Mississippi

Senate Democrats Doubt Validity of Puerto Rico Death Toll
Reports of full morgues may signal incomplete official count, senators say

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined 12 of her Democratic colleagues in signing a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke raising questions about the official death count in Puerto Rico. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

As Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló travels to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats is asking the administration about the accuracy of the island territory’s death toll.

Thirteen senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have written a new letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke expressing concern that reports about morgues at Puerto Rican hospitals being full may signal that the official tally of 48 fatalities may be incomplete.

Word on the Hill: Schneider Rides the Bus
McCain’s award, Conaway’s life in D.C., McSally on sexism

Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider is getting on a commuter bus around 8 a.m. Tuesday to meet with constituents. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., is taking his town hall on the road today.

He will use his “Commuter Town Hall” on the PACE bus in his suburban Chicago district to meet constituents during their work commutes.

Thad Cochran, Still Ailing, Will Miss Senate Votes This Week
Urinary tract infection sidelines Mississippi Republican for extended time

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has been absent from the Capitol since September and will continue to be away while he recuperates. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Thad Cochran will not immediately return to Washington following a four-week absence, raising speculation about the 79-year-old Mississippi Republican’s ability to continue as Appropriations chairman during the remainder of the 115th Congress.

His absence could also have implications for the budget resolution vote this week, though debate was still on track as of Monday, even after Cochran’s office confirmed he would not be present.

Thompson Staffer Still Employed After Tax Conviction
Isaac Lanier Avant is facing new charges relating to a security clearance form

Isaac Lanier Avant served as chief of staff to Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson. (Courtesy Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

A Capitol Hill staffer convicted of failing to file income tax returns, who faces new charges of falsifying a security clearance form, remained employed in Rep. Bennie Thompson’s office after his previous conviction.

A spokesman for the Mississippi Democrat confirmed Thursday that Isaac Lanier Avant, who served as Thompson’s chief of staff, was still employed by the office. Asked if Avant would remain employed following the new charges relating to his security clearance form, the spokesman said he believed Thompson would be making a statement on the subject soon. 

Opinion: In a Culture War, American Values Lose
Nation’s top leaders have already picked a side

Vice President Mike Pence’s staged walkout at a Colts-49ers NFL game in Indianapolis was a political stunt that disrespected several players’ support of equality, justice and police accountability, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Over the weekend, a group of white nationalists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, faces proudly uncovered and tiki torches in hand, with a message of division.

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said to applause, “You are going to have to get used to white identity” — and warned of more to come.

White House Aide Nielsen Picked for Homeland Secretary
Nominee previously served as John F. Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS

Kirstjen Nielsen, deputy White House chief of staff, speaks with John Kelly, White House chief of staff in August 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has chosen Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Nielsen, 45, previously served as Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS when he led the department before taking the White House job in July. Nielsen would be leaving her role at the White House after having served as a top aide to Kelly for just a little over a month.

Staffer Charged With Falsifying Security Clearance Form
Isaac Lanier Avant faces up to five years in prison

Isaac Lanier Avant (Courtesy Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

A congressional staffer has been charged with falsifying a security clearance form, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced Wednesday evening.

Isaac Lanier Avant faces up to five years in prison for not disclosing on a security clearance form that he had failed to pay income taxes. Avant served as chief of staff for Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and worked as deputy staff director and staff director the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Opinion: Bob Corker and the Chairmen Who Hold Trump’s Fate in Their Hands
Alienating key GOP senators unwise for the president

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is among the key Senate chairmen that President Donald Trump has lied about, demeaned, ignored or otherwise alienated, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

We all know that Washington is about relationships. I’ve gotten some of my best scoops (so to to speak) at the dog park and met some of my best sources on “Wing Night” at the Capitol Lounge years ago. On Capitol Hill, good bills have died over years-long grudges, while mediocre bills have gotten by on, “Well, I just like the guy (or lady).”

With a huge legislative agenda to pass and a major international incident looming in North Korea, you’d think that President Donald Trump would be rallying his fellow Republicans to his side, especially the most senior leaders who could shepherd his agenda through the Hill. Instead, he has attacked, lied about, demeaned, ignored or otherwise alienated a host of GOP senators, including the ones crucial to his efforts to build a wall, pass tax reform, reform health care and, if it came to it, escape impeachment.

Reps. Stivers, Harper and Carter Come Out on Top in House GOP Digital Challenge
Members lead most people to a website promoting the GOP’s vision for a tax overhaul

Rep. Steve Stivers has his pick of prizes after winning the GOP Digital Challenge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three House Republicans — Steve Stivers of Ohio, Gregg Harper of Mississippi and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia — proudly accepted first, second and third prizes, respectively, for participating in the party’s Digital Challenge.

Every member of the conference had until Oct. 2 to drive traffic to a website promoting the GOP’s vision for a tax overhaul, fairandsimple.gop. Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has led eight of these challenges, decided to make the landing page the home of the GOP’s framework for fixing the tax code.

Word on the Hill: Football Season on the Hill
March for life, DREAMers rally and staffer shuffle

Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman of the Mean Machine, runs past the Guards’ Larry Bell for a first down during the eighth annual Congressional Football Game for Charity in 2015. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers who play in the Congressional Football Game for Charity got together for a reception at the Hall of States on Monday night, a week ahead of their big game.

The game takes place on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. on the Hotchkiss Field at Gallaudet University (800 Florida Ave. NE).