Niels Lesniewski

Warren and Clyburn team up on effort to cancel student loan debts for 95 percent of borrowers
Legislation to be introduced in the weeks ahead

Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be joining House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn in an aggressive effort to cancel student loan debt.

“For far too many students and families, the cost of higher education has meant daunting debt and a lifetime of student loan repayments,” Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, said.

President Trump puts Eric Ueland in charge of White House legislative affairs
Longtime Senate aide saw his own confirmation to a State Department post thwarted

President Donald Trump intends to appoint Eric Ueland, a senior White House aide with vast experience in the Senate, as the next director of legislative affairs at the White House.

A source familiar with the plan confirmed the expected announcement to CQ Roll Call, which was first reported by Axios.

Why Ken Cuccinelli is persona non grata in the Senate
Trump tapped the Senate Conservatives Fund president in acting capacity for Citizenship and Immigration Services

President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Ken Cuccinelli to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in only an acting capacity should be no surprise considering that he would appear to have no shot of Senate confirmation.

That is owed to his tenure as president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee with a long track record of working against incumbent Republican senators, challenging them from the party’s right flank.

Trump blasts Federal Reserve, U.S. Chamber over trade, interest rates
President threatens to leave business organization in what appeared to be unplanned phone interview with CNBC

President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday morning in what appeared to be an unplanned telephone interview with CNBC.

Trump again criticized the Federal Reserve Board for having raised interest rates, especially while the president said China was allowing its currency to be weakened in part to mitigate the effects of U.S. tariffs.

Senators seek another way to push back on Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy
Bipartisan group announces resolution to require report on the kingdom’s human rights record

Senators are continuing to look for creative ways to push back against the Trump administration’s foreign policy initiatives, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

The latest bipartisan effort seeks to force a floor vote to request Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress on the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, under a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act.

Sen. Blumenthal resumes crusade against sports blackouts
Connecticut Democrat wants to end local blackouts of home NFL games

A Democratic senator is renewing his crusade to eliminate sports blackouts.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants sports leagues to make live programming available through alternate means when cable distributors and satellite operators get into contract disputes with broadcasters that can lead to events being pulled off the air.

Bipartisan Senate group seeks to block Saudi arms sales as Trump administration tries to avoid congressional review
Top Democrat on Foreign Relations Menendez formally announces 22 separate disapproval measures

Bipartisanship is breaking out in the Senate to push back on yet another emergency declaration from the Trump administration.

This time, the rebuttal comes over announced arms sales, including to Saudi Arabia, under the auspices of an emergency declaration from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Republicans eager to avoid getting stuck between Trump and tariffs on Mexico
There might be enough votes to terminate a national emergency

Congressional Republicans are caught between the Koch brothers and President Donald Trump on a closer-by-the-day trade war, and are uneasily weighing their options to nullify Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexican imports. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the LIBRE Initiative sent a letter pushing congressional leaders to stand up against what they characterized as tens of billions of effective tax increases, including from Trump’s potential 5 percent tariffs on imports from Mexico (and which could grow to more than 25 percent).

Congress remembers D-Day ahead of Thursday’s 75th anniversary
Members hear from Holocaust survivor, relay stories of troops landing at Normandy

World leaders, including members of Congress, will gather Thursday overlooking the beaches of Normandy to honor the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the heroism of those who served to save the world from Nazi terror. But on Tuesday, a much smaller (though perhaps no less emotional) ceremony took place in the Capitol complex.

Organized in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, members of Congress took time to listen to Steven Joseph Fenves, a Holocaust survivor who was held in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and later the Buchenwald camp at the time of its liberation by American forces.

Road ahead: Plenty of legislating to be done around Trump impeachment chatter
Disaster relief bill and defense authorization among upcoming priorities

The increasing talk of the House launching impeachment proceedings is not yet crippling the legislative agenda that does exist, but that could change if President Donald Trump refuses to negotiate.

As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week, the first order of business will be for the House to finish the long-stalled emergency spending package for disaster relief. The Senate passed the compromise bill May 16, but the floor votes came after House members had already left town for the Memorial Day break.

Sund named as acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police
Former Metropolitan Police Department commander steps into top role at USCP

The Capitol Police Board has appointed Assistant Chief Steven A. Sund as the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.

Sund takes over on Saturday for Chief Matthew Verderosa who announced his retirement after a 34-year career in law enforcement and three as chief of USCP. The order promoting Sund to chief was signed Friday by the members of the board.

After Mueller statement, Sen. Warren wants to throw out restrictions on indicting sitting presidents
Proposal from Massachusetts Democrat would reverse policy that constrained Mueller

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s announcement that she would upend Justice Department policies against indicting sitting presidents seems likely to become a rallying cry for the 2020 White House hopefuls.

After Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III publicly announced he was prevented in part by a 1973 memo from even considering whether to indict President Donald Trump on charges related to obstruction of justice, the Massachusetts Democrat released a campaign proposal that involves changing the practice.

Sen. Jerry Moran on the mend after rescue from Camelback Mountain
Phoenix fire department helps Kansas senator off the mountain after ankle injury

Memorial Day recess has not gone exactly as planned for Sen. Jerry Moran.

Moran is recuperating after suffering an ankle injury at popular Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday morning.

Thad Cochran, former Senate Appropriations chairman, has died at age 81
Mississippi Republican known for old-school civility served in Congress for 45 years

Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a dependable provider for his home state during more than four decades in Congress, has died at the age of 81.

Cochran, who retired from the Senate on April 1, 2018, after dealing with health issues, died Thursday morning in Oxford, Mississippi, according to a statement circulated by Chris Gallegos, his longtime communications director.

Senate Democrats will seek to force vote on Trump authority for Iran war
Sen. Tim Kaine quotes ’Dr. Strangelove‘ after Armed Services panel thwarts vote on the question

If some key Democrats get their way, the Senate will have to vote on the limits of President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

The vote would come as part of floor debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization. The Senate Armed Services Committee last week turned back an effort to express opposition to military action against Iran without a new authorization from Congress, except in cases of self-defense.

Memorial Day reading: Tom Cotton busts a myth of Arlington’s Old Guard
Arkansas Republican senator, who served with the unit, documents battlefield history

Most people know the Old Guard as the Army regiment that protects the Arlington Nation Cemetery and its Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But it has a long combat history too.

Before he was a senator, Tom Cotton served in the storied regiment. He unearths its forgotten past in “Sacred Duty,” published earlier this May by the William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins.

Senate mourns deaths of two beloved staffers
Barber David Knight and document room employee Bud Johnson both died recently

David Miles Knight spent 36 years as one of the Senate barbers, and he was a familiar face to everyone in the basement of the Russell Building, which has long played host to the barber shop.

Over the weekend, he lost his long fight with cancer, just a day before another longtime Senate employee, Berner Richard Johnson III, succumbed to his injuries from a violent attack, leaving the Senate family in mourning. 

Remembering Democrats’ convention credentialing mastermind
Former House administrative assistant oversaw DNC credentials for two decades

Jackie Falk might not be a household name, unless you were trying to get credentials for the Democratic National Convention for two decades.

Because of the limited capacity of the venues for national political conventions, there is fierce competition for limited floor passes and seats, even among party luminaries.

AOC and Warren team up to probe Treasury Secretary Mnuchin over Sears bankruptcy
Question Mnuchin's time on the Sears board, connection to CEO Eddie Lampert

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez teamed up Thursday to blast Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the bankruptcy of Sears.

The Democrats from Massachusetts and New York, respectively, are questioning Mnuchin’s actions as a member of the Sears board and his longstanding ties to Eddie Lampert, the Sears CEO who came into that role after the retailer was purchased by his hedge fund.

US could be at war by the time Congress returns from recess, Udall says
Democrats force votes on approving war with Iran, but come up short in the Senate

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.