Jeff Merkley

Indivisible Combatting Sexual Harassment at Candidate Level
Resistance group also asking candidates to commit to diversity

Indivisible is in the process of selecting its second round of endorsements. (Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group founded by former Capitol Hill staffers wants to increase pressure on congressional offices to build harassment-free environments even before members are members.

When the progressive group Indivisible Project questions candidates to see how well they align with their resistance agenda, they also ask, “If elected, will you make every effort to create work spaces for your staff that are safe and free from all forms of sexual harassment?”

Meet the Dogs of the Senate, Round III
Canine friends in the offices of Blunt, Merkley, Kennedy and Ernst

Juneau’s smile adds one to the face of everyone in Sen. Jeff Merkley's office. (Courtesy Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office)

There are a lot of dogs available for belly rubs or paw-shaking roaming the halls of Congress.

We gave you another round of dogs of the House on Monday. And back by popular demand, here is another round of dogs of the Senate.

Analysis: Trump’s Syria Strikes Highlight Congress’ War Powers Impotence
‘I would be absolutely astonished if Congress did a thing,’ expert says

President Donald Trump, flanked by new national security advisor John Bolton, on April 9 at the White House. Four days later, he ordered new cruise missile strikes in Syria. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Even as President Donald Trump has in recent weeks built a more hawkish national security team and again fired missiles at Syrian targets, Congress is not likely to take back the war-making powers it has steadily given up.

The days leading up to Friday night’s strikes by U.S., French and British forces on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons infrastructure offered a telling illustration of how this Congress, like most since World War II, has struggled to play its constitutional role in America’s armed conflicts.

Sen. Jeff Merkley Tests 2020 Waters With New Hampshire Visit
Oregon Democrat rails against Trump, Koch brothers, Senate Republicans

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley visited New Hampshire over the weekend, testing the waters for a potential presidential run in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley made his first stops in New Hampshire over the weekend, fanning speculation that he is considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

The Oregon Democrat is in his second term and has built a résumé as one of the most progressive members of his caucus.

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite garish visual aids from a month of congressional floor-watching

(C-SPAN screenshot)

Tributes to the late Billy Graham, talking points about the Russia investigation, touts for the Republican’s tax bill — watching the House and Senate floors can be a thankless task. But the floor charts make it all worthwhile.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help get the point across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call now provides a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

State of the Union Guest List
Who lawmakers are bringing this year and what issues they represent

Claudia Sofía Báez Solá, left, who was sent to live with relatives in Florida after Hurricane Maria, will be going to the State of the Union as the guest of Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla. (Courtesy Rep. Soto’s office)

As President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union on Tuesday, a few issues will stand out in the crowd.

Members of Congress each get one guest ticket for the address. While some use them for family or friends, others bring a guest who puts a face to an issue they’re pushing.

How Republicans and Democrats Reacted to Trump-Mueller Report
Democrats cry foul, GOP zips lips over story that president ordered Russia special counsel fired last year

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., both expressed alarm at a New York Times report that President Donald Trump tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans and Democrats took up their usual positions after news broke that President Donald Trump ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in June, only to drop the demand when the top White House lawyer threatened to quit.

Democratic lawmakers were predictably outraged.

Grassley Moves on Judicial Nominee Over Baldwin’s Objections
Lack of state commission recommendation, as well as blue slip process, being disregarded

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., objected to an appeals court nominee from her state, but Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is disregarding her opposition, part of an erosion of Senate influence over the federal judiciary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Wednesday for an appeals court nominee from Wisconsin over the objections of Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a move that could portend a weakened influence of senators over federal judicial picks from their states.

By scheduling the hearing, Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa sided with the Trump administration and the executive branch instead of his Senate colleague when it comes to the sway a senator has in recommending who should sit on the federal bench.

Senate Republicans Steamroll Judicial Process
‘Advice’ dwindles in the GOP’s rush for judges

(iStock)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans hardly could have done more last year to help President Donald Trump reshape the nation’s federal courts with conservative appointees.

They put Justice Neil Gorsuch in a Supreme Court seat, one they blocked Barack Obama from filling during his last year in the White House. Then they approved a dozen Trump picks for the influential appeals courts that have the final say on the vast majority of the nation’s legal disputes — a record number for a president’s first year in office.

Amtrak Safety — or Danger — Needs a Hearing, Cantwell Says
Transportation Chairman Thune planning to deliver one

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has requested a congressional hearing on Amtrak safety after the derailment Monday in her state that killed three. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Maria Cantwell has sent a letter requesting a congressional inquiry into Amtrak safety procedures in light of the Monday derailment in Washington state that killed three people and injured dozens more.

After Monday’s crash, at least 22 people have died as a result of Amtrak derailments and crashes since 2011. The train system has averaged roughly two derailments per month in recent years, Federal Railroad Administration statistics show.