Jeff Flake

The three places where senators can ‘actually’ talk
Sen. Chris Coons’ favorite places to reach across the aisle

From left, Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D.N.Y., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Coons, D-Del., share a laugh after a markup hearing on judicial nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“We’re real people. We’re not just two-dimensional targets,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told a lecture hall of law students at Notre Dame last week.Flanked by former Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Coons talked about the hyperpartisan environment on Capitol Hill and the intention required to cut through it and work. For the Delaware senator, this means talking to his colleagues “in the three settings [he has] found where there [are] no lobbyists, no staff and no press.”

Joking that Flake spent more time in the gym than he did, Coons told the students about the senators-only gym — a place “you can actually chat as you’re working out.” While little information is publicly available about the gym, Roll Call learned more about the facility in 2013 by standing in the hallway outside it for several hours. 

Trump vulnerability in a primary is more fiction than fact
President has solid GOP support, a huge cash advantage, and it’s already late in the process

Former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is considering a challenge to President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford is seriously considering challenging President Donald Trump in the primary, even though he called the idea “preposterous” on many levels. It’s a rare moment when you should take a politician at his word.

Even if you look past the huge hurdles of the president’s popularity among the Republican base and the humongous fundraising advantage, the anti-Trump movement is simply running out of time, and it’s arguably too late to mount a serious presidential campaign at all.

Nuclear power would get support in bipartisan Senate bill
With support from industry, legislation touted as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s nuclear plants

“My overall goal is to develop legislation that can pass the Senate,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan pair of senators unveiled nuclear energy legislation Wednesday, describing it as a serious and pragmatic approach to tackle climate change and connecting it to rising greenhouse gas emissions specifically.

Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Martha McSally of Arizona floated the bill, which has support from the nuclear power lobby, as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s fleet of nuclear power plants.

Why does Alexa save transcripts of user conversations? This senator asked Amazon
Sen. Chris Coons wants to know why Amazon Echo users’ conversations are being saved to company servers

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, center, is pictured in the Capitol in June 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic senator sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thursday requesting information about why the company retains transcripts of conversations recorded by Amazon Echo devices, even after users have pressed “delete.”

Amazon’s voice-controlled operating system Alexa transcribes the conversations it picks up after users say a “wake word” — “Alexa,” “Echo,” “Amazon” or “computer” — or press a button to enable the Echo, according to a report by CNET. And the company saves those text files on its servers even after users opt to “delete” the audio files from the cloud, a CNET investigation revealed.

10 images that define the week in Washington
The week of May 6 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., shows off his $45 Trump bills after participating in a press conference on national security outside of the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Another week in Washington has come to close. Lawmakers spent the first week of May holding hearings on the fallout of the Mueller report and honoring fallen law enforcement officers. 

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Donald Trump’s my-way-or-the-highway negotiating style was on full display this week, John T. Bennett writes. But the president is set to end the week with little gained on some big campaign promises.

History in the making for White House Correspondents Dinner
There were still burns at this year’s press and politics event, but the heat wasn’t as severe

White House Correspondents Association Olivier Knox, far right, talks with historian and biographer Ron Chernow, to his right, Saturday at the association’s annual dinner in Washington, D.C. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

You might have noticed a few things missing from Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner, and if you were there, you could feel it.

The annual gala was void of the highly anticipated Hollywood A-listers seen in the Bush and Obama years, safe from controversial dinner entertainment, free from Trump and his staff, and consequently, rid of edginess.

Tim Kaine and the war on zombie wars
Virginia Democrat says he is slowly gaining support for a more robust congressional role in military adventures

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is continuing his fight against “zombie” wars. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Little by little, Sen. Tim Kaine thinks fellow members of Congress are coming around to his point of view that the legislative branch should be more assertive when it comes to war powers.

The Democrat from Virginia has been among the most persistent advocates for the Senate debating and voting on authorizations for using military force when needed, and pulling them back when it’s past due. His latest push is against what he calls “zombie authorizations.”

Trump revives campaign rallies with trip into heart of ‘Beto Country’
Expect shots at O’Rourke and a border wall pitch ahead of Friday shutdown deadline

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke speaks to the crowd at a rally in Austin, Texas, in September during his failed Senate bid. He is mulling a 2020 presidential run, and Donald Trump is holding a rally Monday in his native El Paso. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump ventures into Beto O’Rourke country Monday night, returning to the campaign trail in El Paso, the Texas border city home to the former Democratic congressman and potential 2020 Trump foe.

The president has held fire on a number of Democrats already running. But he has taken several shots at O’Rourke, the kind of youthful candidate who might be able to connect with both progressives and blue-collar voters who broke for Trump in 2016 in key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. State of the Union
Trump will speak of unity and togetherness. So nice, right?

At last year’s State of the Union, the president spoke of “one American family.” It wasn’t long before that heartwarming message went up in a puff of Twitter smoke, Murphy writes. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — I love a tradition more than anybody, but the modern State of the Union address, which President Trump will deliver again Tuesday night, has descended into the most ridiculous annual hour and a half of nonsense that the country has to endure other than the Super Bowl. Can somebody please put America out of this misery?

The idea of an American president briefing Congress was originally such a practical necessity that it was codified in the Constitution. Without modern communications and with travel into and out of the capital difficult, the Founding Fathers correctly decided that the president should communicate regularly with the representatives of the states about the government they were all a part of.

Sheldon Whitehouse takes aim at funding disclosure for court briefs
Rhode Island Democrat writes to chief justice about planned legislation

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has concerns the Supreme Court is not fairly enforcing a rule that prohibits someone from filing an amicus curiae when contributors to the effort are anonymous. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the Supreme Court that he intends to introduce legislation this year meant to shed light on the funding behind groups that frequently file briefs aimed at influencing the outcome of high-profile cases.

The Rhode Island Democrat often decries how high-dollar, dark money donations can be funneled through advocacy groups to anonymously press political agendas through the Supreme Court and lower appeals courts — what he dubs “judicial lobbying efforts.”