Patrick J Leahy

Senators Keeping Hope — and ‘Regular Order’ — Alive
That immigration debate hasn’t derailed spending may be cause for optimism

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby and Sen. Roy Blunt are among the lawmakers trying to keep the Senate’s productive streak alive. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Does the Senate’s sudden appetite for “regular order” have any chance of continuing through the summer, particularly when it comes to writing spending bills?

“One only hopes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said. “Appropriators seem to be able to get along better than other people.”

Analysis: Transactional Trump Penalizes Allies, Woos Foes — And Rankles Members
GOP senator to president: ‘Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in October 2017. Since then, their relationship has soured amid trade disputes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Foreign policy, for Donald Trump, is based largely on a belief that being tougher on America’s allies and more lenient on its foes will produce better results. But the president’s approach rankles both Republican and Democratic members.

“We’re being respected again. We’re being respected abroad,” Trump declared Friday. “And we are restoring our wealth at home. It’s about time.”

GOP Slips Past Another Senate Custom, and Democrats Turn Blue
Home-state senators’ sway over judicial nominees is quickly disappearing

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have decided that the use of a “blue slip” when considering judicial nominees is a practice that needs to fade away, Hawkings writes. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The latest threat to what’s made the Senate the Senate for generations can be illustrated with a sheet of paper the color of cornflowers.

First to go was the reverence for compromise. It went out the window a decade or so ago, the start of the current era when the most conservative Democrat is reliably positioned to the left of the most liberal Republican. Then the veneration of minority-party rights got obliterated, five years ago, with a blast of “nuclear” limits on filibuster powers.

FBI Director Raises Concerns about Chinese Tech Giant Trump Wants to Help
Wray defends agency, responding to political attacks from Congress and White House

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building on the bureau’s FY2019 budget Wednesday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday reaffirmed concerns about Chinese telecommunications company ZTE that President Donald Trump wants to help — and defended the agency from political attacks coming from the White House and Congress. 

At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing about the FBI’s fiscal 2019 budget request, Wray used a question about the agency’s responsiveness to congressional oversight to highlight the importance of protecting people who provide agents information.

Sessions Ducks Senate Questions on Trump-Related Probes
‘That calls for a speculative answer ... I’m just not able to do that’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares to testify during the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2019 budget for the Justice Department on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reassured senators Wednesday the Justice Department will stay committed to the law in the face of criticism from President Donald Trump, who has openly disparaged the agency and actions of the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

But Sessions was coy during testimony about his role in the department’s high-profile investigations and the politics of Trump’s criticism.

Election Year History Belies Ambitious Talk on Appropriations
Lawmakers’ spending goals could run right into midterm hex

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he’s aligned with the president in not wanting another massive omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

November might seem far away, but the midterm elections’ impact on spending bills is already on display, amplified by internal Republican jockeying for leadership positions in the House.

Election years tend to chill swift movement on appropriations bills — especially when there’s potential turnover in leadership of one or both chambers. That’s in part because lawmakers want to focus on campaigning and are back home more than usual, and party leaders tend to want to shield vulnerable members from tough votes.

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite visual aids from congressional floor-watching

(Courtesy @FloorCharts screenshot of C-SPAN)

From tributes to senators to hours of testimony from a tech giant, spring has been a visual mixed bag in Congress.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help them get their point across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and we’re doing a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

Syria Strife May Cause a Trump Shift Lawmakers Like
‘We need to make Bashar al-Assad pay a price,’ Sen. Roger Wicker says

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December 2015. At left, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump may be forced to change his mind — again. But this time, an about-face on Syria would likely bring accolades from many lawmakers who have been frustrated by his ever-shifting stances.

Another example of Trump going off course only to return to it days later could emerge early this week with the situation in Syria. Reports of a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military on the rebel-held area of Douma might prompt Trump to alter his stance of pulling U.S. forces from the war-torn country.

Facebook’s Lobbying Team Faces Test With Zuckerberg on Hill
Zuckerberg intends to approach appearance in a contrite and humble manner, sources say

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message-shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for questions from members of Congress this week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s highly anticipated debut as a congressional witness this week marks an unprecedented step in the company’s decade-long effort to wield influence in the nation’s capital.    

The social media titan is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for a host of questions from senators on Tuesday and House members Wednesday. Lawmakers plan to probe everything from a scandal involving Facebook users’ data to the secretive sources of campaign ads on the platform.

Photos of the Week: Snow and the Threat of a Veto
The omnibus cleared both chambers and awaits Trump’s signature

Snow falls Wednesday. The Office of Personnel Management closed federal offices throughout Washington, but Congress remained open. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week of March 19 neared its close as Washington waited. Veto or signature. Funding or shutdown.

Remember? It snowed this week.