politics

Anti-vaxxer allegedly threatened to kill Rep. Frederica Wilson
Suspect is a Pentagon contractor who had access to sensitive information

Reps. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., right, was reportedly the target of a death threat by a man angry about a bill she introduced requiring vaccinations. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A grand jury in Maryland has indicted a Department of Defense contractor on one felony count of threatening a member of Congress.

Darryl Albert Varnum, who works out of the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, allegedly left a threatening voicemail for a lawmaker one evening in late June, according to court records.

Senators roll out pilot program to speed asylum claims
Plan would streamline process for migrant families who have legitimate claims

Republican senators behind the asylum proposal include Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of nine senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — is proposing a new pilot program to better manage the influx of families seeking asylum at the southwest border.

“Operation Safe Return,” as the group calls it, would be the first bipartisan step to address the situation at the border, the senators said in a letter Thursday to Trump administration officials. Their plan would streamline the process by which migrant families who have legitimate claims for asylum are processed at the border, and swiftly weed out those who do not.

White House offers up extensive menu of cuts for spending caps deal
The administration wants at least $150 billion in savings

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the talks for her side of the aisle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration has laid out a wide array of spending cuts and tweaks to mandatory programs for Democratic leaders to consider for inclusion in a two-year discretionary caps and debt limit package.

The White House offsets menu includes $574 billion culled from items in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, according to a source familiar with the proposal. In addition, there’s $516 billion in “structural reforms” obtained by extending current discretionary spending limits by another two years, through fiscal 2023.

Clete Willems is trading in the White House for K Street
“My biggest joke now is I went to become a partner in a law firm, so I can work less”

Clete Willems has gone from chauffeuring Rep. Paul D. Ryan to working on trade policy at the White House to partnering at the Akin Gump law firm on K Street. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The timing of Clete Willems’ recent departure from the White House seemed a bit inopportune what with negotiations over trade disputes with China hitting a pivotal point. But the international economics adviser to the president says he had other commitments to keep.

Though the Trump White House has a reputation for unpredictability and plenty of staffing drama, Willems says the reason for his departure was more personal. When he took on the new gig at the beginning of the Trump administration, he made a pact with his wife: When they had a second child, he would head for the exit. His daughter was born in March.

Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez need a ‘chief of change’ or a change of staff?
Who is calling the shots in New York Democrat’s office?

By going after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats, Saikat Chakrabarti, left, chief of staff to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, broke a cardinal rule of the unwritten Hill staffer code, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Mention the name Saikat Chakrabarti to Democratic chiefs of staff on Capitol Hill, and you’ll get an array of fed-up responses to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s high-profile top aide, from “Ugh” to “What the (expletive)?” to “He’s got to go.”

Although staffer feuds are not uncommon, the Harvard-educated former tech executive who leads AOC’s office has recently committed the two great sins against the unwritten code of Capitol Hill staffers. The first is to never upstage the boss.

Former GOP staffer running for Virginia delegate knows not to knock the ‘swamp’
Hill experience isn’t a liability for D.J. Jordan on the campaign trail

Former Hill staffer D.J. Jordan, here at a July Fourth parade in Daly City, Va., is running for the Virginia House of Delegates. (Courtesy D.J. Jordan)

When D.J. Jordan was a Hill staffer, his drive into the city took an hour and 15 minutes, and that was on a good day. He turned to the fine art of slugging — picking up fellow commuters at designated parking lots to reach a quorum for the HOV-3 express lanes.

“It has literally been my personal nightmare,” Jordan said. “I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve missed family dinner and missed my son’s football practice and missed my daughter’s dance rehearsal or recital because I’m stuck in traffic.”

Fly me to the moon … before China does
Trump administration wants to get there by 2024, but the competition will be stiff

The image of a Saturn V, the rocket that sent Apollo 11 into orbit in 1969, is projected Tuesday on the Washington Monument. Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new space race is on, and this time it’s the U.S. versus China rather than the former Soviet Union.

In the coming years, NASA and the China National Space Administration separately plan to send a series of missions to the moon with the goal of having a strong presence on its south pole — heightening the likelihood of tension and conflict.

Are you cut out for the campaign trail?
How to tell if you’re a campaigner or meant for the Hill life

Jennifer Wexton campaign manager Ray Rieling points to CNN’s coverage of the Virginia 10th District race as Wexton’s staff and family watch election returns in the campaign’s war room on election night 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Half-eaten doughnuts. Late-night conference calls over multiple cups of coffee. The life of a campaigner can be hectic and unpredictable. It’s also more physical, whether it’s spending hours in a car driving from the Tallapoosa County Democratic Women’s luncheon or logging miles on Saturday morning door knocking in the summer heat.

It’s best suited for those with a high tolerance for chaos.

Esper, Milley nominations head to floor; Hyten‘s fate unclear
McConnell lined up Monday cloture vote, which Esper is expected to clear easily, and a final confirmation vote by Wednesday

Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper prepares to testify during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday advanced to the floor the nominations for Mark Esper to be Defense secretary and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promptly filed cloture on the nomination, lining up a Monday cloture vote, which Esper is expected to clear easily, and a final confirmation vote by Wednesday.

Senate schedules debate on 9/11 victims compensation bill
The bill sailed through the House last week, but Senate fiscal hawks worried about price tag

Comedian and advocate Jon Stewart along with 9/11 responders are seen on the Speaker’s balcony after a meeting in the Capitol with Speaker Nancy Pelosi about funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders have agreed to take up a bill Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The bill sailed through the House last week on a 402-12 vote, but has faced resistance in the Senate from fiscal hawks worried about its price tag. The measure would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims.