Christopher S Murphy

Senate Opts Against Limiting Trump’s War Powers
Measure to cease most military actions in Yemen shot down

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at a rally at the Capitol last year, pushed a resolution to end most U.S. military operations in Yemen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid a whirlwind day of White House news, President Donald Trump on Tuesday retained the expanded war powers he inherited from his post-9/11 predecessors, as the Senate shot down a measure that would have ordered him to cease most U.S. military operations in Yemen.

Trump scored a victory on behalf of the executive branch’s ability to launch and sustain military operations in new countries without first getting authorization from Congress. Amid pressure from Republican leaders, the White House and the Pentagon, the chamber killed a resolution, 55-44, offered by a bipartisan group of senators that would have required Trump to cease all U.S. military action against groups other than al-Qaida in Yemen.

One-Tenth of Congress Lists Student Loan Liabilities
‘I don’t understand how young people can become teachers or work in the public service arena’

California Rep. Mark Takano, a House Education member, is still paying back student loans for a 2010 master’s degree from UC Riverside. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 115th Congress scored as one of the richest ever, but one in 10 lawmakers still holds student loan debt, either personally or for a family member. 

Fifty-three members listed a combined $1.8 million in student loans on their financial disclosures. Twenty-eight of them posted a positive net worth while 25 showed negative net worth in Roll Call’s comprehensive Wealth of Congress project.

Lawmakers Seek Quick Action on Consensus School Safety Measures
‘There are things we agree on, we should pass those things’

Demonstrators cheer for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., while attending a rally on the West Front of the Capitol to call on Congress to act on gun violence prevention during a national walkout by students on March 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators from both parties expressed their desire Wednesday to quickly pass school safety legislation that has bipartisan support as students nationwide walked out of high schools and rallied on Capitol Hill to call for federal gun laws to stop school shootings.

“There are things we agree on, we should pass those things,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students dead.

Senators Will Vote on Pulling Troops Out of Yemen, But When
Resolution could reach the floor this week, if there’s time

Sen. Mike Lee is said to be eager to get a vote on the Yemen resolution this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution that would direct the withdrawal of U.S. forces from ongoing hostilities in Yemen is ripe for Senate action, but the clogged calendar means supporters might not immediately get it to the floor.

The question may be how to shoehorn the measure on to the schedule before the next recess.

White House Says Raising Age for Gun Purchases Still on Table
Proposal unveiled over the weekend insufficient, Democrats Charge

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will head a commission to study violence in schools. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has not abandoned his support of setting the age at which individuals can buy AR-15s and similar assault rifles at 21, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.

Rather, that proposal and other gun-related proposals he has embraced since the Valentine’s Day massacre at a Florida high school are up for review via a commission headed by newly embattled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Sanders said.

Congress, Waiting for an Omnibus to Arrive
Senate staying on banking legislation, House looks at votes on guns

Lawmakers could get their first look at an omnibus spending bill this week.. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Keep an eye out for the release of a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill this week. Negotiators are aiming to complete work on the sprawling bill and pass it before March 23, when the fifth stopgap funding measure of the fiscal year expires.

The bipartisan budget deal enacted last month freed up an additional $143 billion for discretionary programs in fiscal 2018 — $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for nondefense accounts.

White House Leaves Higher Age for AR-15 Buys to States
Trump will use federal funds for teacher training, endorses two bills

Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence outside the White House on Feb. 19 after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file phtoo)

The White House on Sunday unveiled its demands for any legislation designed to prevent additional gun massacres at the country’s schools, and they exclude President Donald Trump’s endorsement of a new age restriction on assault rifles. He also wants Congress to send him two bills pronto.

The administration’s priorities list also includes using federal dollars to give “interested” teachers firearms training and the creation of a blue-ribbon commission, the kind of which Trump has mocked in the past.

One Gun Control Bill Has 60 Votes in the Senate — Now What?
Current floor schedule may prevent timely consideration of legislation

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gun-related legislation backed by President Donald Trump now has enough support to clear the Senate, increasing pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to schedule a vote on the measure.

The bill from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., that would enforce existing law related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System has 60 additional cosponsors as of Friday, an aide confirmed.

Senate Floor Time Stymies Gun Control Efforts
No floor time scheduled for any of several measures introduced

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce legislation that would prevent individuals who pose a threat from accessing guns on March 08, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Advocates and lawmakers who were hoping the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school would finally spur Congress to act have hit a familiar roadblock: the Senate floor.

While members on both sides of the aisle continue to introduce legislation on the issue and push for the chamber to consider measures that have broad bipartisan support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given no indication he intends to bring any bills up for a vote and instead has turned his attention to other policy areas, like federal oversight over financial institutions and online sex trafficking.

Trump Made No Promises to NRA, Sanders Says
‘We all ... don’t want gun control,’ gun lobbyist said after Oval Office meeting

Washington-area students and supporters protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House last month. President Trump met with NRA officials on Thursday night as he searches for a solution to school shootings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump made no promises to NRA leaders during a Thursday night meeting other than a vow to “continue to support the Second Amendment,” his top spokeswoman said Friday.

Trump’s campaign-trail description of himself as a staunch defender of Americans’ right to purchase and possess firearms “is not something that he’s backed away from,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House.