Thomas R Carper

Tearing up the rules with puppets and Hendrix: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of July 29, 2019

Chairman Lindsey Graham waits for the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the Secure and Protect Act of 2019 on August 1, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators made their exit from D.C. for the August recess this week, but not before tearing up the Senate Judiciary Committee rulebook, making carpe diem puns and dressing up in matching outfits.

Road bill would hike spending by 25 percent, speed permits and add climate title
The bill would reauthorize funding for surface transportation programs, starting when current law lapses at end of September 2020

Senate Environment and Public Works chairman John Barrasso, in light of a new bill that aims to increase funding for repair of roads and bridges and that this can 'make the roads safer for every family driving on them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bill that aims to increase funding by more than 25 percent for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges, and expedite federal approvals of large infrastructure projects was released Monday by the Senate public works panel, which set a Tuesday markup for the legislation.

The still unnumbered bill by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee would reauthorize funding for surface transportation programs for five years, starting when the current law lapses at the end of September 2020.

Trump EPA answer to Obama Clean Power Plan ‘does virtually nothing‘ to curb CO2
The new rule combines a Clean Power Plan repeal with new, less stringent emissions reductions guidelines

A flag hangs over an entrance to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on April 22, 2017. The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan, scrapped by President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan and give states more flexibility in emissions reduction, even as environmental advocates worry about the potential for increased pollution and threaten to sue.

The Affordable Clean Energy rule is the Trump EPA’s answer to the 2015 Clean Power Plan, which for the first time set nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants across the country.

Infrastructure talks run off the road by latest Trump, Dem fracas

From left, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., and Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conclude a news conference in Capitol Visitor Center after a meeting on infrastructure at White House was canceled by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A White House meeting Wednesday on infrastructure between President Donald Trump and top congressional Democrats ended almost as soon as it began after the president pledged not to work with Democrats on any policy priorities until they ended investigations into his administration and campaign.

Trump left the meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer after just a few minutes, a move that the two Democrats said was staged ahead of time.

Trump to Democrats: OK new NAFTA before public works bill
‘Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,’ the president said

From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., President Donald Trump, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., exit the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on March 14, 2019. As Democrats head to the White House to meet with Trump over a massive public works bill, the president told them such legislation should take a back seat to his new NAFTA deal, the USMCA. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the eve of his second meeting with congressional Democrats about a potential $2 trillion public works bill, President Donald Trump told them such legislation should take a back seat to his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” the president continued.

Still no public timeline for Jared Kushner immigration plan
Presidential son-in-law briefed Senate GOP on details Tuesday

Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, stepped out of the Vice President’s office in the Senate Reception Room for a phone call Tuesday after attending the Senate Republicans’ weekly policy lunch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When White House senior adviser Jared Kushner came to visit Senate Republicans on Tuesday to reportedly discuss an immigration overhaul he is developing, he did not have a full plan ready to go for solving what his own party says is a crisis.

Multiple Republican senators said there was no evidence that the Trump administration has set a timeline for a public rollout, but Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, did present some ideas that were new to many members of the conference.

Trump drags feet on climate treaty, and Republicans aren’t happy
As Kigali Amendment languishes, Sens. Kennedy, Carper point fingers at the administration

Hydrofluorocarbons — found in air conditioners — are worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. A plan to limit them has bipartisan support, but the Trump administration is standing in the way, Republican senators say. (iStock/Composite by Jason Mann)

It has the support of industry heavy-hitters, environmental advocates and a bipartisan cushion of votes in the Senate.

But the Kigali Amendment, a global treaty to limit hydrofluorocarbons — highly potent greenhouse gases found in air conditioners, refrigerators, insulation and foam — is stuck.

In bashing Biden, did Kellyanne Conway break the law again?
Sen. Tom Carper seeks Hatch Act view of White House adviser's public statements about Biden

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is being accused of violating the Hatch Act, again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Thomas R. Carper is requesting a formal review of whether senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway has again violated the federal law that’s intended “to prevent pernicious political activities.”

In question this time is whether Conway’s public statements, including from the White House lawn, about a potential 2020 foe of President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., ran afoul of the Hatch Act — which limits political speech by federal employees, especially while on official time.

White House stalls on endorsing $2 trillion for public works
Two sides will meet again in three weeks to discuss ways to pay for massive plan

Congressional Democrats talk to reporters following a Tuesday meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on infrastructure. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 7:13 p.m. | Congressional Democrats said President Donald Trump agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package after a Tuesday morning meeting, but White House officials later said the administration is not ready to endorse a specific spending amount.

“We agreed on a number, which was very, very good,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said outside the White House following the meeting. “Originally, we had started a little lower but even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion. There was goodwill in this meeting and that was different from other meetings that we have had.”

Biden leads 2020 candidates, but Democrats want to hear more about the field
Only 36 percent say their choice is firm, as most want to know more about Harris, Warren and others

Potential Democratic voters want to hear more about Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a new poll from CNN released Tuesday found. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden would be the choice of 39 percent of Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters if the party's primaries were held today, a new CNN poll released Tuesday found.

That put him far ahead of the crowded field of candidates, and support for Biden appears to have increased after his official announcement last week.