South Dakota

Summer Reading, Lawmaker-Style
What members of Congress have been reading — and you can, too!

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., holds up his copy of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in his Cannon Building office in July 2011. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

Looking for a summer read? HOH has been asking lawmakers for months about the last book they read, and their choices have ranged from historical dives to books about their issues or districts.

Here are some of the interesting titles recommended by members of Congress.

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame
Fixing the Hill is easier said than done

Politicians aren’t always to blame for the dysfunction in Congress and the perceived solutions are more complicated than many realize, Gonzales writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After 30 years of covering Congress, David Hawkings has a good idea of how Capitol Hill works — or more important, how it doesn’t — and he laid out five key reasons why Congress is broken.

But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.

Top GOP Leader ‘Not Sure’ Where Trump is ‘Coming From’ on Shutdown Threat
John Thune says there is not much appetite for funding showdown over border wall

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the number three-ranking Republican in the Senate, said he wasn't sure where the president is coming from when it comes to border wall shutdown threats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down the government if he does not get his way on funding for his proposed border wall, but that does not mean his Republican colleagues know where he is going with such hardball tactics.

“I’m not sure ... where the president is coming from,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota said Monday of Trump’s threats over funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. “We understand he wants wall funding and we all get that, but I don’t think there’s any appetite up here for anything, you know, particularly at the end of the fiscal year, that would create problems for government funding.”

For New Veterans Affairs Chief, That Was the Easy Part
Robert Wilkie may have made it through the Senate, but the second-largest federal agency still has vacancies, other woes

Nominee Robert Wilkie is sworn in to testify in front of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in the Dirksen Building on June 27. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

His confirmation Monday drew scrutiny and nine dissenters. Now Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie must face the real challenge: repairing the sprawling agency that serves the nation’s veterans, including 9 million who receive health care benefits through the department.

The second-largest federal agency is embarking on two major initiatives — a reorganization of its private medical care options and a $15.8 billion electronic health records project — at the same time that it seeks to fill key positions overseeing them.

What You Should Know About Bob Dole at 95
Combat veteran, longtime lawmaker and former presidential candidate

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., right, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduce CIA Director Mike Pompeo, nominee for secretary of State, during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in April. Dole turned 95 Sunday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. Bob Dole turned 95 Sunday. The Kansas Republican — a decorated veteran who was grievously wounded in World War II —  served in Congress for more than 35 years and was his party’s presidential nominee in 1996.

Here are a few facts about one of the nation’s legendary lawmakers:

Thune Adding TSA, NTSB Bills to FAA Authorization
‘This may be our one shot at actually moving a major piece of legislation’

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune is including additional transportation-related bills in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, he said in a Wednesday interview.

In an effort to broaden the appeal of a four-year FAA authorization bill, he was including other committee-approved bills to authorize the Transportation Security Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The move is also an effort to clear as much of the committee’s business as possible when an opportunity for floor time arises, he said.

NRCC Names 18 Likely New Members to Young Guns ‘Vanguards’ Program
All except one are running in races rated Solid Republican

Indiana state Rep. Jim Baird, the GOP nominee in the 4th District, has been named to the NRCC’s Young Guns “Vanguards” program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday named the first members of its Young Guns “Vanguards” program for GOP candidates likely heading to Congress next year. 

Young Guns is the committee’s program to boost House candidates in competitive general election races. But there’s also a Vanguards program for those Republicans in mostly open-seat races who are favored to win in November. The NRCC first launched the program in 2010 to connect these likely new House members to the committee and GOP lawmakers.

Take Five: John Thune
South Dakota senator says ‘it was a lot easier to get things done’ before C-SPAN cameras were in the Senate chamber

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., played the piano, the tuba and sang. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John Thune, 57, a South Dakota Republican, talks about the perks of growing up in a small town and solving problems in the Senate gym.

Q: What unique perspective do you have as a former staffer?

Senate Republicans Meet Lavrov in Moscow Ahead of Trump-Putin Summit
Delegation led by Appropriations chairman Shelby

Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, shown here at a news conference at the United Nations in January, that the U.S. and Russia might be competitors, “but we don’t necessarily have to be adversaries.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday that he hoped for an improvement in relations between the United States and the Russian Federation.

“We have a strained relationship, but we could have a better relationship between he U.S. and Russia, because there’s some common interests around the world that we hopefully can work together on,” Shelby said, according to video from the meeting in Moscow. “We can be competitors. We are competitors, but we don’t necessarily need to be adversaries.”

Loss Leaders: When Voters Send Congressional Bosses Packing
Primary loss of Joseph Crowley just most recent example of electorate weighing in

Rep. Joseph Crowley’s primary loss wasn’t the first time a congressional leader had suffered an abrupt halt to his career. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley’s primary loss on Tuesday sent shock waves through the political system. But the House Democratic Caucus chairman’s defeat was far from the first time a congressional leader’s career has been abruptly halted by the voters.

It was just four years ago Virginia Republicans elevated a little-known economics professor named Dave Brat over Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. Like Crowley, Cantor was viewed as a strong contender to some day be speaker. These two men do represent something of a new trend, though: leaders losing primaries. The most recent examples of leaders losing has typically happened in the general election.