Richard Blumenthal

KFC, the Grim Reaper and an epically long bill reading: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of April 29, 2019

An aide adjusts the name plate for Attorney General William Barr before a House Judiciary Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers grill Barr about past testimonies on Mueller report

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., looks over papers before the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 1. Attorney General William P. Barr testified during the hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Social Security could go broke by 2035, but lawmakers have new ideas to fix it
If policymakers wait too long, solutions to fixing the program may involve politically unpalatable options

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., leaves the Capitol after the final votes of the week on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute — as long as waiting doesn’t make the problem worse.

Therein lies the conundrum facing lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates when it comes to Social Security, which last year paid out retirement and disability benefits to some 63 million Americans.

Interior Secretary Bernhardt under investigation by inspector general
Democrats and watchdog groups have alleged ‘potential conflicts of interest and other violations’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate last week by a vote of 56-41. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, is under investigation by his agency’s inspector general over “potential conflicts of interest and other violations,” an agency official said Monday.

In an April 15 letter to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, Interior Department deputy inspector general Mary Kendall said her office opened an investigation into Bernhardt following at least seven complaints from Democratic lawmakers and independent watchdogs alleging the conflicts and other violations.

Sen. Blumenthal joins chorus offering robocall remedy with ROBOCOP Act
Americans received roughly 47.8 billion robocalls last year, nearly half of them were from scammers

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is one of many lawmakers to introduce legislation to combat robocalls. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal was the latest in a chorus of lawmakers from both parties to decry robocalls, an irritant that afflicts nearly anyone in the U.S. who owns a mobile phone.

The Connecticut Democrat on Monday reintroduced the so-called ROBOCOP Act that would require mobile phone companies to provide free robocall-blocking technology to their customers.

The net neutrality bill is dead in the Senate, but Democrats don’t mind
Democrats are confident they’ll be able to use it to skewer vulnerable GOP candidates next November

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., leave the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared the Democratic net neutrality bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

But Senate Democrats don’t seem to mind.

FAA administrator defends decisions on Boeing 737 Max
Dennis K. Elwell faced sharp questions from senators from both parties at Wednesday hearing

A Boeing 737 Max 8 airliner takes off from Renton Municipal Airport near the company’s factory, on March 22, 2019 in Renton, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration defended his decision to wait three days after a deadly crash in Ethiopia before ordering all Boeing 737 Max jets grounded, but he refused to divulge whether President Donald Trump had asked him to do so.

Acting FAA Administrator Dennis K. Elwell faced sharp questions Wednesday from senators in both parties at a Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing about the grounding decision and the FAA’s certification of the 737 Max planes, especially the agency’s process that allows manufacturers to self-certify compliance with safety requirements.

Boeing faces increasing political pressure to ground 737 Max 8
Elizabeth Warren weighs in through her presidential campaign, for one

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., issued a statement from her presidential campaign that Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes should be grounded, adding to a growing chorus of concern about the airplanes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid concerns over the safety of new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the debate is spilling into presidential politics.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among those calling for the United States to join other countries in grounding the planes on Tuesday after two crashes abroad.

The gigantism of big tech forces a fresh look at antitrust
Facebook, Google and Amazon are catching flak from both parties in Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he plans to reorient Facebook as a privacy-based service. But not everyone is convinced, and antitrust concerns persist. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Increased public concern over the reach of large technology companies, bipartisan support for thinking anew about how to regulate big business, and ambitious policy proposals ahead of the 2020 presidential election are driving a new conversation over antitrust enforcement in the United States.

In less than two decades, three of America’s most ubiquitous technology platforms — Facebook, Google and Amazon — have grown rapidly in size and clout from small, single-market companies into industry conglomerates, thanks in part to a mostly hands-off approach to antitrust by the U.S. government.

Trump makes time in Vietnam to taunt ‘Da Nang Dick Blumenthal’
Kim Jong Un laughs when Trump asked about Michael Cohen’s damning testimony

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., makes his way through the senate subway in the Capitol after a meeting of Senate Democrats on May 10, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump spent a few hours with his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi Wednesday ahead of a dinner meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and used part of the time to belittle a Democratic senator.

Trump’s motorcade delivered him to his hotel at 1:35 p.m. after he applauded Vietnamese leaders for buying more U.S.-made goods like Boeing jets and GE engines. Just over an hour later, the president was in his room mocking Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal.