plan

Congressional Democrats talk to reporters following a Tuesday meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on infrastructure. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 7:13 p.m. | Congressional Democrats said President Donald Trump agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package after a Tuesday morning meeting, but White House officials later said the administration is not ready to endorse a specific spending amount.

“We agreed on a number, which was very, very good,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said outside the White House following the meeting. “Originally, we had started a little lower but even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion. There was goodwill in this meeting and that was different from other meetings that we have had.”

Schumer: Gas tax hike should be tied to 2017 tax cut rollback
Democrats seek a plan going beyond highways, tackling clean energy and making infrastructure resilient to climate change

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., arrive for a new conference in the Capitol about a continuing resolution to re-open the government on January 25, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:50 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants President Donald Trump to consider rolling back parts of his signature 2017 tax cuts as a condition for advancing legislation to raise the federal fuel tax, according to a person close to the New York Democrat, a demand that will complicate efforts to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill before the 2020 elections.

“Unless President Trump considers undoing some of the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy,” the person said, “Schumer won’t even consider a proposal from the president to raise the gas tax, of which the poor and working people would bear the brunt.”

Data privacy bill faces long odds as states, EU move ahead
Most tech companies agree laws on how to collect and use consumer data are essential, but the specifics are still being debated

Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., right, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., are seen in the basement of the Capitol before the Senate policy luncheons on Sept. 25, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers want to pass a federal data privacy bill before 2020 to put Washington on par with Europe and ahead of several U.S. states. But those efforts could be delayed because of differences between technology companies and Congress over how powerful the law should be and how it should be structured.

A delay in enacting a uniform federal law could leave technology giants and startup app makers trying to meet a latticework of standards set by multiple regulations passed by many states as well as a growing international set of rules being modeled after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Companies also could be liable for fines and face consumer lawsuits allowed by state laws.