Christopher S Murphy

‘Medicare for All’ keeps defining 2020 political landscape
Progressive health care plan could become point of contention as campaign heats up

From left, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., at an event Wednesday to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The “Medicare for All” bill that presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders released Wednesday is more likely to be litigated on the campaign trail than in the halls of Congress. And it highlights a rare political divide among Democrats on one of their marquee issues even as the party seeks to appear unified.

Supporters of the Vermont independent are vying with Democrats who prefer to expand and protect the 2010 health care law. Those differences have recently been overshadowed by larger fights between the two parties after the Trump administration broadened its position in a high-profile lawsuit by calling to strike down the entire 2010 law.

Chris Murphy says ‘double standard’ exists between physical and cybersecurity in the Senate
Connecticut Democrat pressed sergeant-at-arms on securing senators' personal devices

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., calls how the Senate handles cybersecurity a "double standard." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators want to fix what they’re calling a “double standard” between how physical and cyber security are handled by the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

At a Legislative Branch Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Christopher S. Murphy pressed Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger on threats to lawmakers and staff’s personal digital devices, including smartphones.

Sen. Chris Murphy calls college athlete compensation a ‘civil rights issue’
UConn fan released first in a series of reports on the college sports industry

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., calls inequity in college sports a “civil rights issue.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Basketball fans across the country are stressing over their March Madness brackets for the NCAA tournament, but Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher S. Murphy is instead stressing the staggering inequity in college sports that he calls “a civil rights issue.”

Murphy released a report Thursday morning, titled Madness, Inc.: How is everyone getting rich off college sports — except the players, which is the first in a series he plans to put out on the state of the multi billion-dollar collegiate athletics industry. He plans to dig into how advertisers, executives, coaches, and college administrators reap the benefits from college sports, while the athletes who are competing receive no monetary compensation.

GAO says Architect of the Capitol needs workforce management changes
Government watchdog points to 2017 layoffs and urges formalized process to collect information on staffing needs

The Government Accountability Office says the Architect of the Capitol needs to revamp some workforce practices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Architect of the Capitol’s construction division is designed to provide flexible labor options across the agency, but the Government Accountability Office says AOC needs to institute a formal process for collecting information on projects and priorities to better manage the temporary staff. In recent years employees in the construction division were given little notice of layoffs due to lack of work in certain jurisdictions.

In a report released this week, the GAO says AOC has missed opportunities to obtain information critical to making informed decisions about project staffing.

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’
Transportation secretary also says the Trump administration has ‘learned from the past’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes as she fielded questions at a Senate Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.

Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.

Library of Congress and Architect of the Capitol both request 2020 funding boosts
Senate appropriators will weigh requests against budget authorities

The Library of Congress and the Architect of the Capitol are both seeking budget increases for fiscal 2020. Agency heads appeared before the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee led by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators dug into budget requests from the Architect of the Capitol and Library of Congress on Wednesday at the Legislative Branch subcommittee, with both agencies seeking increases for fiscal 2020.

Chairwoman Cindy Hyde-Smith opened the hearing with a warning tone for her first meeting running the panel.

Lawmakers from both parties resist humanitarian and refugee aid changes
A White House proposal would not only cut funding but reshape humanitarian assistance, particularly for refugees

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters as he arrives for the votes in the Senate to keep the government open on Feb. 14, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they are determined to block a White House budget proposal that would gut the State Department’s refugee operations and slash overall humanitarian aid levels.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request proposes consolidating three separate humanitarian assistance accounts operated by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The new umbrella account would be managed by USAID and, in theory, have more flexibility to respond to rapidly evolving global crises.

Senate learns pushing back on Trump can be hard work
After rejecting U.S. role in Yemen war, senators will vote Thursday on terminating the border security emergency

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., announced support for the termination resolution after President Donald Trump said he opposed a Lee measure to limit national emergencies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate is learning this week that exercising atrophied constitutional muscles can be hard work — and it comes with political repercussions.

Thursday’s chamber agenda features debate and votes on a joint resolution that would terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for border security, which is part of his attempt to move money around to build a wall at the border with Mexico. It will be considered under an expedited procedure that will allow for Senate passage without the need for 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

Members of Congress are rich with student debt
Reauthorization of Higher Education Act could affect repayment, affordability

68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members have student loan debt. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

As lawmakers look to reshape the federal loan process in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a cohort knows firsthand the pain of rising college costs — 68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members are mired in student debt.

Collectively, the 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans have higher education liabilities of $2.5 million, according to recent financial disclosures. The median student loan debt is $15,000, while average debt is $37,000.

Senators unveil new plan to counter Vladimir Putin’s energy influence in Eastern Europe
Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson leading bipartisan effort to improve energy infrastructure

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy is introducing a new effort to counter Vladimir Putin’s influence in Eastern Europe. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bipartisan lawmakers are unveiling Thursday the latest Capitol Hill effort to counter Vladimir Putin’s energy activities in Eastern Europe.

This time, a contingent of senators led by Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is introducing a bill that would authorize as much as $1 billion in financing for the next few years for energy sector projects in Europe.