Jeff Merkley

‘Remain in Mexico’ policy faces internal critiques at House hearing
Migration Protection Protocols spurs human rights violations, an asylum officer told Homeland Security panel

A Customs and Border Protection agent processes migrants who recently crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector of Texas in August. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

The Migrant Protection Protocols, a program that has so far forced more than 57,000 migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases wind through the court, is illegal and enables human rights abuses against the vulnerable, a Department of Homeland Security employee told lawmakers Tuesday.

“These policies are illegal, they’re immoral, and they’re the basis for human rights abuses on behalf of our nation," Michael Knowles, president of a union that represents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees and a longtime asylum officer, said in his testimony to a House Homeland Security panel.

Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief
Wolf takes over just hours after Senate confirmed him as undersecretary

Chad Wolf is the fifth person to lead the Department of Homeland Security in less than three years. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Chad Wolf was sworn in Wednesday as acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, the fifth person to head the agency in the Trump administration.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed Wolf's new position to CQ Roll Call by email.

A spooky week on the Hill, Nats win the World Series: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of Oct. 28, 2019

Fall leaves blanket the lawn on the east side of the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“The real horror story this Halloween is what’s preventing Congress from doing its job,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley said Wednesday. Maybe members can’t get their jobs done because they’re a bit distracted after the Washington Nationals won the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

US ambassador with coal ties arrives as UN begins climate talks
Craft could mold process by which the U.S. gets out of the Paris climate agreement

Kelly Craft attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for a climate change summit Monday, America’s new ambassador to the global body was focused on other business.

“Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: stop,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his opening remarks. Germany announced climate mitigation pledges. Pope Francis delivered a call to action in a video message. French President Emmanuel Macron praised young people for demanding political action to rein in emissions.

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.

Trump orders end to flavored e-cigarette sales amid vaping-linked illnesses
Flavored e-cigarette makers will need to apply to the FDA for sales authorization

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in July. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration on Wednesday said it planned to halt the sales of flavored e-cigarettes amid a national outbreak of lung illnesses that may be linked to vaping devices.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Food and Drug Administration will issue a new policy within several weeks that will require all flavored e-cigarettes to come off the market.

Democrats question lack of flu vaccines, quarantine procedures for migrant children
Senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, also ask about medical screenings

Senate Democrats want to know more about the decision to not give flu vaccines to migrant children in U.S. custody. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of 13 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, led by Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, are expressing new concerns about a decision not to provide seasonal flu vaccines to migrants in U.S. detention.

“This dangerous decision not to administer vaccinations for a disease that has already proven fatal to migrant children in CBP’s custody is immoral and irresponsible, placing entire communities at risk of the flu and its associated complications,” the senators wrote to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar.

Democrats question Trump’s motives as Hurricane Dorian targets Florida
President’s decision to cancel Poland trip caught some aides off guard as polls turn bleak

President Donald Trump waves as he walks off Marine One at the White House on Friday. Trump said he canceled the trip to Poland so he could monitor Hurricane Dorian, but some Democrats see political motives. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump contends he canceled a diplomatic trip to Poland so he could monitor Hurricane Dorian as it churns toward Florida, but Democrats see political motives for the storm tracker in chief. And Trump started Friday clearly focused on other matters.

He claimed he was staying stateside “to ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm,” and White House aides were eager to cast the president as laser-focused on the hurricane — even though his decision, yet again, caught some off guard.

Trump wants to reprogram DHS money for ICE detention operations
This is the fourth consecutive fiscal year in which DHS has diverted money for immigrant enforcement

A United States Custom and Border Protection in the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border. President Donald Trump wants to divert over $200 million from the Department of Homeland Security to pay for items that include more ICE detention beds and hearing locations for migrants told to remain in Mexico. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats push repeal of state and local tax rule
The $10,000 state tax deduction limit was a key feature of the 2017 tax code overhaul

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., answers questions following a vote on the budget agreement on Thursday, August 1, 2019. Senate Democrats will push to repeal a Treasury Department and IRS rule, which goes into effect Aug. 11. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats will push to repeal a Treasury Department and IRS rule, which goes into effect Aug. 11, that they say would “block critical state workarounds” to the $10,000 limitation on state and local tax deductions.

The $10,000 deduction limit was a key feature of the 2017 tax code overhaul, and has been the subject of hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee where Democratic members are urging a repeal of that provision.