New Mexico

Border emergency hits six months; ball back in Congress’ court
Lawmakers may again try to terminate Trump's declaration allowing him to shift funds for wall construction

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats appear in February at a news conference on the joint resolution to terminate Trump's emergency declaration. It is not clear whether they will try again to pass a similar measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thursday marks six months since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the southern border, a notable anniversary because it gives Congress another shot at ending it.

The flashpoint in the debate remains funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, a prominent pledge made during Trump’s 2016 presidential bid that now hangs over the 2020 campaign.

Will Hurd’s exit highlights a Texas-size challenge for Republicans in 2020
Democrats are going on offense, targeting multiple House seats in the Lone Star State

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, is not running for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s decision to retire was a gut punch for Republicans, who consider him one of their strongest incumbents in one of the most competitive districts in the country. His exit means the GOP will have to work even harder to hold on to his seat with Democrats going on offense in the Lone Star State. 

Hurd is the third Texas Republican in a week to announce his retirement, and the second to do so in a contested seat after Rep. Pete Olson, who is relinquishing his Houston-area 22nd District. Rep. K. Michael Conaway is the third retiring lawmaker, although his seat, which extends from the outskirts of Forth Worth to the New Mexico border, is not considered competitive.

Women push for greater role in the national security establishment
Leadership Council for Women in National Security is making it a campaign issue

Former Air Force secretary Heather A. Wilson introduces Air Force Gen. John Hyten, during his confirmation hearing Tuesday to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Wilson has advocated more diversity in the national security apparatus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Many women in the country’s emerging class of national security and foreign policy leaders came into their fields assuming the sexism that stifled careers in earlier generations was a thing of the past.

They quickly learned, however, that the upper ranks of the country’s national security apparatus was still very much a boys club.

Lawmakers to confront new post-spending caps reality
Will budget resolutions gain a new lease on life? Or is reinstating caps inevitable?

Some say the end of spending caps will give new life to the budget resolution, but House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth isn’t one of them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Starting in the 117th Congress, lawmakers will face a reality they haven’t had to deal with since 2010: the absence of discretionary spending caps for the upcoming fiscal year.

After a final stretch covering the next two fiscal years, Congress will have operated under spending caps of one form or another for three decades, with the exception of a nine-year period spanning fiscal years 2003 through 2011.

For Joint Chiefs nominee, a subdued hearing addressing contentious charges
John Hyten defends himself against sexual assault charges before Armed Services panel

Heather A. Wilson, former secretary of the Air Force, introduces Air Force Gen. John Hyten during his confirmation hearing to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday publicly defended himself against sexual assault allegations that have clouded his nomination, picking up support from key lawmakers as his accuser, an Army colonel, sat just feet away.

And although the accusations against him are part of a wider cultural issue that has filtered into the presidential campaign, two members of the committee running for president skipped the hearing — and a chance to question the nominee. 

Election infrastructure bill remains stalled as Senate Intelligence panel releases first volume of Russia report
Sen. James Lankford still wants to work on paper trail legislation

The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Richard M. Burr, right, and Mark Warner, released an election security report on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate Intelligence Committee was releasing the first volume of its comprehensive report into Russian election interference in 2016, a Republican senator was making clear that he still wants to get support for encouraging states to have paper audit trails and to boost the ability of election officials to get timely security clearances.

Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who has been working with Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, told reporters Thursday that with the 2020 primaries and caucuses just around the corner, security enhancements would be meant for the next midterms.

State Department aides won’t rule out existing authorizations allowing for attack on Iran
Officials would not commit on seeking congressional approval for military action, either

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, left, and ranking member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., look to reconcile differences over congressional authorization for the use of military force. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senior State Department officials wouldn’t commit to a Senate panel Wednesday that the Trump administration will seek congressional authorization for a potential military conflict with Iran, nor would they promise that existing military authorizations would not be reinterpreted to allow attacks on Iran.

Rather, the Trump administration officials said they would consult and inform lawmakers of any administration plans to carry out military strikes on Iran, including actions related to the defense of U.S. troops and partner forces.

Ghosts of Confederate Mississippi endure in the Capitol
Jefferson Davis, James Z. George were Confederates, white supremacists

A statue of James Z. George, a Confederate colonel and U.S. senator, is on display in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

While answering phones in the Mississippi congressional office where he worked, Ty James was called the n-word by someone on the other end of the line. It was 2017 and marked the second time he had been called that.

Those kinds of experiences have helped convince James, a native Mississippian and African American who is press secretary for Rep. Bennie Thompson, that the two statues representing the state in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection shouldn’t be devoted to men who were Confederates and white supremacists.

Senate Democrats want GAO to probe Trump Independence Day spending

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is among three Democratic Senators calling for an investigation into Fourth of July financing.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate the costs of President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration and examine whether the spending is legal.

Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland want GAO to provide a comprehensive cost estimate for all the events, including Trump’s “Salute to America,” which was the subject of criticism for its incorporation of military equipment, potential high cost and the possibility for an apolitical holiday event to be politicized.

DC to Trump: ‘Tanks but no tanks’
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton says president is trying to turn July Fourth into ‘Bastille Day’

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, said modeling the Fourth of July celebration after France's Bastille Day is "not an American way" to approach the holiday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton forcefully pushed back on plans by President Donald Trump to include U.S. Army tanks in the Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall, saying that “can’t happen.”

Norton, along with D.C. officials, has expressed concern that the 60-ton armored vehicles could grind up the National Mall and restyle a patriotic “hometown celebration,” which attracts thousands of tourists each year and is broadcast live on national television, into a nationalistic presidential rally.