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Senate Democrats Likely to Oppose Push to Block Health Insurance Mandate
Desire to keep contentious amendments off spending bills might prevail

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., chairs the Appropriations subcommittee where any amendment on the D.C. health insurance mandate might come up first in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican amendment to a House-passed spending package that would ban the District of Columbia from implementing an individual health insurance coverage requirement is unlikely to gain steam as the Senate prepares to take up a similar measure.

It’s not clear yet if any Senate Republicans will introduce a similar amendment when the Financial Services and Interior-Environment package reaches the Senate floor, but it would likely face fierce minority opposition in the chamber, where Democrats are defending the 2010 health care law at every opportunity.

A Visit to the Balkans Casts Light on the Divisions in America
Balkan-like partisanship in the U.S. set to get more intense, experts say

The “Warrior on a Horse” statue in downtown Skopje, Macedonia. American politics has increasingly taken on a Balkan flavor with party affiliation coming in the way of finding policy solutions. (Boris Grdanoski/AP file photo)

SKOPJE, Macedonia — A statue depicting an ancient soldier, thrusting a sword skyward, on horseback, rises in the main square here. Across the Macedonian capital’s famed Stone Bridge is another, of Philip II, urging on his son.

But locals are quick to provide visitors to the Balkan nation this advice: Whatever you do, “do not” refer to the equine-mounted fighter as Alexander the Great. The statue is known simply as “Warrior on a Horse.” For now, at least.

The President’s Mission to Mars Is a Real Long Shot
Trump really wants to go to Mars, but he’ll have to convince Congress, private companies and scores of scientists

President Donald Trump receives a flight jacket from NASA officials during a bill signing ceremony last year. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

For a man known for grandiose ambitions, perhaps President Donald Trump’s most lofty is his pledge, formalized in a December order, to land a human being on the surface of Mars.

It would be easy to doubt Trump’s seriousness, given that he’s equally known for inconsistent follow-through. But Trump has raised the idea repeatedly since that order, most recently last month before the National Space Council, the advisory group Trump revived last year and tasked Vice President Mike Pence with running.

Photos of the Week: Kavanaugh Hits the Hill and Strzok Strikes Back at House
The week of July 9 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Make-A-Wish recipient and “U.S. Senator For a Day” Thomas Stephenson and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., ride the Senate Subway on Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

It’s almost the middle of July, but there’s no summer slowdown on Capitol Hill. The president’s Supreme Court pick was in the Capitol on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as senators consider his nomination to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

But the joint committee in the House that heard testimony from Peter Strzok on Thursday possibly stole the show for this week on the Hill as sparks flew between members and the FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Q&A: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
‘What we don’t know about the moon is critical’ and could change ‘the balance of power on Earth’

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is interviewed for the “CQ on Congress” podcast on June 28. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate confirmed Jim Bridenstine to lead NASA in April after months of delay related to Democrats’ concerns about his commitment to the agency’s climate research and Republican infighting over its resources.

During two terms in the House, and the start of a third, Bridenstine was a space enthusiast. He served on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and drafted an ambitious bill to overhaul the way the government manages its space resources.

Trump Taps Senate’s Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms for NASA Post
Morhard to be nominated to be deputy administrator of the space agency

Deputy Senate Sergeant at Arms James W. Morhard is interviewed by Roll Call in the Capitol, January 9, 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The deputy sergeant-at-arms of the Senate has been picked by President Donald Trump to be the deputy administrator of NASA.

James W. Morhard, who has been deputy SAA since Republicans took over the Senate majority in 2015, has largely focused on the various administrative functions of the Senate.

Fonda Elevates Voices of Women Farm and Domestic Workers on the Hill
‘I never thought I would live to see a day when women were actually heard,’ 80-year-old actress says

Jane Fonda said she has been talking to women workers since she made the film “9 to 5.” (Alex Gangitano/ Roll Call)

Actress Jane Fonda is using her celebrity to help women farm and domestic workers raise their voices on Capitol Hill.

The 80-year-old actress was in D.C. this week with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Farmworkers Women’s Alliance and the National Women’s Law Center to meet with lawmakers and ask them to pass laws to protect working women.

Republicans Back From Russia Have Advice for Trump Before Putin Summit
President needs to be prepared and perhaps not alone

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., led a congressional delegation to Russia recently, and he and his colleagues have some serious concerns about how the Russians will approach the upcoming summit with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican senators who recently returned from Moscow have some advice for President Donald Trump ahead of his meeting Monday in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Be prepared, be careful and try not to be alone.

“He better know the right Russian psyche,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby. “All he’s got to do is start with Stalin and come on up and see what’s changed.”

House Appropriators Back Indefinite Detention of Migrant Kids
DeLauro: ‘It creates a false choice: Either we take the kids away or we jail everyone together’

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, joined all the Appropriation Committee’s Republicans in backing language overturning the Flores agreement in a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern border dominated the first few hours of Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee markup of a spending bill for the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments.

As of midafternoon, committee members had gotten through only eight of up to 50 expected amendments to the fiscal 2019 $177.1 billion spending measure.

Pruitt’s Shadow May Linger Over EPA as Probes Continue
Carper: ‘It still blows my mind’

Scott Pruitt, shown here in May, may be out as EPA administrator, but he’s still casting a long shadow over the agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Scandal-plagued former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may no longer work at the agency, but at least some of the investigations into his alleged misdeeds will continue.

From the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation that has uncovered damaging allegations of Pruitt’s misuse of staff, to numerous open EPA inspector general audits of his travel spending, Pruitt’s cloud over the EPA is likely to linger as conclusions from the multiple probes trickle out through the rest of 2018.