Barbara Boxer

Plaintive lawmakers lament bygone era at Boehner, Isakson tributes
Two ceremonies at the Capitol on Tuesday felt more wistful than celebratory

Former Speaker  John Boehner, R-Ohio, stands next to his portrait after its unveiling in Statuary Hall in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

They were ostensibly celebrations, but listening to the lamenting politicians addressing the audiences at each one, they felt more like funerals. Speaker after speaker delivering elegies for a bygone era when bipartisanship and cooperation held sway.

One honored a man who became Speaker of the House before his own unruly caucus drove him into retirement. The other celebrated a man who overcame early political losses, but went on to serve with a quiet cooperative style before health problems limited his ability.

Remember John Ensign? He just got divorced from wife of three decades
Former Nevada senator resigned in 2011, facing threat of expulsion over cover-up of affair

Former Sen. John Ensign finalized a divorce last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. John Ensign, who resigned from the Senate in 2011 while facing the possibility of expulsion, has divorced his wife after more than three decades, bringing up memories of a sordid affair that reached as far as the FBI and FEC. 

Ensign, a Republican from Nevada who returned to his veterinary practice after leaving the Senate, had been involved in an extra-marital affair with a staffer of his who was married to his chief of staff, and went to such great lengths to try to hide it that the Ethics panel came to believe he had violated federal civil and criminal law. The FBI and FEC began probes of Ensign, but then either dropped their investigations or dismissed complaints. 

When Kamala Harris lost on election night, but won three weeks later
Her nail-biting 2010 victory for California attorney general raised her national profile

Kamala Harris, here campaigning in Los Angeles in September 2010, came under fire in her race for state attorney for her record as San Francisco district attorney. (Jason Redmond/AP file photo)

This is the fourth installment in “Battle Tested,” a series analyzing early campaigns of some Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. Earlier pieces focused on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In November 2008, Kamala Harris was sprinting through Burbank airport with her campaign adviser, Ace Smith.

Inhofe, Reed draw on professional, personal relationship in defense policy debate
Oklahoman Republican, Rhode Island Democrat find common ground

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Jack Reed have brought the fiscal 2020 defense authorization to the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maybe the annual Pentagon policy bill would have been popular regardless, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the two members shepherding it on the Senate floor this week, Republican James M. Inhofe and Democrat Jack Reed, work together well as leaders of the Armed Services Committee and enjoy a genuinely deep friendship.

“I don’t think there’s two closer friends than Jack Reed and myself,” said Inhofe, the panel’s chairman.

Working with the enemy? Biden was just doing his job
Give Joe Biden a break. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez finds common ground with Ted Cruz

Yes, Joe Biden worked with segregationists to pass legislation. No, that doesn’t mean he was a monster, Murphy writes. It means he was a senator. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There’s a name for working with someone you can’t stand. It’s called “legislating.”

It used to happen all the time in Washington, and it still does, occasionally. But former Vice President Joe Biden became engulfed by progressive rage this week when he pointed to the late Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, two avowed segregationists, to describe the civility that Biden said he used to see on Capitol Hill.

James Inhofe and the art of the bipartisan joke
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 78

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe and ranking member Jack Reed have a warm relationship that enables them to move bipartisan legislation, something Inhofe discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. James M. Inhofe is one conservative guy, and he is proud of it, trumpeting vote-tracking organizations that peg him as the most right-wing in the chamber. And yet, the Oklahoma Republican has an equally proud history of working with some of his most liberal colleagues on bipartisan legislation. 

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking Democrat, constructed the highly popular defense authorization bill the last two years. And before that, he worked quite productively with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the yin to Inhofe’s yang on environmental issues, as leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee. This, despite Inhofe writing a book that claimed global warming was, as the title attested, “The Greatest Hoax.” And yet, “We prided ourselves in getting things done,” he says. 

Fight between Barr, House Democrats exemplify balance of power battle

The tussles between Congress and Attorney General William P. Barr are manifestations of the balance of power struggle between the executive and legislative branches.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s hostility toward congressional oversight power blossomed while lawmakers were on their spring recess, his first week out from the shadow of any possible criminal charges stemming from a 22-month special counsel investigation into his actions.

A Justice Department official was told to defy a congressional subpoena for a deposition on the 2020 census. A former White House security official ditched scheduled testimony before a committee, as did White House senior aide Stephen Miller. The administration declined a request for Trump’s tax returns, as well as a subpoena for an unredacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Joe Biden can change. Will Democrats let him try?
It’s a quality Democrats should be celebrating, not punishing

Joe Biden has shown an immense capacity to learn from his mistakes, Murphy writes. That’s rare in Washington today. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — If I had to guess, we’ve seen the last time Joe Biden smells a woman’s hair and plants a kiss on her head before a campaign event. Same goes for his somewhat notorious habit of close-talking the female relatives of new members of Congress as a way to put them at ease during the first-day-of-session photo shoots. (Maybe just a “You’ve got this, girl!” fist-bump next time, Mr. Vice President?)

I say this with absolute certainty because Joe Biden, unlike so many in Washington today, has shown an immense capacity to learn from his mistakes, if not avoid them altogether, over the course of his four-decade career in public service. It’s a quality Democrats should be celebrating, not punishing, as they look for a candidate who can both defeat President Donald Trump in 2020 and, not incidentally, run the country after that.

Suspect in Congressional Doxxing Cases Arrested
McConnell, Graham, Hatch and Lee had personal information posted online

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was among the senators who were doxxed. On Wednesday, a suspect in the act was arrested. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Capitol Police have arrested a suspect in the doxxing of senators and releasing personal information onto the internet.

Jackson A. Cosko, 27, of Washington, D.C., was charged Wednesday with “making public restricted personal information,” witness tampering, unauthorized access of a government computer, identity theft, second degree burglery, unlawful entry and threats in interstate communications.

Inhofe Armed Services Leadership to Depart Drastically From McCain’s
Late Arizona senator rankled president and Pentagon, Inhofe sympathetic to both

Sen. James M. Inhofe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With John McCain’s death Saturday, the Senate Armed Services gavel will almost certainly pass to James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, marking a significant change in leadership style and priorities for the powerful panel.

While the boisterous McCain was a hard-charging critic of both the Pentagon and the commander in chief, the more subdued Inhofe is, in many ways, the opposite.