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Space Force Proposal Comes With Little Political Risk for Trump
It ‘will look like a quaint idea by 2020,’ one analyst says

Vice President Mike Pence announces the Trump administration’s plan to create a space force by 2020 during an Aug. 9 speech at the Pentagon. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Whether the Space Force becomes a reality or not, the Trump re-election campaign will likely face few consequences in 2020 for shooting for the stars.

Speaking at the Pentagon last week, Vice President Mike Pence laid out an ambitious agenda for standing up a new branch of the military by 2020. Establishing a new agency — much less a new military department to stand beside those of the Army, Navy and Air Force — is a complicated, time-consuming affair, filled with bureaucratic headaches.

Education Funding, Eaten Up by Pell Grants, Once Again on Menu
Senate hasn’t debated education appropriations for 11 years. Since then, a lot has changed

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos isn’t seeing eye to eye with Senate appropriators on education priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While military and health care costs have received plenty of airtime in recent years, the federal education budget hasn’t gotten a thorough vetting on the Senate floor since 2007. That will change if the Senate takes up later this week a massive $856.9 billion spending bill for the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and a smattering of smaller agencies.

In the 11-year stretch since the full Senate last debated education appropriations, the Great Recession came and went, exploding the number of students either finding themselves out of work or in need of retraining.

Espy Poll of Mississippi Senate Race Shows Path to Victory for Democrats
Espy finished ahead of both Republicans in separate special election matchups

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running in a special election in November to fill out the remainder of former Sen. Thad Cochran’s term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic poll of the Mississippi Senate special election shows former Rep. Mike Espy having a path to finishing first in a runoff this fall.

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed earlier this year to replace longtime GOP Sen. Thad Cochran, is running for the remainder of his term this November. Candidates from all parties will run together on the same ballot, and if no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top-two finishers will advance to a late-November runoff.

Tim Scott’s Former Intern Shot in Chicago
South Carolina senator says DaQuawn Bruce is “full of joy despite the pain”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., visits his former intern, DaQuawn Bruce, after he was wounded in a drive-by shooting. (Courtesy Sen. Tim Scott’s office)

After DaQuawn Bruce wrapped up his summer internship in Sen. Tim Scott’s office earlier this month, he returned home to Chicago for a quick break before heading to graduate school.

But less than two weeks later, the 23-year-old finds himself in physical therapy, recovering from a gunshot wound. Bruce was in his front yard on Friday in Chicago’s Riverdale neighborhood when he was hit by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting. The bullet entered through his lower abdomen, traveled across his abdominal wall and fractured his pelvis. No vital organs were hit or damaged.

Weekend Work for the Senate? The Bluff That Won’t Go Away
Upon Wednesday return, a quickly defused musing of weekend work

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., seen here walking by a nonfunctioning elevator in the basement of the Capitol, and other senators returned from recess on Wednesday and were hit promptly with a threat of weekend work, which fizzled quickly. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators returned to Washington on Wednesday and scarcely had time to head to lunch before their leaders unsheathed the threat of weekend work, an oldie but goodie bluff that was taken off the table before dinner time. 

Returning around noon from a two-week recess that was to stand in for the traditional month-long state work period, the chamber’s official order of business was considering the nominations of two judges to be on the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals: First A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., then  Julius Ness Richardson. The plan all along has been to confirm those two South Carolinians, then turn to a two bill appropriations package consisting of the Defense and Labor-HHS measures, at some point. 

3 Key Points in Manafort Defense’s Closing Argument
Prosecutors bear the burden of proof in the U.S., Manafort’s lawyers remind jury

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, here in November 2017, faces up to 305 years in prison if the Eastern Virginia jury finds his guilty on all charges. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Paul Manafort’s lawyers presented their final argument Wednesday, defending the former Trump campaign chairman from 18 charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, and bank fraud conspiracy.

Manafort faces up to 305 years in prison if the Eastern Virginia jury finds him guilty on all charges.

Ben Foster and Being Part of a ‘Continuing Conversation’ About Veterans
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 32

Ben Foster, left, discusses his latest movie "Leave No Trace," with Political Theater host Jason Dick. (David Banks/CQ Roll Call)

“For being an actor, being of the generation of the desert war, these questions are ever-present,” Ben Foster says about a body of work that has seen him portray veterans of America’s current conflicts. For the Boston native, veterans’ re-entry to civilian life is part of what he says is “a continuing conversation” he says is important. His latest movie, “Leave No Trace,” is the story of a veteran who is “slipping through the cracks.” For a country still at war and embroiled in extensive debate about veterans, and their well-being, it is a timely movie. Foster discussed the movie recently with Political Theater. 

Rep. Meng: Amend Constitution to Lower Voting Age to 16
The last constitutional amendment was passed in 1992

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., announced Wednesday that she’s interested in lowering the voting age to 16. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Democratic Rep. Grace Meng introduced an amendment to the Constitution to lower the nationwide voting age to 16 years old.

The 26th Amendment — passed in 1971 — guarantees the right to vote to eligible citizens who are 18 years old or older, which shifted the voting age down from 21. Meng’s legislation would rewrite the amendment to include 16- and 17-year-olds in federal, state and local elections.

Trump Revokes Former CIA Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance
President is reviewing access to one current and eight former officials

President Donald Trump, here on the Hill in June, has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John O. Brennan, citing his “erratic conduct and behavior.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John O. Brennan and is reviewing the status for eight other former officials as well as one current official. 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from Trump on the security clearance reviews at the start of her daily press briefing.