Gary Peters

It’s Not Too Early to Start Looking at the 2020 Senate Map
The fight for the Senate should once again be a prime battle.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is up for re-election in 2020 in a state carried by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The votes haven’t all been counted in the 2018 Senate elections, but we know the size of the incoming majority will be critical, because the 2020 Senate map offers limited initial takeover opportunities for both parties.

Of course, it’s too early to tell what the presidential race will look like, how voters will feel about the economy and direction of the country, and whether they’ll believe more Democrats are needed in Washington.

Bills Filed to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin
Bipartisan sentiment in both chambers to honor ‘Queen of Soul’

Lawmakers want to honor “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with a Congressional Gold Medal. (CQ Roll Call file photo).

A bipartisan group of four senators have introduced legislation to posthumously award Aretha Franklin the Congressional Gold Medal for her contribution to arts and culture. The “Queen of Soul” died August 16 at age 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

There are both House and Senate versions of the legislation, which is sponsored by Michigan Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters and Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents Franklin’s adopted hometown of Detroit. The legislation is also backed by Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. 

Gary Peters’ Michigan Motorcycle Ride Includes Tariffs Talk
Michigan Democrat just finished his third annual #RideMI

Sen. Gary Peters has ridden his Harley around Michigan to meet constituents every August for the last three years. (Courtesy Sen. Gary Peters/Twitter)

For Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, an annual summer tradition has become a highlight of his year: driving his Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide around the state to meet with constituents. 

“If you have to go from Point A to Point B, why not do it on a motorcycle?” the Democrat said by phone Friday as he was heading out for the fifth and final day of his #RideMI bike trip. He ended it in Cadillac in Northern Michigan and spent all day Saturday riding back to where his journey began — his home in Bloomfield Township, outside Detroit.

Thune Adding TSA, NTSB Bills to FAA Authorization
‘This may be our one shot at actually moving a major piece of legislation’

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune is including additional transportation-related bills in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, he said in a Wednesday interview.

In an effort to broaden the appeal of a four-year FAA authorization bill, he was including other committee-approved bills to authorize the Transportation Security Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The move is also an effort to clear as much of the committee’s business as possible when an opportunity for floor time arises, he said.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Another Thing to Worry About: Diversity on Their Staffs
Conference voluntarily released data on its diversity statistics for the second year

Vulnerable Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III, left, and Jon Tester have offices that are 93 percent and 92 percent white, an analysis of data released by Senate Democrats found. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic senators gearing up for competitive re-elections tend to have whiter staffs, according to a Roll Call analysis of data released by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who finds himself in a race rated Tilts Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, has a staff that is 93 percent white. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, also in a Tilts Democratic contest, was just behind him, at 92 percent.

Photos of the Week: Kavanaugh Hits the Hill and Strzok Strikes Back at House
The week of July 9 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Make-A-Wish recipient and “U.S. Senator For a Day” Thomas Stephenson and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., ride the Senate Subway on Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

It’s almost the middle of July, but there’s no summer slowdown on Capitol Hill. The president’s Supreme Court pick was in the Capitol on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as senators consider his nomination to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

But the joint committee in the House that heard testimony from Peter Strzok on Thursday possibly stole the show for this week on the Hill as sparks flew between members and the FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Peters Grants Teen’s Wish to Be a Senator for a Day
Thomas Stephenson, who has congenital heart condition, experienced hectic day on the Hill

Make-A-Wish recipient and ‘U.S. Senator for a Day’ Thomas Stephenson takes questions in Sen. Gary Peter’s, D-Mich., office Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Gary Peters handed a binder to 18-year-old Thomas Stephenson on Tuesday as they headed for the Capitol from his office.

“Take your football,” the Michigan Democrat said. “I told him, you gotta have your football. He’s got the same thing I do.”

For GOP, Death of Manufacturing Loan Program Finally in Sight
Unspent money dating back years makes it an easy, yet still elusive, target

Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is no fan of the loan program for energy efficient vehicles. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One way or another, the Energy Department’s direct loan program for fuel-efficient car manufacturers looks destined for the chopping block.

Once viewed as a lifeline for Detroit’s “Big Three” manufacturers facing economic headwinds even before the onset of the Great Recession, the program is now little more than a kitty of untapped funds appropriated a decade ago. The last major Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program loan was approved conditionally in 2015, but Arconic Inc., whose former parent Alcoa secured the loan to produce lightweight vehicle materials at its Tennessee plant, turned the money down last year.

Five Cabinet Secretaries Face Senate Barrage
Questions range from infrastructure to nuclear waste to the Census

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune's panel hosted five Cabinet secretaries on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not every day — or even every decade — that five cabinet secretaries walk in to testify at the same Senate hearing.

And while Wednesday’s Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing generally focused on President Donald Trump’s proposal to rebuild American infrastructure (and doubts about how to pay for it), senators took full advantage of having so many heavy hitters in one room.

Amid Safety Concerns, Senators Plan Path for Driverless Car Bill
Blumenthal invokes Ralph Nader’s 1965 “Unsafe at Any Speed“

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, a co-sponsor of a driverless car bill, says he is working to address the reservations of his fellow Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The sponsors of a Senate bill to set the federal framework for driverless vehicles said Wednesday they were making progress on their effort to pass it by unanimous consent. But they resisted calls to amend the measure and said they may pursue a floor vote instead.

After a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee field hearing at the Washington Auto Show, Chairman John Thune told reporters he will continue to work through safety concerns that three Democratic senators had over the bill. But he said he wouldn’t cave to demands that would undermine the purpose of the legislation.