South Dakota

John Thune’s new whip office staff learning the ropes and getting to work
Office features a mix of veteran Senate and House aides

Staffers for Sen. John Thune pose in his new whip office in the Capitol on Jan. 10. Front row, from left, David Cole, Scarlet Samp and Jason Van Beek; back row, from left, Cynthia Herrle, Geoffrey Antell, Brendon Plack and Nick Rossi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s Republican majority has a new occupant of the whip’s office, and with it come some new people for senators and their staffs to interact with when trying to get legislation to the floor.

The leader of the operation for Majority Whip John Thune will be a familiar face from the South Dakota’s previous role as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

Trump walks out of meeting as White House confab devolves
Day of meetings at Capitol and executive mansion produce only recriminations

President Donald Trump, flanked from left by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S. D., Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stops to speak to the cameras Wednesday following his lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A White House meeting Wednesday between President Donald Trump and his team and congressional leaders quickly devolved into another series of finger pointing as the Situation Room confab ended shortly after it began.

Trump “got up and walked out” of the short meeting about his border wall and a government shutdown at the White House, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said.

Trump, Democrats remain ‘far apart’ on shutdown deal as talks resume
Schumer compares president to ‘Jell-O.’ Sanders questions Pelosi before Friday meeting

President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, meets with Republican and Democratic congressional leadership on Wednesday in the Situation Room at the White House. They will meet again Friday to try to make progress on ending a partial government shutdown. (Shealah Craighead/White House)

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders, including top Democrats that oppose his proposed southern border wall, will try again Friday to make progress on ending a partial government shutdown. But the odds of a breakthrough appear small.

“Without a wall, you cannot have border security. Without a very strong form of barrier — call it what you will — but without a wall, you cannot have border security,” Trump said Thursday during a surprise visit to the White House briefing room, his first formal appearance there.

Here Are the House Members Who Have Skipped Votes This Lame-Duck Session
Most of the absentees are members who lost re-election, ran for another office or are retiring

The lame-duck session of Congress has seen its fair share of absenteeism in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

More than 40 percent of House members have missed at least one vote this lame-duck session, leading to attendance problems that have prohibited the outgoing Republican majority from advancing legislation that Democrats don’t want to help them pass — and a smaller subset have missed at least half of all lame-duck votes.

There have been only 20 House roll call votes since the lame-duck session started on Nov. 13, but 17 members have missed at least half of them. Of those 17 repeat offenders, 11 are Republicans and six are Democrats.

Driverless Industry Surges Forward While Hill Hiccups on Regulation
Two years after Sen. Thune’s test drive, still no laws from Congress

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., prepares to ride in the 2014 Chrysler 300c, during an exhibition of self-driving cars for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on March 15, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John Thune was test-driving a car of the future when he ran into a very 20th-century problem: traffic.

In 2016, Washington’s local laws forced Thune’s autonomous-capable Chrysler sedan to motor into neighboring Virginia before it could show off the no-hands navigation. That’s where the South Dakota Republican got stuck in a tide of commuters.

George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, Dies at 94
Last World War II veteran to serve as POTUS dies seven months after wife Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush at the 1992 Republican National Convention.  (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president and self-effacing patriarch of one of America’s premier political families, which has included two occupants of the White House, a senator and a governor, died Friday, at age 94.

As president, Bush led an international coalition to victory in the first Persian Gulf war in 1990-91, only to lose his bid for re-election the following year to Democrat Bill Clinton primarily because of a prolonged recession and Bush’s perceived inability to cure it.

Seven VP Candidates if Trump Dumps Pence for 2020 Re-Election Fight
Pence says they ‘had a good laugh’ over questions — but do they have a deal?

President Donald Trump (right) speaks with Vice President Mike Pence as first lady Melania Trump looks on during a Capitol ceremony for the late Rev. Billy Graham earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence stood in the East Room of the White House after his boss put him on the spot. He smiled. He nodded. But he never uttered one word: Yes.

The moment, prompted by a reporter’s question during a rowdy post-midterm press conference on Nov. 7, was an attempt by President Donald Trump to quiet speculation that he had begun to question Pence’s loyalty and was mulling other potential running mates for his 2020 re-election campaign.

Trump Goes There While Pardoning Turkeys. Of Course He Did
President warns both Peas and Carrots that House Dems may subpoena them

Peas, a South Dakota-bred turkey, appears in the White House briefing room Tuesday a few hours before receiving a presidential pardon. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

Peas, one of the South Dakota-bred turkeys that received a presidential pardon Tuesday, pleaded the Fifth. But President Donald Trump had a warning for the creature about House Democrats.

The bright white bird merely pranced around in the Rose Garden and let out nary a gobble as Trump warned him that he may be among the first target of several investigation-minded House committees next year.

Here’s the List of Senate Republican and Democratic Leaders
Status quo reigns (mostly)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., prepares to address the media after the Senate Policy lunches in the Capitol on March 20. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)