James M Inhofe

Members Join Rubio in Criticizing Trump Over China Talks
President says he is not satisfied with outcome of latest trade negotiations

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, and James Risch, R-Idaho, attend a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in January 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It was Sen. Marco Rubio, not Donald Trump, who used a morning tweet Tuesday to help shape the day’s agenda. The Florida Republican slammed the president’s trade talks with China, prompting other members to voice their concerns.

Rubio wrote that China is “out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now,” criticizing the Trump administration for putting on hold tariffs aimed at Beijing while moving ahead with efforts to save troubled Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE. He also panned the White House for not forcing concessions from Chinese officials.

New Push for Senators to Pay Their Interns
Advocates say the time is right for offices to stop relying on free labor

A majority of Senate offices do not offer paid internships, according to data from nonprofit advocacy group Pay Our Interns. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Ideas to boost diversity on the Hill have been thrown around, and the numbers are slowly improving. But what if the solution was right in front of everyone, sitting at tiny shared desks in congressional offices?

Paid interns.

Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as Pruitt’s Deputy at EPA
Heitkamp and Manchin join Republicans on vote

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt now has a deputy — a former fossil fuel lobbyist — after a Senate confirmation vote Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy EPA administrator, providing a second-in-command for Administrator Scott Pruitt as he struggles amid alleged ethical failings.

Wheeler was confirmed Thursday with a 53-45 vote. Some Democrats hoped Pruitt’s difficulties would give them the votes to block the confirmation, but their efforts were not enough. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined Republicans in voting for Wheeler. Both are running for re-election this year in states won by President Donald Trump.

Dave McCurdy, a Retiring Optimist Pushing Back on ‘Disciples of Declinism’
Former Intelligence chairman and current head of AGA reflects on two public careers

Former Oklahoma Rep. Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, will retire in February 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After nearly four decades in Washington, former Rep. Dave McCurdy is still an optimist.

Even as the former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma and current head of the American Gas Association prepares for retirement, he says there is a lot Congress can learn from the swamp so easily derided by public officials who struggle to step out of their partisan foxholes.

Whitehouse Preps 200th Climate Speech, Hoping Senate Will Stir
“It is an indicator of the extent [to] which the fossil fuel industry owns the joint”

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speaks with Roll Call in his office on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every week of every Senate session for the last six years, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has taken to the floor to urge his colleagues to “wake up” to the dire consequences of their inaction on climate change.

But the slumbering chamber keeps hitting the snooze button.

Even on North Korea, Trump Shifts Wildly
Pivot toward talks is latest example of an ever-shifting presidency

A congressional delegation led by Sen. James M. Inhofe visited the DMZ recently as President Trump again shifted, saying he will talk to North Korea. (Photo by Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

After months of bluster and threats toward North Korea, President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his administration will hold talks with the Kim government about its nuclear arms and long-range missile programs.

Then-President Barack Obama told Trump before he was sworn in that North Korea would be the most-pressing global problem he would need solve during his term. Since, Trump has threatened to attack the North — even at times suggesting he would unleash America’s atomic arsenal to take out the North’s. His sudden pivot toward talks is just the latest example of how the 45th president’s policy stances often change suddenly.

Cyber Command Nominee Deflects Questions on Russia
Nominee defers to current commander who warned Russia is virtually unchecked

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, nominee to be NSA director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The nominee to lead U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency told lawmakers Thursday he would offer options to the president and Defense secretary to respond to Russian hacking of U.S. elections “if directed” to do so.

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the current head of the Army’s Cyber Command, said the decision whether or not to retaliate for Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 presidential election or to preempt future attempts at election interference is a policy matter for civilian leadership in the executive and legislative branches.

Inhofe Returns From Asia With Warnings About China, North Korea
Oklahoma Republican toured region during latest recess

A congressional delegation led by Sen. James M. Inhofe visited teh DMZ last week. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. James M. Inhofe returned from a recess congressional delegation to the Asia-Pacific region expressing doubts that South Korea’s leadership was adequately alarmed about North Korea’s nuclear program.

“I think it’s true that they’ve gotten soft,” Inhofe told a small group of reporters in his Capitol Hill office Wednesday. “They really didn’t feel that the threat was that great.”

Why the House Is Voting on Defense Funding a Third Time
Messaging and internal politics lead to another vote on increasing military spending

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, reached an agreement with defense hawks such as House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry to hold another vote on fiscal 2018 defense funding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House vote this week on a stand-alone defense appropriations measure to boost funding for the military serves two primary purposes for Republicans: messaging and peacekeeping.

While the chamber has already twice passed legislation to fund the Pentagon above the fiscal 2018 sequestration budget cap, Tuesday’s vote allows the GOP to continue emphasizing its support for national security.

McCain Still Steering Armed Services From Arizona
Committee members say the chairman is still involved in panel business

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., boards the Senate subway in the Capitol on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain is still firmly in charge of the Armed Services Committee’s proceedings despite his physical absence from the nation’s capital.

Since December, McCain has been in his home state of Arizona undergoing physical therapy and rehabilitation as he battles brain cancer. In McCain’s absence, the committee’s number two Republican, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, has led committee hearings.