James Lankford

Congress’ Gun Massacre Caucus
Dealing with mass shootings is becoming all too familiar for many members

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, center left, with Rep. Mark Sanford to his right and then-Gov. Nikki Haley, second from right, attend a memorial service commemorating the anniversary of the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images file photo)

On Dec. 14, 2012, Elizabeth Esty was attending a social media workshop for new members of Congress at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She had been elected to represent Connecticut’s 5th District a month earlier.

“I raised my hand and I said, ‘Here’s an example right now — I’m getting texts and alerts that there’s been a shooting and we don’t know what happened,’” she said.

Senate Republicans Haven’t Read Tax Bill Yet, but Plan To
House measure regarded as just first step in larger legislative process

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said he read the roughly 2,300 pages of the 2010 health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans haven’t yet reviewed the House tax bill yet, so don’t ask them about it.

It’s the same response members routinely give to reporters seeking feedback from lawmakers on major pieces of legislation that become public.

GOP Largely Ducks Discussing Indictments of Trump Campaign Aides
Leaders stick to script of judicial nominees, tax legislation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell exited a press conference on judicial nominations early, leaving other GOP colleagues to field questions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans were not eager to talk about the federal charges issued Monday against former Trump campaign officials. And they weren’t afraid to show it.

Two prominent GOP senators — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley — left a press conference in the Capitol on judicial nominations early, leaving their colleagues to field questions from reporters about the indictments brought by Justice Department special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Flake Poised to Give Other GOP Senators a Voice on Immigration
DACA could shape key congressional races in the 2018 midterms

Immigration rights demonstrators prepare to march from the White House to the Trump Hotel and the Justice Department to oppose President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program for “dreamers” on Sept. 5. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Few issues embody the political divide between Sen. Jeff Flake and President Donald Trump like immigration.

While Trump and his nativist supporters take a hard line on illegal immigration, the Arizona senator has long sought a comprehensive solution that would lead to a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Senate Republicans Keep Eyes on Tax Prize
Distractions have not hindered work behind the scenes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking a different approach to taxes than he did with health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are keeping the wheels in motion in their effort to overhaul the U.S. tax code, despite a litany of distractions that threaten to derail it.

GOP members of the Finance Committee are meeting this week to discuss issues such as how to pay for the legislation, among other topics, according to a Republican source with knowledge of the panel’s plans.

Sex Trafficking Bill Would Narrow Protections for Internet Companies
Senators say the bill is aimed at Backpage.com, not Facebook or Google

Sen. Rob Portman, shown here in 2015, introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hatch Has High Hopes for Medical Marijuana Bill
83-year-old Mormon Republican emerges as unlikely champion

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican, has emerged as an unlikely champion of medical marijuana. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is an unlikely advocate for a medical marijuana bill.

An 83-year-old Utah Republican and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hatch says he is staunchly against recreational drug use. But as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage states across the country, the Senate’s president pro tempore sees an opportunity in advancing the use of cannabis for pain management.

Sasse Rips ‘Brown Shirt Pajama Boy Nazi’ Richard Spencer
Nebraska senator evokes founding documents to deconstruct white supremacy

Sen. Ben Sasse took to Twitter Thursday to lay into white supremacist Richard Spencer. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ben Sasse may not have the tech savvy to properly thread a series of tweets.

But the Nebraska Republican showed he’s more than capable of savaging white supremacists on the app.

Lawmakers Watch Eclipse From Back Home
With Congress on recess, members watched the show with friends, family, and constituents

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas,  watches Monday’s eclipse from San Antonio, where he was visiting the Chamber of Commerce. (Sen. Ted Cruz via Twitter)

Unlike President Donald Trump, many lawmakers listened to the warnings and wore solar eclipse glasses to look at the sun on Monday.

The president briefly looked skyward before putting on his protective glasses when he and first lady Melania Trump joined millions of Americans to view the solar eclipse.

Here’s How Republicans Reacted After Trump (Again) Flip-Flopped on Charlottesville
Many in president’s own party countered his stance

A man carries an American flag during a protest against racism and the violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 14, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

An unprecedented outpouring of congressional Republicans reacted Tuesday as President Donald Trump flipped his position (again) on last weekend’s violent outburst in Charlottesville, Virginia.

First Trump held “both sides” responsible just after protesters demonstrating in support of a General Robert E. Lee statue clashed with counterprotesters. Then a prepared speech Monday had the president condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazi’s and the violence generally. Finally, Tuesday night Trump came back to two-sided rhetoric when he said some members of the far-right organized demonstration were “very fine” people.