Education

Capitol Hill Staff Is Sleepier Than Last Year, So Far
Survey shows staffers are working longer hours in the 115th Congress

Late nights are part of working on Capitol Hill, especially in the 115th Congress.

Kamala Harris Aims for Influence as a Check on Trump
Even as a freshman, Calif. Democrat has started Senate career with a bang

California Sen. Kamala Harris has been sharply critical of President Donald Trump’s recent actions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Donald Trump received less than a third of the votes cast for president by California voters, and that’s something the state’s new senator, Kamala Harris, is well aware of.

Harris, the former state attorney general, had already spoken up on the Senate floor against the nominations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos by the time she gave her more traditional “maiden speech” Thursday. The freshman Democrat started by recounting how her mother, an Indian immigrant, chose to marry her Jamaican father in the U.S. instead of returning to India for an arranged marriage.

LGBT Staff Association Strives for More Diversity
New president Todd Sloves said the association has taken steps for Republicans to be comfortable

Todd Sloves, the new president of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, says his group is hoping to diversify its ranks with more women, people of color and Republicans. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Todd Sloves, the new president of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, said only in a group like his would adding Republicans be considered part of a diversity effort.

“We are now starting to get into a time when LGBT folks come to work on the Hill — [they] are Republicans, are working for Republicans, and don’t feel like they have to keep that a secret,” said Sloves, 31. “Obviously, it’s a case-by-case basis but I think that’s a sign of the fact that we no longer put out this impression that we are a Democrats-only group.”

Puzder Is First Trump Nominee Spiked by GOP
Votes just weren’t there for fast-food tycoon

Andrew Puzder, left was the first of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees to not get enough Republican votes for confirmation. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The withdrawal of Andrew Puzder’s nomination to be Labor secretary represents a milestone in the nascent Trump administration: the first time congressional Republicans played a significant part in spiking a Donald Trump Cabinet pick. 

The nomination of the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, had been plagued by scandal, including revelations he had employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and failed to pay taxes on her, as well as the fallout from a 1987 divorce that brought up allegations of domestic violence against him.

Puzder Backs Out of Labor Secretary Nomination
Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. head lacked confirmation votes

Andrew Puzder leaves a November meeting with Donald Trump in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump later nominated Puzder to head the Labor Department though recent reports indicate that Puzder is expected to withdraw his nomination. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor secretary, backed out of the confirmation process Wednesday.

In a statement released by the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, Puzder said he decided to withdraw his nomination after “careful consideration and discussions with [his] family.”

Why Democrats Didn’t Go to the Mat on Linda McMahon
Former WWE chief breezed to confirmation

Blumenthal, left, and McMahon, right, previously ran against each other for the Connecticut Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees have sparked fierce fights in the Senate, but Democrats declined to go to the mat on one of his picks: former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon. 

The businesswoman and two-time Republican Senate nominee from Connecticut was easily confirmed Tuesday morning to lead the Small Business Administration, with 81 senators voting in her favor. On the surface, that may seem surprising, given that Democrats have decried Trump’s nominees’ exorbitant wealth and their lack of governing experience.

It’s Huge: Trump Administration Sets Record with Empty OMB Director Slot
S.C. Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney still waiting for confirmation

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., President Donald Trump’s nominee to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, testifies during his Senate Budget Committee confirmation on January 24, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s slow pace in confirming Cabinet nominees appears to be holding up lawmakers’ work on major fiscal legislation while they wait for President Donald Trump’s budget shop to get up and running.

The White House needs to move on budget priorities and discretionary spending levels for fiscal 2018; a wrap-up of fiscal 2017 appropriations; and supplemental funding requests to boost military spending and begin construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ep. 40: The Public Education of Betsy DeVos
The Week Ahead

After a bruising Senate confirmation process, Betsy DeVos is now Education Department chief. But she still has a lot of distrust to overcome, says CQ Roll Call’s education reporter Emily Wilkins. Even so, she's poised to influence how Congress and America view one of the pillars of American life – public schools.

Show Notes:

Photos of the Week: Pence Casts Historic Vote, Gorsuch to the Hill and Warren Reads King
The week of Feb. 6 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Protesters gather in Upper Senate Park at the Capitol on Monday to call on senators to reject Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

By BILL CLARK and TOM WILLIAMS CQ Roll Call

A busy week in the Capitol was marked by several historic moments, including the first time a vice president has cast a tiebreaker vote on a cabinet nomination. The Senate, in protest of several of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, was in session for more than two days. The late night session made headlines when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced as she read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A NewDEAL for Democrats — and the Nation
The way to win elections and drive the policy agenda

Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, center, writes that Democratic messaging should start with policies implemented by pro-growth progressives across the country. (Photo courtesy Sittenfeld for Cincinnati)

November’s election ripped off the Band-Aid covering a long-worsening wound for Democrats. Control of the White House made it easier for members of our party to brush off dramatic down-ballot losses the past six years. Now it is clearer to everyone that the picture is bleak.

Fewer states are positioned to counter the agenda of a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, and we are in desperate need of new Democratic voices to rise up the political ranks and lead our party at all levels of government.