Nebraska

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

Attorney General William  Barr has installed new leaders at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

Republicans cast about on guns, Trump’s rhetoric at town halls
August recess is typically a low-profile time for members of Congress, but tensions running high this week

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., withheld on whether he supports expanding background checks at his town hall this week - saying he would have to see the details. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An agonizing national conversation about gun violence and race reverberated in members of Congress’ town halls across the country this week. 

“I totally disagree with the characterization that Trump is racist,” said Republican Rep. Don Bacon to a smattering of applause from a small audience in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. “When you call the president a racist ... you're turning away half the population.”

Ben Sasse, one of the Senate’s last remaining Republican Trump critics, to seek reelection
Nebraska senator has already drawn a primary challenger in his bid for a second term

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse,  left, here with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last week, faces a primary challenger as he bids for a second term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ben Sasse, who has publicly grappled with ambivalence about the Senate, the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, ended months of speculation about his plans with the announcement that he will run again for his Nebraska Senate seat. 

“What’s at stake in 2020 is a choice between civics and socialism,” he said Monday at the Millard airport, outside of Omaha, where he was introduced by a string of state GOP leaders.  

Census question may be dead, but Trump’s backup plan could still reshape political map

The president and his administration are marching forward on a Republican plan to upend the way legislative districts are drawn nationwide. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump surrendered his legal fight earlier this month to ask about citizenship on the upcoming census, but his administration is marching forward on a Republican strategy that could upend the way legislative districts are drawn nationwide to the benefit of the party.

Trump nodded to policy issues such as health care and education as reasons he issued a July 11 executive order for the government to compile citizenship information in a different way. And he accused “far-left Democrats” of being determined to “conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst.”

Army in ascendance with leaders poised for top Pentagon posts
Mark Esper and Mark Milley expected to give service a place of new prominence

Army Secretary Mark Esper, left, and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley are heading to the Pentagon, where their presence could give the embattled service a new place of prominence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Army Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the service’s chief, will soon take their partnership to the highest levels of the Pentagon as both men are poised for speedy confirmation to be the next Defense secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

Their close working relationship could help provide stability at the Pentagon, where many of the top jobs are filled by acting heads. Meanwhile, their deep ties to the Army could give the sometimes embattled service — which has struggled for two decades to modernize its force and adapt to a new era of warfare — a place of new prominence in the Pentagon.

Supreme Court keeps contentious doctrine on regulations
All the justices agreed to send the case back to a lower court for reconsideration

Fox News anchor and reporter Shannon Bream prepares to report on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on Monday, June 24, 2019. The court Wednesday declined a chance to overrule two longstanding precedents making it easier for government agencies to defend regulations from legal challenges. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A divided Supreme Court on Wednesday declined a chance to overrule two longstanding precedents that make it easier for government agencies to defend their regulations from legal challenges in cases about the environment, health care and consumer protection.

The court instead used the case to further outline its doctrine on when judges should defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation when that regulation is otherwise ambiguous. All the justices agreed to send the case back to a lower court for reconsideration.

Democrats weave climate messages into spending bills
Aggressive action on climate change and halting rollback of environmental regulations

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., shepherds action on the House’s environmental spending measure. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are using the budget process to offer a clear contrast ahead of an election year between their embrace of aggressive action on climate change and the rollbacks of environmental regulation championed by Republicans when they controlled the chamber in the 115th Congress.

Many of the provisions they’ve included in the fiscal 2020 spending bills may not survive the GOP-led Senate, but Democrats are aware of national polls showing growing voter concern about the climate crisis.

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon brings military experience and political savvy to his new job
A former Raytheon lobbyist, Esper has also been an Army officer and congressional staffer

Sen. Jack Reed, left, speaks with Army Secretary Mark Esper before the start of an Armed Services hearing in March. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped Esper to be acting Defense secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon, at least temporarily.

In two tweets Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job — and was withdrawing from consideration for the permanent post to “devote more time to his family.” Esper, in turn, got promoted and a ringing endorsement from the commander in chief.

Photos of the Week
The week of June 14 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Former White House counsel John Dean prepares to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes," on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Panel approves pilot program to take military sexual assault cases outside chain of command
The number of sexual assaults at military service academies more than doubled 2013 to 2018, Speier said

Rep. Jackie Speier succeeded in getting her amendment to establish a program taking prosecution of military sex assault cases outside of the chain of command at the service academies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Advocates of taking the decision for prosecuting military sexual assaults — a persistent problem within the ranks — outside the chain of command scored a significant victory Wednesday when the House Armed Services Committee approved a pilot program that would do just that at the service academies.

Rep. Jackie Speier, chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, pushed through a four-year program that would require the commandants of the service academies to follow the recommendation of an independent prosecutor in cases of sexual assault.