Vermont

Trump: No doubt Iran was behind attacks on tankers
President says he won't fire Kellyanne Conway despite findings of Hatch Act violations

President Donald Trump speaks during a working lunch with governors in the White House on Thursday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Friday said U.S. officials are confident Iran is behind attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.

During a wild 50-minute interview with "Fox & Friends," the president defiantly said he will not fire White House counselor Kellyanne Conway despite findings from a federal investigator that she broke the law, refused to endorse any future presidential run by Vice President Mike Pence, and tried to walk back comments from a controversial television interview by claiming he would contact the FBI if another government tried to meddle in a U.S. election.

Democratic lawmakers ‘astonished’ by Trump’s claim that taking foreign ‘dirt’ is routine
Mitt Romney calls it 'unthinkable' to accept information from foreign government to influence elections

President Donald Trump argued accepting intelligence on a political opponent from foreign sources, which is illegal under federal campaign finance laws, is routine by presidential candidates and congressional campaigns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers pushed back strenuously on President Donald Trump’s claim during a television interview Wednesday that accepting “dirt” on political opponents from foreign sources is routine.

Democrats responded incredulously to Trump’s statement that he would accept intelligence on a political opponent from another country if offered, and that doing so is common practice in congressional campaigns. 

Senate GOP border aid package to largely track Trump request
Top Democrat on Appropriations details demands that will earn votes on measure

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined the border supplemental aid package the Senate will move in the coming days. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans appear likely to bless President Donald Trump’s $4.5 billion emergency border funding request in its entirety, gambling that either just enough Democrats will fall in line or they’ll be able to send a signal to the White House that it’s time to negotiate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up a yet-to-be-unveiled draft supplemental measure June 19. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday it will contain $4.5 billion, including “more than $3 billion” for food, shelter, medical care and other necessities for the thousands of unaccompanied minors and families seeking refuge from violence in their home countries, many from the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Trump signs bill restoring retirement benefits for Senate dining workers
Law would remedy worker retirement benefits that have been flat since 2008

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, sponsored the legislation to grant Senate dining employees full benefits, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Veteran Senate dining employees are getting their full retirement benefits restored after President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that lifts a freeze that had kept them stagnant since 2008.

Trump signed the bill on Wednesday, which makes technical corrections to the computation of average pay regarding the benefits for the dining workers in the Senate, a move that allows cafeteria workers to fully collect their due retirement.

Lindsey Graham confronted with the ghosts of the ‘gang of 8’
“We would have a very different situation” had that bill passed, acting DHS secretary says

Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Security secretary, says the border situation would have been better than it is now had the ‘gang of eight’ legislation from 2013 been enacted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is looking for strategies on moving his immigration overhaul legislation, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan presented one possible path: Graham’s old work with the “gang of eight” that produced a bill the Senate passed in 2013 with a veto-proof majority. 

At a hearing Tuesday before Graham’s panel, McAleenan said the current border situation now wouldn’t be as bad if the bipartisan gang of eight compromise of 2013 — which passed the Democratic Senate 68-32 but was never taken up by the Republican House — had become law.

Border spending package seeks aid for migrants, but no money for Trump’s wall
The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill to address the migrant surge next week

Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., conducts a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “The Secure and Protect Act: a Legislative Fix to the Crisis at the Southwest Border,” on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security, testified. Graham said the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill last week to address the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill next week to address the surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday.

The decision marked the first sign of movement on a stand-alone border funding bill, which President Donald Trump first requested on May 1. Republican leaders had tried to include the money in a $19.1 billion aid package for victims of natural disasters that cleared Congress last week, but Democrats objected, citing various concerns over family detention policies and information sharing about undocumented immigrants among federal agencies.

Upcoming debates an important next stage in presidential campaign
2016 GOP race showed launching attacks in crowded field doesn’t always end as planned

Then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, shown at a 2016 campaign event in Ames, Iowa, went on the attack in a televised debate before the New Hampshire primary, but it may not have had the desired effect. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a little more than two weeks, 20 candidates will take the debate stage in their quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. And with increasing pressure to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, some contenders could choose to take the gloves off and attack an opponent, which would have a ripple effect on the race.

Up to this point, the Democratic race has largely been cordial, except for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders going after former Vice President Joe Biden. But one or more of the 2020 hopefuls could decide that a nationally televised debate would be an excellent place and time to knock an opponent down a few slots.

The 2020 Race: Still tilting Democratic
Economy, demographics, abortion and more keep dynamics as is

Despite extensive coverage of the presidential slate, including Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., the dynamics of the 2020 presidential race have not changed dramatically in the last few months and still marginally favor Democrats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — There has been plenty of attention recently on economic models that show President Donald Trump holding a huge advantage in the 2020 presidential contest. But it’s not that simple. 

Like alchemists hunting for the secret recipe that transmutes lead into gold, media personalities, political junkies and veteran analysts seem bewitched by the idea that they can divine the political future. I’m always skeptical of such claims.

These senators running for president made $7.1 million writing books
Disclosures show extracurricular activities pay off for some candidates

(Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Wealth of Candidates: A dive into CQ Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress data to illustrate the finances of some of the Democrats running for president.

Writing a book is a good way for politicians to get their message out to voters and promote their biographies, core values and platforms.

Artificial intelligence is coming. Will Congress be ready?

Lawmakers still grappling with the downsides of the internet and social media era, such as loss of privacy, criminal hacking and data breaches, are now trying to balance the promises and perils of artificial intelligence. (iStock)

It can help trace missing children, but misidentifies people of color. It can help detect cancer, but may recommend the wrong cure. It can help track criminals, but could aid foreign enemies in targeting voters. It can improve efficiency, but perpetuate long-standing biases.

The “it” is artificial intelligence, a technology that teaches machines to recognize complex patterns and make decisions based on them, much like humans do. While the promised benefits of the technology are profound, the downsides could be damaging, even dangerous.