Oklahoma

Election officials want security money, flexible standards
After 2016 Russian intrusion, slow progress seen toward securing rolls and paper ballots

Voters line up at a temporary voting location in a trailer in the Arroyo Market Square shopping center in Las Vegas on the first day of early voting in Nevada in October of 2016. Louisiana and Connecticut officials requested more money and clear standards from the federal government before voters head to the polls in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

State officials from Louisiana and Connecticut on Thursday asked for more money and clear standards from the federal government to help secure voting systems before the 2020 elections.

But the officials, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, stressed the differences between their election systems and asked for leeway from the federal government in deciding how to spend any future funding.

Trump: ‘Great appetite’ for background checks bill; Biden has ‘lost his fastball’
Former VP to say Trump ‘has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation’

President Trump left the White House Wednesday morning to visit Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas after gunmen killed 31 people over the weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he might call Congress back to Washington if he and lawmakers “get close” to a deal under discussion to overhaul the federal background check system following deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Trump said he senses a “great appetite for background checks” among members and predicted the various sides would strike a “really, really good” overhaul deal. As he departed the White House to visit with victims of the Dayton and El Paso shootings, he said he has had conversations with numerous lawmakers but was not yet ready to urge a special session of the House and Senate. (No such special session would be necessary, as the House and Senate are still in session. That has not stopped people from referring to calling Congress back to something special.)

Senate biofuel advocates want a piece of transportation bill
The bill would set aside $1 billion to build charging and fueling stations for electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles

Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states while leaving out rural America. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A provision in the Senate’s surface transportation bill that would help pay for charging and refilling stations for zero- or low-emissions vehicles should also support more stations for biofuels like ethanol, say two Midwestern senators.

The bill would authorize spending on highways and bridge projects for five years. Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Rounds of South Dakota say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states who can afford electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles, while leaving out rural America.

Lawmakers to confront new post-spending caps reality
Will budget resolutions gain a new lease on life? Or is reinstating caps inevitable?

Some say the end of spending caps will give new life to the budget resolution, but House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth isn’t one of them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Starting in the 117th Congress, lawmakers will face a reality they haven’t had to deal with since 2010: the absence of discretionary spending caps for the upcoming fiscal year.

After a final stretch covering the next two fiscal years, Congress will have operated under spending caps of one form or another for three decades, with the exception of a nine-year period spanning fiscal years 2003 through 2011.

Senate confirms wealthy GOP donor, McConnell friend as UN ambassador
Kelly Knight Craft, current envoy to Canada, has come under harsh criticism from Democrats

Kelly Knight Craft was confirmed Thursday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After seven months without a permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations and at a time of increasing turbulence in global affairs, the Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed a new ambassador, a Republican Party fundraiser whose thin diplomatic résumé has come under harsh criticism from Democrats.

The confirmation vote, 56-34, of Kelly Knight Craft, who currently is U.S. ambassador to Canada, came hours after Senate Foreign Relations Democrats published a report that harshly criticized her suitability for the role. The report asserted she was “unknowledgeable” about basic U.S. foreign policy issues and likely to be “outmatched” by her U.N. counterparts from Russia and China. It also lambasted her long record of unexplained absences during her time as envoy in Ottawa.

For Joint Chiefs nominee, a subdued hearing addressing contentious charges
John Hyten defends himself against sexual assault charges before Armed Services panel

Heather A. Wilson, former secretary of the Air Force, introduces Air Force Gen. John Hyten during his confirmation hearing to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday publicly defended himself against sexual assault allegations that have clouded his nomination, picking up support from key lawmakers as his accuser, an Army colonel, sat just feet away.

And although the accusations against him are part of a wider cultural issue that has filtered into the presidential campaign, two members of the committee running for president skipped the hearing — and a chance to question the nominee. 

Trade Office works through tariff exclusions as requests mount
Rejection rate on the 10,829 exclusion requests on first tranche of imports was 62 percent

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has processed approximately 700 requests for exclusions on the first $34 billion tranche of imports. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Trade Representative’s process for doling out exclusions to Section 301 tariffs on imports from China has slowed to a painful crawl.

Only approximately 700 requests for exclusions on the first $34 billion tranche of imports were decided over the past month, with half of those denied over concerns that product characteristics were not sufficiently narrow to prevent unrelated products from slipping through customs. The overall rejection rate on the 10,829 exclusion requests on the tranche increased to 62 percent.

Photos of the Week: Stewart smirks, Stevens at rest and Mueller milieu
The week of July 26 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks by at the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Tuesday. The Senate voted 97-2 later in the day to pass HR 1327 — a bill that would authorize funding for 9/11 first responders to be compensated. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was a week for the history books on Capitol Hill. 

Washingtonians said goodbye to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died July 16 at age 99. Many on the Hill smirked at Jon Stewart’s now-famous smirk and, of course, the nation mulled over the Robert S. Mueller III hearings in the House.

Election infrastructure bill remains stalled as Senate Intelligence panel releases first volume of Russia report
Sen. James Lankford still wants to work on paper trail legislation

The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Richard M. Burr, right, and Mark Warner, released an election security report on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate Intelligence Committee was releasing the first volume of its comprehensive report into Russian election interference in 2016, a Republican senator was making clear that he still wants to get support for encouraging states to have paper audit trails and to boost the ability of election officials to get timely security clearances.

Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who has been working with Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, told reporters Thursday that with the 2020 primaries and caucuses just around the corner, security enhancements would be meant for the next midterms.

Trump administration works to revive federal death penalty
Congress hasn't tried to prevent it, but it will face legal challenges from civil rights groups

The Trump administration moved Thursday to revive the federal death penalty, which would be the first executions by the federal government since 2003. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration moved Thursday to revive the federal death penalty, a policy move Congress has not tried to prevent but one that will face a legal challenge from civil rights groups.

Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to adopt a new execution protocol — which would kill inmates with an injection of a single lethal drug called pentobarbital — and schedule the execution of five men in December and January.