Mazie K Hirono

Senate Democrats question Pentagon over protecting impeachment witnesses
Defense Department's No. 2 official also urged to protect anonymous whistleblowers from retribution

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump spilled over Wednesday into an unrelated Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, where senators pressed the Defense Department’s second-highest official about protections for witnesses and whistleblowers.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., asked Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist about news reports that the Army was considering extra security for the family of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment probe on Tuesday.

Senate Democrats pick fight over gun provisions in VAWA
Bipartisan talks broke down over renewing law aimed at curbing domestic violence

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar urged Republicans to stand up to the National Rifle Association after a dispute over gun provisions led to a breakdown in bipartisan talks over renewing the Violence Against Women Act. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced the same Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill passed by the House, days after they say talks with Republicans about a compromise broke down over controversial gun provisions.  

The entire Democratic caucus has backed the bill, which has provisions restricting gun rights of certain convicts that helped spur the split with Senate Republicans. While promoting the measure during a news conference Wednesday, Democrats blamed the National Rifle Association’s sway in the chamber for the Republicans’ reluctance to back the bill.

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. 

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg joins senators, advocates seeking climate action
Appearance is first of several on Capitol Hill to promote global strike effort

Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, center, makes her way to a press conference to discuss climate change. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Ahead of a global strike for climate action, Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg joined fellow young advocates and Senate Democrats to draw attention to the peril of global warming.

Although she did not speak at a Tuesday news conference organized by Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey and other Democrats, a representative for Thunberg said the 16-year-old was there to lend her support. She has, however, planned a blitz of activity around the Capitol this week that will culminate in the global climate strike.

Senate Democrats prepare marathon floor session on gun violence
Late night is expected as 22 senators are prepared to call for legislation

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., will lead nearly two dozen senators in a marathon of floor speeches on gun violence Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats plan to make it a late night on Tuesday, speaking out on the Senate floor about the impact of gun violence and legislative proposals Congress could explore.

The speeches are expected to begin around 5:30 p.m. and run late. Connecticut Democrat Christopher S. Murphy is leading the effort, spurred by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio during the August recess and the lack of clear response from the White House on what, if any, gun control measures they could agree to.

Democrats question lack of flu vaccines, quarantine procedures for migrant children
Senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, also ask about medical screenings

Senate Democrats want to know more about the decision to not give flu vaccines to migrant children in U.S. custody. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of 13 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, led by Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, are expressing new concerns about a decision not to provide seasonal flu vaccines to migrants in U.S. detention.

“This dangerous decision not to administer vaccinations for a disease that has already proven fatal to migrant children in CBP’s custody is immoral and irresponsible, placing entire communities at risk of the flu and its associated complications,” the senators wrote to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar.

Senate panel advances asylum bill over Democratic objections
‘This is supposed to be the Senate Judiciary Committee — not the Donald Trump committee,’ Leahy says

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick J. Leahy talk in 2015. On Thursday they clashed over Graham’s asylum bill, which aims to reduce the flow of migrants to the southern border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved, 12-10, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s asylum overhaul bill that aims to stanch the flow of migrants to the southwest border.

But the vote came amid loud protests from Democrats that the legislation was hastily pushed through. Democrats said Graham, the committee chairman, broke from longstanding committee procedures in scheduling a markup for Thursday and not allowing any Democratic amendments.

Trump’s new asylum rule left dead in the water after court decisions
The Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the issue

People gather for a protest on President Trump’s immigration policy outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Washington on July 12, 2019. Two contradictory federal court decisions have disrupted President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to tighten asylum laws. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two contradictory federal court decisions, both on the same day, have disrupted President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to tighten asylum laws, and the Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the issue.

A federal judge in California late Wednesday temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s new rule that requires asylum seekers transiting a third country to request protections there first before applying for asylum in the United States.

Senate Armed Services hears from Hyten's accuser
Nominee to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff accused of sexual misconduct

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who sits on the committee, told reporters that Hyten’s accuser testified in a closed-door meeting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony Tuesday from the military officer who has accused Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the nominee to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of sexual misconduct, two Democratic senators said.

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who sits on the committee, told reporters that Hyten’s accuser testified in a closed-door meeting.

Armed Services panel to huddle on three top Pentagon nominees
Joint Chiefs vice chairman nominee faces stiff headwinds

The committee will probably vote overwhelmingly to give its consent to Army Secretary Mark Esper becoming the next Pentagon chief. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a closed-door meeting Thursday, is expected to approve the president’s choice for Defense secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and to discuss the embattled nomination of the Air Force general tapped to be the military’s No. 2 general, committee members and staff said Wednesday.

The committee will probably vote overwhelmingly to give its consent to Army Secretary Mark Esper becoming the next Pentagon chief, clearing the way for a Senate vote in the coming days to confirm him. The panel is also expected to send to the floor the nomination of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to be the next Joint Chiefs chairman.