Niels Lesniewski

Blumenthal: Manchin Connection Shouldn't Affect EpiPen Investigation
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is Sen. Joe Manchin's daughter

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that a senator's daughter should not get special treatment when it comes to an investigations of her pharmaceutical company.

Blumenthal indicated that the fact the CEO of the company behind the skyrocketing price of EpiPens is the daughter of fellow Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia should not affect related inquiries.

Reid Cites Physique in Passing on Burning Man
Annual clothing-optional gathering in the Nevada desert kicks off Sunday

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid does not plan to attend the Burning Man annual gathering, which kicks off Sunday in the Black Rock Desert in his home state of Nevada.

The Democratic senator was actually asked about possibly visiting the event during a wide-ranging interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal which was posted online late Tuesday.

Ep. 20: Funding Fight Doesn't Squelch Zika Research
The Big Story

Though Congress and the Obama administration are still fighting over how to respond to the Zika virus outbreak, the gridlock hasn’t kept government scientists from trying to develop an effective vaccine. CQ Roll Call’s managing editor Adriel Bettelheim talks to senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski to learn more. 

Show Notes:

Wyden, Murphy to Push Tax Legislation Aimed at Trump
Bill would compel release of tax returns by presidential candidates

When the Senate returns after Labor Day, Senate Democrats plan to push legislation to force presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

They are making no secret that the impetus for their action is this year's Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. 

Despite Spending Feud, NIH Makes Do in Fight Against Zika
Researchers could face a funding cliff around December

Development of a vaccine to combat the Zika virus is on track for at least the next three or four months, despite the bitter congressional standoff over funding a response.

But the scientist in charge of the effort said Wednesday the money is likely to dry up in December. Funding for vaccine research at the National Institutes of Health was part of a much broader $1.9 billion request from the Obama administration that's been the subject of much wrangling this year on Capitol Hill.

Senators Want Passengers Compensated for Canceled Flights
Blumenthal, Markey seek information on airline policies when IT systems fail

Two Democratic senators are pressing airlines to do more to help passengers who get stuck as a result of computer breakdowns like those experienced by Delta and Southwest in recent weeks.

"We believe that, in the event of flight delays and cancellations caused by airlines, airlines should rebook interested passengers on another airline or on a different mode of transportation without charging consumers additional costs or fees and should provide passengers with full reimbursement and compensation," Sens. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wrote to 13 major airlines Tuesday.

Environmental Group Sides With Murphy in Florida Senate Race
Officially nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters struggles to find Republicans to endorse

The League of Conservation Voters on Tuesday became the latest group to pick sides in Florida's Democratic Senate primary.

The influential environmental group's political action committee, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, announced it was backing Rep. Patrick Murphy over Rep. Alan Grayson ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

Clinton Campaign Uses DACA Anniversary to Rally DREAMers
Tactic could have down-ballot turnout benefits

The Hillary Clinton campaign's coordinated effort to enlist undocumented immigrants to help get out the vote could prove a boon down the ballot as well.

The Democratic presidential hopeful's political operation rolled out a new "My Dream, Your Vote" initiative Monday encouraging people who came to the United States as children without proper immigration status to help Hispanic voters get to the polls.

Blumenthal Blasts NHL Over Brain Injuries
Connecticut Democrat suggests league commissioner is dismissing science

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is blasting longtime NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman over the league's apparent discounting of a link between hockey and brain injuries.

The Connecticut Democrat first reached out to the commissioner in June, asking Bettman nine questions about head injuries in the sport, including the process for diagnosing and treating concussions. Bettman responded with a 24-page letter that outlined the NHL's programs, but also cautioned against "fear mongering."

Cruz Admits to Corrupting Daughters With Bacon
Wife Heidi is a 'California vegetarian'

About a year after cooking bacon with an AR-15, Sen. Ted Cruz is admitting to being a corrupting influence on his two daughters when it comes to pork.

"Heidi and I have kind of a tug of war with our girls. She tries to raise them vegetarian, and I play the role of temptation. And I will say there is no powerful thing — no more powerful thing for corrupting young, mom-wants-to-be-vegetarians than the power of bacon," Cruz said Wednesday.

HHS to Transfer Funds to Help Fight Zika Virus
Plan would avoid delays in developing vaccine

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told congressional leaders Thursday she will use her authority to transfer $34 million in funds within National Institute of Health to help fight the Zika virus.

[Republicans Shocked White House Won't Bite on Zika Funding]

Ayotte Touts Pentagon Report About Gitmo Detainees as Hassan Talks Security Policy
More reason the prison facility's likely to stay open

Sen. Kelly Ayotte is claiming success getting the Pentagon to release new details about detainees held at the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The New Hampshire Republican circulated a Defense Department report Wednesday morning that she requested in the fiscal 2016 defense policy bill, as well as by applying a procedural hold on confirming the nomination of Jennifer O'Connor for general counsel at the Pentagon.

Bayh Won't Jump Ahead of Brown on Banking Panel
Despite speculation, caucus rules favor incumbent Ohio Democrat

Former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh won't be allowed to reclaim seniority and leapfrog a champion of progressive causes on the Senate Banking Committee should Bayh win the Indiana Senate race.

Financial services insiders in an American Banker report broached the possibility that Bayh, who is viewed more favorably by the industry, could cut in front of Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and be in line to take the committee's chairmanship if Democrats retake control of the Senate.

Clinton, in Miami, Will Urge Congress to Return for Zika Vote
Lawmakers pointing fingers over stalled funding

Hillary Clinton plans to call on Congress to return from recess and approve emergency funding to fight Zika during a visit Tuesday to a Miami neighborhood deemed ground zero for the U.S. spread of the virus, according to a campaign aide.

[Standoff Over Zika Spending Arrives at Convention]

Rand Paul Takes On Wolf Trap
Republican senator criticizes federal spending on concert venue

Sen. Rand Paul is on the attack against government subsidies for concerts by acts like Ricky Martin and 98 Degrees.

The Kentucky Republican on Monday criticized mandates providing federal funding for the performing arts venues at Wolf Trap, the Northern Virginia park that's a Washington, D.C.-area mecca for summer concerts.

Ep. 18: What It Would Take to Dump Trump From GOP Ballot
The Big Story

Many have asked what it would take to remove Donald Trump from the GOP ticket and nominate a new presidential candidate. CQ Roll Call’s senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski and managing editor Adriel Bettelheim lay out how it could be done.

Show notes:

Reid Says Clinton Will Win Georgia
Minority leader is also confident Democratic nominee will carry Arizona

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid thinks Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is going to carry Georgia.  

Democrats haven't won the state since Bill Clinton's first election in 1992.  

Rubio Joins Critics of Trump, But Doesn't Pull Support
Florida senator again under criticism from Democratic challenger

Sen. Marco Rubio has become the latest Republican to rebuff Donald Trump over comments about Capt. Humayun Khan's parents but, like others, he did not withdraw his support for the GOP presidential nominee.  

"I think his parents are heroes and they have a First Amendment right to speak out on their politics, as all Americans do. Their son died for the Constitution, and I honor that," the Florida Republican, a former Trump rival, said Monday in Clearwater, Florida.  

Witnessing History, Through the Eyes of a 90-Year-Old Delegate
Felicia Kahn of New Orleans was among the most enthusiastic

PHILADELPHIA — Felicia Kahn was born less than a decade after women's suffrage was guaranteed by the 19th amendment.  

And Thursday night, the New Orleans resident had a prime seat in the lower bowl of Wells Fargo Arena as part of the Democrats' Louisiana delegation to witness Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman to accept a major party's nomination for president.  

Ohio Senate Race: Who Has the Union Label?
Both Strickland and Portman claim union support

Former Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said he still has strong union support even after two major unions in his state backed his Senate race opponent.  

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Conference of Teamsters this week both backed Strickland's Republican rival, incumbent Sen. Rob Portman.