Sheldon Whitehouse

Courtroom experience a commodity as Trump impeachment trial begins
Senators with significant time in front of a judge are sought-after in the run-up to historic trial

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says senators who’ve tried cases can get their points across with questions that are the “pithiest” and “shortest.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has boosted the profile of senators who have specific experience in their background: spending time in front of a judge.

Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who tried cases and pressed appeals as a civil rights lawyer before he entered politics, said Wednesday that Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has started a dialogue with him and other Democratic senators who have courtroom experience ahead of the impeachment trial.

Tough political tactics are not criminal, ‘Bridgegate’ defendants argue
In Supreme Court appeal, ex-New Jersey officials rely on ‘get over it’ defense

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saw his 2016 campaign for president disrupted by the “Bridgegate” scandal. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As members of Congress prepared Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, former New Jersey public officials convened at the Supreme Court to argue lingering questions from “Bridgegate,” the last major public corruption scandal to disrupt a presidential election campaign.

As Chris Christie — the former New Jersey governor and unsuccessful 2016 Republican presidential candidate — looked on from the court chambers, lawyers representing two of his former political allies presented an argument that would be familiar to anyone following the White House rebuttal to impeachment charges.

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

Reapportionment could force a Rhode Island showdown
Smallest state projected to lose a House seat after 2020

Rhode Island Reps. David Cicilline, left, and Jim Langevin may have to duke it in a primary in 2022 with their state projected to lose a seat after the next census. (Tom Williams/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

This year’s census will likely prompt a political showdown between longtime members of Congress in the nation’s smallest state.

An analysis based on Census Bureau population projections has Rhode Island losing its second congressional seat in 2022, one of 10 states that could lose representation in Congress. The projections show a tight margin for the last few congressional seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services. The Ocean State stands 14,000 residents shy of the seat, or about 1 percent of its population.

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

Oversight panel sues Barr, Ross over census subpoenas
Committee probe into failed effort to add citizenship question continues

The House Oversight Committee is seeking to force Attorney General William Barr to comply with subpoena issued as part of its investigation over the failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee has picked a court fight with the Trump administration, filing a lawsuit Tuesday to enforce subpoenas for documents sought in the panel’s investigation of the failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, the panel asks that Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross be ordered to comply with subpoenas issued as part of its investigation. The committee argues it needs the information to make sure the administration has not undermined the decennial count used to apportion federal representation and more than $1.5 trillion in annual federal spending.

Save Our Seas 2.0 tackles global marine debris crisis
To save our oceans, there’s no time to waste

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act aims to combat the global marine debris crisis. (Courtesy iStock)

OPINION — We may have plenty of political differences, but we come from coastal states. That means we have a front-row seat to the peril of plastic waste and marine debris flowing into our oceans at the rate of around 8 million metric tons per year. We understand what it will mean for our fishing and tourism industries when the weight of plastic in our oceans equals the weight of fish in the sea — something projected to happen by mid-century. We don’t have a moment to lose in confronting this problem.

That’s why we built a coalition in Congress and gathered input from environmental and industry stakeholders alike. Despite a divided Washington, that work resulted in a bill that won broad, bipartisan support. When the Save Our Seas Act became law last October, it was a moment of bipartisan progress on a vital issue — one to be celebrated.

Road ahead: Public impeachment hearings begin
Senate set to confirm new Homeland Security secretary

The first open impeachment hearings in over 20 years begin on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The public phase of the House impeachment inquiry begins this week, with three witnesses set to air concerns Wednesday and Friday that President Donald Trump attempted to tie Ukrainian military aid to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential Democratic rival in 2020.

Much of the attention on Capitol Hill will be focused on the House Intelligence Committee as it opens up to televised questioning and testimony an investigation that so far had been conducted in a secure closed-door facility in the basement of the Capitol.

The unglamorous job of federal budgeting
New budget reform legislation would help restore a broken process

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi has joined with Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and other colleagues to introduce the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is no secret that a vast majority of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Too often our political debates are characterized by hyperpartisanship, rather than achieving meaningful outcomes for the American people. Nowhere is this problem more acute than when it comes to our inability to address our country’s unsustainable fiscal course.

Our current budget process is broken, as evidenced by mounting debt and deficits, a patchwork of temporary spending bills, government shutdowns, and budgets that, if passed at all, are quickly ignored. While process reforms alone won’t solve our fiscal challenges, we believe that realigning incentives, creating a more predictable budget pathway and encouraging active engagement in fiscal outcomes are steps in the right direction.

Road ahead: Impeachment to lead headlines, even with House away
Senate returns Tuesday to continue confirming judges

Impeachment will be making headlines at the Capitol, even with the House not in session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is not in session this week, and yet there might still be more attention on that side of the Capitol, with House committees led by the Intelligence panel continuing work on the impeachment inquiry.

The committees are seeking testimony from three officials Monday, but it is not yet clear who, if any, will appear for their scheduled closed-door depositions.