Chris Coons

The three places where senators can ‘actually’ talk
Sen. Chris Coons’ favorite places to reach across the aisle

From left, Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D.N.Y., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Coons, D-Del., share a laugh after a markup hearing on judicial nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“We’re real people. We’re not just two-dimensional targets,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told a lecture hall of law students at Notre Dame last week.Flanked by former Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Coons talked about the hyperpartisan environment on Capitol Hill and the intention required to cut through it and work. For the Delaware senator, this means talking to his colleagues “in the three settings [he has] found where there [are] no lobbyists, no staff and no press.”

Joking that Flake spent more time in the gym than he did, Coons told the students about the senators-only gym — a place “you can actually chat as you’re working out.” While little information is publicly available about the gym, Roll Call learned more about the facility in 2013 by standing in the hallway outside it for several hours. 

New national security adviser faces personality test with Trump’s inner circle
Robert O’Brien is largely a blank slate on policy, which could help him manage internal disagreements

Robert C. OBrien, serving as special envoy for President Donald Trump, arrives at a courthouse in Stockholm during the rapper A$AP Rocky assault trial in August. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images file photo)

Internal debates during President Donald Trump’s first two and a half years in office have been marked by acrimony, tension and high-stakes negotiations. So perhaps it was no surprise that Trump named as his fourth national security adviser the State Department’s lead hostage negotiator, Robert C. O’Brien.

No president has had so many national security advisers in his first term. However long O’Brien lasts in the job, his tenure will be defined less by his policy views and more by how he manages disagreements within Trump’s inner circle.

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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is waiting to hear from President Donald Trump before moving on new gun legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

Congress has college affordability in its grasp. They should vote for ISAs
Income share agreements reduce risk for students while incentivizing schools

Income sharing agreements protect students from paying for educational experiences that don’t create value for them in the labor market, Price writes. (Courtesy iStock)

OPINION — Each year, our higher education system confers roughly two million bachelor’s degrees. Unfortunately, it also produces one million student loan defaults. This isn’t simply “two steps forward, one step back.” This is a system-wide failure that, while creating immeasurable value for some, is financially crippling many others along the way. We need college to generate more value for more students.

Some on Capitol Hill are vying for free college. While aspirational, such calls are unlikely to succeed in today’s political environment, and don’t address the broken business model of traditional higher education in the first place. Instead, Congress needs to address not just how much students pay for college, but also “how” they pay. Income share agreements, or ISAs, are an option worth considering.

Nuclear power would get support in bipartisan Senate bill
With support from industry, legislation touted as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s nuclear plants

“My overall goal is to develop legislation that can pass the Senate,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan pair of senators unveiled nuclear energy legislation Wednesday, describing it as a serious and pragmatic approach to tackle climate change and connecting it to rising greenhouse gas emissions specifically.

Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Martha McSally of Arizona floated the bill, which has support from the nuclear power lobby, as a way to extend the lifespan and efficiency of America’s fleet of nuclear power plants.

Bipartisan bills push carbon tax, as GOP pollster offers Democrats help on climate
Frank Luntz pledged to help Democrats with their climate messaging

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, pledged to help Democrats address climate change in a nonpartisan, dispassionate way. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Climate change policy may be in for a softer, less polarized atmosphere with Republicans and Democrats teaming up on a flotilla of legislation to tax carbon emissions and decarbonize American industries, and a longtime Republican spin guru pledging to help Democrats with their climate messaging.

For instance, in the Senate, Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Cory Booker of New Jersey joined with Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana on Thursday to introduce a bill targeting emissions from the industrial sector.

‘He’s a television character’: Democrats worry about Trump’s U.S. intelligence pick
Devin Nunes, another skeptic of U.S. intelligence, called the appointment a ‘great choice’

From left, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, and Will Hurd, R-Texas, prepare for testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. He testified earlier in the day before the House Judiciary Committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 5:12 p.m.

Rep. John Ratcliffe, first appointed to the House Intelligence Committee just seven months ago, could soon be delivering the president’s daily intelligence briefings.

Acosta out as Labor secretary as Epstein child sex scandal engulfs White House
Acosta will stay on through next week, Assistant Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will fill the post in an acting capacity after that

President Donald Trump and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta talk to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday after Acosta had announced his resignation. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned Friday amid a churning scandal over a plea deal related to billionaire financier Jeffery Epstein and sex acts with minors.

President Donald Trump told reporters that Acosta had made the decision to resign as he departed for Wisconsin and Ohio, where the president will hold fundraisers and speak about a trade deal.

Acosta defends plea deal as Epstein child-sex scandal engulfs Trump
Labor secretary continues to play defense against criticism about accused child sex trafficker’s previous plea deal

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is interviewed during the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md. Wednesday, Acosta defended himself against criticism after he cut a generous plea deal with accused child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein while he was U.S. Attorney in South Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump struggles to shake a child-sex scandal involving a former friend, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta defended a 2007 plea deal he offered billionaire financier and accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

Acosta used an afternoon press conference to call alleged sex-trafficking by Epstein “despicable,” and said his actions deserve a “stiffer sentence” than the 13 months he served last decade. He called a new New York case against him that included charges filed Monday an “important opportunity to more fully bring Epstein to justice.”

Photos of the Week: Biden in DC, Trudeau at the Capitol and victory for the Bad News Babes
The week of June 17 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Democratic candidate Joe Biden speaks during the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress forum for presidential candidates at Trinity Washington University on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

This week, Hope Hicks testified behind closed doors, the Canadian prime minister visited the Capitol Building to collect on his bet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Bad News Babes won the annual Congressional Softball Game.

All that and more below. Here’s the entire week in photos: