North Dakota

White House Presses Vulnerable Dems on Pompeo Nomination
Sen. Cotton dubs Foreign Relations Democrats ‘two-bit Talleyrands’

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., right, meets with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, in the Capitol on March 19. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House circled the wagons Wednesday around CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become secretary of State, arguing vulnerable red-state Democrats will feel “consequences” in November if they vote against him.

The Trump administration dispatched Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to argue Pompeo is highly qualified for the top State Department position and to press Democrats running for re-election in states won by President Donald Trump to vote in favor of his nomination.

Justices Weigh Congressional Inaction on Internet Sales Tax
Supreme Court muses about “obsolete” ruling

The Supreme Court weighed an internet tax case and seemed to want Congress to resolve the issue.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court almost yearned Tuesday for Congress to resolve a major internet sales tax issue, if only to relieve the justices from having to make a call in a case with potential widespread effects on the nation’s online commerce.

“Is there anything we can do to give Congress a signal it should act more affirmatively in this area?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked near the end of an hour of oral arguments.

Congressional Gridlock Plays Central Role in Internet Tax Case
Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide this term

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill on the online sales taxation issue last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a major internet sales tax case, and it won’t be the first or last time the justices will try to figure out whether gridlock in Congress plays a role in their decision.

But usually the gridlock is not quite on this scale. The Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide when it decides this term whether to overturn its 1992 ruling that bars states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Photos of the Week: Ryan’s Done (Almost), Zuckerberg Testifies and 2 New Lawmakers Make Entrances
The week of April 9 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on the protection of user data on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress returned from its spring recess to a busy week, made busier when Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced he would not seek re-election in November.

Also this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent three days on the Hill meeting with lawmakers and testifying on improper use of his company’s customers’ data. And there’s a new senator — Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith — and a new House member — Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb — after two swearings-in this week. 

Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as Pruitt’s Deputy at EPA
Heitkamp and Manchin join Republicans on vote

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt now has a deputy — a former fossil fuel lobbyist — after a Senate confirmation vote Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy EPA administrator, providing a second-in-command for Administrator Scott Pruitt as he struggles amid alleged ethical failings.

Wheeler was confirmed Thursday with a 53-45 vote. Some Democrats hoped Pruitt’s difficulties would give them the votes to block the confirmation, but their efforts were not enough. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined Republicans in voting for Wheeler. Both are running for re-election this year in states won by President Donald Trump.

Tom Campbell Drops Out of North Dakota House Race
Kevin Cramer will vacate seat to challenge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican candidate and state Sen. Tom Campbell announced Wednesday he will drop out of the race to fill North Dakota’s House seat and endorsed one of his primary opponent challengers.

Campbell was one of four candidates running to fill Rep. Kevin Cramer’s seat for the at-large district. Cramer announced in February he would leave his House seat to challenge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

Tariffs Could Complicate Key Senate Races
Some Democrats already criticizing GOP opponents over tariffs’ impact

A John Deere tractor sits in a field near Salem, Ind. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The potential for a trade war with China is already complicating some key Senate races ahead of the November midterms, especially for Republicans hoping to expand their majority.

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports sparked retaliatory threats from China. The country vowed to slap tariffs on top U.S. exports that also come from states with some of the most competitive Senate contests.

More Unites Than Divides Senate Communicators From Both Parties
Senate Press Secretaries Association members ‘bounce ideas off’ one another

Members of the Senate Press Secretaries Association visit New York for their conference in February. From left, former President Julia Krieger from the office of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp; current President Megan Whittemore from the office of Sen. David Perdue; and board member Robert Sumner from the office of Sen. Mike Crapo. (Courtesy of the Senate Press Secretaries Association)

As more reporters roam the Capitol hallways in the age of Trump, the job of communicating for Senate offices has only gotten harder.

Wrangling their bosses through crowds of reporters, writing press releases and op-eds to set the record straight, and fielding calls and emails in a 24/7 news cycle is something staffers for both Republicans and Democrats are trying to manage. They come together in the Senate Press Secretaries Association to share their experiences.

Opinion: To Reinvent Rural Health Care, Ditch the ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Model
Geography shouldn’t be an impediment to quality care

A man waits at a mobile clinic in Olean, New York, in June 2017. Rural communities should be given the flexibility to figure out a health care delivery system that works for them, Dorgan and Krutsick write. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

As policymakers grapple over how to best deliver quality, affordable health care, they cannot ignore the unique challenges faced by the 46 million Americans living in rural areas.

Not only do rural residents rank worse than their urban counterparts on many health metrics such as obesity, tobacco usage and suicides, their communities also face shortages of health care workers and geographic challenges that make it more difficult to address these concerns.

New Chinese Tariffs Prompt Farm-State Senator Rebuke of Trump on Trade
Ernst brought concerns directly to Trump on Wednesday

Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles E. Grassley were critical of President Donald Trump’s trade policy on Wednesday after the latest announcement of Chinese retaliation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

China’s announced plans for roughly $50 billion in new tariffs on U.S. goods has escalated the criticism from farm-state lawmakers of President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said she talked with Trump himself Wednesday about concerns about effects on Hawkeye State producers.