Defense

Statuary Lunch Hall a Model of Make-Nice Decorum
After fiery campaign and inaugural speech

A U.S. Capitol Police officer takes a photo as a Marine helicopter carrying former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama lifts off from the East Plaza of the U.S. Capitol following the swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After former President Barack Obama took off on a military chopper from the East Front of the Capitol, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence joined congressional leaders and other dignitaries for one of Inauguration Day’s more intimate moments, far from the crowds.

At the traditional luncheon in Statuary Hall honoring the new president, attendees at the event — one of the hottest tickets in town — feasted on lobster and steak, with pairings of California wines.

Senate Confirms Two Trump Nominees, But Democrats Delay CIA Director
Defense and Homeland Security nominees move right away

Rep. Mike Pompeo is the nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate moved quickly to confirm two of President Donald Trump’s key national security nominees, but there’s bad blood about Democratic objections to a third.

The confirmation of retired Gens. James Mattis to be Defense secretary and John Kelly to be Homeland Security secretary came immediately, but the Senate only voted to turn to the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the CIA Director, setting up a final vote late Monday.

HHS Nominee Tom Price, Staff Aided Donors in Agency Battles
Democrats seek to undercut his nomination

Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., takes his seat before the start of his confirmation hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Inauguration Crowds Depart, It’s Back to Work for the Senate
Cornyn prepared for Senate to stay as long as it takes — ‘all night, all weekend’ — to vote on Trump nominees

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, right, said he was prepared for the Senate to stay in session Friday for “as long as it takes” to confirm an assortment of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees while Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer anticipated confirming only two Cabinet nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Capitol complex will still be fortified when the Senate gets back to legislative action shortly after Donald Trump leaves the building for the first time as president.

Senators will waste little time starting to process Trump’s nominees, with national security positions expected to be the first out of the gate, though all that must wait for the Senate to have something to consent to, meaning nominations for people like retired Gen. James Mattis to be Defense secretary.

Trump Administration’s First (Unofficial) Day in Washington
Spokesman clashes with Schumer; press credentials get you to nowhere

Several temporary toilets placed on Capitol grounds for the Inauguration have been labeled “Trump’s Tower” with a marker. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Inauguration Day is Friday but the Trump administration’s first official day in Washington was Thursday, as the incoming team clashed with Senate Democrats over its Cabinet nominations.

“There is no excuse,” White House Press Secretary-designee Sean Spicer said, for what he dubbed “delay tactics” by Senate Democrats on some of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections. Spicer was in mid-administration form as he added that the Democrats’ tactics “call into question” whether they want a “government of continuity.”

Senate to Vote on at Least Two Cabinet Nominees Friday
Democrats are calling for more time to vet controversial nominees

Schumer said Democrats want more time to vet nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected to vote on at least two of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees after he is sworn in on Friday. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Thursday that he expected votes on retired Gens. John Kelly to be the next Homeland Security secretary and James Mattis to lead the Defense Department. Schumer also said debate will begin on Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be the CIA director, with a vote possible on Friday or early next week.

Perry, Mnuchin Round Out Senate Hearings Before Inauguration
Democrats will try to keep the focus on health care

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Energy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump’s nominees to run the Energy and Treasury departments are the last to face Senate committees before the incoming president is sworn in on Friday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is acknowledging the Senate may only confirm a few nominees right away. 

The Senate is on track to confirm just three of Trump’s Cabinet nominees on Jan. 20, McConnell told USA Today on Wednesday. He blamed Democrats for slowing down the process, though Democrats say they need more time to properly vet Trump’s nominees.

Confirmation Speculation Swirls in the Senate
Leaders are negotiating whether Cabinet picks can be swiftly confirmed Friday

Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis could be one of the nominees confirmed on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators’ focus on President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees continued Wednesday afternoon, with some attention turning toward which nominees might be confirmed on Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-NY., are currently in negotiations over which nominees could be swiftly confirmed. Democrats will need to cooperate to either confirm nominees by unanimous consent or agree to limiting time for their consideration. 

Barack Obama Has Left the Building, Or At Least the Brady Room
Obama's hope fades a bit: 'I think we’re going to be OK'

At his final news conference as president, Obama wished the press, and the country, luck. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In his final press conference as president, Barack Obama warned that economic and other forces could further divide Americans, and sent messages anew to Donald Trump, particularly that he could re-enter the political arena if “our core values may be at stake.”

Less than 48 hours before he will cede all powers of the presidency to Trump, the 55-year-old Obama, with more salt than pepper atop his head, showed flashes of the optimistic candidate who toppled both Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during the 2008 presidential campaign. But by the end of the session, his concerns about the next four years appear to show through.

House Republican Women See a Boost in Authority
3 committees, other powerful posts newly under control of 21-person caucus

Texas Rep. Kay Granger is the new chairwoman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which drives the allocation of more than half a trillion dollars annually to the military. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the past four years, Republicans endured pointed barbs about how the only woman with a House committee gavel was presiding over the fittingly sexist-sounding “housekeeping committee,” the Hill’s nickname for the panel overseeing the Capitol’s internal operations.

That’s not a fair jape anymore. Exactly a century after the arrival of the first female elected to Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, her GOP successors will be wielding more titular power in the Republican-run House than ever. Women will soon be presiding over three standing committees, a record for the party, while a fourth has taken over what’s arguably the chamber’s single most consequential subcommittee, because it takes the lead in apportioning more than half of all discretionary federal spending.