Jeff Merkley

States Face Children’s Health Coverage Uncertainty
Federal funding could soon run out

Oregon governor Kate Brown recently wrote to her state’s two Democratic senators warning that federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will  run out in December. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

About two months after federal funding lapsed for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, state officials still don’t know exactly when they’ll run out of money or when Congress will renew funding — leaving families that depend on the program increasingly anxious about their benefits.

At least a few states say that they could exhaust funds as soon as next month. States are growing more concerned about the program with just a few days left on the congressional calendar until December and no signs that lawmakers plan in the immediate future to renew funding. 

Murphy Calls Out ‘Fealty to Gun-Makers’ After Texas Massacre
‘None of this is inevitable,’ Connecticut senator says after gunman kills more than 20 during church service

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., talks with reporters in the Capitol after the Senate policy luncheons in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy slammed his colleagues for their “fealty to gun-makers” after the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday that left 26 people dead.

“None of this is inevitable. I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement.

Trump’s Stamp on Judiciary Starting: It Could Be Much Faster
With no filibuster and a GOP Senate, he’s got a big opening to reshape appeals courts

The four appellate nominees moving through the Senate this week include, from left, Amy Coney Barrett, Joan Larsen, Allison H. Eid and Stephanos Bibas. Barrett and Larsen have already been confirmed. (Courtesy Screenshot/C-SPAN, Joan Larsen/Facebook, University of Pennsylvania Law School)

While White House officials are subsumed by the fresh intensity of the special counsel investigation, and House Republicans are preoccupied with propping up the tax overhaul, their GOP colleagues in the Senate are focusing on something not nearly as provocative as either of those things — but perhaps almost as consequential over the long haul.

This week, they’re pushing to double, from four to eight, the number of reliable conservatives that President Donald Trump has installed on the federal appeals courts during the opening year of his administration.

Word on the Hill: Drag Racing
Bonus digital challenge results, ‘Flint’ screening, and raising funds from ‘Hamilton’

Members of Gays Against Guns DC dress in drag as Rep. Barbara Comstock during the costume parade before the start of the 30th Annual 17th Street High Heel Race in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

So what is Gays Against Guns DC’s problem with Rep. Barbara Comstock?

The group, known has GAG, will be back at the annual 17th Street High Heel Race tonight, high heels and all, protesting the Virginia Republican. While last year’s protest was a week before her re-election, this year’s will focus on her stance on guns and “her lack of action for common sense gun violence prevention measures,” the group said in an emailed statement. 

Single Payer Democrats: Save Obamacare Now, Single Payer Later
Comes as Cassidy-Graham revives Republican hopes of repeal

Democratic senators who threw their support behind single-payer health care last week are prioritizing the 2010 health care law as Republicans take one more crack at repealing it.

At an event with Democratic senators and liberal activists, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who sponsored the single-payer bill, criticized Republicans for trying to ram through a health care proposal from Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Dean Heller of Nevada and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Senate Democrats Hold Rally Against Graham-Cassidy
 

Senators Could Lose ‘Blue Slip’ Input on Circuit Judges
President would have less reason to consult with lawmakers

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has signaled he might end a tradition that gives senators a de facto veto power over nominees to federal appeals courts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A looming showdown over a Senate tradition could strip senators of a de facto veto power over nominees to federal appeals courts — and give President Donald Trump less reason to consult with senators about which judges should be appointed.

The Judiciary Committee’s “blue slip” process has required senators to return a blue slip of paper before the committee schedules hearings and markups of nominees for federal judgeships from their home states. No slip, no hearing. That has made it essential for the White House to get a senator’s buy-in on a nomination.

Drama Awaits Senate Debate on Pentagon Policy
No lack of substantive, high-profile issues for defense authorization measure

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., will manage a sprawling floor debate on the Pentagon policy bill starting this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate will take up the massive Pentagon policy bill this week, providing a stage for high-profile debate on simmering national security issues ranging from transgender troops to the growing North Korea nuclear threat.

Senators have already filed hundreds of amendments to the defense bill, among them language to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, establish a North Korea strategy, limit arms sales to U.S. allies, define U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and block the creation of a new military service.

Merkley’s Mild Town Hall in a Red County
Oregon Democrat talks health care to a receptive audience

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkeley chat with constituents after a town hall in Dallas, Oregon, on Wednesday. (Nathan L. Gonzales/CQ Roll Call)

DALLAS, Ore. — With a divided country and two divided parties, town halls are supposed to be ground zero for angst, anger, and animosity, but not in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Donald Trump carried Polk County in the last presidential election but Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley found a largely sympathetic audience Wednesday at his town hall meeting here in its county seat.

Roughly 150 people gathered at the Oregon National Guard’s Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center on the outskirts of Dallas (population: 16,345, according to a sign when you enter town), to hear from one of their senators and enjoy the air conditioning on a sweltering afternoon.

Why Five Democrats Voted Against Confirming the New FBI Director
Reasons include Trump, ‘Bridgegate’ and warrantless surveillance

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was one of five Democrats to oppose confirmation of Christopher Wray as FBI director. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Five Senate Democrats who voted against Christopher Wray’s confirmation as FBI director had all offered reasons why by Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren focused on questions about Wray’s independence from President Donald Trump.