Maine

An ‘obvious trap’? Democrats weigh political cost of impeachment
Vulnerable Democrats may be more open to impeachment but aren’t ready to go there yet

Democrat strategists who’ve worked on competitive House races largely agree that impeachment is a losing issue for the party trying to hold the House in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional Democrats have a decision to make: Where are they going on impeachment, and at what political cost?

A group that has been pushing since 2017 for President Donald Trump’s impeachment will be airing ads this weekend in Iowa and New Hampshire urging Democratic leaders to take action. 

Interior Department policy let political appointees review FOIA requests
So-called awareness review process could expose department to legal action

A public records request for emails between a National Park Service official and Lolita Zinke, above, wife of former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was originally estimated to potentially yield 96 pages of communication. It ended up being 16 pages long after being put through the awareness review process.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The Interior Department has for about a year allowed political appointees to weigh in on which federal records are released to the public, creating delays that could violate open records law and expose the department to legal action.

“If political officials are becoming involved in the process and as a result of that causes the agency to not comply with its obligations” under the Freedom of Information Act, “that is a serious problem,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

Election assistance agency pleads for more money ahead of 2020
“What we are working on is the infrastructure of our democracy”

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt noted Wednesday that budget cuts at the Election Assistance Commission came during the Obama administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Officials from the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency responsible for overseeing voting machines used in thousands of jurisdictions across the country and helping states adopt good election administration practices, pleaded with lawmakers for more money to do their jobs ahead of the 2020 elections.

The federal agency is working with a staff and budget that are about half what they were 10 years ago, officials said Wednesday as lawmakers grappled with how to beef up the agency.

Trump drags feet on climate treaty, and Republicans aren’t happy
As Kigali Amendment languishes, Sens. Kennedy, Carper point fingers at the administration

Hydrofluorocarbons — found in air conditioners — are worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. A plan to limit them has bipartisan support, but the Trump administration is standing in the way, Republican senators say. (iStock/Composite by Jason Mann)

It has the support of industry heavy-hitters, environmental advocates and a bipartisan cushion of votes in the Senate.

But the Kigali Amendment, a global treaty to limit hydrofluorocarbons — highly potent greenhouse gases found in air conditioners, refrigerators, insulation and foam — is stuck.

Shanahan’s confirmation as Defense secretary seems likely, if bumpy
Nominee’s ties to Boeing have come under scrutiny

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan may face some pointed questions from senators during his confirmation hearing to lead the department full-time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate appears likely to confirm Patrick Shanahan as secretary of Defense, barring an unforeseen and damaging disclosure — but not before senators pose some pointed questions of the nominee.

The White House announced on Thursday evening that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Shanahan to run the Pentagon. Shanahan has served as acting secretary since Jan. 1, when James Mattis, the Defense Department’s former boss, quit.

Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones ring in happy birthday for Richard Shelby

A bipartisan group of senators, and one prominent ex-senator, wished Richard Shelby a happy birthday on Monday. (Jennifer Shutt/CQ Roll Call)

The hallways outside the Senate Appropriations Committee filled with the Happy Birthday song Monday afternoon as dozens of senators and staff gathered to wish Chairman Richard C. Shelby a happy 85th birthday.

The closed-door event included coconut cake, champagne and red napkins that read “Happy Birthday Senator Richard Shelby!”

Why ambitious Democrats are saying ‘no thanks’ to Senate runs
Stacey Abrams is not the first to reject party wooing, and may not be the last

Former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke decided to run for president instead of challenging GOP Sen. John Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With Stacey Abrams becoming the latest high-profile Democrat to say no to a 2020 Senate bid — and more rejections of party pressure possible on the horizon — running for the Senate no longer looks look like the step up the political ladder it may once have been.

A few Democrats have chosen to run for president this year instead of challenging Republican senators. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke passed on a race against Sen. John Cornyn. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t taking on incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to join the presidential field soon, passing on a bid against Sen. Steve Daines.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin endorses GOP Sen. Susan Collins for 2020
Cross-party endorsement is rare, but two voted together to support Kavanaugh

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is endorsing Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for re-election next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III endorsed Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ 2020 re-election bid Thursday, saying he would go to Maine to campaign for her if she asked.

“I would go up and campaign for Susan Collins,” the West Virginia senator said in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers”  that will air Friday. “For America to lose someone like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about this lady.”

Senators remain skeptical of Space Force
Lawmakers agreed space defense is important, but many logistical questions remain

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford (center) is seen while protesters hold up signs before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The acting defense secretary is pitching the idea of creating a Space Force as a separate branch of the military to Congress. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

Top Pentagon officials on Thursday deployed old arguments to argue for a new military service within the Department of the Air Force focused specifically on space.

The United States risks losing its competitive edge in space to Russia and China unless the Pentagon stands up Space Force to defend extraterrestrial military and commercial interests, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Trump tries to revive North Korea talks in meeting with South Korea’s Moon
Experts see Moon urging U.S. leader to pursue ‘small deal’ with Kim Jong Un

President Donald Trump will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Thursday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will try to revive his push to strip North Korea of its nuclear weapons when he hosts South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday. The visit comes as lawmakers worry about Kim Jong Un’s arsenal, with experts encouraging talks in hopes of even a “small deal.”

Trump’s second nuclear disarmament summit was cut short in late February after he and Kim reached an impasse over several issues, including the latter’s demand for some sanctions to be lifted before he started dismantling his atomic arms and long-range missile programs. Trump has signaled he was at least partially distracted during the meetings in Vietnam by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony before a House panel at the same time.