Brian Schatz

Census Bureau defends ‘efficiency’ changes ahead of 2020 count
Avoids details on gathering citizenship data through administrative records

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, prepares to testify during his 2018 Senate confirmation hearing (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call )

Census officials on Monday defended plans for next year’s count that they said would make it the “most efficient ever," as Democrats pressed the bureau to do more to ensure hard-to-count populations are not overlooked.

The latest salvo from Democrats came from members of the Illinois congressional delegation, led by Richard J. Durbin, the Senate minority whip, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, along with the rest of the state’s Democratic representatives. In a letter, they urged greater investment in outreach like Questionnaire Assistance Centers to avoid missing minorities, children, rural residents and the urban poor.

Senate Banking members take skeptical look at cryptocurrencies
Blockchain firms have tried selling lawmakers on the potential for dramatically reduced transaction costs.

Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, sees data privacy as one of the primary risks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Concerns over data privacy and skepticism about just how unique and beneficial cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based digital assets could be dominated Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on regulating the new technology.

“This new digital currency and blockchain technology is a very real — and potentially helpful — innovation,” said Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho. “It’s also potentially harmful as there can be some serious risk involved in it.”

Bipartisan bills push carbon tax, as GOP pollster offers Democrats help on climate
Frank Luntz pledged to help Democrats with their climate messaging

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, pledged to help Democrats address climate change in a nonpartisan, dispassionate way. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Climate change policy may be in for a softer, less polarized atmosphere with Republicans and Democrats teaming up on a flotilla of legislation to tax carbon emissions and decarbonize American industries, and a longtime Republican spin guru pledging to help Democrats with their climate messaging.

For instance, in the Senate, Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Cory Booker of New Jersey joined with Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana on Thursday to introduce a bill targeting emissions from the industrial sector.

Urgency of marijuana policy was on full display Tuesday
Senate Banking hearing and bills unveiled give an early look at key 2020 issue

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., left, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., testified before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on marijuana and banking. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

“In short, the sky is not falling in Colorado.”

That is how Republican Sen. Cory Gardner summed up his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday morning, where he was advocating legislative action to give legal marijuana businesses access to banks and protection for banks from being viewed as money launderers under federal law for handling their money.

Photos of the Week: We’re howling at the moon
The week of July 19 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar responds to the media scrum as she leaves the Capitol after the last votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday. Rep. Omar was the target of derogatory comments made by President Trump about her and other freshmen members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate sets new record for longest vote
Senators began voting at 5:02 a.m. Friday

Senators began voting at dawn and have made history as the longest Senate vote in modern history. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Friday’s prolonged roll call vote to limit debate on a Tom Udall amendment that would bar U.S. attacks on Iran without Congressional authorization made history as the longest Senate vote in modern history.

The vote opened at 5:02 a.m., to allow Senators with early morning flights to vote and then leave town for the Independence Day recess. It is being held open to accommodate the Democratic Senators who were in Miami this week for presidential primary debates. The vote was held  open for a total of 10 hours and 8 minutes, gaveling closed at 3:10 p.m. New Jersey’s Cory Booker was the first of the 2020 candidates to return, casting a yea vote just after 7 a.m.

Progress on federal data privacy bill slows in both chambers
Consensus is elusive, say congressional aides, industry sources and lobbyists

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker says “there has been no timetable” for a data privacy bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and industry groups want to pass a federal data privacy law this year, but progress on the measure has slowed. It’s now unclear whether legislation resembling California’s tough requirements on the tech industry can clear hurdles in Congress and be signed into law before the end of the year. 

Small bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both chambers are working on draft legislation that was supposed to have been unveiled in May but has been delayed and is now expected to be released sometime before the August congressional recess. 

Photos of the Week: Biden in DC, Trudeau at the Capitol and victory for the Bad News Babes
The week of June 17 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Democratic candidate Joe Biden speaks during the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress forum for presidential candidates at Trinity Washington University on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This week, Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors, the Canadian prime minister visited the Capitol Building to collect on his bet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Bad News Babes won the annual Congressional Softball Game.

All that and more below. Here’s the entire week in photos:

Democrats want to require Pentagon to study climate change risks on military bases
It’s the latest effort by House Democrats to scrutinize and quantify the challenges a warming planet poses to the military

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, center, wants to include language in the NDAA bill that would require the Pentagon to more aggressively study the risks posed to its bases by climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats will seek to include in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act language that would require the Pentagon to more aggressively study the risks posed to its bases by climate change, their latest effort to scrutinize and quantify the challenges a warming planet poses to the military.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow unveiled a summary of the measure Thursday, saying it will be included in the chairman’s mark to be offered by Washington Rep. Adam Smith, who leads the House Armed Services Committee that takes up the bill June 12.

Bipartisan thumbs-down to facial recognition technology
Surveillance sparks comparisons to Orwellian dystopia

A Customs and Border Protection officer scans a traveler entering the United States in February 2018 at Miami International Airport. The use of facial recognition technology by the government violates the First and Fourth amendments, some lawmakers believe. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

In 2016, police officers in Baltimore used new technology to scan the faces of protesters who filled the city’s streets following the death in custody of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man. Among those whose most recognizable features may have been documented was Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Three years later, Cummings is still angry such surveillance was conducted without a warrant or reason to believe that he — or any other protester, for that matter — had done anything illegal. Now he’s putting the full weight of his committee’s jurisdiction behind a push to ban facial recognition technology until Congress can pass comprehensive legislation to govern its use.