Dianne Feinstein

Amid impeachment, groups press for limits on foreign influence
Liberal groups urge overhaul of foreign lobbying rules

Liberal groups are trying to bring their proposals into alignment with a plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As foreign influence takes center stage in House impeachment proceedings, lawmakers, candidates, and outside groups are tossing around proposals to curb, or shed new light on, efforts from abroad to sway U.S. policy and elections.

Liberal-leaning groups, including Public Citizen, are prodding House Democrats to sign on to forthcoming legislation that would overhaul foreign lobbying regulations. The Center for American Progress on Thursday will unveil a set of proposals calling for new limits on the political contributions of companies that have significant foreign ownership.

‘The Report’ has advice for young Capitol Hill staffers
You never know where you’ll cross paths again in Washington

Denis McDonough, center, who was a top aide to Sen. Tom Daschle and later White House chief of staff, provided valuable career advice to former Senate Intelligence staffer Daniel J. Jones, both in real life and in the movie “The Report.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The movie “The Report” is primarily about the CIA’s torture program, but it’s not without a bit of career advice for young congressional aides.

One of the oldest lessons in Washington, D.C., is that you never know where you are going to run into people later in their careers.

Blame game in standoff over Violence Against Women Act
Ernst says Democrats motivated by her 2020 race; Schumer calls her ‘afraid of NRA’

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said talks with Democrats over renewing the Violence Against Women Act broke down because Democratic leaders did not want senators who are up for reelection next year like her to get legislation passed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said Tuesday that Democrats trying to undermine her 2020 reelection contributed to stalled talks to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Ernst had been working with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California for months on a bipartisan reauthorization bill before both sides said the negotiations fell apart earlier this month.

Democrats protest, but Senate confirms Steven Menashi to federal appeals court
Nominee for Second Circuit described as ‘bottom crawler’ by Democratic leader

Steven J. Menashi was confirmed to the federal bench on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The man Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer described as a “bottom crawler” was confirmed Thursday to a lifetime appointment on the federal appeals court based in his home state of New York.

Schumer and other Democrats have opposed many of President Donald Trump’s nominees to be federal judges that have been called up for votes by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But the opposition to Steven J. Menashi has been more voracious than for most.

Senate Democrats pick fight over gun provisions in VAWA
Bipartisan talks broke down over renewing law aimed at curbing domestic violence

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar urged Republicans to stand up to the National Rifle Association after a dispute over gun provisions led to a breakdown in bipartisan talks over renewing the Violence Against Women Act. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced the same Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill passed by the House, days after they say talks with Republicans about a compromise broke down over controversial gun provisions.  

The entire Democratic caucus has backed the bill, which has provisions restricting gun rights of certain convicts that helped spur the split with Senate Republicans. While promoting the measure during a news conference Wednesday, Democrats blamed the National Rifle Association’s sway in the chamber for the Republicans’ reluctance to back the bill.

How a Capitol Hill staffer and a James Bond screenwriter dramatized ‘The Report’
Political Theater, Episode 101

Journalists follow Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein as she leaves her office on her way to the chamber floor to speak about the CIA torture report being released by the committee on on Dec. 9, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report in 2014 was a compelling episode in American history, detailing as it did the CIA’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists and their lack of effectiveness. That doesn’t mean the seven-year investigation that led to the report automatically lends itself to high drama, particularly when one considers that many of those seven years were spent reading sensitive CIA documents in a windowless room. That makes the new movie “The Report” that much more of an accomplishment.

Director and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns had his work cut out for him, constructing a political thriller out of the efforts led by Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel J. Jones. Burns and Jones explained some of thinking that went into the film’s narrative, as well as the issues it explores, in the latest Political Theater podcast with CQ Roll Call senior staff writer Niels Lesniewski and me. 

Senate talks on crafting bipartisan Violence Against Women Act break down
Iowa's Ernst to push her own bill, calls House version ‘nonstarter’

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Thursday that talks with Democrats on a bipartisan update to the Violence Against Women Act have dissolved. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bipartisan Senate talks over a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act fell apart this week, Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said in a floor speech Thursday.

Ernst said she’ll introduce her own version of the bill that can pass the Republican-controlled Senate and gain the support of President Donald Trump. The House, controlled by Democrats, passed a version of the bill in April.

Trump administration shows up to USA Freedom hearing without answers to key questions about data collection
Mike Lee threatens monthly hearings after Justice Department remains not responsive to letter

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, suggested the Senate may need monthly hearings on FISA authorities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators expressed their displeasure Wednesday with the Trump administration’s inability to answer questions about the National Security Agency’s collection of call data records at a Judiciary Committee hearing. 

And one senator went so far as to suggest monthly hearings on foreign intelligence surveillance powers.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 5
Sondland reverses himself on Ukraine quid pro quo; investigators want to hear from Mulvaney

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives at the Capitol for his deposition on Oct. 17. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, revised his initial testimony significantly, amending it to say he told a top Ukrainian official that the country would “likely” not receive military aid unless it announced investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals, according to a transcript released Tuesday by the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

In an amendment to his transcribed testimony, Sondland said his recollections were “refreshed” after reviewing opening statements from diplomats William Taylor and Tim Morrison.

Ratings update: No change for California seat Katie Hill is giving up
Little indication the GOP can win a district that backed Hillary Clinton by 7 points

California Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation sets up a competitive race for the 25th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic House member resigns, but is it really at risk of a Republican takeover?

Less than a year after getting elected to Congress, Rep. Katie Hill announced her resignation from California’s 25th District amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with staffers. On one hand, it’s easy to see why Republicans might be excited about the special election, considering they held the seat for a quarter of a century not that long ago. But there’s little indication that it’s currently a serious GOP opportunity.