congressional-affairs

Education Department investigating Duke-UNC event for ‘anti-semitic rhetoric’
Duke-UNC Middle East studies consortium that hosted event slated to receive $235,000 per year over next four years

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., received a letter this week from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saying the department will "examine" alleged anti-semitic rhetoric at a federally subsidized Middle East studies event at the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Department of Education plans to investigate a Middle East studies event hosted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina in which a Palestinian guest performer appeared to lead the attendants in anti-semitic rhetoric.

The Duke-UNC consortium on Middle East studies used $5,000 of federal grant money from DOE for the event, the News and Observer in Raleigh reported at the time.

White House threatens to veto resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales
Senate sends 22 resolutions disapproving of sales to Saudis and UAE to the House where they have good prospects for passage

President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office in 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

The White House said Thursday it would veto Senate-passed measures to block its proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.

“The transfer of these capabilities and services to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan directly supports the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of friendly countries that continue to be important forces for political and economic stability in the Middle East,” according to a statement of administration policy memo.

Leaders on collision course on member pay raise issue
Hoyer proceeding with cost of living adjustment in House, but McConnell says Senate will not include it

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., pictured here, is a proponent of raising member pay. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders seem to be on a collision course over the issue of raising members’ pay, as the two majority leaders in the House and Senate are heading in opposite directions on the politically fraught issue.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told CQ Roll Call Thursday that he expects to bring the Legislative Branch appropriations bill to the floor next week unchanged, meaning without language to block a cost-of-living adjustment to member salaries.

Trump energy plan faces legal blitz over weaker emissions standards
Democratic state AGs join environmental groups saying they’ll sue the federal government over the rule

Emissions spew from a large stack at the coal fired Brandon Shores Power Plant in Baltimore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Blue states and green groups are gearing up to sue the Trump administration over its new carbon emissions rule finalized Wednesday, which critics say fails to address climate change and the public health risks associated with pollution from the power sector.

The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule rescinds the Obama administration’s ambitious Clean Power Plan and replaces it with less stringent guidelines for states and coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions.

3 things to watch: Before any Iran conflict, Trump faces war within his own team
'Iran made a very big mistake,' president warns in cryptic tweet after U.S. drone shot down

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., are among the more promiment hawks when it comes to Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump is facing one of the biggest tests of his presidency after Iran shot down a U.S. military aircraft, prompting him to declare the islamic republic “made a very big mistake.”

His tweet at 10:16 a.m. Thursday broke the nearly 15 hours of essential White House silence on the missile takedown of the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft. But the U.S. commander in chief did not suggest he is ready to respond — even after a top Iranian official admitted the shootdown was meant as a “clear message” to Washington.

Klobuchar, others prod Uber, Lyft on recall safety
Minnesota senator leads group of Democrats questioning ride-sharing giants

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is leading a letter to Uber and Lyft abour unresolved recalls in the cars used by their drivers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is prodding the leadership of Uber and Lyft about the safety of their drivers using recalled vehicles.

Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and 2020 White House hopeful, is leading a letter to the ride-sharing companies and is being joined by three senior Democratic members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

What’s in a vote? In the Senate, it’s in the eye, or ear, of the clerk
A look at the more common voting gestures seen on the chamber floor

In the Senate, there are a lot of ways to register your vote. The classic thumbs-up, seen here, is one way to vote no. But that is just the beginning. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

How do I vote thee? Let me count the ways. 

Unlike the House, where the utilitarian electronic voting card does all the work, senators have so, so many ways to say “yes” or “no.”

When sanctions become weapons of mass disruption
A popular foreign policy tool can often have unintended consequences

Russian state energy firm Gazprom is leading work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is the target of a sanctions bill by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Ted Cruz. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

These days, it seems lawmakers believe every foreign policy challenge can be resolved by imposing sanctions.

Worried that Russia will interfere in the 2020 presidential election? Concerned about the international community bringing Syria’s Bashar Assad in from the cold? Horrified by China’s mistreatment of its Uighur Muslim community? There are sanctions bills for all of them.

Tempers flare as leaders, White House fall short on spending deal
Failure to reach agreement after top-level meeting in Capitol

Senate appropriators, led by Chairman Richard Shelby, right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy have held off on beginning their regular process of moving spending bills pending some agreement among the House, Senate and White House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A meeting of top White House officials and congressional leaders broke up Wednesday without agreement on topline funding allocations for appropriators, raising fresh doubts over their ability to avert another fiscal crisis later this year.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of upping the ante on nondefense spending from what they’d put on the table previously.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wants you to stop laughing about reparations
Writer takes aim at reparation critics like Mitch McConnell

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Dave Chappelle has a sketch imagining a future in which African Americans are awarded reparative damages due from centuries of American slavery and discrimination. The routine features newly rich black people “blowing” their payments on rims, menthol cigarettes and rap record labels. The sketch is a smorgasbord of stereotypes conveying the message that the concept of reparations is so preposterous that it’s OK to make fun of it.

But fewer people are laughing now. And that’s largely because of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and his 2014 landmark essay “The Case for Reparations.” The 15,000-word article, published in The Atlantic, didn’t just deal with chattel slavery; it focused on housing discrimination and predatory lending practices that robbed many black Americans of their wealth. According to reparations proponents, that legacy is largely responsible for the ongoing racial wealth gap, wherein the typical white family owns 10 times the assets of the typical black family.