rhode island

Grassley to Justice Department: No Answers, No Nominee
Judiciary chairman wants responses to at least 15 letters first

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is holding up the nomination of the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is tired of his requests to the Justice Department going unanswered — and he’s fighting back yet again.

The Iowa Republican announced Thursday that the committee won’t advance the nomination of Stephen Boyd to be assistant attorney general for legislative affairs until he gets responses to at least 15 letters, some due more than six months ago.

Word on the Hill: Mai Tais Flowing on the Hill
LOC movie series lineup announced

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono prepare to sample Spam musubi at last year’s Taste of Hawaii. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The fourth annual Hawaii on the Hill begins today. The itinerary includes the Taste of Hawaii reception this evening, hosted by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

It’s a 21+ event, which means guests can enjoy mai tais from Koloa Rum, beer from Maui Brewing Company, and food from the 69 different companies showcased. If you received tickets beforehand, you can get in an hour early. General admission opens at 6 p.m. in Russell’s Kennedy Caucus Room.

Photos of the Week: Just Another 5 Days in D.C. — Not
The week of June 5 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

A crowd gathered at The Partisan bar watches as former FBI Director James B. Comey arrives to testify during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week was dominated by the anticipated appearance, actual appearance and analysis after the appearance of former FBI Director James B. Comey in front of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on Thursday. One day before that, Washington also watched current intelligence officials testify before the same congressional panel — the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election and what the president might have asked of his officials dominating the news cycle. 

Since the next steps of the investigation are in the hands of the special counsel and could take years to resolve, this week could go down as one of the most prominent in 2017.

Say What? Senators' Questions for Comey, a Roll Call Analysis
Trump's attempted influence on FBI investigations topped the list

BY SEAN MCMINN AND RYAN KELLY

Republicans did not shy away from surfacing the issue of the president’s potential obstruction of justice during former FBI Director James B. Comey's appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Trump’s ‘Total Authorization’ to Military Gives Some ‘Deep Concerns’
But GOP lawmakers say president remains involved in strategic decisions

President Donald Trump’s deference to military commanders to make “tactical decisions” has been partly attributed to his trust in Defense Secretary James Mattis. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump says he has given U.S. military commanders “total authorization” to make complex combat decisions, a move that alarms some senior Democratic members and national security experts.

The commander in chief revealed a major policy shift from the Obama administration, which was heavily involved in strategic and tactical decisions, on a late Thursday afternoon in mid-April. The news dominated the cable airwaves for a few hours, then was quickly overshadowed by self-inflicted wounds and eventually, an ever-escalating series of bombshells related to possible ties between Moscow and Trump’s campaign and transition teams.

Political Gerrymandering: Is There a Math Test for That?
Supreme Court may consider whether practice is unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in a North Carolina racial gerrymandering case and may take on a Wisconsin case this fall that involves partisan gerrymanders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Racial gerrymanders have been undone many times, most recently when the Supreme Court ruled against a pair of North Carolina congressional districts this week. But another case from that same state, heading into federal court next month, has a shot at eventually persuading the justices to do what they’ve never done before: strike down an election map as an unconstitutionally partisan gerrymander.

The high court ruled three decades ago that it may be unconstitutional to draw political boundaries so that one party was sure to win a disproportionate number of elections, but it’s never come up with a means for deciding when such mapmaking has become too extreme.

Duckworth Leads Capital Challenge Wheelchair Team to Keep Promise to Herself
Illinois Democrat pledged to do more after losing legs in Iraq

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth competed in her first marathon four years after losing her legs in Iraq. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Serving as captain of the wheelchair team in the 36th annual ACLI Capital Challenge on Wednesday is part of a pledge that Sen. Tammy Duckworth made to herself after losing her legs while serving in Iraq.

“When I was in the hospital, I made a promise to do more than I could before I was wounded,” the Illinois Democrat said. “My recovery goal wasn’t just to get by — it was to go beyond what I thought I could ever do.”

Crucial Health Bills Have a Fraught Path Amid Partisan Blowups
Bickering could delay progress on changes to 2010 health care law

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the panel will next focus on Medicare policies related to patients with chronic illnesses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A highly anticipated markup of a must-pass Food and Drug Administration bill was postponed Wednesday because of partisan sparring over the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey. The delay comes after the Senate Finance Committee last week indefinitely postponed a hearing on the Children’s Health Insurance Program because of the toxic politics of the Republican health care bill. The cancellations raise questions about whether a deluge of drama consuming the Capitol could push lower-profile but important health care legislation off the rails.

Both bills — which congressional leaders hoped to pass without major controversies — need to be addressed well before their Sept. 30 deadlines so the FDA employees and children’s health providers who rely on funding affected by the bills can keep working.

The Senate’s Key Health Care Players
Hatch, Alexander sure to play big roles in debate

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, as chairman of the Finance Committee, would have significant influence over the fate of the GOP health care bill in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Competing interests among Senate Republicans could significantly complicate efforts to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. But despite the influence individual members will have, two have enhanced sway among their colleagues: Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

While leadership is expected to have a heavy hand in the process, the two senior lawmakers, as chairmen of the committees of jurisdiction, will be instrumental in driving support for any measure the chamber considers. Jockeying between the two panels over authority, however, could be a detriment to any serious attempts at an overhaul of the U.S. health care system.

Comey Defends Pre-Election Actions on Clinton Investigation
But FBI director says he wouldn’t change decision to release info

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FBI Director James B. Comey vigorously defended his actions ahead of the 2016 presidential election when it came to criminal investigations about candidates, as senators from both political parties warned him at a hearing Wednesday that the agency’s reputation was on the line.

Comey testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee the day after Hillary Clinton blamed him in part for her election loss, since he told Congress just 11 days before the election that the agency was reopening a criminal probe into her use of personal email to improperly send classified information when she was secretary of State.