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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.

U.N. pick asked why almost half her days as Canada’s ambassador were spent elsewhere
Menendez noted the U.N. ambassador was away from her post for 300 days from Oct. 23, 2017, to June 19, 2019

Kelly Knight Craft, nominee to be ambassador to Canada, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017. She was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.N. ambassador, who is also a close friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada.

Kelly Knight Craft, a longtime Republican Party fundraiser and business consultant from Kentucky whose billionaire husband’s fortune comes from the coal business, does not have the diplomatic resume typical for envoys to the U.N. But her friendship with Kentucky Republican McConnell virtually guarantees her confirmation.

Trump EPA answer to Obama Clean Power Plan ‘does virtually nothing‘ to curb CO2
The new rule combines a Clean Power Plan repeal with new, less stringent emissions reductions guidelines

A flag hangs over an entrance to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on April 22, 2017. The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan, scrapped by President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA finalized a rule Wednesday that would replace the Obama administration’s signature carbon emissions plan and give states more flexibility in emissions reduction, even as environmental advocates worry about the potential for increased pollution and threaten to sue.

The Affordable Clean Energy rule is the Trump EPA’s answer to the 2015 Clean Power Plan, which for the first time set nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants across the country.

James Inhofe and the art of the bipartisan joke
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 78

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe and ranking member Jack Reed have a warm relationship that enables them to move bipartisan legislation, something Inhofe discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. James M. Inhofe is one conservative guy, and he is proud of it, trumpeting vote-tracking organizations that peg him as the most right-wing in the chamber. And yet, the Oklahoma Republican has an equally proud history of working with some of his most liberal colleagues on bipartisan legislation. 

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking Democrat, constructed the highly popular defense authorization bill the last two years. And before that, he worked quite productively with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the yin to Inhofe’s yang on environmental issues, as leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee. This, despite Inhofe writing a book that claimed global warming was, as the title attested, “The Greatest Hoax.” And yet, “We prided ourselves in getting things done,” he says. 

Mitt Romney and Rand Paul speak up against ‘no budget, no pay’
Senate panel attaches proposal to government shutdown prevention measure

Sen. Mitt Romney opposes withholding member pay because of government shutdowns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Rand Paul might not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but the two former presidential candidates agree that it’s a bad idea to withhold lawmaker pay because of government shutdowns.

The senators from Utah and Kentucky spoke up against the latest “no budget, no pay” proposal — this one from Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida — as well as a similar offering from Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona during a meeting of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Sen. Rubio wants to stop Huawei from filing U.S. patent lawsuits
‘We should not allow China government backed companies to improperly use our legal system against us,’ Rubio said in a tweet

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., talks with reporters after the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon on May 14, 2019. Rubio filed an amendment to a defense authorization bill barring Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from pursuing intellectual property claims against U.S. Companies if the administration finds the company poses an "undue risk" to telecommunication systems. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio wants to make sure that the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies can’t pursue intellectual property claims against U.S. companies if the administration finds the company poses an “undue risk” to telecommunication systems.

The Florida Republican filed the amendment to a defense authorization bill. It anticipates a finding from the Commerce Department that Huawei poses the risk and comes amid reports that the Chinese company is considering taking U.S. companies to court over patent disputes.

Have the flood Gaetz been opened?
Hannity offers Florida congressman an opportunity to host his show

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday night he would gladly fill in for the conservative talk show host. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If being a member of Congress wasn’t enough of a platform to voice ardent opinions and loyalties, Rep. Matt Gaetz might get an hourlong window of opportunity on America’s most-watched cable network — that is, when Sean Hannity takes a night off.

The conservative talk show host offered the congressman an invitation to “fill in” after the Florida Republican joked that he was “the only one on the show not getting paid” during an appearance on Hannity’s Tuesday show where he discussed President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign relaunch in Orlando. Hannity jabbed at the representative’s decision to appear on “fake news CNN,” where, the television host claimed, nobody watches Gaetz and is a waste of time and energy. Gaetz agreed.

Drums of looming Iran war resound in Congress
As NDAA debate begins, McConnell urges colleagues ‘to keep these deadly serious developments at the top of our minds’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged colleagues to keep Iran developments at the top of their minds. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is launching a debate on its annual defense authorization bill this week amid the specter of war with Iran.

It is not clear to what extent possible U.S. military strikes on Iran will play a role in debate on the $750 billion measure or, for that matter, in a separate vote this week on blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch foe.

Has Booker’s Jersey political experience prepared him to take on Trump?
N.J. Democrat talks about fighting a Newark political machine that used Trump-like tactics

As he’s doing in Iowa as a presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker invested heavily in retail politics when he started out in politics, challenging the political machine in Newark, N.J., including an unsuccessful 2002 battle for mayor. (Mike Derer/AP file photo)

This is the second installment in a series, “Battle Tested,” that analyzes early campaigns run by some Democrats seeking the presidential nomination. For our first story, on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, click here.

When New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker talks about defeating President Donald Trump, he often alludes to another political battle.

Want a more diverse Congress? Bite the bullet and raise the pay
Paying your congressperson more than your plumber makes sense

Last week, Steny Hoyer found out just how unpopular a congressional pay raise can be — but it’s the only thing that can stave off a Congress of the super-rich, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — If there’s one thing less popular than Congress right now, it’s giving Congress a pay raise. Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy found that out the hard way last week when, despite a bipartisan agreement to quietly give a 2.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment to House members, the entire agreement blew up when House freshmen from both parties balked at voting to raise their own salaries.

Complaining about Congress and the money they make is a tradition as old as the country itself, especially in times of recession or government debts. A 1955 political cartoon in the Richmond Times Leader once showed a bag of money labeled “Pay Raise for Congress” running like a thief down a dark alley, and the sentiment in America hasn’t changed much since then.