Niels Lesniewski

Winter athletes warn Senate Democrats: Climate change is ‘melting away’ our sports
Former New York Rangers goaltender Mike Richter among participants at Democratic panel’s hearing

Senate Democrats heard Thursday from winter sports athletes and adventurers about the consequences of a warming climate on their careers and lives.

“I climb a great deal of glaciers and ice, and there is no doubt increased temperatures are melting away both my sport and my livelihood,” Caroline Gleich, a ski mountaineer and adventurer, told a hearing of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Ted Cruz: A Trump deal with Democrats on gun control could lead conservatives to stay home in 2020
Depressed turnout ‘could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren,’ Texas Republican says

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning that President Donald Trump making a deal with Democrats on gun legislation might cause conservative voters to stay home in 2020.

“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights,” the Texas Republican said, “that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren.”

Appeals court nominee won’t answer questions about role in White House immigration policies
Steven Menashi says there was no agreement between White House counsel’s office and Senate Democrats to allow him to give details

President Donald Trump’s nominee for a lifetime seat on the federal appeals court based in New York told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he cannot discuss his role in developing the administration's immigration policy.

Steven Menashi, who works in the White House counsel’s office, has been among the top targets for progressive groups trying to derail Trump nominees to the federal bench, citing a variety of past writings and statements.

Senate Democrats to try blocking Trump’s border wall diversion again
Shifting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds reignites effort to force a termination vote

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will announce that his caucus will force another floor vote to terminate President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency.

“This rises to a large and vital constitutional issue: does our country truly have checks and balances, particularly important when we have such an overreaching president? This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” the New York Democrat will say on the Senate floor, according to an excerpt provided to CQ Roll Call.

Despite pressure, still no gun legislation position from White House
Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill intend to keep up pressure

House and Senate Democrats intend to keep pressuring President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to support bipartisan efforts to close what they see as loopholes in background checks for gun purchases.

But a meeting Monday between White House officials and leaders of the U.S. Conference of Mayors left little room for optimism.

Democrats question lack of flu vaccines, quarantine procedures for migrant children
Senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, also ask about medical screenings

A group of 13 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, led by Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, are expressing new concerns about a decision not to provide seasonal flu vaccines to migrants in U.S. detention.

“This dangerous decision not to administer vaccinations for a disease that has already proven fatal to migrant children in CBP’s custody is immoral and irresponsible, placing entire communities at risk of the flu and its associated complications,” the senators wrote to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar.

Road Ahead: Will Congress, Trump agree to any new gun laws?
Environment legislation and appropriations will highlight the week while senators wait for the president

Will Congress do anything about gun violence in September?

That question will be front and center as the House and Senate return to legislative business this week, even if the answer to the question may come down to one man on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue: President Donald Trump.

Harry Reid talks up ‘double opportunity’ for Senate Democrats in Georgia
Former majority leader also says filibuster will be gone ‘no later than’ the next congress

Former Democratic Leader Harry Reid is talking up the prospects of Democrats winning back the Senate in 2020, thanks in part to an unexpected early resignation by a popular Republican.

Reid, speaking with reporters Tuesday about energy and environment proposals ahead of a marathon series of CNN town halls focused on climate change, was thinking not just about the presidential race but also about the Senate map for next year.

McConnell: No votes on gun measures that Trump won't sign
Senate Majority Leader expects to know next week if Trump will support what he has discussed publicly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he expected to know next week whether President Donald Trump would be supporting new gun-related legislation in the aftermath of recent mass shootings.

The Kentucky Republican was asked in an interview about criticism he has received from Democrats for not putting House-passed background check bills on the floor. McConnell reiterated to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the Senate would not be holding another series of test votes on firearm measures that have no chance of being signed into law.

Rebuke of James Comey provokes chatter, but likely not resolution
Republicans quick to blast former FBI director, even if there’s not much new

There was just enough in Thursday’s rebuke of former FBI Director James Comey to get the Capitol Hill chattering class going, but likely not enough to settle the matter altogether or lead to any bombshell response from Congress or federal prosecutors.

The Justice Department’s office of inspector general released a report showing that the former director broke the FBI’s policies by holding on to contemporaneous memos he had drafted about meetings with President Donald Trump, and further broke from policy in leaking contents.

Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at the end of 2019
Georgia Republican has Parkinson’s disease, faces other health challenges

Sen. Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday that he will resign his Senate seat at the end of the year, setting up a potentially competitive race in 2020 in a key electoral state. 

The Georgia Republican, who chairs both the Veterans’ Affairs and Ethics committees, has Parkinson’s disease and has been recovering from a fall that took place in July. A statement from Isakson’s office also said the senator had a surgical procedure earlier this week in Marietta, Georgia, to remove a carcinoma from one of his kidneys.

Lawmakers press to keep Myanmar sanctions in defense bill
Statement comes in conjunction with second anniversary of forced migration of Rohingya Muslims

Top lawmakers are using Sunday’s anniversary of the forced migration of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to encourage defense negotiators to keep new sanctions in the annual defense policy bill.

Legislative language based on bipartisan House and Senate legislation is included in the House-passed version of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization, and the members of both chambers leading the sanctions effort are calling on their colleagues to not remove the language in conference negotiations with the Senate. The measure would require sanctions to be imposed on senior military officials.

Bernie Sanders labor plan would let federal workers strike
Presidential contender unveils plan ahead of Iowa AFL-CIO trip

Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled a new labor plan Wednesday that includes a proposal to let federal employees go on strike.

“Under current law, federal employees are not guaranteed the same labor rights as workers in the private sector. While they have the ability to unionize, they are prohibited from going on strike,” a plan summary said. “Under this plan, federal workers would have the right to strike.”

Elizabeth Warren is blasting Wells Fargo over fees, again
Latest criticism is over fees charged to allegedly closed accounts

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has another complaint about Wells Fargo.

This week, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate is taking issue with the bank allegedly charging fees on accounts that customers had believed to be closed.

Attorney general installs new leadership at Federal Bureau of Prisons
Moves follow suicide of Jeffrey Epstein in prison custody

Attorney General William Barr has replaced the leadership of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Barr is appointing Kathleen Hawk Sawyer to the position of director. Barr previously appointed her to the same post in 1992, when he was last the attorney general.

Suicide prevention hotline to get three-digit phone number
FCC chairman says he will move ahead following legislation, staff report

It should soon be easier to call a suicide prevention hotline.

The Federal Communications Commission plans to move forward with establishing a three-digit number for the federally-backed hotline.

Schumer: Use funds to fight gun violence instead of for the border wall
New York Democrat wants $5 billion to go to CDC research, Homeland Security and FBI programs

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is preparing to formally request that the $5 billion Trump’s administration would like spent on a border wall go instead to countering gun violence.

“The dual scourges of gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism in this country are a national security threat, plain and simple, and it’s time the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress started treating them as such,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “Now Republicans and this administration need to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to addressing gun violence and stopping the rise of domestic terrorism, especially stemming from white supremacy.”

Giffords group launches pro-background check ads focused on Gardner, McConnell
First ads in a new roughly $750,000 buy hit airwaves this weekend

“Instead of making lesson plans, I’m making active-shooter plans.”

That’s what a woman identified as a Colorado schoolteacher named Jody says in a new issue ad campaign starting this weekend by the gun control advocacy group named for former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The group’s aim is to push Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to back a House-passed gun purchase background check bill.

Locking out ‘Team Mitch’ could cost Twitter
Decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect

The decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect.

The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign as well as the House and Senate GOP campaign committees took that step in response to the social media platform’s temporary lockout of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.

With Iowa State Fair ahead, 2020 Democrats pitch to rural America
A trio of presidential hopefuls rolled out new plans Wednesday

As Democratic presidential hopefuls get ready to visit the soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, they’re announcing big plans for investments in rural America.

Three senators seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president are the latest candidates with plans they hope will appeal to rural Iowa caucusgoers. Those include proposals from two members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.