Richard J Durbin

Debate on e-cigarettes lights up 10 years after FDA tobacco law
Calls grow for agency, Congress to do more after spike in teen use

Florida Rep. Donna E. Shalala says Congress must update the 2009 law that gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A decade after Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products, there is a growing sense that the law should be revisited to address a product that lawmakers barely knew about in June 2009: electronic cigarettes.

The tension lies in how to balance e-cigarettes’ potential benefits with their clear risks. While e-cigarettes may offer a less harmful alternative for adults who smoke combustible cigarettes, they can appeal to young people who never would have smoked.

Sen. King calls out drugmakers suing to keep drug list prices out of TV ads
Drug pricing transparency is one area where Trump administration is imposing new regulations

Sens. Angus King, right, and Richard Burr arrive for an all senators briefing on November 28, 2018. King in a Monday tweet called out drugmakers suing to prevent a Trump administration rule requiring them to include list prices in TV ads. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Angus King called out drugmakers suing to prevent a Trump administration rule requiring them to include list prices in their TV ads.

Drug manufacturers Amgen, Merck and Eli Lilly teamed up with the Association of National Advertisers to challenge the rule making drugmakers put list prices in ads. The suit was filed Friday in federal court against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Democrats join Trump in whining about tariffs on wine
Feinstein, others call on administration to push for removing duties on U.S. wine

Democratic lawmakers want the Trump administration to ensure any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on U.S. wine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Concerns about tariffs on wine are leaving a sour taste both on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

But this wine isn’t skunked, it’s tainted by retaliatory Chinese tariffs, lawmakers say.

Trump calls Dems ‘DO NOTHING PARTY’ after Pelosi says he ‘took a pass’ by storming out
White House official walks back president’s threat, signals shutdown-averting talks will continue

Marine One, with President Trump aboard, departs the White House earlier this week. Trump and congressional Democrats are trading barbs again after yet another contentious meeting. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump, increasingly in re-election mode, on Thursday labeled Democrats the “DO NOTHING PARTY!” a day after their leaders accused him of being unprepared for a meeting on an infrastructure plan and simply “taking a pass” on the issue.

But even as the president suggested dealmaking on major legislation is frozen until House Democrats’ probes end, a White House official signaled talks on bills that must pass to avert another full or partial government shutdown will continue.

Republicans reviewing Democrats’ latest disaster aid offer
Chair declined to provide offer details, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 7, 2019. On Wednesday Shelby said Republicans are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims, which includes money for addressing an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican negotiators are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims that would also handle a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., declined to provide details on the offer, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week.

After Iran briefings, Democrats in Congress want to know more, sooner
Republicans generally on board with Trump administration moves

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the Trump administration officials briefing lawmakers on Iran on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Intelligence briefings on U.S. relations with Iran Tuesday left Democrats in both the Senate and the House unsure of what the Trump administration’s objectives are following recent heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, briefed lawmakers on their strategic campaign to push back against what he called “Iran’s malign activity” and described the country as participating in 40 years of terrorist activity.

Americans may vote in 2020 using old, unsecured machines

Despite widespread concern about the integrity of voting machines and their cyber security, many Americans will vote in 2020 using technology that is old, outdated and vulnerable to hacking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first primary in the 2020 presidential race is a little more than 250 days away, but lawmakers and experts worry that elections will be held on voting machines that are woefully outdated and that any tampering by adversaries could lead to disputed results.

Although states want to upgrade their voting systems, they don’t have the money to do so, election officials told lawmakers last week.

Graham aims to advance border security bill in early June
Bill would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities to address a surge of migrants arriving at the southwest border

Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., prepare for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on prescription drugs on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.  Graham said he is willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to craft a limited immigration bill that would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said he is willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to craft a limited immigration bill in short order that would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities in an attempt to address the surge of migrants arriving at the southwest border.

Speaking with a sense of urgency, the South Carolina Republican said at a news conference Wednesday that he will introduce a bill later this week that would: require immigrants to apply for U.S. asylum in their home countries instead of at the border; hire more immigration judges to reduce the case backlog that already exceeds 800,000; and modify a court settlement that currently limits the amount of time migrant children can be held in detention while they await adjudication.

Still no public timeline for Jared Kushner immigration plan
Presidential son-in-law briefed Senate GOP on details Tuesday

Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, stepped out of the Vice President’s office in the Senate Reception Room for a phone call Tuesday after attending the Senate Republicans’ weekly policy lunch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When White House senior adviser Jared Kushner came to visit Senate Republicans on Tuesday to reportedly discuss an immigration overhaul he is developing, he did not have a full plan ready to go for solving what his own party says is a crisis.

Multiple Republican senators said there was no evidence that the Trump administration has set a timeline for a public rollout, but Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, did present some ideas that were new to many members of the conference.

Pentagon moves $1.5 billion more to border wall
Senate Democrats, led by Durbin, are contesting the decision

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., is the top Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:02 p.m. | The Defense Department is taking $1.5 billion from what officials there are calling lower-priority programs and redirecting it toward projects aimed at securing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Pentagon budget document.

The shift brings to $2.5 billion the amount of defense money diverted to date for the border wall project, with up to $3.6 billion more to come from military construction projects under President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration issued in January.