Sheldon Whitehouse

Save Our Seas 2.0 tackles global marine debris crisis
To save our oceans, there’s no time to waste

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act aims to combat the global marine debris crisis. (Courtesy iStock)

OPINION — We may have plenty of political differences, but we come from coastal states. That means we have a front-row seat to the peril of plastic waste and marine debris flowing into our oceans at the rate of around 8 million metric tons per year. We understand what it will mean for our fishing and tourism industries when the weight of plastic in our oceans equals the weight of fish in the sea — something projected to happen by mid-century. We don’t have a moment to lose in confronting this problem.

That’s why we built a coalition in Congress and gathered input from environmental and industry stakeholders alike. Despite a divided Washington, that work resulted in a bill that won broad, bipartisan support. When the Save Our Seas Act became law last October, it was a moment of bipartisan progress on a vital issue — one to be celebrated.

Road ahead: Public impeachment hearings begin
Senate set to confirm new Homeland Security secretary

The first open impeachment hearings in over 20 years begin on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The public phase of the House impeachment inquiry begins this week, with three witnesses set to air concerns Wednesday and Friday that President Donald Trump attempted to tie Ukrainian military aid to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential Democratic rival in 2020.

Much of the attention on Capitol Hill will be focused on the House Intelligence Committee as it opens up to televised questioning and testimony an investigation that so far had been conducted in a secure closed-door facility in the basement of the Capitol.

The unglamorous job of federal budgeting
New budget reform legislation would help restore a broken process

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi has joined with Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and other colleagues to introduce the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is no secret that a vast majority of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Too often our political debates are characterized by hyperpartisanship, rather than achieving meaningful outcomes for the American people. Nowhere is this problem more acute than when it comes to our inability to address our country’s unsustainable fiscal course.

Our current budget process is broken, as evidenced by mounting debt and deficits, a patchwork of temporary spending bills, government shutdowns, and budgets that, if passed at all, are quickly ignored. While process reforms alone won’t solve our fiscal challenges, we believe that realigning incentives, creating a more predictable budget pathway and encouraging active engagement in fiscal outcomes are steps in the right direction.

Road ahead: Impeachment to lead headlines, even with House away
Senate returns Tuesday to continue confirming judges

Impeachment will be making headlines at the Capitol, even with the House not in session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is not in session this week, and yet there might still be more attention on that side of the Capitol, with House committees led by the Intelligence panel continuing work on the impeachment inquiry.

The committees are seeking testimony from three officials Monday, but it is not yet clear who, if any, will appear for their scheduled closed-door depositions.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 23
Unauthorized Republicans storm secure room as Pentagon official Laura Cooper gives deposition about withheld military aid to Ukraine

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, arrives to the Capitol for a deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment investigators have begun questioning the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine about millions in military aid President Donald Trump allegedly withheld from the country this summer.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, provided testimony at the Capitol, complying with a subpoena issued by House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff. The Defense Department had ordered Cooper not to testify, and her testimony was delayed several hours Wednesday by disruptions from other House members. 

Campus Notebook: Lawmakers to Prague, staff to Fargo, plus million-dollar trades
Lawmaker travel, stock trades, ethics complaints and other updates

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campus notebook this week highlights where a former top law enforcement official went after he retired from the Capitol Police, international travel by members, domestic travel of staffers and substantial stock trades.

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics
Docket ‘almost guarantees’ court shifting further and faster to the right, expert says

Activists hold up signs at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday May 21, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

US ambassador with coal ties arrives as UN begins climate talks
Craft could mold process by which the U.S. gets out of the Paris climate agreement

Kelly Craft attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for a climate change summit Monday, America’s new ambassador to the global body was focused on other business.

“Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: stop,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his opening remarks. Germany announced climate mitigation pledges. Pope Francis delivered a call to action in a video message. French President Emmanuel Macron praised young people for demanding political action to rein in emissions.

Elizabeth Warren’s K Street overhaul
Plan would prohibit former lawmakers and officials from lobbying, expand ‘cooling-off’ periods and more

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the Iowa State Fair in August. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who regularly blasts the lobbying and influence sector, announced a new set of proposals Monday aimed at curbing the revolving door between business and government.

She would prohibit members of Congress and other top officials from ever becoming lobbyists and would expand cooling-off periods to at least two years for lower-level officials.

Senate panel advances asylum bill over Democratic objections
‘This is supposed to be the Senate Judiciary Committee — not the Donald Trump committee,’ Leahy says

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick J. Leahy talk in 2015. On Thursday they clashed over Graham’s asylum bill, which aims to reduce the flow of migrants to the southern border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved, 12-10, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s asylum overhaul bill that aims to stanch the flow of migrants to the southwest border.

But the vote came amid loud protests from Democrats that the legislation was hastily pushed through. Democrats said Graham, the committee chairman, broke from longstanding committee procedures in scheduling a markup for Thursday and not allowing any Democratic amendments.