politics

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon brings military experience and political savvy to his new job
A former Raytheon lobbyist Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and a corporate lobbyist

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., left, speaks with then-Secretary Of The Army Mark Esper before the start of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Esper has been tapped to be acting defense secretary by President Donald Trump after tweeting that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon.

In two tweets on Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job and Esper was promoted to the post, at least temporarily.

Judge who said being transgender is a ‘delusion’ nearing confirmation
Democratic senators and LGBT advocates have voiced concerns over one of Trump’s most controversial nominees

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is seen before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Collins announced she would oppose Matthew Kacsmaryk’s nomination because his “extreme” statements “indicate an alarming bias against the rights of LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic senators and LGBT advocates want to stop the confirmation of one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees this week, but the fight underscores just how powerless they are to do so without help from Republicans.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled floor votes starting Tuesday afternoon for a slate of appointments including Matthew Kacsmaryk to be a judge for the Northern District of Texas. The Kentucky Republican has used a 53-47 majority and streamlined floor rules to quickly confirm 34 judicial nominees this year.

With ‘Kamala’s Corner,’ Harris wants to speak directly to black women
The Democratic candidate gets her own column in Essence Magazine

Sen. Kamala Harris is polling fourth in South Carolina, an early primary state where black voters make up about 60 percent of the Democratic electorate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kamala Harris hopes to reach a key Democratic voting bloc with her new column in Essence Magazine, a periodical geared toward African American women and a staple in black households for almost 50 years.

For Harris, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, “Kamala’s Corner” gives her an opportunity to speak directly to a black female party base that might not yet be familiar with the political newcomer. Black women make up a significant portion of Democratic primary voters and also play an important role as party organizers.

Group that backed AOC targeting longtime New York Rep. Eliot Engel
Public school educator Jamaal Bowman, 43, will challenge longtime House Democrat in 2020 primary

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., will face educator Jamaal Bowman in a Democratic primary in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Longtime New York Rep. Eliot L. Engel is getting a primary challenger who has support from the progressive group that backed New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her bid for office.

Jamaal Bowman, 43, a public school principal from the Bronx, announced Tuesday he is challenging Engel in the Democratic primary for New York’s 16th District, a longtime bastion for the party.

Spending talks between White House, Hill leadership to resume Wednesday
A round of meetings on May 21 with the same principals involved got off to a positive start, but then petered out in the afternoon

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference in the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. He told reporters he planned to push for “robust” funding levels during spending talks, and also said he’d make a pitch for election security funds to combat foreign interference. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The four top congressional leaders from both parties plan to sit down again Wednesday morning with senior Trump administration officials to try to hammer out an agreement on next year’s spending levels.

The talks at the Capitol will include acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and acting budget director Russell Vought, according to sources familiar with the plans.

Tariffs on Chinese-made car seats and baby gates could put children at risk, industry worries
China’s role as manufacturer of juvenile products is so important, switching suppliers could force price increases and imperil safety, experts testified

A shipping container is offloaded from the Hong Kong based CSCL East China Sea container ship at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2018 in Oakland, California. U.S. president Donald Trump’s trade policy imposing escalating tariffs with China could impact the price of baby gates and child car seats, putting low-income families at risk, industry leaders said during testimony at the U.S. International Trade Commission. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The administration’s trade policy ran head on into infant safety on Monday as U.S. juvenile products suppliers argued to a panel of U.S. regulators that tariffs on car seats and baby gates could put children in low-income families at risk.

“Our message to American families should be clear,” said Lisa Trofe, of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. “The importance of this trade war does not exceed the importance of baby safety.”

Jon Stewart ups pressure on McConnell to shore up 9/11 survivor fund
‘You love the 9/11 community when it serves your political interests. But when they’re in urgent need, you slow-walk,’ he said

Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart holds up the jacket of first responder Ray Pfeifer before testifying at a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund in Washington on June 11, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Jon Stewart ratcheted up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in a late-night television appearance Monday night.

On “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the comedian continued to lobby for restoring payments to 9/11 responders and survivors who face medical bills and lost compensation. Stewart gave emotional testimony to the House Judiciary Committee last week, urging the Kentucky Republican to reauthorize the shrinking fund and not use it as a bargaining chip. 

Is the census ready for its online debut?
Census Bureau says it’s prepared for security threats, but watchdogs raise doubts

The prospect of an external attack has driven the Census Bureau to lean on the Department of Homeland Security. Above, workers attend a training session in Houston in February 2016. (Scott Dalton/Houston Census Office)

Next year the federal government will launch its largest public-facing online portal in years, for an undertaking facing risks ranging from foreign cyberattacks to collapsing under its own weight: the 2020 census.

For the first time, the census will rely on online responses, one of a slew of technological upgrades by the Census Bureau that also includes computerized address verification. Those changes have watchdogs worried, despite assurances by the bureau that it will be ready when the census is rolled out in Alaska starting in January. 

Running for re-election the Trump way — with half the country against you
President’s Orlando kick-off could be the high point of his re-election campaign

President Donald Trump kicks off his re-election campaign, officially, in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday night. Despite a healthy economy, he has his challenges ahead of him in seeking a second term, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — When Donald Trump declares his candidacy for a second term Tuesday night in Orlando, the line of supporters fighting to get in will stretch from Disney World to the Everglades.

Many people are already saying that Trump is such a favorite for re-election that all 23 Democrats will withdraw after they make fools of themselves criticizing the Greatest Economy in World History during next week’s debates. Already, there is a huge movement to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Donald J. Trump can be anointed as President for Life.

Trump targets Florida electoral haul with Orlando campaign kick-off
Booming and diverse state presents challenge, and is key to re-election bid

Bikers after a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., last November. For President Donald Trump, any hopes of winning a second term depend on him winning Florida and its 29 electoral votes again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump will pull out all the stops Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, when he announces his re-election bid in a state he narrowly won in 2016 and needs again as he tries to reconfigure the electoral map that put him in the White House.

But Democrats are already countering his expected message of a strong economy and tough trade tactics, arguing that Trump’s tariffs are hurting middle-class voters and causing battleground states to shed jobs. That’s the message the party and many of its 2020 candidates are pushing in hopes of reversing Hillary Clinton’s 1-point loss in the Sunshine State three years ago.