Flint Aid Negotiations Continue as Time Runs Out

Peters, left, and Stabenow, right, have been pushing for aid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers and Senate staffers worked through the weekend to find a way to provide aid to Flint, Mich., and move forward on a bipartisan energy bill. But, as of Monday, negotiations were still ongoing.  

Democrats stalled debate on the energy bill   last week after senators failed to agree on how to address the crisis in Flint, where corroded pipes have leached toxic levels of lead in the water supply. With the Senate set to consider a North Korea sanctions bill on Wednesday, negotiators are running out of time to reach an agreement. "I think we're closer than we were on Thursday," Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the bill's Democratic floor manager, told reporters Monday evening.  

Zika Virus Funding Met With Caution in Congress

Burwell will brief lawmakers on Zika Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Capitol Hill leaders responded cautiously to President Barack Obama's announcement Monday that he would ask Congress to provide $1.8 million in emergency funding to bolster the response to the Zika virus.  

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is set to brief Senate leaders and relevant committee leaders  Tuesday on the virus, which is typically spread through mosquitoes and has been linked to a birth defect. The World Health Organization last week declared the virus a global health emergency. Obama will send his budget for 2017 to Congress on Tuesday, and leaders have pledged to give it serious consideration.  

Michigan Democrats Want GOP Governor to Lobby for Flint Aid

Schumer, Stabenow and Peters look at poster showing dirty water in Flint during the Senate Democrats' news conference on the lead contaminated drinking water. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Michigan's Democratic senators, who are seeking $600 million in federal dollars to replace Flint's toxic water pipes and support families affected by lead exposure, are hoping the state's GOP governor will lobby his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill to help foot the bill.  

With Republican support uncertain for a measure assisting Flint, Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Thursday urged Gov. Rick Snyder to use his political connections.  

35 Years Later, Former Hostages, Lawmakers Cheer Restitution

Isakson led a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to secure restitution for former Iranian hostages. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In 1979, Johnny Isakson was just one of many Americans tuning in to Ted Koppel's late night reports on the status of Americans taken hostage in Iran — what became the 444 day saga.  

"I was one of the people that was alive when 'Nightline' got started," the Republican senator from Georgia recalled Wednesday. "I took an interest when it happened. Never knew that I would get to the United States Senate, and when I got there on the Foreign Relations Committee, I came to appreciate the work that had been done in the past by people who tried to make compensation happen."  

Watch Live: Senate Hearing on Obama Gun Control Actions

Lynch will testify on the White House's gun actions on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies holds a hearing on President Barack Obama’s executive actions on gun control earlier this month.  

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are among the witnesses expected to testify.  

GOP Mull Budget Resolution to Set Up 2017

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., stands by the buses outside of the Rayburn House Office Building bound for the Joint Republican Issues Conference in Baltimore on Wednesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — With President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address in the rear view mirror, Republicans gathering at the Inner Harbor this week will have the 2016 elections on their minds.  

And that includes how to best set up the GOP for the next year should elections go their way, up and down the ballot. "We can look at 2017 and where do we want to go, and what needs to be finished this year," Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Lankford said ahead of the annual issues retreat. "There are rare moments in Congress to be able to lift up and look at the horizon. And my hope is that we'll be able to look on the horizon and say where is it that we need to go and what are the specific steps to be able to get there, on policy issues not on politics."  

GOP Ponders Senate Rules Changes

Alexander has been leading the working group. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Facing dismally low approval ratings and accusations that Congress is dysfunctional, some senators are looking at changing the rule book so they can get more things done.  

Senate Republicans huddled Wednesday to discuss changing Senate rules to make the institution function more effectively, but they are far from coalescing around a single proposal. Emerging from a room off the Senate floor, lawmakers cautioned there were a number of options, but the senator leading the effort is hoping Republicans and Democrats can reach a consensus on any changes in the next two to three months. “I think the discussion was very well received," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told reporters. "It’s hard to get here, it’s hard to stay here, and while you’re here you’d like to accomplish something. But when we stand around and wait all week for these various motions to be approved, that’s not accomplishing anything."  

Senate Sets Hearing on Obama Gun Actions

Shelby has invited the attorney general to testify. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to testify at a Jan. 28 hearing on the president's actions, which Obama argued were legal and necessary in the face of congressional inaction on gun control. Shelby's subcommittee oversees the Department of Justice's budget. "Let me be clear: I will not sit idly by and allow the Department to implement unlawful, unconstitutional actions," Shelby wrote Wednesday in a letter to Lynch.  

The president's proposals included expanding background checks for firearm purchases at gun shows and on the Internet, as well as several proposals to address mental illness .  

The Out of This World Legacy of Supernova Mikulski

Mikulski toured the Goddard Space Flight Center before a town hall with employees. (Rebecca Roth/NASA/Goddard)

GREENBELT, Md. — Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski spent Wednesday back on the campus where she watched as astronauts repair the Hubble Space Telescope more than two decades ago.  

"I was here for that first mission," recalled the Maryland Democrat who will retire at the end of this term of  Congress. "I went on so many Rolaids that day, I knew that I would never have acid reflux for 20 years."