Jeff Merkley

Democrats Blast Nielsen’s Family Separation ‘Lie’ as Outrage Intensifies
DHS secretary says ‘we do not have a policy of separating families at the border’

U.S. Border Patrol agents take groups of Central American asylum-seekers into custody last week near McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats in Congress accused Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of lying amid intensifying outrage over a Trump administration policy requiring border agents to separate migrant children from their parents.

Several members of Congress called Nielsen out after she tweeted Sunday evening “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border.”

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite visual aids from a month of congressional floor-watching

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland went #ALLCAPS after the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup. (Screenshot/C-SPAN)

Lots of members of Congress bring along floor charts to help make a point. Here and there, some stand out.@FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call rounds up the best of the best.

On June 8, the morning after the Washington Capitals won their first  Stanley Cup, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, sporting a Capitals jersey, brought a copy of The Washington Post to the House floor.

GOP Slips Past Another Senate Custom, and Democrats Turn Blue
Home-state senators’ sway over judicial nominees is quickly disappearing

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have decided that the use of a “blue slip” when considering judicial nominees is a practice that needs to fade away, Hawkings writes. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The latest threat to what’s made the Senate the Senate for generations can be illustrated with a sheet of paper the color of cornflowers.

First to go was the reverence for compromise. It went out the window a decade or so ago, the start of the current era when the most conservative Democrat is reliably positioned to the left of the most liberal Republican. Then the veneration of minority-party rights got obliterated, five years ago, with a blast of “nuclear” limits on filibuster powers.

Senate Energy-Water Bill Advanced Amid Nuclear Weapons Debate
Concerns raised about funding low-yield nuclear weapon

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was the lone vote opposing a $43.8 billion draft Energy-Water fiscal 2019 spending measure that the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced Thursday.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced 30-1 Thursday a $43.8 billion draft Energy-Water fiscal 2019 spending measure before entering into a lengthy consideration of how to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium and the development of new low-yield nuclear weapons.

The bill would boost spending for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers and related programs by $566 million compared to fiscal 2018 enacted appropriations and is $7.2 billion more than the Trump administration requested. The House version would fund the same agencies at $44.7 billion.

Another Judicial Pick Gets Hearing Despite Home-State Concerns
Top Democrat warns Senate is ceding its advice and consent role to the White House

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa,  and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have different views about blue slips for a judicial pick. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the third time in the Trump administration, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has moved forward with a confirmation hearing for an appeals court nominee over the objections of Democratic home-state senators.

The Iowa Republican set a Wednesday confirmation hearing on Ryan Bounds to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, even though Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have declined to give their consent through the committee’s traditional process.

Judicial, CIA Nominations Highlight May Congressional Agenda
House and Senate committees working on appropriations and defense policy bills

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will likely be right back to work debating how to process judicial nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress returns this week for a work period that stretches to Memorial Day, the legislative agenda on the floors faces long odds of enactment even as broader issues surrounding the president’s judicial and executive nominees, as well as the annual Pentagon policy bill, compete for attention. 

Senators arrive in Washington on Monday evening for a three-week run highlighted by yet another batch of federal appeals court nominations.

Indivisible Combatting Sexual Harassment at Candidate Level
Resistance group also asking candidates to commit to diversity

Indivisible is in the process of selecting its second round of endorsements. (Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group founded by former Capitol Hill staffers wants to increase pressure on congressional offices to build harassment-free environments even before members are members.

When the progressive group Indivisible Project questions candidates to see how well they align with their resistance agenda, they also ask, “If elected, will you make every effort to create work spaces for your staff that are safe and free from all forms of sexual harassment?”

Meet the Dogs of the Senate, Round III
Canine friends in the offices of Blunt, Merkley, Kennedy and Ernst

Juneau’s smile adds one to the face of everyone in Sen. Jeff Merkley's office. (Courtesy Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office)

There are a lot of dogs available for belly rubs or paw-shaking roaming the halls of Congress.

We gave you another round of dogs of the House on Monday. And back by popular demand, here is another round of dogs of the Senate.

Analysis: Trump’s Syria Strikes Highlight Congress’ War Powers Impotence
‘I would be absolutely astonished if Congress did a thing,’ expert says

President Donald Trump, flanked by new national security advisor John Bolton, on April 9 at the White House. Four days later, he ordered new cruise missile strikes in Syria. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Even as President Donald Trump has in recent weeks built a more hawkish national security team and again fired missiles at Syrian targets, Congress is not likely to take back the war-making powers it has steadily given up.

The days leading up to Friday night’s strikes by U.S., French and British forces on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons infrastructure offered a telling illustration of how this Congress, like most since World War II, has struggled to play its constitutional role in America’s armed conflicts.

Sen. Jeff Merkley Tests 2020 Waters With New Hampshire Visit
Oregon Democrat rails against Trump, Koch brothers, Senate Republicans

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley visited New Hampshire over the weekend, testing the waters for a potential presidential run in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley made his first stops in New Hampshire over the weekend, fanning speculation that he is considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

The Oregon Democrat is in his second term and has built a résumé as one of the most progressive members of his caucus.