Martin Heinrich

Senate NDAA sets a plutonium target experts deem a ‘fantasy’
CBO: Proposal by Senate to surge production of key building blocks for new nuclear arms would cost about $17 billion over a decade

The entrance to Technical Area 18 of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which houses several tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium in Los Alamos, New Mexico. New programs proposed by the Senate to surge production of key building blocks for new nuclear arms would add a total of about $17 billion over a decade. (Neil Jacobs/Getty Images)

The Senate is poised to approve legislation Thursday that would codify a plan to spend billions of dollars to surge production of key building blocks for new nuclear arms.

The hawkish Senate’s coming move to set a new and more solid requirement for building plutonium cores for atomic weapons is buried deep inside its $750 billion fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill.

Bernie Sanders’ new Medicare for All bill would cover some long-term care

Renelsa Caudill, a nurse at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, is greeted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after speaking at an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., are also pictured. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday released an updated bill to implement a single-payer health insurance system, a politically divisive hallmark of his White House bid.

The unnumbered Senate bill would transition the U.S. health care system to a single-payer system over a four-year transition and eliminate nearly all premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The legislation largely mirrors Sanders’ 2017 proposal, but the new plan also would cover home and community-based long-term care services through an expanded Medicare program, according to a summary. The earlier version would have maintained those services through existing Medicaid benefits.

There are only 4 Latino senators. Will more be joining them after 2020?
Playing field for Latino Senate candidates shifted after developments in Arizona and New Mexico

Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Luján is considering running for the open Senate seat in New Mexico. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Activists looking to increase the number of Latino senators are regrouping this week after an Arizona congressman they had backed passed on a Senate run and a seat in plurality-Hispanic New Mexico opened up.

The parallel developments changed the playing field but ultimately kept alive hopes there will be more Hispanic representation in the Senate after the 2020 elections.

Sen. Tom Udall won’t seek a third term in 2020
‘The worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe the office belongs to them,’ New Mexico Democrat says

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is not running for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2020, creating an open seat in a state that has swung decidedly toward the Democrats in recent years. 

“I’m confident that we could run a strong campaign next year to earn a third term, because of all the work you and I have done together, along with my wife, Jill, and my incredibly dedicated staff,” he said in a statement. “But the worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe the office belongs to them, rather than to the people they represent.” 

Pipelines vulnerable under TSA’s watch
The same agency responsible for airport pat-downs is supposed to be guarding pathways for oil and natural gas

The Transportation Security Administration, better known for patting down passengers heading to their flights, is also in charge of securing about 2.7 million miles of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids, including the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. (Barry Williams/Getty Images file photo)

Nearly 3 million miles of pipelines that crisscross the United States carrying oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids may be vulnerable to cyberattacks as the federal agency responsible for overseeing their security is overburdened with other responsibilities, lawmakers, government auditors and regulators say.

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, better known for pat-downs of passengers heading to their flights, is also in charge of securing about 2.7 million miles of pipelines. Most are buried underground in remote and open terrain, but others run through densely populated areas, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report.

Concerns pile up in Senate over Trump’s troop withdrawal
Lawmakers in both parties voice worries about slaughter, getting it right, as top general says he was ‘not consulted’

Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Armed Services members from both parties worried aloud at a hearing Tuesday that looming U.S. troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan could risk squandering years of costly effort.

The senators expressions of concern came a day after the Senate voted 70-26 to approve a resolution that would oppose a “precipitous” withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan. And it came on the same day as President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address, which is expected to include a call to all but terminate America’s nearly two decades of post-9/11 wars.

Spy chiefs say Chinese, Russian cyber strengths are top threats to U.S.

From left, FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, DNI Director Dan Coats, DIA Director Robert Ashley, NSA Director Paul Nakasone, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Director Robert Cardillo testify during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “Worldwide Threats” on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

China and Russia possess cyber technologies they will increasingly unleash on U.S. companies, the military, election systems and critical infrastructure, and that poses a significant threat to national security, Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence panel in an annual hearing called the Worldwide Threat Assessment.

“At present, China and Russia pose the greatest espionage and cyberattack threats,” but other countries are catching up, the director of National Intelligence told the committee Tuesday. 

Republicans in Congress Are Coy About Whether They Would Take Interior Post
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said this week she is not interested in the job

Several senators praised outgoing Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and endorsed his capacity to take on the secretary of the Interior job. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In anticipation of the appointment of a new Department of the Interior secretary this week, one member of Congress on the reported shortlist has confirmed his interest in the post, but most rumored candidates have shied away from public statements.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter Saturday that he would nominate a replacement to outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week. 

Democrats Press Dan Coats for Details of Trump’s Chinese Election Meddling Claims
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee ask if intelligence community will back the president

Sen. Ron Wyden is leading a request for intelligence about Chinese election meddling. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee want to know whether the actual intelligence backs up President Donald Trump’s claims of election meddling by the Chinese.

“We are writing with regard to President Trump’s most recent comments on foreign interference in U.S. elections, wrote Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Kamala Harris of California, in a letter released Tuesday addressed to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Tax Break for Electric Vehicles in the Crosshairs
Barrasso: ‘Wealthiest Americans’ benefit at the expense of taxpayers

Tesla vehicles stand outside of a Brooklyn showroom and service center in August. Legislation unveiled Tuesday would end a tax incentive for electric vehicles. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unveiled legislation Tuesday to end the $7,500 tax incentive for electric vehicles.

The yet-unnumbered bill comes as a United Nations report on climate change, released over the weekend, outlined dire consequences for the planet in the absence of global action to drastically reduce carbon output over the next decade.