Chris Coons

Democrats forcing votes on approving war with Iran, but coming up short in the Senate
Sen. Tom Udall concerned the U.S. may be at war by the time the Senate returns from recess

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is worried that the United States may be at war with Iran by the time Congress returns from recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democratic-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.

Trump drags feet on climate treaty, and Republicans aren’t happy
As Kigali Amendment languishes, Sens. Kennedy, Carper point fingers at the administration

Hydrofluorocarbons — found in air conditioners — are worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. A plan to limit them has bipartisan support, but the Trump administration is standing in the way, Republican senators say. (iStock/Composite by Jason Mann)

It has the support of industry heavy-hitters, environmental advocates and a bipartisan cushion of votes in the Senate.

But the Kigali Amendment, a global treaty to limit hydrofluorocarbons — highly potent greenhouse gases found in air conditioners, refrigerators, insulation and foam — is stuck.

Trump: Barr will decide if Mueller testifies, Kerry should face charges
‘I’m the one who tempers him,’ president says of hawkish John Bolton

President Donald Trump arrives at the Capitol on March 14 as, from left, Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., look on. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whether or not special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will testify before Congress about his Russia election meddling report will be left to Attorney General William P. Barr, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

The president appeared to contradict himself just days after a Sunday tweet that included this statement: “Bob Mueller should not testify.” Trump wrote that day that the former FBI director testifying before Democrat-run House committees would amount to the opposition party trying to invent evidence of negative information about him.

Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones ring in happy birthday for Richard Shelby

A bipartisan group of senators, and one prominent ex-senator, wished Richard Shelby a happy birthday on Monday. (Jennifer Shutt/CQ Roll Call)

The hallways outside the Senate Appropriations Committee filled with the Happy Birthday song Monday afternoon as dozens of senators and staff gathered to wish Chairman Richard C. Shelby a happy 85th birthday.

The closed-door event included coconut cake, champagne and red napkins that read “Happy Birthday Senator Richard Shelby!”

Barr will be a no-show at House Judiciary Committee
AG objects to staff asking questions about special counsel probe

Attorney General Bill Barr testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the “Department of Justice’s Investigation of Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election” on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr will not appear as scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee about the special counsel probe Thursday, as he objects to a format that would allow committee staff to ask questions, the Justice Department announced.

Earlier Wednesday, the House panel approved a plan to allow an extra hour of time — divided into equal 30-minute, unbroken segments for each party — for either lawmakers or committee staff to ask questions.

Biden leads 2020 candidates, but Democrats want to hear more about the field
Only 36 percent say their choice is firm, as most want to know more about Harris, Warren and others

Potential Democratic voters want to hear more about Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a new poll from CNN released Tuesday found. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden would be the choice of 39 percent of Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters if the party's primaries were held today, a new CNN poll released Tuesday found.

That put him far ahead of the crowded field of candidates, and support for Biden appears to have increased after his official announcement last week. 

Biden’s nascent campaign racks up congressional endorsements
Backing from senators, House members likely to raise tensions with progressives seeking fresh leadership

Former Vice President Joe Biden reacts in front of a Stop & Shop following a speech in support of striking union workers earlier this month. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images file photo)

Within hours of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s long-awaited announcement early Thursday that he would wage his third presidential campaign, he had already received endorsements from a raft of members of Congress.

By early afternoon, nods had come from Sens. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania and Doug Jones of Alabama, as well as Reps. Tom Suozzi of New York and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.  

Democrats worry Trump will replace Nielsen with an immigration hard-liner
White House aides struggle to clearly explain what president wants from replacement

Kirstjen Nielsen is on her way out as Homeland Security secretary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers are concerned Donald Trump will replace outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen with an immigration hard-liner, but the White House has yet to clearly explain what the president wants her successor to do differently.

Nielsen’s coming departure will only complicate the Senate calendar, adding another senior administration position the chamber might have to process in coming weeks or months. Senators on the relevant oversight panels will be taken away from other work — such as annual spending bills — to focus on grilling nominees.

Coons and Klobuchar pitch retirement savings mandate plan
Businesses would get federal tax incentives for participating in new plans

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons have a new retirement savings proposal. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One of the 2020 Democrats is helping lead a new effort to require companies to help their employees save for retirement.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has joined Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, in the effort. The new bill from the two senators also would set up a portable retirement account for employees of small businesses modeled on the federal workforce’s Thrift Savings Plan.

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’
Transportation secretary also says the Trump administration has ‘learned from the past’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes as she fielded questions at a Senate Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.

Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.