Richard Blumenthal

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.

Senate Democrats prioritize defense amendments to boost election security
Schumer makes public push for McConnell to allow NDAA votes on election security

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is prioritizing election security amendments to the NDAA. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

In one of the few chances they have to offer amendments this year, Senate Democrats are trying to prioritize efforts to keep Russia from further meddling in U.S. elections.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer made that clear Tuesday morning, highlighting Democrat-led efforts to amend the fiscal 2020 national defense authorization measure that is in line for floor consideration after several nomination votes.

Sen. Blumenthal resumes crusade against sports blackouts
Connecticut Democrat wants to end local blackouts of home NFL games

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is again proposing a bill to end sports blackouts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic senator is renewing his crusade to eliminate sports blackouts.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants sports leagues to make live programming available through alternate means when cable distributors and satellite operators get into contract disputes with broadcasters that can lead to events being pulled off the air.

KFC, the Grim Reaper and an epically long bill reading: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of April 29, 2019

An aide adjusts the name plate for Attorney General William Barr before a House Judiciary Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers grill Barr about past testimonies on Mueller report

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., looks over papers before the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 1. Attorney General William P. Barr testified during the hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Social Security could go broke by 2035, but lawmakers have new ideas to fix it
If policymakers wait too long, solutions to fixing the program may involve politically unpalatable options

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., leaves the Capitol after the final votes of the week on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute — as long as waiting doesn’t make the problem worse.

Therein lies the conundrum facing lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates when it comes to Social Security, which last year paid out retirement and disability benefits to some 63 million Americans.

Interior Secretary Bernhardt under investigation by inspector general
Democrats and watchdog groups have alleged ‘potential conflicts of interest and other violations’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate last week by a vote of 56-41. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, is under investigation by his agency’s inspector general over “potential conflicts of interest and other violations,” an agency official said Monday.

In an April 15 letter to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, Interior Department deputy inspector general Mary Kendall said her office opened an investigation into Bernhardt following at least seven complaints from Democratic lawmakers and independent watchdogs alleging the conflicts and other violations.

Sen. Blumenthal joins chorus offering robocall remedy with ROBOCOP Act
Americans received roughly 47.8 billion robocalls last year, nearly half of them were from scammers

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is one of many lawmakers to introduce legislation to combat robocalls. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal was the latest in a chorus of lawmakers from both parties to decry robocalls, an irritant that afflicts nearly anyone in the U.S. who owns a mobile phone.

The Connecticut Democrat on Monday reintroduced the so-called ROBOCOP Act that would require mobile phone companies to provide free robocall-blocking technology to their customers.

The net neutrality bill is dead in the Senate, but Democrats don’t mind
Democrats are confident they’ll be able to use it to skewer vulnerable GOP candidates next November

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., leave the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared the Democratic net neutrality bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

But Senate Democrats don’t seem to mind.

FAA administrator defends decisions on Boeing 737 Max
Dennis K. Elwell faced sharp questions from senators from both parties at Wednesday hearing

A Boeing 737 Max 8 airliner takes off from Renton Municipal Airport near the company’s factory, on March 22, 2019 in Renton, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration defended his decision to wait three days after a deadly crash in Ethiopia before ordering all Boeing 737 Max jets grounded, but he refused to divulge whether President Donald Trump had asked him to do so.

Acting FAA Administrator Dennis K. Elwell faced sharp questions Wednesday from senators in both parties at a Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing about the grounding decision and the FAA’s certification of the 737 Max planes, especially the agency’s process that allows manufacturers to self-certify compliance with safety requirements.