Orrin G Hatch

Hatch Blasts White House Trade Policy, Seeks Action On Trade Imbalances
Finance chairman takes aim at China over steel and aluminum production, intellectual property

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, said that the U.S. is currently in “one of the most challenging trade environments” that he has seen in his four decades in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch on Tuesday issued a blistering critique of the Trump administration’s trade policy and called on the White House to take action to remedy imbalances with trade partners like China and the European Union. 

The Utah Republican, speaking at a Business Roundtable event with the Farmers for Free Trade, highlighted the threat posed to the U.S. economy by “external opponents and internal skeptics.” 

Romney Could Create ‘New Power Center’ in Senate, Flake Says
Arizona Republican: Senate needs ‘an independent voice’

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the Senate needs someone like Mitt Romney. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the same day former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney filed to run for Senate in Utah, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake said the chamber needs someone like Romney to be an “independent voice.”

“We need Mitt Romney in the Senate,” the Arizona Republican said Thursday at an event at the National Press Club. “We need an independent voice, somebody who will enter the Senate chamber with immediate gravitas and someone who can work across the aisle, and actually, I think, create a whole new power center in the Senate. I think that’s desperately needed.”

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.

Despite Rancor On Tariffs, Senate GOP Rejects Legislative Response
What started off as a war cry has been reduced to a whimper

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says nullifying tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imposed by the president isn't in the cards for his chamber. Also pictured, from right, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans, after decrying President Donald Trump’s recently announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, have no plans to pursue legislation to block them from going into effect.

“The thought that the president would undo action he’s taken strikes me as remote at best and I’d like to use floor time in the Senate for things that actually have a chance to become law,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll be dealing with that in a legislative way.”

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.

Ignoring GOP Pleas, Trump Sets Tariffs In Motion
Canada, Mexico initially exempt when import fees start March 23

President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb 23. His steel and aluminum tariffs will take effect March 23. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated at 4:22 p.m. | President Donald Trump on Thursday set in motion tariffs that will slap fees on many imports of steel and aluminum, moving ahead with a major part of his “America first” philosophy above the loud objections of Republican lawmakers.

“People are starting to realize how important it is,” Trump said just before signing in the Roosevelt Room. He said a “strong steel and aluminum industry” is “absolutely vital” for national security, predicting his action will trigger the reopening of American production facilities.

Opinion: Lawmakers Not Fit to Wear Mister Rogers’ Cardigan
Where is his spirit? Not in Washington

The sordid chaos in Washington is a reminder of how far we have strayed from the example of “Mister Rogers,” Curtis writes. (Courtesy PBS.org/Facebook)

Do you remember “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”? I certainly do. It was my go-to and much appreciated moment of calm when my son was small. And I was as much of a fan as he was.

The PBS show celebrated the 50th anniversary of its national broadcast debut with a special, “It’s You I Like,” which aired this week. During its time, the show, less kinetic than “Sesame Street,” which had its own unique charm, wit and silliness, was sometimes mocked for its simplicity and for the decidedly “un-cool” characteristics of the man at the center.

Trump-GOP Marriage Sours Again Amid Tariff Tussle
Republican congressional leaders not ruling out counter action

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, second lady Karen Pence, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump at last Wednesday’s ceremony for the late Billy Graham at the Capitol. (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)

In this corner are two wealthy businessmen, Donald Trump and Wilbur Ross. In the opposing corner are Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch and just about the entire Republican conference.

Not long ago, Trump boasted of leading the most unified Republican Party in American history. A few weeks later, his talk of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and declaration that “trade wars are good” have caused this marriage of convenience to sour.