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Criminal Justice Overhaul Efforts Appear Stuck
House and Senate Judiciary panels have taken different approaches

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he expects criminal justice legislation to hit the House floor in the next few weeks with bipartisan support. But the Senate appears to have decided on a different course. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House action on a criminal justice overhaul bill this week appears to have done little to change the political dynamic in the Senate that makes it unlikely Congress will act on the issue this year.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on Wednesday that aims to prepare federal prisoners for release so they are less likely to commit another crime. A co-author of the bill, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, said in an interview Thursday he expected the measure would hit the House floor “in the next few weeks, and we’ll have strong bipartisan support.”

Gina Haspel Performs Well but Raises More Questions During Hearing
Suggests she has handled declassification decisions about her own background

Gina Haspel, nominee to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is sworn in before testifying during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Nothing Gina Haspel said during the open portion of her Senate confirmation hearing seemed likely to derail her nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, and she picked up some needed Democratic support along the way. 

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who serves on the Intelligence panel, was the first Democrat out of the gate to support Haspel.

Trump Calls for Sen. Tester’s Resignation Over VA Nominee Saga
Navy admiral may still face review of allegations

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., attends a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Nov. 1. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with Democratic Sen. Jon Tester on Saturday morning, using a tweet to call for the Veterans Affairs Committee ranking member to resign.

The Montana senator on Wednesday made public allegations from whistleblowers against Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s military physician and nominee to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, that helped him decide to step aside.

Ratings Changes: Duking It Out in Six Gubernatorial Races
State races could have national impact

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has won three statewide elections, including a recall contest, but his race for a third term is likely to get more competitive, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While most of the national attention is on the fight for Congress and President Donald Trump’s tweets, this year is also huge for gubernatorial races, providing an opportunity for Democrats to bounce back from a couple of disappointing cycles.

Republicans are defending 26 of their 33 governorships this year, while Democrats are defending nine of their 16 governorships. One independent governor in Alaska is up for re-election as well.

Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as Pruitt’s Deputy at EPA
Heitkamp and Manchin join Republicans on vote

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt now has a deputy — a former fossil fuel lobbyist — after a Senate confirmation vote Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as deputy EPA administrator, providing a second-in-command for Administrator Scott Pruitt as he struggles amid alleged ethical failings.

Wheeler was confirmed Thursday with a 53-45 vote. Some Democrats hoped Pruitt’s difficulties would give them the votes to block the confirmation, but their efforts were not enough. Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined Republicans in voting for Wheeler. Both are running for re-election this year in states won by President Donald Trump.

Dems Question Scott Pruitt Death Threats; Barrasso Rejects Hearing
EPA chief's security concerns questioned

Senate Democrats question whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is embellishing death threats to justify heightened security details and want to question him in a hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming said he will not hold oversight hearings to examine alleged ethical lapses by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, including on exorbitant spending on security.

Two top Democrats on the committee, ranking member Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, on Tuesday demanded such hearings, saying they have confidential documents that contradict public statements made by Pruitt, EPA spokespersons and President Donald Trump regarding the administrator’s security spending.

Cochran’s Scheduler Opened His First Office and Will Close His Last
Doris Wagley reflects on her 45 years working for the Mississippi Republican

Scheduler Doris Wagley is clearing out the Dirksen Building office of her longtime boss, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’, who resigned April 1. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Few people could claim seniority over former Sen. Thad Cochran. Doris Wagley, who was his scheduler since before he was sworn in to the House in 1973, is one of them.

“I showed up at 9 o’clock. He was there, but he didn’t take his oath in the House until 12 noon. So he started talking about me having three-hour seniority over him,” Wagley said.

Hundreds of Former Staffers Urge Senate to Act on Sexual Harassment
Senate leadership to receive letter following recess

Congress Too wants to keep the momentum to address sexual harassment strong on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Over 600 former staffers have signed a letter urging Senate leadership to consider legislation that would address sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. That number continued to grow Friday morning.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Rules Committee Chairman Richard Shelby and ranking member Amy Klobuchar will receive the letter early next week, coinciding with the Senate’s return.

Trump’s Idea for Military to Secure Border Is Complicated
President could face congressional and legal stumbling blocks

President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference Tuesday with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in the East Room of the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 9:14 p.m. | President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, a complicated plan that could require him to declare a national emergency to avoid running afoul of a federal law that prohibits the military from acting as a police force.

Top Democrats: Diverting Pentagon Dollars to Build the Wall Would Be Illegal
Request opinion from Defense Secretary Mattis

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island said Monday that President Donald Trump's administration lacks authority to divert Defense Department money for the wall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate’s top Democrats overseeing the Pentagon said Monday that President Donald Trump has no authority to divert defense funds to pay for construction of a wall along the border with Mexico, and that administration officials might put themselves in legal jeopardy if they were to do so.

Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Jack Reed of Rhode Island outlined their analysis in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis. The senators requested that Mattis respond as to whether or not the Pentagon agrees.