Richard Blumenthal

Consequential month ahead for court battles between House and Trump
Decisions expected in several cases that could determine limits of congressional power to investigate the president

The U.S. Supreme Court building at sunset on Nov. 14. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

December will bring a blizzard of action in federal courts that could ultimately settle the limits of congressional power to investigate presidents and compel testimony — and could play a role in the ongoing political drama over impeachment.

In the next two weeks, the Supreme Court and others will handle litigation about congressional subpoenas for White House and national security officials and about lawmakers’ ability to get documents related to President Donald Trump’s finances.

Senator finds out about school shooting during gun control debate
California shooting highlights Senate gun control debate in real time

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is passed a note about a school shooting on the Senate floor Thursday. (Senate Recording Studio/Screenshot)

When Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., started speaking on the floor Thursday morning, he had not yet heard about the mass shooting at a Southern California high school a little less than an hour before. During Blumenthal’s speech on gun control legislation, a staffer passed him a note alerting him to the shooting. Although he incorrectly stated that the shooting took place in Santa Clara, Calif. instead of Santa Clarita, Calif., Blumenthal quickly pointed to the massacre where two people died as a real-life example of the need for the legislation.

Senators move ahead with enhancing Olympics oversight
Commerce Committee advanced bill after debate about role of Congress

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., left, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., are leading legislation to give Congress more authority over Olympic sports. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators moved ahead with an effort to enhance congressional oversight of U.S. participation in the Olympics on Wednesday, part of an ongoing response to recent sexual abuse scandals in sports.

The voice vote by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to advance an amended version of a bipartisan bill came despite concerns raised by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Boeing CEO grilled over 737 crashes

Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, arrives to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in Hart Building on aviation safety and the future of the Boeing 737 MAX on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Tuesday.

Boeing chief at Senate 737 Max hearing: ‘We made mistakes’
Senators question whether Boeing held back key information and whether its culture contributed to unsafe aircraft

Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, holds a sign with victims of the crash Tuesday behind Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, foreground, during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on aviation safety and the future of the Boeing 737 MAX. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As he prepares for Wednesday’s oversight hearing with the embattled Boeing CEO, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio must sort through a corporate culture that he believes compromised safety and find out what, if any, legislative remedies there are to be had.

The crash of two Boeing 737 Max aircraft over the past year — Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March — took the lives of 346 people and profoundly wounded the reputation and bottom line for the Chicago-based aircraft maker. The aircraft has been grounded in the U.S. since March.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 23
Unauthorized Republicans storm secure room as Pentagon official Laura Cooper gives deposition about withheld military aid to Ukraine

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, arrives to the Capitol for a deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment investigators have begun questioning the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy in Ukraine about millions in military aid President Donald Trump allegedly withheld from the country this summer.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, provided testimony at the Capitol, complying with a subpoena issued by House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff. The Defense Department had ordered Cooper not to testify, and her testimony was delayed several hours Wednesday by disruptions from other House members. 

Photos of the Week: Everything but Infrastructure Week
The week of Oct. 18 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Capitol workers lower the flag to half staff after the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

DeFazio: Uber, Lyft need to ‘clean up their acts’
DeFazio said ride-hailing companies must change if they want partnerships with agencies using federal dollars

Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., left, and ranking member Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., conduct a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in February 2019. DeFazio said the committee is still struggling on how to regulate ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft hope to ever partner with agencies that use federal dollars, “they are going to have to clean up their acts,” the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Wednesday.

Noting reports of explosive growth of those companies as well as low-paid and unvetted drivers, the panel’s subcommittee on highways and transit is wrestling with how best to regulate a burgeoning industry that has recently advocated for federal dollars as it grapples with massive losses.

Campus Notebook: Lawmakers to Prague, staff to Fargo, plus million-dollar trades
Lawmaker travel, stock trades, ethics complaints and other updates

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campus notebook this week highlights where a former top law enforcement official went after he retired from the Capitol Police, international travel by members, domestic travel of staffers and substantial stock trades.

The three places where senators can ‘actually’ talk
Sen. Chris Coons’ favorite places to reach across the aisle

From left, Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D.N.Y., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Coons, D-Del., share a laugh after a markup hearing on judicial nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“We’re real people. We’re not just two-dimensional targets,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told a lecture hall of law students at Notre Dame last week.Flanked by former Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Coons talked about the hyperpartisan environment on Capitol Hill and the intention required to cut through it and work. For the Delaware senator, this means talking to his colleagues “in the three settings [he has] found where there [are] no lobbyists, no staff and no press.”

Joking that Flake spent more time in the gym than he did, Coons told the students about the senators-only gym — a place “you can actually chat as you’re working out.” While little information is publicly available about the gym, Roll Call learned more about the facility in 2013 by standing in the hallway outside it for several hours.