South Dakota

Supreme Court to Revisit Internet Sales Tax Ruling
Bipartisan group of lawmakers want previous decision overruled

From left, Sens. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois want the Supreme Court to overrule a decision that prevented states from collecting sales tax on internet purchases. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will decide whether businesses must collect sales tax on online transactions in states where they don’t have a physical presence, in a case closely watched by lawmakers, states and online retailers.

The case gives the justices a chance to reshape internet commerce, something Congress hasn’t done since the high court last ruled on the issue in 1992. Back then, the court barred states from collecting sales tax from vendors that were out of state.

Questions Could Derail Confirmation of Trump’s Indian Health Nominee
Robert Weaver was already under scrutiny over his qualifications

Participants in a “Rock Your Mocs” fun walk/run in Shiprock, New Mexico, sponsored by the local Indian Health Service facility. (Courtesy Indian Health Service/Facebook)

President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee health care services for two million Native Americans — who already faces questions about whether he is qualified — failed to disclose donations to the Trump campaign in his official Senate questionnaire, Roll Call has learned.

Robert Weaver, a health insurance salesman and consultant who was nominated in October to lead the $6.1-billion Indian Health Service, has been touted by the administration as “a staunch advocate of innovative programs to improve Native American health.” But some lawmakers are concerned that the administration inflated his qualifications. The questions surrounding his nomination raise the possibility that he might not have the votes to win confirmation.

Whiplashed Planners Fear GOP Swerve on Infrastructure
After close call on public-private financing tool, all eyes on 2018

Private activity bonds, or PABs, are fueling a multibillion-dollar expansion of Los Angeles International Airport. (Courtesy LAXDevelopment.org)

Los Angeles has gained national notice for a series of ambitious projects affecting all facets of southern California’s transportation network, from the city’s light rail system to Los Angeles International Airport.

Many of the projects — a multibillion dollar expansion of the airport, work on roads leading to and from the busy ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and a new light rail line, among others — were or will be financed with a tool called private activity bonds.

Tina Smith Has Just 10 Months to Keep Her New Job
New Minnesota senator will face voters in November special election

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, appointed to replace Sen. Al Franken, will face voters in a special election in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tina Smith just got here. And now she has 10 months to try to keep her new job as Minnesota’s junior senator.

She’ll face voters in a November special election to fill out former Democratic-Farmer-Labor Sen. Al Franken’s term. It’s an incredibly condensed timeline for what could be a competitive race in a state Hillary Clinton won by less than 2 points in 2016.

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.

Senate GOP Leans Away From Obamacare Repeal, Toward Stabilization
Repeal of the individual mandate creates new issues to solve, members say

Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans appear unlikely to attempt a complete overhaul of the 2010 health care law next year and instead have shifted their focus toward stabilizing the insurance markets.

Members say the repeal of the penalty for not having insurance that was included in the GOP tax plan removes a crucial aspect of the law, rendering it largely unworkable.

McConnell Puts Infrastructure Ahead of Entitlements in 2018
Says candidate recruitment continues, hopes Rick Scott runs in Florida

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is looking ahead to 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With the tax code overhaul on its way to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking ahead to 2018, in both politics and policy.

“I think that Democrats are not going to be interested in entitlement reform, so I would not expect to see that on the agenda,” McConnell said Thursday at an event hosted by Axios.

Republican Senate Starting to Block Trump Nominees
Former Rep. Scott Garrett latest to get crosswise with GOP Senate

The Senate Banking Committee has rejected former Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., as President Donald Trump's nominee to be president of the Export-Import Bank. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In another example of the increased scrutiny President Donald Trump’s nominees are facing, the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday rejected the nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., to lead the Export-Import Bank, with Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota joining Democrats to vote him down.

Garrett was a vocal opponent of the bank when he was in Congress, and his nomination was in trouble from the start. But it follows a pattern of other nominees running into headwinds in the Republican-controlled Senate.

GOP Tax Bill Signed, Nearly Sealed and Delivered

Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, left, and House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, conduct the Senate-House Conference Committee meeting on the GOP tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican tax writers signed off Friday on a compromise plan to overhaul the tax code, bringing House and Senate negotiations to a close and setting up final votes on the legislation early next week.

The tax conference agreement was set to be released Friday at 5:30 p.m. Some key details are already known, like a proposed corporate tax rate of 21 percent; a top individual rate of 37 percent; and a 20 percent deduction for “pass-through” business income.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith Picked to Replace Al Franken in Senate
Says she will run for election in 2018 in Likely Democratic race

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, seen here with former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, will fill the Senate seat vacated by DFL Sen. Al Franken. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday said he would appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill the Senate seat being vacated by outgoing Sen. Al Franken, who has yet to announce his resignation date. 

Smith said Wednesday she will run for the remainder of Franken’s term, which is up in 2020. The special election will be held concurrently with next year’s midterms, when Democratic-Farmer-Labor Sen. Amy Klobuchar also faces voters.