Sheldon Whitehouse

Criminal Justice Overhaul Efforts Appear Stuck
House and Senate Judiciary panels have taken different approaches

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he expects criminal justice legislation to hit the House floor in the next few weeks with bipartisan support. But the Senate appears to have decided on a different course. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House action on a criminal justice overhaul bill this week appears to have done little to change the political dynamic in the Senate that makes it unlikely Congress will act on the issue this year.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on Wednesday that aims to prepare federal prisoners for release so they are less likely to commit another crime. A co-author of the bill, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, said in an interview Thursday he expected the measure would hit the House floor “in the next few weeks, and we’ll have strong bipartisan support.”

Conservative Court Nominee Highlights Smoother Path to Bench
Previous political work no longer impedes confirmation chances

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has presided over a steady stream of judicial confirmations under President Donald Trump, a marked shift from when Barack Obama was president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:29 p.m. | Appeals court nominee Kyle Duncan has advocated on behalf of conservatives in legal fights over contentious cultural issues such as abortion and LGBT rights, leaving behind the kind of paper trail that might have dissuaded presidents from putting him through the Senate’s confirmation process.

Donald Trump is not such a president.

Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as Pruitt’s Deputy at EPA
Heitkamp and Manchin join Republicans on vote

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt now has a deputy — a former fossil fuel lobbyist — after a Senate confirmation vote Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy EPA administrator, providing a second-in-command for Administrator Scott Pruitt as he struggles amid alleged ethical failings.

Wheeler was confirmed Thursday with a 53-45 vote. Some Democrats hoped Pruitt’s difficulties would give them the votes to block the confirmation, but their efforts were not enough. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined Republicans in voting for Wheeler. Both are running for re-election this year in states won by President Donald Trump.

Dems Question Scott Pruitt Death Threats; Barrasso Rejects Hearing
EPA chief's security concerns questioned

Senate Democrats question whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is embellishing death threats to justify heightened security details and want to question him in a hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming said he will not hold oversight hearings to examine alleged ethical lapses by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, including on exorbitant spending on security.

Two top Democrats on the committee, ranking member Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, on Tuesday demanded such hearings, saying they have confidential documents that contradict public statements made by Pruitt, EPA spokespersons and President Donald Trump regarding the administrator’s security spending.

Whitehouse: EPA’s Pruitt Took Security Detail to Rose Bowl, Disneyland
New information raises more questions about Trump administration officials’ spending of taxpayer money

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wants to know why “significant agency resources are being devoted to administrator [Scott] Pruitt’s ’round-the-clock security, even when he is traveling on non-official business.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has used EPA-funded security for personal trips, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wrote in a letter to the agency’s inspector general.

Pruitt took his security detail with him to his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma; a family vacation at Disneyland in California; and the 2018 Rose Bowl game, Whitehouse wrote in the letter obtained by CNN.

Democrats Notching Key Legislative Victories Ahead of Elections
Members hope achievements can drive support among voters in rural states

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, is one of several moderate Democrats in the chamber who have notched key legislative victories under President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate Senate Democrats on the ballot in 2018 are racking up a number of key legislative victories in advance of what is expected to be a bitter midterm election cycle.

The successes, on bills ranging from veterans’ issues to bank regulation and tax credits for so-called clean coal technology, are the kind that can drive support among voters in the rural states that many of these members call home.

Photos of the Week: Waiting for Spring in Washington
The week of March 12 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Evelyn Black, two-and-a half, of Capitol Hill, walks through about 7,000 pairs of shoes displayed on the East Lawn of the Capitol on Tuesday to represent the approximately 7,000 children who were killed by guns since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whitehouse Preps 200th Climate Speech, Hoping Senate Will Stir
“It is an indicator of the extent [to] which the fossil fuel industry owns the joint”

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speaks with Roll Call in his office on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every week of every Senate session for the last six years, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has taken to the floor to urge his colleagues to “wake up” to the dire consequences of their inaction on climate change.

But the slumbering chamber keeps hitting the snooze button.

Senators Target Physicians, Drugmakers in Opioid Bill
Bipartisan group hopes to make headway on drug crisis

Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., right, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., were among the senators introducing legislation to address the opioid crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would waive limits on physicians treating addiction patients and place restrictions on how long a provider could initially prescribe opioids to patients.

The bill, known as CARA 2.0, would address the opioid epidemic from several angles, including both health care providers and drugmakers. It aims to build on earlier opioid legislation, which cleared in 2016 as part of a broader health care measure that included mental health changes and aimed to spur new medical treatments.