James M Inhofe

Softball, the Hill’s Social Lubricant
House and Senate softball league players share what they get out of the games

A member of the House softball league runs to second base during the Tax Dodgers versus Immaculate Innings game next to the Washington Monument on Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

June in D.C. for congressional staffers means creeping humidity and long working hours. For some it also means reliving their Little League days.

The Senate and House softball leagues are staples of summer on Capitol Hill. Members and staffers say they play for the fun of it, to meet new people, and to foster relationships both within and outside their offices.

Inhofe, Frustrated by Defense Bill Amendments, May Favor Rules Changes
Comes amid standoff over the amendments on the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill

Sen. James M. Inhofe is talking about changing the amendment rules for next year’s defense authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Oklahoma Republican who has been filling in as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is talking about changing the rules ahead of next year’s edition of the annual exercise.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, the bill manager, is blasting the application of the Senate’s procedures allowing any one senator to effectively block the consideration of any other amendments.

Corker Unloads on Republicans for Being Afraid of Trump
Tennessee Republican said Republicans fear upsetting POTUS before midterms

Watch: Corker Chastises Fellow Republicans for Blocking His Tariff Amendment

 Sen. Bob Corker unloaded on his fellow Republicans for cowering from President Donald Trump.

Senators Could Use Defense Bill to Push Back on Russia
Bipartisan group files amendments seeking to counter Kremlin election interference

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is among the senators preparing amendments to the defense authorization bill that seek to push back on Russian election interference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators could find themselves debating election security this week, including how to counter potential efforts by Russia to mess with this year’s midterms.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to use the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill as a venue for amendments related to both protection and response.

Members Join Rubio in Criticizing Trump Over China Talks
President says he is not satisfied with outcome of latest trade negotiations

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, and James Risch, R-Idaho, attend a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in January 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It was Sen. Marco Rubio, not Donald Trump, who used a morning tweet Tuesday to help shape the day’s agenda. The Florida Republican slammed the president’s trade talks with China, prompting other members to voice their concerns.

Rubio wrote that China is “out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now,” criticizing the Trump administration for putting on hold tariffs aimed at Beijing while moving ahead with efforts to save troubled Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE. He also panned the White House for not forcing concessions from Chinese officials.

New Push for Senators to Pay Their Interns
Advocates say the time is right for offices to stop relying on free labor

A majority of Senate offices do not offer paid internships, according to data from nonprofit advocacy group Pay Our Interns. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Ideas to boost diversity on the Hill have been thrown around, and the numbers are slowly improving. But what if the solution was right in front of everyone, sitting at tiny shared desks in congressional offices?

Paid interns.

Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as Pruitt’s Deputy at EPA
Heitkamp and Manchin join Republicans on vote

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt now has a deputy — a former fossil fuel lobbyist — after a Senate confirmation vote Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy EPA administrator, providing a second-in-command for Administrator Scott Pruitt as he struggles amid alleged ethical failings.

Wheeler was confirmed Thursday with a 53-45 vote. Some Democrats hoped Pruitt’s difficulties would give them the votes to block the confirmation, but their efforts were not enough. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined Republicans in voting for Wheeler. Both are running for re-election this year in states won by President Donald Trump.

Dave McCurdy, a Retiring Optimist Pushing Back on ‘Disciples of Declinism’
Former Intelligence chairman and current head of AGA reflects on two public careers

Former Oklahoma Rep. Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, will retire in February 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After nearly four decades in Washington, former Rep. Dave McCurdy is still an optimist.

Even as the former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma and current head of the American Gas Association prepares for retirement, he says there is a lot Congress can learn from the swamp so easily derided by public officials who struggle to step out of their partisan foxholes.

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.

Even on North Korea, Trump Shifts Wildly
Pivot toward talks is latest example of an ever-shifting presidency

A congressional delegation led by Sen. James M. Inhofe visited the DMZ recently as President Trump again shifted, saying he will talk to North Korea. (Photo by Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

After months of bluster and threats toward North Korea, President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his administration will hold talks with the Kim government about its nuclear arms and long-range missile programs.

Then-President Barack Obama told Trump before he was sworn in that North Korea would be the most-pressing global problem he would need solve during his term. Since, Trump has threatened to attack the North — even at times suggesting he would unleash America’s atomic arsenal to take out the North’s. His sudden pivot toward talks is just the latest example of how the 45th president’s policy stances often change suddenly.