Joe Donnelly

Opinion: Best and the Brightest? Trump’s Troika of Troubled Nominees
Senate can stop president’s dismal choices for cabinet jobs

White House physician Ronny Jackson, nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, had better hang on to his day job after lawmakers cited “serious concerns,” Walter Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate confirmation fights have been the stuff of Washington drama from the fictional “Advise and Consent” (1960 Pulitzer Prize) to the real-life rejection of John Tower (a rumored alcoholic and inveterate skirt chaser) for Defense secretary in 1989. And of course, Mike Pence last year had to break a 50-50 Senate tie over the fate of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

But never in modern times has a president in the midst of his first term had three nominees as troubled as the Trump Troika.

After Coons Demonstrates Comity, Pompeo Avoids Dubious Distinction
Old Senate traditions on display as Delaware Democrat pairs with Georgia Republican

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and ranking member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., confer Monday before a tense committee markup on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo narrowly avoided historical ignominy on Monday when the Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination to be secretary of State.

It took more steps to advance President Donald Trump’s nominee than anyone might have anticipated going into the meeting, including what in the modern Senate was a magnanimous gesture from Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware.

White House Presses Vulnerable Dems on Pompeo Nomination
Sen. Cotton dubs Foreign Relations Democrats ‘two-bit Talleyrands’

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., right, meets with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, in the Capitol on March 19. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House circled the wagons Wednesday around CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become secretary of State, arguing vulnerable red-state Democrats will feel “consequences” in November if they vote against him.

The Trump administration dispatched Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to argue Pompeo is highly qualified for the top State Department position and to press Democrats running for re-election in states won by President Donald Trump to vote in favor of his nomination.

Report: Trump Campaign Demands Rokita Take Down Yard Signs
Say they give a false impression Trump endorsed Indiana Senate candidate

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, addresses voters in South Bend, Indiana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita’s campaign signs give the false impression that Trump endorsed his Senate candidacy.

Two people told The Associated Press that Trump’s campaign wants Rokita's campaign to take down the signs.

Todd Rokita on the Most Important Part of His Driving Memo
Roll Call rides with Indiana Republican as he campaigns for Senate

Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita talks with guests at the Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry in Warsaw, Ind., on April 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita has a reputation for driving hundreds of miles a day during his statewide Senate campaigns.

The day this reporter was with him last week, the Republican lawmaker was on track to put 500 miles on his unmarked white Chevrolet Tahoe, a surplus police vehicle he bought for the campaign. (He went with Crown Victorias for his two earlier campaigns for Indiana secretary of state.) 

Indiana Republicans Hope to Imitate Trump’s Success in Senate Primary
Early voting for May 8 primary starts Tuesday

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer, who is running for Senate, talks with Jean and Jim Northenor at the Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry in Warsaw, Ind., on April 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WARSAW, Ind. — Nine-dollar all-you-can-eat fried Alaska pollock brings out hungry Hoosiers — and plenty of politicians.

At last week’s Kosciusko County fish fry, a biennial fundraiser for the local GOP, all three Republican Senate candidates in Indiana worked the room of long communal tables laden with campaign literature.

Tariffs Could Complicate Key Senate Races
Some Democrats already criticizing GOP opponents over tariffs’ impact

A John Deere tractor sits in a field near Salem, Ind. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The potential for a trade war with China is already complicating some key Senate races ahead of the November midterms, especially for Republicans hoping to expand their majority.

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports sparked retaliatory threats from China. The country vowed to slap tariffs on top U.S. exports that also come from states with some of the most competitive Senate contests.

Survivor: Inside the Beltway
Senate’s bare-bones agenda paves way for Trump’s nominees with outcome uncertain

President Donald Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, second from right, hold a listening sessions with veterans organizations in March 2017. Shulkin is the latest senior official to fall from favor with the president. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

It’s the best of times and the worst of times for President Donald Trump’s nominees to top federal positions.

The confirmation process for a new secretary of Veterans Affairs, secretary of State and CIA director will help fill an otherwise bare-bones legislative calendar for the remainder of the year.

Hawley Dings McCaskill Over Gorsuch Vote in New Web Ad
Missouri GOP Senate hopeful says incumbent puts party ahead of state

A vote against Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation last year is becoming an issue in the Missouri Senate race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is launching a new digital ad Friday, foreshadowing one of his arguments in his campaign for Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill: her vote against Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. 

Only three Senate Democrats voted to confirm Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the seat left open after Justice Antonin Scalia died. In a new ad, Hawley’s campaign accuses McCaskill of putting the Democratic Party base ahead of Missouri voters by her vote against Gorsuch. 

Democrats Notching Key Legislative Victories Ahead of Elections
Members hope achievements can drive support among voters in rural states

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, is one of several moderate Democrats in the chamber who have notched key legislative victories under President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate Senate Democrats on the ballot in 2018 are racking up a number of key legislative victories in advance of what is expected to be a bitter midterm election cycle.

The successes, on bills ranging from veterans’ issues to bank regulation and tax credits for so-called clean coal technology, are the kind that can drive support among voters in the rural states that many of these members call home.