Richard Blumenthal

No Clear Path to Legislation for Lawmakers Expressing Outrage Over Facebook Revelations
Congress has historically taken a hands-off approach to tech oversight

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has not indicated whether he will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers, motivated by revelations of Facebook Inc.’s handling of users’ data, may take a look at proposals for new data safeguards — but it’s far from clear that Congress has a clear path from lawmakers’ anger over Facebook to legislative action.

Disclosures about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, and the latter’s behavior in the 2016 elections, may have given legislation greater urgency than was the case after companies such as Equifax Inc. lost the data of about 145 million consumers. But legislation doesn’t seem imminent and, to the extent it’s about data protection, may miss the mark.

Senate Pushes Anti-Sex Trafficking Deal Ahead
Passage assured this week despite concerns from some internet businesses

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, left, is concerned that a measure championed by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman to combat sex trafficking could have unintended consequences and make it more difficult to pursue traffickers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers championing a bipartisan bill to make it easier to go after sex trafficking on the internet are on the verge of victory.

In the Senate, it’s a large coalition that’s been led by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Photos of the Week: Jon Stewart, Benjamin Netanyahu, and an Adorable Office Morale Officer
The week of March 5 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

TV crews set up microphones at the House Triangle before the start of the press conference with comedian Jon Stewart on Monday to call on OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to withdraw his proposal to separate the World Trade Center Health Program from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health direction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week of March 5 has nearly come to a close as Washington waits for a fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill ahead of the March 23 government funding deadline.

Leaders say a bill could appear as early as next week, which could make for another busy week in D.C.

Congress Warns North Korea — and Trump — on Nuke Talks
Messer says Trump deserves a Nobel Prize

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said President Donald Trump's position on North Korea gave an opportunity for diplomacy with North Korea. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress were cautious in response to the news that President Donald Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican who went from being a major Trump critic to ally, said Trump’s “strong stand” against the regime gives the United States the best opportunity for peace.

Senate Floor Time Stymies Gun Control Efforts
No floor time scheduled for any of several measures introduced

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce legislation that would prevent individuals who pose a threat from accessing guns on March 08, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Advocates and lawmakers who were hoping the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school would finally spur Congress to act have hit a familiar roadblock: the Senate floor.

While members on both sides of the aisle continue to introduce legislation on the issue and push for the chamber to consider measures that have broad bipartisan support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given no indication he intends to bring any bills up for a vote and instead has turned his attention to other policy areas, like federal oversight over financial institutions and online sex trafficking.

Gun Debate Unfolds Outside of Senate Judiciary Panel’s Confines
Grassley uses White House meeting to brief Trump

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the committee’s role in moving gun-related legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a White House meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the panel’s role in getting a consensus and moving legislation dealing with gun violence and school shootings.

But before the Iowa Republican could finish, Trump pivoted right back to negotiating provisions about age restrictions for gun purchases, a proposal championed by two senators who aren’t on the committee, Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III.

Cyber Command Nominee Deflects Questions on Russia
Nominee defers to current commander who warned Russia is virtually unchecked

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, nominee to be NSA director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The nominee to lead U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency told lawmakers Thursday he would offer options to the president and Defense secretary to respond to Russian hacking of U.S. elections “if directed” to do so.

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the current head of the Army’s Cyber Command, said the decision whether or not to retaliate for Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 presidential election or to preempt future attempts at election interference is a policy matter for civilian leadership in the executive and legislative branches.

Kelly Knocks Kushner’s Clearance Down a Peg
President left decision on son-in-law to chief of staff

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, leaves the Hart Senate Office Building after an interview with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on July 24. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House aides are not disputing reports that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, no longer has a top-secret security clearance, limiting the amount of sensitive information he can view.

Kushner, a senior White House adviser to his father-in-law, has had an interim clearance at the TS/SCI, or “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information,” level since Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017. Chief of Staff John Kelly, however, has downgraded Kushner’s interim clearance to the “Secret” level as part of a West Wing crackdown on interim clearances.

No White House Order to Combat Russia, Cybercom Chief Says
Third administration official says Trump has given no guidance on countering interference

Adm. Michael S. Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA, says he has received no directive from the president to counter Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Russia hasn’t been sufficiently penalized for its meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, and that has emboldened Moscow to continue interfering in American elections, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

“They haven’t paid a price sufficient to change their behavior,” Rogers said under questioning by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

Senators Warn Union Case Risks Supreme Court’s Reputation
Conservative high court majority appears likely to rule against unions

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer speaks at a rally outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 11, 2015, as the court heard arguments in a case involving 10 California teachers who said they had a First Amendment right not to pay fees to a union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court appears set to overturn a decades-old precedent and deal a financial blow to Democratic-aligned unions that represent teachers and other public-sector employees in a major case with blatant political overtones.

Ahead of oral arguments Monday, two Democratic senators sent the justices this message: The Supreme Court’s reputation is at stake, and overturning the 1977 ruling will further erode the public’s confidence that the federal courts are neutral and above politics.