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Trump’s Trade Policies Get a Senate Slapdown
Lawmakers support congressional authority over tariff decisions

President Donald Trump trade policies aren’t feeling the love from Congress. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators delivered a bipartisan, if nonbinding, rebuke to President Donald Trump’s trade policies on the floor Wednesday, voting 88-11 to express support for congressional authority over presidential decisions to impose tariffs for national security reasons.

The motion, offered by GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, would instruct conferees on an unrelated $147 billion spending bill covering the Departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to “include language providing a role for Congress in making a determination” under a law enabling presidents to impose trade restrictions on security grounds.

Senate Democrats: Interior Department Is Snubbing Us on Grant Delay Questions
Grant reviews are response to ‘litany‘ of abuses, senior Interior official says

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is delaying federal grants for increased scrutiny of the department’s financial assistance programs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats say the Interior Department is not answering questions about delays in the issuing of federal grants, a move they contend is holding up money used to fund conservation programs.

“DOI has yet to explain why it hired a high school football teammate of Secretary Zinke’s, who seems to have no relevant experience, to oversee the grant review process instead of improving financial management controls through department experts and career officials,” said Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who led a group of 11 senators in the Democratic Conference in a June 12 letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

The IRS Tax Collector Cometh
Trump pick to lead agency closer to confirmation

Charles Rettig is President Donald Trump's nominee to be Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the IRS, longtime tax lawyer Charles Rettig, breezed through his confirmation hearing Thursday with the Senate Finance Committee.

Senators on both sides mostly questioned Rettig about his views on tax administration issues, including the agency’s work to implement the new tax law. Rettig, who is currently with the Beverly Hills-based firm Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, PC, largely escaped the sort of grilling that many of Trump’s nominees for high-level posts have faced in the past.

Supreme Court Rules Trump’s Travel Ban Is Legal
Decision splits court along ideological lines

The Supreme Court issues rulings on the travel ban and on California’s abortion law on Tuesday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A sharply divided Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the latest version of the administration’s controversial travel ban, backing an early and central piece of President Donald Trump’s promised tough-on-immigration agenda.

The 5-4 decision split the court along familiar ideological lines, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the other four conservatives ruling that Trump had a sufficient national security justification for a policy that on its face “says nothing about religion.”

Hawaii House Candidate Fined $15,000 for Spending Violations
Filed 23 false reports, used money for personal expenses, commission finds

Hawaii Rep. Kaniela Ing is one of seven Democrats running for the seat of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for governor. (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher/AP file photo)

Hawaii House candidate state Rep. Kaniela Ing has been fined $15,000 for multiple campaign finance violations after an investigation by the state Spending Commission.

Ing, a state representative, is one of seven candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Hawaii’s 1st District, which came open after Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced her run for governor.

Senate Appropriations Approves $5M to Pay Interns
New funding approved in the fiscal 2019 Legislative Branch markup

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., has been tackling the issue of paying interns in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $5 million Thursday to compensate the chamber’s interns.

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen teamed up with fellow Democrats Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Advocates: More Women Judges Would Curb Harassment in Judiciary
‘If 85 percent of the nominees are white men, it’s not going to create a lot of positive change’

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, says she asks specific questions about sexual harassment while nominees are under oath, to make sure they’re on record regarding the subject. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators can help address sexual harassment in the judicial branch by paying attention to the lack of women that President Donald Trump has appointed to be federal judges, two witnesses told the Judiciary Committee at a hearing Wednesday.

Jamie Santos, a former federal law clerk now in private practice who has compiled stories about the prevalence of harassment such as getting sexual questions at job interviews or being groped or kissed, made the comment in response to a question from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.

White House Would Seek Congressional Approval Of N. Korea Deal
Trump has been preparing for ‘months and months,’ Pompeo says

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has “personally” assured him he intends to give up his nuclear weapons. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trump administration officials intend to ask Congress to approve any nuclear deal President Donald Trump might strike with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says has vowed to give up his nuclear arsenal.

Pompeo told reporters at the White House Thursday the administration would submit a “document” to Congress for their review and possible approval. The idea is to give Kim confidence that a possible nuclear accord would be honored when the next U.S. administration takes over in 2021 or 2025.

Senators Ponder: How Forthcoming Should Judicial Candidates Be?
Republicans push back on Democratic concerns over responses to school desegregation question

Democrats say U.S. District Court nominee Wendy Vitter did not clearly endorse the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, but Republicans pushed back on that characterization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced two judicial nominees Thursday amid an ongoing debate over how forthcoming candidates should be about their views on established Supreme Court decisions, particularly the landmark school desegregation ruling from 64 years ago.

All Democrats on the committee voted against Andrew Oldham to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit based in New Orleans, and Wendy Vitter to be a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Among their objections: They say the nominees did not clearly endorse the high court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education during their confirmation hearings.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Capitol Hill Staffers to Watch
Six staffers talk about how to get more AAPI staffers on Capitol Hill

Linda Shim, chief of staff for Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., says, “In the Asian culture, as you are growing up, you are told to respect your elders. That conflicted a lot with being a staffer on the Hill.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, six Hill staffers from the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community spoke about how they got to where they are.

They shared experiences from their internships, mentoring other staffers, and what it’s like to be the only person who looks like them in a room.