Democrats Notching Key Legislative Victories Ahead Of Elections
Members hope achievements can drive support among voters in rural states

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is one of several moderate Democrats in the chamber that have notched key legislative victories under President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate Senate Democrats on the ballot in 2018 are racking up a number of key legislative victories in advance of what is expected to be a bitter midterm election cycle.

The successes on bills ranging from veterans’ issues, to bank regulation and tax credits for so-called clean coal technology are the kind of achievements that can drive support among voters in the rural states that many of these members call home.

Departing Appropriations Chairmen Set to Reap Omnibus Bounty
Fiscal 2018 spending bill a swan song for Cochran, Frelinghuysen

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s swan song as the outgoing chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee may be a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

The outgoing chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees are set up for a bountiful swan song as a sprawling $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill comes to fruition this week.

For Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, resigning April 1, it’s a “mic drop” moment as the ailing 80-year-old Mississippi Republican will walk off the stage just after the omnibus measure is expected to become law. Cochran’s departure leaves his state with an enormous loss of clout that he will be anxious to ameliorate in his final go-round.

Trump Upends GOP Plan to Avoid ‘Scary’ Appearance
‘This is the commander in chaos,’ Sen. Robert Menendez says

President Donald Trump talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn after his State of the Union address in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The ousting of a secretary of State once elicited more than shrugs from lawmakers, but not in the era of Donald Trump. His erratic approach to the presidency has become the norm, and that could run counter to the best efforts of his party’s congressional leaders.

Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning via a tweet, announcing he would replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The move, in the works for months as the two clashed, came as House and Senate Republican leaders were hoping for several weeks of legislative progress — and even some high-profile bipartisan votes. For instance, the Senate was preparing for votes on a financial regulation bill that had broad support among Republicans and the backing of key Democrats.

Despite Rancor On Tariffs, Senate GOP Rejects Legislative Response
What started off as a war cry has been reduced to a whimper

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says nullifying tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imposed by the president isn't in the cards for his chamber. Also pictured, from right, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans, after decrying President Donald Trump’s recently announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, have no plans to pursue legislation to block them from going into effect.

“The thought that the president would undo action he’s taken strikes me as remote at best and I’d like to use floor time in the Senate for things that actually have a chance to become law,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll be dealing with that in a legislative way.”

Whitehouse Preps 200th Climate Speech, Hoping Senate Will Stir
“It is an indicator of the extent [to] which the fossil fuel industry owns the joint”

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speaks with Roll Call in his office on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every week of every Senate session for the last six years, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has taken to the floor to urge his colleagues to “wake up” to the dire consequences of their inaction on climate change.

But the slumbering chamber keeps hitting the snooze button.

Murkowski Is Tracking the Iditarod in Her Senate Office and Can Hardly Contain Her Excitement
Monday marks day eight of the Alaska dog sled race

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has an Iditarod tracker poster outside her office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When Sen. Lisa Murkowski walks into her Capitol Hill office, her excitement level shoots up as she thinks about the huge dog sled race going on in her home state.

The Alaska Republican has been tracking all the Iditarod mushers (the men and women who drive the sleds) on a poster outside her office.

Photos of the Week: Jon Stewart, Benjamin Netanyahu, and an Adorable Office Morale Officer
The week of March 5 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

TV crews set up microphones at the House Triangle before the start of the press conference with comedian Jon Stewart on Monday to call on OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to withdraw his proposal to separate the World Trade Center Health Program from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health direction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week of March 5 has nearly come to a close as Washington waits for a fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill ahead of the March 23 government funding deadline.

Leaders say a bill could appear as early as next week, which could make for another busy week in D.C.

The Never-Ending Crisis at the Indian Health Service
As the chronically under-funded agency struggles, American Indians are getting sicker and dying sooner

Patients wait at an Indian Health Service clinic on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. (Will Kincaid/AP)

The health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the United States population are stark. American Indians are 50 percent more likely than others to have a substance use disorder, 60 percent more likely to commit suicide, twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to die during childbirth, three times more likely to die from diabetes and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. They die on average five years sooner than other Americans.

The Trump administration has pledged to make tribal health care systems more effective. During one of his confirmation hearings, new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators the administration would welcome opportunities to improve the $5 billion Indian Health Service, which provides care for 2.2 million American Indians. “It’s unacceptable for us to not be providing high-quality service,” Azar said.

Chao, Senate Democrats Spar on Infrastructure Proposal
Transportation secretary says ask the White House about gas tax increase

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao pushed back on Democrats' criticism about the administration's infrastructure plan, such as it is. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sparred Thursday over environmental requirements and funding in the president’s infrastructure proposal, jousting over the contents of a plan that top Senate Republicans indicated this week isn’t likely to pass this year.

Chao repeatedly defended the plan from charges by committee Democrats that it would strip environmental protections, saying the administration only wanted to improve the process without sacrificing environmental quality. The administration wants to eliminate duplication and allow relevant agencies to conduct environmental reviews simultaneously rather than sequentially, she said.

Inhofe Returns From Asia With Warnings About China, North Korea
Oklahoma Republican toured region during latest recess

A congressional delegation led by Sen. James M. Inhofe visited teh DMZ last week. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. James M. Inhofe returned from a recess congressional delegation to the Asia-Pacific region expressing doubts that South Korea’s leadership was adequately alarmed about North Korea’s nuclear program.

“I think it’s true that they’ve gotten soft,” Inhofe told a small group of reporters in his Capitol Hill office Wednesday. “They really didn’t feel that the threat was that great.”