Christopher S Murphy

Senators seek another way to push back on Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy
Bipartisan group announces resolution to require report on the kingdom’s human rights record

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., is helping to lead the push for more congressional oversight of foreign assistance to Saudi Arabia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators are continuing to look for creative ways to push back against the Trump administration’s foreign policy initiatives, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

The latest bipartisan effort seeks to force a floor vote to request Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress on the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, under a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act.

Senate Democrats will seek to force vote on Trump authority for Iran war
Sen. Tim Kaine quotes ’Dr. Strangelove‘ after Armed Services panel thwarts vote on the question

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., will seek a vote in relation to war with Iran during the floor debate on the defense authorization. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If some key Democrats get their way, the Senate will have to vote on the limits of President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

The vote would come as part of floor debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization. The Senate Armed Services Committee last week turned back an effort to express opposition to military action against Iran without a new authorization from Congress, except in cases of self-defense.

What’s the state of play on intern pay on Capitol Hill?
Intern compensation funding is up for discussion again

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., says he expects intern compensation funding to continue in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Securing intern compensation funding last year was a huge victory for lawmakers and advocates. Now they just have to figure out how to get the word out and expand the pie. 

As interns descend on Capitol Hill for a summer of public service, more will be paid for their work than ever before. But widespread paid internships are still in their infancy in Congress. This is the first summer that House and Senate offices have dedicated funding available to cut checks.

US could be at war by the time Congress returns from recess, Udall says
Democrats force votes on approving war with Iran, but come up short in the Senate

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is worried that the United States may be at war with Iran by the time Congress returns from recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.

After Iran briefings, Democrats in Congress want to know more, sooner
Republicans generally on board with Trump administration moves

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the Trump administration officials briefing lawmakers on Iran on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Intelligence briefings on U.S. relations with Iran Tuesday left Democrats in both the Senate and the House unsure of what the Trump administration’s objectives are following recent heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, briefed lawmakers on their strategic campaign to push back against what he called “Iran’s malign activity” and described the country as participating in 40 years of terrorist activity.

These two Democratic presidential contenders voted for a gas tax increase
Both Sanders and Biden voted for the last federal gas tax hike 26 years ago

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at the Exxon gas station at Second and Massachusetts Avenue Northeast in Washington in 2007 for a news conference on price-gouging at the gas pumps, voted for a federal gas tax increase in 1993 — the last time it was raised. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

When he meets with Democratic congressional leaders Wednesday, a key question will be whether President Donald Trump backs an increase in the federal gas tax the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been pressing him to support.

Trump reportedly backed an increase in private meetings before, but the 2020 election could be a reason for hesitation.

Iran escalations bring war powers debates back to the Capitol
Sen. Tim Kaine expects debate behind closed doors at the Armed Services Committee

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch says President Donald Trump “doesn’t need any more authority than what he’s got” to respond to a potential attack. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)k

A Senate briefing by the Trump administration Tuesday about the escalation in tensions with Iran appears certain to kick off another round of sparring over the president’s war powers.

When asked last week whether President Donald Trump could strike Iran using existing authorities from the authorization for use of military force that was enacted after 9/11, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reflected on the history of disputes between the executive and legislative branches.

Klobuchar plan to combat addiction draws on experience with her dad
Policy proposal comes as part of her 2020 presidential campaign platform

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., unveiled a mental health policy proposal on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s mental health plan, unveiled Friday morning, draws on proposals from several of her Senate colleagues — and it’s also a highly personal quest for the senator.

One of the early major proposals of the Minnesota Democrat’s 2020 White House campaign, it calls for aggressive investments to support mental health and treatment for addiction, including an increased focus on early intervention. It also draws on her experience with her father’s alcoholism.

Senate vote upholds Trump veto of Yemen resolution
The vote didn't reach the two-thirds majority needed to overturn President Donald Trump’s veto last month

Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, center, Tim Scott, R-S.C., left, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, conduct a news conference in the Capitol on December 19, 2018. Lee was one of several lawmakers who gave impassioned pleas to override a veto by President Donald Trump on a resolution to end U.S. military participation in the Yemen civil war. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate on Thursday voted to uphold a presidential veto of a resolution that would have ordered an end to U.S. military participation in the civil war in Yemen.

The vote came despite impassioned bipartisan pleas from lawmakers like Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who argued Saudi Arabia does not deserve “unflinching, unwavering, unquestioning” U.S. support for its involvement in the war.

Road trip: Romney and Murphy the newest Senate Middle East travel team
Leaders of the Middle East subcommittee returned from countries including Israel and Iraq

Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, left, and Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., arrive for a briefing in the Capitol to discuss a recent congressional delegation trip to the Middle East. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As the leaders of the Senate subcommittee focused on foreign policy in the Middle East, Sens. Mitt Romney and Christopher S. Murphy might be spending a lot of time together overseas in the coming years.

The Republican from Utah and Democrat from Connecticut are back at the Capitol this week after spending the second half of the spring recess meeting with regional leaders in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Iraq.