Jim Risch

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

Photos of the week
The week ending Jan. 10 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher wait for Vice President Mike Pence to arrive for her swear-in reenactment for the cameras in the Capitol on Monday. Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Kemp to fill retired Sen. Johnny Isakson's seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Impeachment trial could sideline Iran war powers debate
Confusion about calendar abounds

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The confluence of a pending impeachment trial and the potential for military conflict with Iran has left senators with unusual anxiety and a lack of control over their own calendars.

Normally, a privileged resolution under the War Powers Act seeking to stop President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran would take precedence over other Senate business — and a floor debate and vote would be expected as early as next week.

Congress unlikely to check Trump’s power to start war with Iran
The recent escalation will likely rekindle the debate over whether Trump has the power to battle Iran without Congress’ consent

President Donald Trump signed into law the sweeping fiscal 2020 appropriations measure on Dec. 20, 2019, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, United States. Language limiting Trump's ability to go to war with Iran, which got support in both chambers, was included in the House version but didn’t make it into the final bill. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Last year, months before the United States killed a senior Iranian commander in a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate voted to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

The language never actually made it into law, marking another defeat for lawmakers in both parties who have clamored to reassert Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war since the sweeping war authorizations of 2001 and 2002 that have been used to justify American military incursions since then.

James Lankford to chair Senate Ethics Committee
Oklahoma Republican will take over for Johnny Isakson, who is resigning at the end of the year

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., will lead the ethics panel. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. James Lankford will take over as chairman of the Ethics Committee, succeeding Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, who will retire at the end of the year, according to a senior Republican aide.

The Oklahoma Republican will lead a six-member, bipartisan committee charged with investigating violations of Senate rules. The committee’s most recent actions were in April 2018, when it published a public letter of admonition to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

A tale of two days — and tones — for Trump as he wraps wild NATO meeting
As president urges alliance to ‘get along with Russia,’ GOP chairman warns relations between two countries are at ‘low point’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, gestures to Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, right, while President Donald Trump looks on as NATO leaders leave the stage after having a group photo taken at the summit in London on Wednesday. (Peter Nicholls/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump shifted from an aggressive and attacking offense on the first day of a NATO summit in London to a more defensive posture on its second and final day.

Trump resorted to name-calling Wednesday as he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed their on-again/off-again feud. The president called Trudeau “two-faced” after the Canadian prime minister was caught on a hot mic Tuesday evening mocking his American counterpart for delaying other leaders by holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters that altered the agenda.

The missing voice of John McCain in impeachment and Ukraine
Late senator was the foremost expert and advocate in Congress for the Eastern European nation

Sen. John McCain waves to supporters at an opposition rally in Kyiv, Ukraine, in December 2013. No Republican has stepped in to replace the late senator as a top advocate for Ukrainian democracy, Murphy writes. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — If there was ever a time and a place where the voice of John McCain was missing from Congress, this is it — at the intersection of an impeachment, an election and a constitutional crisis.

The late Arizona Republican was one of the few members famously ready and willing to stand on a political island if he thought it was the right thing to do. So it’s easy to imagine him waiting in the well of the Senate to flash a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down on the fate of President Donald Trump, with cable pundits everywhere holding their breath until he did.

Trump to host Turkey’s Erdogan same day public impeachment hearings start
Bipartisan calls to cancel visit ignored, as experts say Washington still needs Ankara

President Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the White House in 2017. The Turkish leader makes a controversial return Wednesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be feted Wednesday at the White House despite his attacks on a longtime U.S. ally, his purchase of military equipment from Russia and calls from lawmakers in both parties to punish him.

President Donald Trump and top aides have ignored bipartisan calls to cancel Erdogan’s visit, which is expected to include a joint press conference on the same day public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry begin.

Impeachment strains longstanding bipartisan support for Ukraine
Consensus built on keeping Ukraine inside the Western European camp

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy look on during a meeting at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 25. (Getty Images file photo)

The bipartisan backing for Ukraine in its long face-off with Russia has been a hallmark of Congress’ role in foreign policymaking for decades. Congress — both parties — has generally been willing to confront Moscow more forcefully over its treatment of Ukraine than the Trump, Obama or George W. Bush White Houses.

But with U.S. policy toward Ukraine the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward Kyiv out in the open, and Republicans not wanting to break with their GOP president publicly over Ukraine policy, concern is rising that this longstanding bipartisan consensus to keep Ukraine inside the Western European camp could erode.

Campus Notebook: Idahoans in Africa highlight congressional travel
The latest travelogue and interesting disclosures

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo, left, and James Risch  traveled to a well-known national park in Mozambique. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

This week’s Campus Notebook highlights senators who recently jetted off to Mozambique, Israel and France and a staffer who sold a bunch of stocks, including from the tech industry. 

Idahoans in Africa: Sen. Mike Crapo and his wife Susan joined Sen. Jim Risch and his wife Vicki for a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa and Mozambique. Crapo and his wife’s trip, paid for by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, cost $14,113. Risch and his wife’s trip, paid for by the same group, cost $13,758.