Oklahoma

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.

Why Trump’s Immigration Demands Haven’t Changed the Dynamics on Hill
Prospects for a bipartisan bill were already grim

A sign at an immigration rights protest in from on the White House on Sept. 5 to oppose President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the DACA program. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s decision to push for his border wall as part of an immigration deal — after previously saying it would be dealt with separately — would, at first glance, seem to lower the probability of a bipartisan accord.

But the prospects were already grim. So Sunday’s release of Trump’s immigration policy priorities caused no major shift in the dynamics on Capitol Hill. 

Capitol Police Score Early, Beat Members’ Team in Congressional Football Game
Win fourth straight game, 7-0

The Guards’ Chad Nieto, center, tries to catch a pass in the end zone as California Rep. Pete Aguilar, left, and Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin break it up during the Congressional Football Game for Charity on Wednesday night. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Even Santana Moss and Herschel Walker couldn’t help the members’ team. The Capitol Police won the Congressional Football Game for Charity, 7-0, their fourth consecutive win.

The members’ team — the Mean Machine — was made up of a bipartisan group of congressmen and congresswomen plus former NFL players, and the Capitol Police team was called the Guards, a reference to the classic football film “The Longest Yard.”

EPA Moves to Repeal Climate Rule; Lawsuits to Follow
With Clean Power Plan on the chopping block, environmental groups gear up to sue

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, said this week that unraveling the Clean Power Plan would right “the wrongs of the Obama administration.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

The EPA’s move on Tuesday to undo the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule will almost certainly trigger an onslaught of lawsuits from environmental groups and many blue states that have been bracing for that action since President Donald Trump took office.

The agency said it had filed a notice with the Federal Register proposing to unravel the 2015 Clean Power Plan and will seek public input into that proposal over a 60-day period. But the EPA did not commit to promulgating a replacement policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which environmentalists have said would lead them to sue to stop the repeal or force the agency to write a new policy.

Diane Black, Prepping Gubernatorial Bid, Takes Victory Lap
Tennessee Republican finally shepherded budget resolution through House last week

House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black has had an undeniable impact on this year’s budget process, thanks to her efforts to forge a compromise package. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

The first woman to chair the House Budget Committee finally shepherded the fiscal 2018 resolution through her chamber Oct. 5, a traditionally thankless task that she took on after President Donald Trump tapped the former chairman, Tom Price, to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

Rep. Diane Black is now preparing to hand in her gavel after 10 months on the job, so she can focus on her campaign to become Tennessee’s next Republican governor, she announced in early August.

RSC Budget Allows Conservatives to Lay Down Austere Marker
Alternative will likely not pass, but gives conservatives an outlet

The Republican Study Committee, chaired by North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, will get a House floor vote Thursday for its more austere budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans will get the chance Thursday to vote for an alternative budget blueprint that offers up more than $10 trillion in spending cuts over a decade. The plan would double the number proposed in the House Budget Committee-approved fiscal 2018 resolution, while balancing the budget in half the time.

The conservative Republican Study Committee has been given assurances its alternative will be ruled in order for a vote when GOP leaders bring the fiscal 2018 budget resolution to the floor, according to an RSC aide.

Mike Pence Showered With Praise Despite Stalled Agenda
Members in both chambers say they’re still big fans of Veep

Vice President Mike Pence and Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey talk in the Capitol before the Senate Policy luncheons on Sept. 19. Pence has not been able to help secure 50 Republican votes on a health care overhaul bill this year. But GOP lawmakers don’t blame him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence has spent countless hours behind closed doors with congressional Republicans negotiating on health care and other issues, yet the GOP legislative agenda has largely stalled. But Republican lawmakers are not blaming President Donald Trump’s Capitol Hill “insider” — quite the contrary, in fact.

Pence, once part of the House GOP leadership team, was billed as Trump’s get-things-done guy. So far, the vice president’s appreciable legislative accomplishments are scant. He broke several ties in his capacity as president of the Senate and worked with fellow Republicans on unsuccessful efforts to pass a health care overhaul measure that would get rid of Barack Obama’s 2010 law.

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.

Trump Continues Defensive Stance on Puerto Rico Response
President tweets his team has answered governor’s every request

Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Thursday in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Continuing his administration’s sometimes-defensive stance on its response to the Puerto Rico hurricane damage crisis, President Donald Trump on Friday contended his team has responded to the island government’s every request.

In a set of morning tweets, Trump dismissed critics — including some congressional Democrats — who allege he and his administration have been too slow in helping the U.S. territory respond to two massive hurricanes. Following the the second, Maria, the entire island lost power, cash is in short supply, and commodities like diesel fuel also are running thin.

Republican Senators Mostly Silent After Trump’s North Korea Threat
President would hit regime, military targets - not civilians, White House says

Republican Sens. Bob Corker (center), Marco Rubio (seated right) and Jim Risch (standing right) all declined to comment on GOP President Donald Trump's threat to "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks the United States. Also pictured are GOP Sens. Cory Gardner (standing left) and Ron Johnson (seated left). (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker hurried into an elevator. Sen. Marco Rubio quickly ducked into the Capitol Visitor Center television studio. And Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain shut down reporters’ repetitive questions.

No Republican senator could be found Tuesday who was willing to question President Donald Trump’s threat before the United Nations General Assembly to “totally destroy” North Korea unless it gives up its nuclear arms and long-range missile programs, which he views as a direct threat to the sovereignty and security of the United States and its allies.