Susan Collins

Women on the Verge of a Breakthrough on House Appropriations
One-two punch on the panel would be the first since women led the House Beauty Shop Committee

Texas Rep. Kay Granger is one of five Republicans — and the only Republican woman — competing for the top spot on the Appropriations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House of Representatives hasn’t had two women lead a committee since the Select Committee on the House Beauty Shop was eliminated in 1977.

All of that could change in January.

Zombie Zumwalt: The Ship Program That Never Dies
Two ships have been ‘delivered’ but don’t exactly work as planned

The US Navy’s new guided missile destroyer DDG 1000 USS Zumwalt is moored to a dock on October 13, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland. The Zumwalt is the lead ship of a class of next-generation multi-mission surface combatants and is named for Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt, former chief of naval operations. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In 2006, Congress started funding construction of the first of three Navy destroyers named after the late famed Navy chief Adm. Elmo Zumwalt. But nearly a dozen years later, none of the Zumwalt ships is ready to fight.

None will be for years. And hundreds of millions more dollars will be required to get there. The ships, known as DDG 1000s, may yet become capable and, with enough additional money, they may even become warships of unprecedented lethality. But the extent of the program’s problems to date — and the remaining cost to make things right — has not been fully appreciated even among many defense experts.

Senate Democrats Claim Small Victory on Net Neutrality
Will be taking the debate to the ballot box

Sen. Edward J. Markey has led the charge on the resolution that would effectively bring back net neutrality rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats won’t be scoring many legislative victories this year. So Wednesday’s win on a joint resolution that would upend the effort by the Federal Communications Commission to reverse Obama-era regulations on net neutrality was cause for mild celebration.

“A key question for anyone on the campaign trail in 2018 now will be: Do you support net neutrality?” Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts said at a news conference with House and Senate Democratic leaders on the effort to block the Trump administration from rolling back the regulations.

Gina Haspel Performs Well but Raises More Questions During Hearing
Suggests she has handled declassification decisions about her own background

Gina Haspel, nominee to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is sworn in before testifying during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Nothing Gina Haspel said during the open portion of her Senate confirmation hearing seemed likely to derail her nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, and she picked up some needed Democratic support along the way. 

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who serves on the Intelligence panel, was the first Democrat out of the gate to support Haspel.

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.

White House Calls Haspel Hearing Key to Her Confirmation as CIA Director
GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Rand Paul could prove particularly important

Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King came together in 2014 to announce their support for declassification of findings from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report.. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A pair of Republican senators could be critical to the confirmation of Gina Haspel as CIA director. 

White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said he expected next week’s confirmation hearing for Haspel, currently the agency’s acting director, to be more crucial than such hearings have been for other high-level nominees.

Practice Begins for 10th Annual Women’s Congressional Softball Game
Members play the media on June 20

The media team celebrates its 2-1 victory in last year’s Congressional Women's Softball game that pits pits female members of Congress and women in the Washington press corps. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Female lawmakers have already begun practice for the 10th annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game on June 20.

The game sees female members of Congress and the Washington press corps battle it out for charity. The member’s team practiced for the first time this year on April 11, and will continue to do so when Congress is in session. The media team, known as the Bad News Babes, started practice this week.

Sen. Doug Jones Tells LGBT Staffers He’s Discouraged By Trends in Alabama
Democratic senator, who has a gay son, sees state going in ‘opposite’ direction of LGBT rights

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., arrives for a bipartisan meeting on immigration in the Dirksen Building office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Doug Jones is a political outlier, a Deep South advocate in the Senate for gay and lesbian people.

Nary a social progressive had emerged from conservative Alabama to represent the state in the U.S. Senate until Jones, a Democrat, pulled off a stunning upset in December over the GOP hard-line conservative nominee, Roy Moore.

Senate Republicans View White House Rescissions Package as Non-Starter
Senators skeptical of going back on the bipartisan spending deal

Asked Monday about a proposal to rescind omnibus funds, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said “It’s going nowhere.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans on Monday threw cold water on a forthcoming proposal from the White House that will ask Congress to cut previously enacted spending, including from the $1.3 trillion spending bill that President Donald Trump signed last month.

Republican lawmakers are concerned about how moving forward with a “rescissions” package would affect future bipartisan negotiations over spending bills.

Syria Strife May Cause a Trump Shift Lawmakers Like
‘We need to make Bashar al-Assad pay a price,’ Sen. Roger Wicker says

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December 2015. At left, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump may be forced to change his mind — again. But this time, an about-face on Syria would likely bring accolades from many lawmakers who have been frustrated by his ever-shifting stances.

Another example of Trump going off course only to return to it days later could emerge early this week with the situation in Syria. Reports of a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military on the rebel-held area of Douma might prompt Trump to alter his stance of pulling U.S. forces from the war-torn country.