Richard J Durbin

Pet Birds, Group Houses and Babies: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of April 16, 2018

Senate Changes Rules to Allow Babies on the Floor
Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth made Senate history when she gave birth last week

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., made Senate history last week when she gave birth to a daughter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate took a leap forward into modernity Wednesday, changing the rules to allow mothers to bring their infants onto the Senate floor.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the Rules and Administration Committee, was among the lawmakers hailing the change, which was adopted by unanimous consent.

Senate Might Vote on Duckworth Resolution to Allow Infants on the Floor
Rules change pushed by Illinois senator following birth of her second child

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., submitted a resolution that would permit infants on the Senate floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate is known for resisting change, but senators might quickly and quietly update one of the most entrenched rules of who can be on the chamber floor.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first sitting senator to give birth and submitted a resolution last week that would allow senators to bring a child under 1 year old onto the Senate floor during votes.

Congressional Gridlock Plays Central Role in Internet Tax Case
Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide this term

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill on the online sales taxation issue last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a major internet sales tax case, and it won’t be the first or last time the justices will try to figure out whether gridlock in Congress plays a role in their decision.

But usually the gridlock is not quite on this scale. The Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide when it decides this term whether to overturn its 1992 ruling that bars states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Mueller Protection Bill Faces Political, Procedural Headwinds
Judiciary Committee looks at consideration of bill in two weeks

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is preparing his committee for a vote on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee appears poised to vote in two weeks on a bill that would give job protections to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even as President Donald Trump asserted again Thursday that he has the authority to fire the man investigating connections between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Thursday’s discussion revealed how the bill still faces potential political hazards at the Judiciary Committee. Democrats have raised concerns about a yet-to-be-seen amendment that Republicans want to add to the measure. Some Republicans have concerns about the constitutionality of a bill that would limit a president’s ability to make personnel decisions in the executive branch.

Opinion: Mark Zuckerberg and the Theater of Contrition
But will it be enough?

Protesters hold signs before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on the protection of user data in the Hart Building on Tuesday. ( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The most insidious questions during a high-profile congressional hearing are often deceptively simple.

So it was Tuesday afternoon when Mark Zuckerberg, the pharaoh of Facebook, tried to ingratiate himself during questioning by nearly half the Senate.

Senators Face Off With Zuckerberg in Marathon Hearing
Joint hearing starts off with pop, brings unexpected questions, and then gradually fades

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?”

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin asked that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg nearly two hours into Tuesday afternoon’s headline-grabbing Senate hearing.

Syria Strife May Cause a Trump Shift Lawmakers Like
‘We need to make Bashar al-Assad pay a price,’ Sen. Roger Wicker says

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December 2015. At left, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump may be forced to change his mind — again. But this time, an about-face on Syria would likely bring accolades from many lawmakers who have been frustrated by his ever-shifting stances.

Another example of Trump going off course only to return to it days later could emerge early this week with the situation in Syria. Reports of a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military on the rebel-held area of Douma might prompt Trump to alter his stance of pulling U.S. forces from the war-torn country.

New Chinese Tariffs Prompt Farm-State Senator Rebuke of Trump on Trade
Ernst brought concerns directly to Trump on Wednesday

Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles E. Grassley were critical of President Donald Trump’s trade policy on Wednesday after the latest announcement of Chinese retaliation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

China’s announced plans for roughly $50 billion in new tariffs on U.S. goods has escalated the criticism from farm-state lawmakers of President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said she talked with Trump himself Wednesday about concerns about effects on Hawkeye State producers.