John Barrasso

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

Photos of the week: Shutdown approaches fourth week in Washington
The week of Jan. 7 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who has opposed the shutdown from the start, speaks during the National Air Traffic Controllers Association rally to “Stop the Shutdown” in front of the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The shutdown is in its 21st day, and with talks stalled and Congress gone through Monday, its likely to continue through the weekend. 

Here’s the entire shutdown week in photos:

Fireworks and presidential threats send shutdown talks careening into chaos
Sides trade vicious barbs, allegations after Trump abruptly leaves Situation Room meeting

President Donald Trump, flanked from left by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S. D., Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stops to speak to reporters in the Capitol Wednesday following his lunch about the shutdown with Senate Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Talks toward ending the partial government shutdown hit a new low Wednesday when fireworks broke out at the White House, with President Donald Trump abruptly leaving a meeting with congressional leaders after yet another flap over his proposed southern border wall.

The shutdown enters its 20th day Thursday with no end in sight after another round of fruitless talks and blunt warnings from Trump about his next possible move if he cannot secure a deal with congressional Democrats over his border wall demands — even as 800,000 federal workers and their families wonder about future paychecks.

Email dump could slow EPA confirmation fight
Shutdown throws a wrench in court-ordered document release related to potential conflicts of interest

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works panel last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has been formally nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a contentious confirmation fight just as a court order threatens the release of over 20,000 emails related to his potential conflicts of interest.

The White House on Wednesday formally sent Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate, triggering the start of the process. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, was confirmed to be the agency’s deputy in April 2018 and became acting administrator in July after the departure of scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt, who resigned from the top post amid mounting ethics issues.

Trump walks out of meeting as White House confab devolves
Day of meetings at Capitol and executive mansion produce only recriminations

President Donald Trump, flanked from left by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S. D., Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stops to speak to the cameras Wednesday following his lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A White House meeting Wednesday between President Donald Trump and his team and congressional leaders quickly devolved into another series of finger pointing as the Situation Room confab ended shortly after it began.

Trump “got up and walked out” of the short meeting about his border wall and a government shutdown at the White House, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said.

Markets Tumble Again But White House Not Guaranteeing China Deal
‘We'll see,’ President Trump's top economic adviser says of tricky talks

The flags of China and the United States are displayed in front of the portrait of China’s late communist leader, Mao Zedong, outside the Forbidden City on Nov. 9, 2017 in Beijing, before President Trump’s state visit. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images file photo)

U.S. markets plunged again Thursday amid doubts the Trump administration and China can strike a legitimate trade deal that would avoid an escalation of tensions and economic turbulence as the White House urges patience — and few guarantees of success.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ and S&P 500 Index all were closed Wednesday as part of a national day of mourning for the late President George H.W. Bush following a Tuesday sell off. But the one-day break did little to calm spooked markets.

Bob Corker’s Quieter Foreign Policy Legacy
Retiring Foreign Relations chairman offers advice for new members

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has advice for incoming senators: become an expert, listen to colleagues and score quieter wins with an eye to the future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker prepares to yield his gavel and leave the Senate, he has advice for newly elected senators: gain expertise and actually listen to your colleagues.

“Some of these people obviously are coming in with large platforms. I mean, they’ve been significant figures prior to coming here,” the Tennessee Republican, first elected in 2006, said in a recent interview. “Still though, they’re going to be freshman senators and they’re going to be sitting at the end of the dais in most cases in whatever the committee.”

Here’s the List of Senate Republican and Democratic Leaders
Status quo reigns (mostly)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., prepares to address the media after the Senate Policy lunches in the Capitol on March 20. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Momentous Election, Senators Largely Settle for Leadership Status Quo
Republicans add woman to leadership slate for first time since 2010

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were re-elected to their respective posts for the 116th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the aftermath of a momentous midterm election, senators in both parties are largely sticking with the status quo when it comes to their own elected leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York were re-elected to their posts by acclamation, along with the entire slate of nine other Democratic leaders.

From Speaker on Down, Here’s Who’s in the Hill Leadership Hunt
House and Senate Republican conferences set to vote this week

The race to lead the House Republicans next Congress comes down to California’s Kevin McCarthy, center, and Ohio’s Jim Jordan, right, who face off in a Wednesday GOP caucus vote. Also pictured above, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Tuesday, 3:44 p.m. | With the midterms — mostly — behind us, attention has shifted to the intraparty leadership elections on Capitol Hill for the House and Senate. 

Here’s a look at the various positions that members of both parties and chambers will be voting on in the coming weeks.