Sheldon Whitehouse

The ‘Hell’ in Helsinki, Fist Bumps and Chickens in Alaska: Congressional Hits and Misses
 

“That was strange,” President Donald Trump said after the lights went out during his statement to a group of reporters and lawmakers that he had full faith in U.S. intelligence agencies. This was a day after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland, which Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said “put the hell back in Helsinki.” See that and more from members of Congress in this week’s Hits and Misses.

Pruitt’s Shadow May Linger Over EPA as Probes Continue
Carper: ‘It still blows my mind’

Scott Pruitt, shown here in May, may be out as EPA administrator, but he’s still casting a long shadow over the agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Scandal-plagued former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may no longer work at the agency, but at least some of the investigations into his alleged misdeeds will continue.

From the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation that has uncovered damaging allegations of Pruitt’s misuse of staff, to numerous open EPA inspector general audits of his travel spending, Pruitt’s cloud over the EPA is likely to linger as conclusions from the multiple probes trickle out through the rest of 2018.

Trump Defends Pruitt Until the Very End
A look at the times when the president — and others — rallied behind the former EPA chief

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, here at a Senate hearing in May, is resigning after 16 months on the job. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt turned in his resignation Thursday, but right until the very end, he could do no wrong in the eyes — or tweets — of President Donald Trump.

“Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” the president tweeted in his announcement that Pruitt was stepping down.

Cattle Call, Grifters and Counting to a Billion: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of June 25, 2018

The Senate’s farm bill debate this week brought about talk of the other white meat, pivot irrigation and lots and lots of cattle. Plus, learn what member of the Trump administration Rep. Denny Heck calls “a homie.”

GOP Celebrates Supreme Court’s Most Conservative Term in Years
Kennedy retirement capped a season of 5-4 highlights

In his first term on the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, shown here during his 2017 confirmation hearings, was a reliably conservative vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court ended its term with a number of decisions that split the court along ideological lines, a finish that underscored just how much President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch influenced the nation’s legal landscape.

Now, with a second Supreme Court nominee to select, Trump has the power to move the court solidly to the right.

Opinion: A New Climate of Realism Emerges in Energy Debate
Progressives and conservatives must embrace ideas and partners they’ve shunned before

The North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Virginia. Non-carbon sources of energy, including nuclear, must be fully embraced if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, Grumet writes. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Two mainstay and false arguments of the climate debate — “It’s all a hoax” and “Renewable energy alone can save us” — are beginning to lose steam.

In place of the scientific, engineering and economic denial that has marred the last two decades of debate, a new coalition that acknowledges the growing risks of climate change and embraces a broader set of solutions is emerging. Whether the motivation here is the slow drip of evidence, the destabilizing effect of careening federal policy, or simply exhaustion, a new climate of realism is gaining adherents in industry, among advocates, and on Capitol Hill. For this movement to take hold, progressives and conservatives must both embrace ideas and partners they’ve doubted or shunned in the past.

Criminal Justice Overhaul Efforts Appear Stuck
House and Senate Judiciary panels have taken different approaches

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he expects criminal justice legislation to hit the House floor in the next few weeks with bipartisan support. But the Senate appears to have decided on a different course. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House action on a criminal justice overhaul bill this week appears to have done little to change the political dynamic in the Senate that makes it unlikely Congress will act on the issue this year.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on Wednesday that aims to prepare federal prisoners for release so they are less likely to commit another crime. A co-author of the bill, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, said in an interview Thursday he expected the measure would hit the House floor “in the next few weeks, and we’ll have strong bipartisan support.”

Conservative Court Nominee Highlights Smoother Path to Bench
Previous political work no longer impedes confirmation chances

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has presided over a steady stream of judicial confirmations under President Donald Trump, a marked shift from when Barack Obama was president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:29 p.m. | Appeals court nominee Kyle Duncan has advocated on behalf of conservatives in legal fights over contentious cultural issues such as abortion and LGBT rights, leaving behind the kind of paper trail that might have dissuaded presidents from putting him through the Senate’s confirmation process.

Donald Trump is not such a president.

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.

Dems Question Scott Pruitt Death Threats; Barrasso Rejects Hearing
EPA chief's security concerns questioned

Senate Democrats question whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is embellishing death threats to justify heightened security details and want to question him in a hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming said he will not hold oversight hearings to examine alleged ethical lapses by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, including on exorbitant spending on security.

Two top Democrats on the committee, ranking member Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, on Tuesday demanded such hearings, saying they have confidential documents that contradict public statements made by Pruitt, EPA spokespersons and President Donald Trump regarding the administrator’s security spending.