Jeff Merkley

At the Races: O-H-I-O
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. —Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman

Senate Passes Spending Package, Rejects Trump’s Proposed Cuts
Chamber has now passed seven of the 12 annual spending bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has shepherded a largely bipartisan appropriations process, pushing forward a four-package spending measure on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion, four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package Wednesday as a continuing bipartisan effort in the chamber pushed it ahead of the House in the appropriations process.

The vote was 92-6. Republicans cast the opposing votes: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Withdrawn Nomination Gives Democrats Hope in Brett Kavanaugh Fight
Small margin in Senate provides little wiggle room for Supreme Court nominee

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will continue to meet with senators this week, even though Democrats want to see documents from his time working in the White House for George W. Bush. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The last-minute White House withdrawal of an appeals court nominee on the Senate floor Thursday underscores just how thin of a margin Republicans have on the looming fight over President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s lone black Republican, planned to vote Thursday against the nomination of Ryan Bounds of Oregon to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based on some writings by Bounds in college. Republicans have only 50 votes right now because Sen. John McCain of Arizona is battling brain cancer at home.

Photos of the Week: Summer ’18 Continues With Hot Dogs, a Flood and, Of Course, Protests
The week of July 16 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Photographer Leandra Brown shoots photos of ballerina Sabrina Schulbach in midair on the East Plaza of the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The summer is in full swing in Washington with the Hill abuzz after the president’s Helsinki meeting earlier this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The week saw demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s overseas summit.

Back at the Capitol, a summer staple — the hot dog lunch giveaway brought free food and former Major League Baseball greats to staffers of all kinds.

Lawmakers Condemn Trump Over News Conference With Putin
Republican calls it ‘shameful’ while Democrat says trip was ‘one giant middle finger... to his own country’

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Helsinki International Airport on Sunday ahead of Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

As President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin left their joint press conference in Monday in Helsinki, Finland, to continue with their slate of meetings, lawmakers back home in Washington sent a resounding rebuke across the Atlantic to the president.

Perhaps loudest in his criticism of Trump was one of the most prominent members of his own party: Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Lawmakers Still Being Kept out of Facilities With Immigrant Children
Democrats and Republicans wonder if feds are hiding something

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., is the latest lawmaker to be shut out from a tour of a facility holding undocumented immigrant children who were separated from their parents by the federal government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers keep getting denied access to tour facilities holding undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents, causing some to speculate whether the federal government is shielding the living conditions there from public scrutiny.

Most recently, Democratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier was turned away Sunday from visiting a center in his district in Pleasant Hill, California, after previously receiving permission to tour the facility from an official in the Health and Human Services Department.

Democrats Blast Nielsen’s Family Separation ‘Lie’ as Outrage Intensifies
DHS secretary says ‘we do not have a policy of separating families at the border’

U.S. Border Patrol agents take groups of Central American asylum-seekers into custody last week near McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats in Congress accused Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of lying amid intensifying outrage over a Trump administration policy requiring border agents to separate migrant children from their parents.

Several members of Congress called Nielsen out after she tweeted Sunday evening “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border.”

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite visual aids from a month of congressional floor-watching

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland went #ALLCAPS after the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup. (Screenshot/C-SPAN)

Lots of members of Congress bring along floor charts to help make a point. Here and there, some stand out.@FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call rounds up the best of the best.

On June 8, the morning after the Washington Capitals won their first  Stanley Cup, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, sporting a Capitals jersey, brought a copy of The Washington Post to the House floor.

GOP Slips Past Another Senate Custom, and Democrats Turn Blue
Home-state senators’ sway over judicial nominees is quickly disappearing

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have decided that the use of a “blue slip” when considering judicial nominees is a practice that needs to fade away, Hawkings writes. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The latest threat to what’s made the Senate the Senate for generations can be illustrated with a sheet of paper the color of cornflowers.

First to go was the reverence for compromise. It went out the window a decade or so ago, the start of the current era when the most conservative Democrat is reliably positioned to the left of the most liberal Republican. Then the veneration of minority-party rights got obliterated, five years ago, with a blast of “nuclear” limits on filibuster powers.

Senate Energy-Water Bill Advanced Amid Nuclear Weapons Debate
Concerns raised about funding low-yield nuclear weapon

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was the lone vote opposing a $43.8 billion draft Energy-Water fiscal 2019 spending measure that the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced Thursday.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced 30-1 Thursday a $43.8 billion draft Energy-Water fiscal 2019 spending measure before entering into a lengthy consideration of how to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium and the development of new low-yield nuclear weapons.

The bill would boost spending for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers and related programs by $566 million compared to fiscal 2018 enacted appropriations and is $7.2 billion more than the Trump administration requested. The House version would fund the same agencies at $44.7 billion.