Delaware

Joe Biden eulogizes the ‘constantly evolving’ Fritz Hollings as he looks toward 2020
Potential presidential hopeful visited the Citadel on Tuesday to bid farewell to another Senate friend

Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., endorsed Jesse Jackson for president in 1988. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Joseph R. Biden Jr. mulls another run for the White House, the former vice president traveled to South Carolina to fulfill a duty that underscores his ties to a bygone era.

Biden, the most prolific eulogist in American politics, found himself in another house of worship Tuesday morning, bidding farewell to another former Senate colleague, South Carolina’s Ernest F. Hollings, a Southern Democrat who once advocated segregation but later honored a judge who fought it.

Democrats worry Trump will replace Nielsen with an immigration hard-liner
White House aides struggle to clearly explain what president wants from replacement

Kirstjen Nielsen is on her way out as Homeland Security secretary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers are concerned Donald Trump will replace outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen with an immigration hard-liner, but the White House has yet to clearly explain what the president wants her successor to do differently.

Nielsen’s coming departure will only complicate the Senate calendar, adding another senior administration position the chamber might have to process in coming weeks or months. Senators on the relevant oversight panels will be taken away from other work — such as annual spending bills — to focus on grilling nominees.

Ernest ‘Fritz’ Hollings, South Carolina senator and WWII veteran, has died
Longtime statesman known for his quick wit died Saturday at the age of 97

During an interview in his office in 1993, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., looks at a photo of himself with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (Scott Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ernest Frederick “Fritz” Hollings, a longtime statesman with a rumbling baritone known for a quick wit and as a champion of environmental and social policy, has died at the age of 97.

The South Carolina Democrat, who ran for president in 1984 and served in the Senate for nearly 40 years — most of his tenure as the junior senator to Republican Strom Thurmond — died Saturday after a period of failing health, The (Charleston) Post and Courier reported

Coons and Klobuchar pitch retirement savings mandate plan
Businesses would get federal tax incentives for participating in new plans

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons have a new retirement savings proposal. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One of the 2020 Democrats is helping lead a new effort to require companies to help their employees save for retirement.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has joined Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, in the effort. The new bill from the two senators also would set up a portable retirement account for employees of small businesses modeled on the federal workforce’s Thrift Savings Plan.

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’
Transportation secretary also says the Trump administration has ‘learned from the past’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes as she fielded questions at a Senate Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.

Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.

A 25-cent gas tax hike has support, but is 5 cents a year enough?
Right now, the hike is needed to maintain current spending levels, and isn’t enough to pare down a growing project backlog

A pothole is visible on a road on April 25, 2017, in San Rafael, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Congress debates how to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from becoming insolvent, groups as disparate as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are urging lawmakers to bite the bullet and raise the gas tax by 25 cents a gallon over five years.

But even if they bite it, a nickel increase every year for five years may not be a magic bullet. That’s because the extra money in the early years will be needed just to maintain the current level of spending, and provide nothing to attack a growing backlog of projects.

Caribbean Islands becoming hot spots for Chinese investment
Marco Rubio, says he is ‘very concerned’ about China’s efforts to extend influence into Latin American and the Caribbean

The Freeport Container Port on Grand Bahama Island. (iStock)

On Grand Bahama Island, some 55 miles off the continental United States, a Hong Kong-based company has spent approximately $3 billion developing and expanding a deep-water container port.

The Freeport Container Port’s Chinese and Bahamian backers expect to benefit from increased shipping through the region as a result of the expansion of the Panama Canal, not to mention an overall boost in trade between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Child care is infrastructure. We should treat it that way
Just as our bridges and roads are crumbling, so too are our child care options

For some parents, dropping their kids off at day care involves a leap of faith, Smith and Tracey write. Above, children run a relay race in front of the Capitol in 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Millions of American parents dropped their children off at a child care facility this morning. Chances are many of those facilities don’t meet basic health and safety standards. Though we know the quality of a facility, whether a formal center or a family home care site, is directly linked to a child’s development and well-being, we also know most places are far from optimal.

This is yet another way America’s child care system is failing families today.

Mueller probe could spark historic balance of powers debate
Lawmakers, administration set for battle over how much of report to make public

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III walks after attending church on Sunday in Washington. He turned in his report on the Russia investigation to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The political spotlight focused brightest on reticent special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for nearly two years, his every legal move and court filing scrutinized by a country eager to decipher what the Russia investigation had uncovered about President Donald Trump.

But with Mueller’s work done, the question changes from what Mueller found to how much of it House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other lawmakers can make public.

Lawmakers from both parties resist humanitarian and refugee aid changes
A White House proposal would not only cut funding but reshape humanitarian assistance, particularly for refugees

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters as he arrives for the votes in the Senate to keep the government open on Feb. 14, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they are determined to block a White House budget proposal that would gut the State Department’s refugee operations and slash overall humanitarian aid levels.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request proposes consolidating three separate humanitarian assistance accounts operated by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The new umbrella account would be managed by USAID and, in theory, have more flexibility to respond to rapidly evolving global crises.