South Dakota

Senate panel wants probe into nuclear weapons glitches
Panel is concerned that problems might reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings that have broader implications

An Air Force F-16C carries a B61-12 bomb on a test flight at Nellis AFB, Nev. Problems with commercially manufactured electrical components have caused months of delays. (Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to order the Energy Department to launch an investigation into technical problems that have recently plagued U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

The committee’s mandate is buried deep inside the report accompanying the $48.9 billion Energy-Water spending bill that the committee approved on Sept. 12.

Why partisan spending allocations spell trouble for the appropriations process
CQ Budget, Episode 127

From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and John Thune, R-S.D., conduct a news conference after the Senate Policy Luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After months of delay, Senate appropriators finally got to work on their spending bills for the new fiscal year, which begins in just two weeks. But it was a slower start than lawmakers had hoped for, and unlike last year’s effort, it was deeply partisan. The Appropriations Committee approved its overall spending limits for each of its 12 bills, but it wasn’t pretty. Where do they go from here? Listen here.

Still confused about Trump’s demands of Congress? Maybe it’s you
President ‘always lays it right out there,’ but Hill slow to ‘adjust,’ Eric Ueland says

President Donald Trump — here in January 2018 with Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Thune of South Dakota and Vice President Mike Pence — has clear legislative goals despite confusion at times on the Hill as to what they are, legislative affairs director Eric Ueland says. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — If you’re a Republican lawmaker or congressional aide who struggles to understand what Donald Trump wants in legislation, take a long look in the mirror.

Because it’s you. Not him.

If it’s possible to ‘win’ August recess, these members did
Just don’t call it a vacation

Iowa's senior senator celebrates touring all of Iowa’s 99 counties with a brain freeze. (Courtesy Sen. Chuck Grassley/Instagram)

August is traditionally the time when members of Congress take a monthlong break from D.C., escaping the sweaty, oppressively hot swamp for their individual states. Recess, a tradition that predates air conditioning, is now known as a “district work period” — because lawmakers HATE that you’re in any way implying that they’re on vacation.

While their constituents are judging members on how much “work” they did during their time in their districts this August, we’re judging them based on who looked like they had the most fun.

Sen. Mike Rounds says wife’s chemotherapy has shrunk tumor in half
Jean Rounds had been diagnosed with a “high-grade, aggressive tumor near her sciatic nerve”

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, left, here with North Carolina Sen. Richard M. Burr in the Capitol in 2018, announced some good news about his wife’s cancer treatment this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Mike Rounds said there’s been a positive development in his wife’s cancer treatment.

“After multiple rounds of chemo treatment, we’re pleased to report that not only has Jean’s tumor shrunk in half, a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan showed no signs of the tumor spreading or metastasizing,” the South Dakota Republican said in a statement. He added that “the chemo is working as intended and Jean continues to handle the treatment well.”

Senate biofuel advocates want a piece of transportation bill
The bill would set aside $1 billion to build charging and fueling stations for electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles

Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states while leaving out rural America. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A provision in the Senate’s surface transportation bill that would help pay for charging and refilling stations for zero- or low-emissions vehicles should also support more stations for biofuels like ethanol, say two Midwestern senators.

The bill would authorize spending on highways and bridge projects for five years. Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Rounds of South Dakota say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states who can afford electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles, while leaving out rural America.

Not so fast, recess: Senate hurdles to late-summer departure
McConnell: There’s little time to confirm several Trump nominees, and clear a budget measure to beat the debt ceiling deadline

Empty chairs and a “quiet please” sign sit outside the Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators hoping to get out of town for an early summer recess departure faced a potentially lengthy workweek.

There’s little time to confirm several of President Donald Trump’s nominees, including judges, and clear a budget measure to beat the Treasury Department’s debt ceiling deadline before leaving, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday in opening remarks.

Trump administration works to revive federal death penalty
Congress hasn't tried to prevent it, but it will face legal challenges from civil rights groups

The Trump administration moved Thursday to revive the federal death penalty, which would be the first executions by the federal government since 2003. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration moved Thursday to revive the federal death penalty, a policy move Congress has not tried to prevent but one that will face a legal challenge from civil rights groups.

Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to adopt a new execution protocol — which would kill inmates with an injection of a single lethal drug called pentobarbital — and schedule the execution of five men in December and January.

House clears bill to relieve onslaught of robocalls plaguing Americans
The House voted to pass a bill that would require phone companies to offer screening technology to customers at no cost

The House passed a bill, sponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., to tackle robocalls. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers and their constituents are fed up with the bombardment of nuisance and scam calls plaguing their cell phones and on Wednesday the House passed a bipartisan measure to combat robocalls.

The House voted 429-3 to pass a bill that would require phone companies to offer screening technology to customers at no cost that would identify and block spam robocalls. It would also double, to four years, the time period that parties can be prosecuted for illegal robocalls.

Russians will interfere again, maybe others too, Mueller warns
Mueller said it was unusual for a prosecutor to testify before Congress, said he would not comment on counterintelligence questions

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” in Washington on Tuesday, July 24, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III told lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia, and possibly other countries, are looking to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections.

During his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on the outcome of his investigation into Russia and links to the 2016 Donald Trump campaign, Mueller urged Congress to require U.S. intelligence agencies to work together to stop such efforts.