Mississippi

Marijuana criminalization could be clouding info on vaping deaths
Restrictions on THC-related research collide with a public health emergency

Demonstrators vape during a pro-vaping rally outside the White House on Nov. 9 to protest Washington’s proposed vaping flavor ban. (Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

In late October, as the number of people sickened with a mysterious vaping-related illness grew, federal officials turned to the nation’s leading academic researchers for help.

“They wondered what, in our opinion, they should be taking a look at,” said Robert Tarran, director of the University of North Carolina Center for Tobacco Regulatory Science and Lung Health.

FBI never completes hundreds of thousands of gun checks
Internal report raised alarms in 2015

Many gun background checks are never completed by the FBI because they are purged from the agency’s computers. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Updated Dec. 4, 1:33 p.m. | The FBI never completes hundreds of thousands of gun background checks each year because of a deadline that requires it to purge them from its computers, despite a report that raised alarms about the practice in 2015.

The data obtained by CQ Roll Call, which has not been previously published, shows how the FBI still struggles to complete background checks four years after a breakdown in the system contributed to a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine black churchgoers dead.

Our offbeat debrief of the off-year elections: Trump ‘always makes it about him’
Political Theater, Episode 102

President Donald Trump concludes a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is tempting to read into the 2019 campaign results, so-called off-year elections, for signs of what’s to come in next year’s big political brouhaha. Political prognosticators beware!

But while we don’t want to look too much into what happened in high-profile gubernatorial and special elections that President Donald Trump campaigned in, there are a few key data points to consider, particularly a growing rural-suburban partisan divide that showed up in places as disparate as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky and Virginia. 

Legality of Wolf, Cuccinelli appointments to DHS questioned
Key House Democrats cite new documents in request for review

Chad Wolf, seen here during an Oct. 29 White House task force meeting, was sworn in Wednesday as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The leaders of the House Oversight and Homeland Security panels on Friday challenged the legality of recent top appointments at the Department of Homeland Security, including newly installed acting secretary, Chad Wolf.

Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the acting Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman, have asked the U.S. Comptroller General to conduct an “expedited review” to determine whether the Trump administration acted legally when it appointed both Wolf and his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan, as acting DHS secretary. They also question Wolf naming Ken Cuccinelli to serve as deputy director.

Trump goes after Adam Schiff at Louisiana rally for GOP governor nominee
President’s ‘brand is winning’ so ‘losing anything, anywhere … hurts that brand,’ Republican strategist says

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 4. He was in Louisiana on Thursday night for a rally for GOP gubernatorial nominee Eddie Rispone. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday night used a political rally in Louisiana, billed as a late-race assist to the Republican candidate for governor, to blast the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and insult House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff.

“While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the radical left — Democrats — are ripping our country apart,” he said to boos from the crowd inside the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. He later accused Democrats of trying to “sabotage our democracy.”

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.

Suddenly, Ken Cuccinelli is No. 2 at DHS
The immigration hardliner became acting deputy secretary after Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief

Ken Cuccinelli is moving into the role of acting deputy secretary at the Homeland Security Department. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Shortly after being sworn in as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf — who the Senate confirmed as the agency's policy undersecretary just hours earlier — conducted his first order of business. 

He moved Ken Cuccinelli, a favorite of immigration hardliners, into the No. 2 position. 

Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief
Wolf takes over just hours after Senate confirmed him as undersecretary

Chad Wolf is the fifth person to lead the Department of Homeland Security in less than three years. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Chad Wolf was sworn in Wednesday as acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, the fifth person to head the agency in the Trump administration.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed Wolf's new position to CQ Roll Call by email.

Republicans need to study the lessons of 2018 and 2019 before racing to 2020
Last week‘s election results show the GOP still has a lot of work to do for next year

The Nov. 5 elections showed that the president will be an asset in certain areas, particularly in red states, but in other places, he simply won’t, Winston writes. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

OPINION — Whenever there is a special election or an off-year one, you can count on both parties to react in a familiar fashion. They focus on the bright spots and dismiss losses by telling us, “Don’t read too much into it.”

Last Tuesday’s elections were a mixed bag for Republicans with some positive gains, but overall, they pointed to some key challenges for next year. Races in traditionally red states like Mississippi went generally well for the most part, as to be expected. Republicans can point to certain local races in upstate New York and New Jersey where there were some noteworthy gains. Notably, while the GOP lost the Kentucky governor’s race by a slim margin, it swept the other five statewide offices, four of them with margins of more than 10 points, and elected a Republican African American attorney general.

Lawmakers: Southwest flying 49 jets that don’t meet FAA standards
Paperwork to assure safety was overlooked in planes airline bought overseas

A Southwest Airlines jet parked at Boeing's Renton, Wash., factory. (Photo by Gary He/Getty Images)

Southwest Airlines is flying 49 aircraft despite concerns that they do not comply with mandatory federal safety standards, according to documents released by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

At issue are 88 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s previously operated by 16 different foreign air carriers between 2013 and 2017. None of the aircraft are the 737 Max model, which has been grounded by the FAA after two fatal crashes.