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Border spending bill sent to Senate floor, but House may act on its version first
Measure provides slightly less than Trump administration sought, but got bipartisan support from Senate appropriators

Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prepare for a committee markup Wednesday of an emergency spending bill to address the influx of migrants at the southern border. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators approved $4.59 billion in emergency funding Wednesday to address the influx of migrants at the southern border, and their House counterparts said they’re prepping a similar bill to bring to the floor as soon as Tuesday.

The measure appropriators sent to the Senate floor provides slightly less than President Donald Trump’s administration had requested, but leaders of both parties said it did not include “poison pills” that could block passage.

Judge who said being transgender is a ‘delusion’ nearing confirmation
Democratic senators and LGBT advocates have voiced concerns over one of Trump’s most controversial nominees

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is seen before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Collins announced she would oppose Matthew Kacsmaryk’s nomination because his “extreme” statements “indicate an alarming bias against the rights of LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic senators and LGBT advocates want to stop the confirmation of one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees this week, but the fight underscores just how powerless they are to do so without help from Republicans.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled floor votes starting Tuesday afternoon for a slate of appointments including Matthew Kacsmaryk to be a judge for the Northern District of Texas. The Kentucky Republican has used a 53-47 majority and streamlined floor rules to quickly confirm 34 judicial nominees this year.

New legislative affairs chief Ueland has his work cut out for him
One staffer, no matter how talented, may not be enough to curb Trump’s mercurial tendencies, Hill veterans say

Eric Ueland, left, takes over from Shahira Knight as the White House legislative affairs director. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland begins his new job Monday as President Donald Trump’s legislative affairs director, bringing with him hopes for a more productive working relationship between the White House and Congress as Trump heads into the final year of his first term. 

During more than two decades as a top Senate Republican aide, Ueland built a reputation as an effective strategist for conservative legislative efforts, with a knack for using the Senate’s rules to achieve the majority’s goals.

Trump — not lawmakers — set to be biggest challenge for new legislative affairs chief Ueland
No matter who runs Hill shop, president’s approach is ‘very unlikely to yield results,’ expert says

Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi, right, introduces Eric Ueland at his confirmation hearing to be under secretary of State for management in September 2017. That nomination was later withdrawn, but Ueland will be President Donald Trump’s third legislative affairs director, starting Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland, hand-picked by President Donald Trump to be his third legislative affairs director, has decades of experience in the D.C. “swamp” his soon-to-be boss loathes. But the former senior GOP aide will quickly learn it is the president alone who is, as one official put it Thursday, “the decider.”

Ueland has been chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and a Senate Budget Committee staff director. Experts and former officials describe him as highly qualified for the tough task of being the messenger between Trump and a Congress with a Democrat-controlled House that regularly riles up the president and a Senate where Republicans lack votes to pass most major legislation.

Rick Steves is blunt on cannabis: ‘Tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons’
Watch CQ Roll Call's talk with the travel guru

Rick Steves, left, travel author and television personality, talks with CQ Roll Call's Clyde McGrady, center, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., outside of the Capitol on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call)

Travel guru Rick Steves made a pitstop in Washington, D.C., on Monday to push lawmakers to legalize cannabis.

Legal pot makes it harder to recruit truck drivers, industry leader says
Companies find applicants withdraw when they learn of hair sample tests for drug use

Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse Johnstown, N.Y. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

As the trucking industry struggles with a driver shortage, the president of a major lobby placed part of the blame on wider acceptance by states of marijuana use.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told lawmakers at a Wednesday hearing that legalization of recreational marijuana by states is making it harder for the industry to find drug-free drivers. Still, low pay and poor working conditions are also hurdles to industry recruitment, according to a union leader.

Rick Steves’ guide to legalizing weed
Travel guru has a message for marijuana haters: It’s more fun without you

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, left, talks legalization with Rick Steves on Tuesday. The Oregon congressman wears his signature bike pin, while the travel guru wears his signature backpack. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For two decades, Rick Steves has guided viewers through capital cities all over Europe, helping them find the best sites to see and the best food to taste. But when he traveled to the U.S. Capitol this week, it wasn’t to check out the marble — it was to explain why legalizing weed is about more than getting high.

Steves was in D.C. as a guest of Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who first met the roving television star in 2014 when they teamed up for a marijuana legalization fight in the congressman’s home state of Oregon.

Democrats join Trump in whining about tariffs on wine
Feinstein, others call on administration to push for removing duties on U.S. wine

Democratic lawmakers want the Trump administration to ensure any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on U.S. wine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Concerns about tariffs on wine are leaving a sour taste both on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

But this wine isn’t skunked, it’s tainted by retaliatory Chinese tariffs, lawmakers say.

Artificial intelligence is coming. Will Congress be ready?

Lawmakers still grappling with the downsides of the internet and social media era, such as loss of privacy, criminal hacking and data breaches, are now trying to balance the promises and perils of artificial intelligence. (iStock)

It can help trace missing children, but misidentifies people of color. It can help detect cancer, but may recommend the wrong cure. It can help track criminals, but could aid foreign enemies in targeting voters. It can improve efficiency, but perpetuate long-standing biases.

The “it” is artificial intelligence, a technology that teaches machines to recognize complex patterns and make decisions based on them, much like humans do. While the promised benefits of the technology are profound, the downsides could be damaging, even dangerous.

Republicans eager to avoid getting stuck between Trump and tariffs on Mexico
There might be enough votes to terminate a national emergency

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said, “I don’t think tariffs anywhere are a good idea.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional Republicans are caught between the Koch brothers and President Donald Trump on a closer-by-the-day trade war, and are uneasily weighing their options to nullify Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexican imports. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the LIBRE Initiative sent a letter pushing congressional leaders to stand up against what they characterized as tens of billions of effective tax increases, including from Trump’s potential 5 percent tariffs on imports from Mexico (and which could grow to more than 25 percent).