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May 22, 2015

Posts in "Potpourri"

May 19, 2015

Mike Lee Takes Town Halls to YouTube, Ustream

Mike Lee has turned video town halls into monthly events. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee has tstreamrned video town halls into regular events. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

About once a month, Sen. Mike Lee’s Capitol Hill office turns into a television studio.

Since February of 2013, the Utah Republican has convened regular video town halls, with professional quality broadcast equipment that’s been put to regular use.

And now that Lee and his staff have moved into more spacious quarters on the third floor of the Russell Senate Office Building, there’s even a fireplace. A Lee aide said it’s the only such regular video session in the Senate, though it seems more are sure to follow as lawmakers are always looking for new ways to reach constituents.

Full story

May 8, 2015

Behind a Resolution, a Story About a Stroke

Stroke Resolution

Blumenthal’s office was contacted by the Angerames in 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of Congress introduce resolutions all the time expressing support for one cause or another that get little or no attention, but the truth is that they all have back stories.

Last week, lawmakers introduced what’s become an annual resolution supporting the designation of May as Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. Last year’s version moved through the Senate by unanimous consent just before the chamber took the Memorial Day recess. It’s a resolution inspired by a young man from Connecticut who was afflicted with a pediatric stroke.

The parents of Patch Angerame reached out to Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office back in 2011, facing the prospects of choosing between exorbitant medical bills or not providing their son with proper care because of insurance issues.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:48 p.m.
Potpourri

May 5, 2015

George Mitchell Tells His Favorite Tales in New Memoir

Warner, left, and Mitchell shared a laugh with Mitchell's wife years later at the Mitchell portrait unveiling. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Warner, left, and Mitchell share a laugh with Mitchell’s wife at the Mitchell portrait unveiling. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not long after George J. Mitchell gave up a federal judgeship in Maine for an appointment to the Senate, he found himself sleeping on a cot.

The Maine Democrat who would go on to become majority leader writes in a new memoir out Tuesday, published by Simon & Schuster, that an old-fashioned all-night filibuster followed shortly after his arrival, the kind that in 1980 meant senators would have to catch naps on cots not far from the Senate floor.

Full story

April 28, 2015

Durbin: ‘Tax and Spend’ for Medical Research

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Richard J. Durbin returned to his alma mater Monday evening for a lecture that lived up to its name.

The talk by the Illinois Democrat in the old Riggs Memorial Library on Georgetown University’s main campus was billed as “The Case for Good Government: What the Demagogues and Deniers Don’t Get (or Won’t Admit).”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:08 p.m.
Policy, Potpourri

April 15, 2015

Life as Jon Tester’s Executive Assistant

Tester and Jackson sit down for an interview in the senator's Capitol hideaway. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tester and Jackson sit down for an interview in the senator’s Capitol hideaway. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With 14 fingers between them, there’s never a shortage of joke material for Montana Sen. Jon Tester and his executive assistant, Luke Jackson: catching, texting, meat grinders.

During last month’s vote-a-rama — from the couch in Tester’s hideaway office in the bowels of the Capitol to a hallway just off the Senate floor — their laughter made an endless day of nonbinding amendment votes tolerable, at least for one particular hour spent with CQ Roll Call. Full story

April 14, 2015

Walter Isaacson to Speak at Next Bipartisan Senate Lunch

Walter Isaacson, center, will address a bipartisan Senate lunch. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Isaacson, center, will address a bipartisan Senate lunch. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is time again for the Senate to get together for a bipartisan lunch.

Noted author Walter Isaacson, the president of the Aspen Institute, is set to speak with senators Wednesday afternoon, according to leadership aides. It follows a similar lunch in early February where senators heard from some of their colleagues new and old about their experiences.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:41 p.m.
Potpourri

What’s ‘Life After Congress’ for a Temporary Senator?

Cowan talks with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, during the dedication event for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston on March 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cowan talks with Sen. Angus King during the dedication event for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston on March 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BOSTON — Sporting a Red Sox cap and a fleece jacket emblazoned with the logo of his law firm, you wouldn’t know that the man in the corner booth of a diner was a historic figure, one of just nine African-Americans to have ever served in the United States Senate.

But retired Sen. William “Mo” Cowan of Massachusetts might well prefer it that way when he visits establishments such as Victoria’s Diner in the Dorchester neighborhood here, since he never intended to be a senator in the first place.

Full story

April 9, 2015

At Appomattox, Tim Kaine Calls for Unity

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“So will we look for new opportunities to lay down arms — physical, verbal, spiritual — and unify one with another?” Sen. Tim Kaine asked Thursday, standing on the hallowed ground at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.

Kaine was among those to speak at a ceremony held 150 years after Robert E. Lee surrendered at that very site.

“Simply put, while all here 150 years ago understood the surrender was momentous, none could have imagined how the actual event, the reunification of our nation, would mean to the future history of the entire world,” the Virginia Democrat said. “And that thought must challenge us today.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 7:30 p.m.
Potpourri

April 1, 2015

Senators Want 2018 World Cup Taken Away From Putin

Menendez and of his colleageus

Menendez and of 12 his colleagues want the 2018 World Cup yanked from Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan coalition of 13 senators is asking soccer’s governing body to give consideration to relocating the 2018 World Cup out of Russia, citing the the incursion into the territory of Ukraine.

Led by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the group asks FIFA to deny Russian President Vladimir Putin the honor of hosting the soccer tournament.

“Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions,” the senators wrote.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:36 a.m.
Policy, Potpourri

March 30, 2015

Even Senators Are Awestruck by Ted Kennedy’s Senate Chamber

hang out in a life-size replica of the Senate Chamber during a gala that was part of the dedication ceremony for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, Mass., March 29, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators Whitehouse and Levin hang out in a life-size replica of the Senate Chamber during a gala that was part of the dedication ceremony for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston on Mar. 29 (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BOSTON — There are few places in the political world as awe inspiring as the Senate chamber, but there’s now a pretty darn good modern replica that will be a living legacy for the liberal lion, Edward M. Kennedy.

Stepping onto the floor of the replica Senate chamber through the doorway that might be most often used by Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that is the highlight of the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute is, in a word, surreal.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 8:39 a.m.
Potpourri

March 26, 2015

Live, On Periscope, From the Vote-a-Rama

Moran and Thune were live on Periscope during the vote-a-rama. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Moran and Thune on Periscope during the vote-a-rama. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

For a pair of Republican senators, the budget vote-a-rama seemed like a great time to demonstrate they aren’t luddites.

Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Jerry Moran of Kansas teamed up to shoot a brief video using the Periscope live-streaming app to share with their constituents (and all of the Internet) what the Senate is doing on what will be an exceptionally long night.

Full story

Senators Launch Effort to ‘Cut Red Tape’

Lankford (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lankford (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“People don’t get up every morning and read the Federal Register.”

That, Sen. James Lankford said Thursday morning, is the crux of the reason why the Oklahoma Republican is joining Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to launch a new initiative at their Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee that’s responsible for regulatory policy called #CutRedTape, through which they want ordinary Americans — like those without lobbyists — to share concerns about federal regulations.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:01 p.m.
Potpourri

March 25, 2015

Harry Reid, GOP Senators Join Forces to Approve Highway (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:11 p.m. | Harry Reid’s bid to push a new highway through Nevada before he faces the voters next year has a powerful Republican ally — James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma.

The minority leader’s re-election fight is sure to be one of the most contentious of 2016, but under the Dome, the push for an extended Interstate 11 from southern Arizona to Interstate 80 in the northern part of the Silver State is a bipartisan affair.

The junior senator from Nevada, Republican Dean Heller of Nevada, sponsored the legislation and wrote a letter backing it in May 2014.

In addition to Reid, the highway is also backed by Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of Arizona — as well as Inhofe, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. McCain is also up for re-election next year.

Full story

March 24, 2015

Inhofe’s Revenge on FAA, Round 2

Inhofe has been licensed to fly since the mid-1950s. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Inhofe has been licensed to fly since the mid-1950s. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10 p.m. | Sen. James M. Inhofe kicked off budget week with a floor speech on the sequel to his Pilot’s Bill of Rights, which the Oklahoma Republican acknowledged Monday “is not a big deal to the general public, but it is to anyone who is a pilot.”

That includes the 80-year-old senator, who has been navigating the skies for more than half a century. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:10 p.m.
Potpourri

March 20, 2015

Democrats Take Aim at Liquid Detergent Packaging

Nelson, Durbin and Speier, say the liquid detergent packets look like bite-sized candy. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Nelson, Durbin and Speier say the liquid detergent packets look like bite-sized candy. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

“Now that’s pretty attractive,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, eyeing a half dollar-sized packet of liquid laundry detergent on Thursday morning, before stroking the squishy blue orb against his well-tanned jaw.

“And it feels really nice to the touch,” the Florida Democrat cooed. “And it smells good,” he added, coaxing a reporter covering the news conference on liquid detergent package poisoning to pass his prop on to the cameramen. “Pass it on because until you touch it, you don’t realize how attractive it is.”

Nelson’s theatrical performance elicited some laughter during an otherwise somber presentation that featured a mother whose 8-month-old daughter ended up in intensive care after biting into one of the colorful, bite-sized packages of highly concentrated, single-load detergent. Liquid detergent packaging exposure is also linked to the death of a 7-month-old boy in Florida.

“It ought to be common sense that things that are attractive are going to enter into the mouth of an infant,” Nelson said. He also took a quick swipe at one of Democrats’ favorite foes, e-cigarettes, comparing the colorful detergent to liquid vials of nicotine.

In response to recent poisonings, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin has introduced legislation that would give the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission the authority and direction to issue rules requiring safer, child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent products within 18 months of enactment. Six Senate Democrats, including Nelson, are co-sponsoring the bill.

Durbin and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., sponsor of companion legislation, also wrote to the commission, asking them to help. “The problem with that is government moves slowly,” Durbin said. “And while the government is moving slowly, if it does move in the right direction, kids are at risk.”

Nelson, Durbin and Speier called on industry giants, starting with Procter & Gamble, to add protections to their products. They suggest changing the design and color of the liquid detergent packets to make them less appealing to children, changing the composition of the packets to make consequences of exposure less severe and adding proper warning labels.

“If it had a bitter taste to it, the kid might spit it out right off the bat,” Durbin said. The lawmakers plan to abandon the bill if those voluntary standards are accepted and put into practice. Durbin urged the industry: “Don’t wait. Do it yourself, and do it in a hurry, because kids lives are at risk here.”

Related:

Democrats Renew Press for Curbs on E-Cigarettes

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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