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April 28, 2015

Posts in "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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March 11, 2015

Alaska, Hawaii Senators Seek Exemption From Higher Security Fees for Their States

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Murkowski is working with Schatz and Hirono on the bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three senators from Alaska and Hawaii are pushing to exempt flights within their states from higher security fees.

The legislation is another example of the noncontiguous states trying to work together to address concerns that senators from the other 48 states might not be familiar with. Democratic Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii joined Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski in reviving the effort Wednesday. The newest delegation member from the two states, Alaska GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan, had not signed on.

Full story

March 9, 2015

Paul, Booker and Gillibrand Set to Unveil Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Marijuana at a Colorado dispensary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Marijuana at a Colorado dispensary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan trio of senators has planned a Tuesday rollout for legislation to remove federal legal barriers to the use of medical marijuana.

Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey are set to join Kentucky Republican Rand Paul for the event, shortly after noon. The new bill would make it so that medical professionals and their patients involved in the use of marijuana and cannabidiol oils for medicinal purposes would not run the risk of running afoul of federal laws.

Full story

February 26, 2015

Strong Leaving the Senate, Heading to Wisconsin for Walker

Strong is leaving Thune's office to work for Walker's political operation. (Tom Williams/CQ Eoll Call)

Strong is leaving Thune’s office to work for Walker’s political operation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s political operation has lured one of the top Republican communicators in the Senate away from the chamber.

Walker’s bringing on AshLee Strong, the spokeswoman for the Senate Republican Conference, as national press secretary to be based in Madison, a Walker aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call. She has worked for Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., for more than four years, most recently as senior communications director and chief spokesperson, and is departing the Senate after the Republicans regained the majority.

“AshLee has been a trusted advisor of mine for several years so this is bittersweet for me. I’m sad to see her go but this is a tremendous opportunity for her,” Thune said in a statement. “She’s one of the smartest communicators out there and Gov. Walker is fortunate to have her on his team.”

Full story

February 18, 2015

Hawaii Internment Camp Monument a Legacy of Akaka, Inouye

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Akaka and Inouye led efforts to secure the monument designation. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thursday’s expected announcement from President Barack Obama that the Honouliuli internment camp will become a national monument will bring to fruition an effort that dates to Hawaii’s former senators.

The process to secure the monument designation began in earnest in 2009, in much the same way many of Hawaii’s federal projects have originated for decades: through inclusion of language in an appropriations bill by the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii. Full story

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