James M Inhofe

Space Force gets cautious OK in House defense spending bill
The House 2020 defense spending bill would provide $15 million, a fraction of Trump’s $72.5 million request

Demonstrators hold up signs protesting a possible Space Force before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 11, 2019, in Washington, DC. The House Defense Appropriations subcommittee provided $15 million in its defense spending bill, much lower than the administration’s request for $72.5 million. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has signaled that it will entertain, but constrain, President Donald Trump’s plans to create a new military service that focuses exclusively on space.

The House’s version of the fiscal 2020 defense spending bill would provide $15 million for Space Force operations and maintenance, almost $57.5 million lower than the administration’s $72.5 million request, according to the committee report released Monday.

Shanahan’s confirmation as Defense secretary seems likely, if bumpy
Nominee’s ties to Boeing have come under scrutiny

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan may face some pointed questions from senators during his confirmation hearing to lead the department full-time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate appears likely to confirm Patrick Shanahan as secretary of Defense, barring an unforeseen and damaging disclosure — but not before senators pose some pointed questions of the nominee.

The White House announced on Thursday evening that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Shanahan to run the Pentagon. Shanahan has served as acting secretary since Jan. 1, when James Mattis, the Defense Department’s former boss, quit.

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!”

A Saudi nuclear deal is causing lawmakers from both parties to worry
The concern is whether Trump's administration is attempting to skirt legal oversight involving a potential nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia

From left, ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Energy Secretary Rick Perry talk before Senate Armed Committee confirmation hearing titled “The Department of Energy’s Atomic Energy Defense Programs,” in Dirksen Building on Thursday, March 28, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats and Republicans are growing more worried the Trump administration is attempting to skirt their legal oversight authorities when it comes to negotiating a potential nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Congress is entitled to review and potentially block proposed trade agreements that would enable a significant amount of nuclear collaboration with another country. But there is a lower level of nuclear exchanges happening outside of lawmakers’ and the public’s awareness, according to information made public in congressional hearings this week.

A 25-cent gas tax hike has support, but is 5 cents a year enough?
Right now, the hike is needed to maintain current spending levels, and isn’t enough to pare down a growing project backlog

A pothole is visible on a road on April 25, 2017, in San Rafael, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Congress debates how to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from becoming insolvent, groups as disparate as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are urging lawmakers to bite the bullet and raise the gas tax by 25 cents a gallon over five years.

But even if they bite it, a nickel increase every year for five years may not be a magic bullet. That’s because the extra money in the early years will be needed just to maintain the current level of spending, and provide nothing to attack a growing backlog of projects.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

Copies of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

Senate confirms former coal lobbyist to lead EPA
Andrew Wheeler has worked to weaken and delay national and global environmental protections

Andrew Wheeler, arrives for his confirmation hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Jan. 16, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday voted 52-47 to confirm Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has worked to weaken and delay national and global environmental protections, as the head of the EPA.

Wheeler has served as acting EPA administrator since July, when the previous head, Scott Pruitt, resigned under a cloud of more than a dozen federal ethics investigations.

Inhofe open to ‘exaggerated’ war budget
Armed Services chairman begrudgingly supports Trump’s gambit, setting the tone for other Republicans

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said $750 billion is needed for national defense in fiscal 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told reporters Tuesday he would begrudgingly support a huge increase in the Pentagon’s war budget for programs unconnected to warfare if that is necessary to bankroll another boost to defense spending.

Oklahoma Republican James M. Inhofe said $750 billion is needed for national defense in fiscal 2020, compared to $716 billion in fiscal 2019. How that hike is achieved, he said, is of secondary importance.

Roll Call photographer Tom Williams wins WHNPA’s Political Photo of the Year
Photo editor Bill Clark picks up two more 2019 White House News Photographer Association awards

The above photo, by Roll Call staff photographer Tom Williams, has won WHNPA’s political photo of the year. In the image, Vice President Mike Pence is seen in the Senate Reception Room as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., right, conducts a meeting on July 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Roll Call staff photographer Tom Williams has won the distinguished Political Photo of the Year award in the White House News Photographers Association’s 2019 Eyes of History contest.

The same photo, featuring Vice President Mike Pence in the Capitol, won first prize in the On Capitol Hill category of the visual awards. 

Reed: Congress should be consulted on any Colombia deployment
The top Democrat on Senate Armed Services warned generals against planning military intervention in Venezuela without congressional input

Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., left, and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., attend a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Hart Building on the U.S. Central Command on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, testified. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee warned generals on Thursday against planning a military intervention in Venezuela without first seeking congressional input.

“Congress must be consulted if there is any military action beyond the current planning for the evacuation of U.S. citizens and embassy personnel" in Venezuela, Jack Reed of Rhode Island told Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command.