staffers

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon brings military experience and political savvy to his new job
A former Raytheon lobbyist, Esper has also been an Army officer and congressional staffer

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., left, speaks with Army Secretary Mark Esper before the start of an Armed Services hearing in March. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped Esper to be acting Defense secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon, at least temporarily.

In two tweets Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job — and was withdrawing from consideration for the permanent post to “devote more time to his family.” Esper, in turn, got promoted and a ringing endorsement from the commander in chief.

Interior held back FOIA’d documents after political screenings
Watchdog: ‘Are there bad actors at these agencies that are willfully ignoring the law?’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has defended his department’s protocols on Freedom of Information Act requests, but watchdogs say the process is rife with political considerations and run outside the law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act were withheld by the Interior Department under a practice that allowed political appointees to review the requests, internal emails and memos show.

The policy allowed high-ranking officials to screen documents sought by news organizations, advocacy groups and whistleblowers, including files set to be released under court deadlines. In some cases, the documents’ release was merely delayed. In other cases, documents were withheld after the reviews.

New legislative affairs chief Ueland has his work cut out for him
One staffer, no matter how talented, may not be enough to curb Trump’s mercurial tendencies, Hill veterans say

Eric Ueland, left, takes over from Shahira Knight as the White House legislative affairs director. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland begins his new job Monday as President Donald Trump’s legislative affairs director, bringing with him hopes for a more productive working relationship between the White House and Congress as Trump heads into the final year of his first term. 

During more than two decades as a top Senate Republican aide, Ueland built a reputation as an effective strategist for conservative legislative efforts, with a knack for using the Senate’s rules to achieve the majority’s goals.

Want a more diverse Congress? Bite the bullet and raise the pay
Paying your congressperson more than your plumber makes sense

Last week, Steny Hoyer found out just how unpopular a congressional pay raise can be — but it’s the only thing that can stave off a Congress of the super-rich, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — If there’s one thing less popular than Congress right now, it’s giving Congress a pay raise. Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy found that out the hard way last week when, despite a bipartisan agreement to quietly give a 2.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment to House members, the entire agreement blew up when House freshmen from both parties balked at voting to raise their own salaries.

Complaining about Congress and the money they make is a tradition as old as the country itself, especially in times of recession or government debts. A 1955 political cartoon in the Richmond Times Leader once showed a bag of money labeled “Pay Raise for Congress” running like a thief down a dark alley, and the sentiment in America hasn’t changed much since then.

Could Donald Trump replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders with John Barron?
President never replaced his last communications director, prefers to drive own messaging

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving her post later this month after a controversial tenure. There’s no frontrunner to replace her. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ voice cracked Thursday afternoon as she described her reasons for giving up her White House press secretary gig.

“I feel like it’s important for the president to be able to put somebody in place as he moves into the campaign season,” Sanders said in an impromptu gaggle in her office, also saying she wants to spend time with her three young kids. 

All you need is ribs: Isakson barbecue brings hungry senators together
Leadership may have hated it at first, but the lunch is now a big hit

South 40 Smokehouse from Marietta, Ga., serves up brisket, pulled pork and ribs Thursday in the office of Sen. Johnny Isakson for his annual barbecue lunch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The smell of pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, Saint Louis pork ribs, baked beans, and creamy mac and cheese wafting through the halls of the Russell Senate Office Building can mean only one thing: Johnny Isakson’s annual barbecue lunch.

Every year, for more than a decade, the senior senator from Georgia feeds his colleagues from both sides of the aisle a BBQ lunch prepared by a pitmaster from his home state. Despite being met with initial pushback from party leaders, the get-together has grown into a highly anticipated event.

Ethics panel increases salary threshold for House staffer disclosures
Staffers making $127,914 or more also face restrictions on income earned outside of congressional duties

House staffers who make more than $127,914 or more for at least 60 days during 2019 will need to file a financial disclosure statement on or before May 15, 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee has increased the salary threshold that subjects staffers to the same disclosure requirements and employment restrictions as members of Congress, according to guidance the panel released Thursday.

House employees who make $127,914 or more for at least 60 days during 2019 will need to file a financial disclosure statement on or before May 15, 2020. That’s an increase of $1,766 from the previous year.

Ethics report on former Schweikert chief of staff raises questions about lawmaker’s conduct
Schweikert says he will not let ethics cloud deter re-election efforts

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said the ethics investigation into him and his chief of staff was prompted by a disgruntled former employee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. David Schweikert’s former chief of staff used official funds on a six-day trip to Arizona in which he attended Super Bowl XLIX; separately, he made impermissible contributions to his boss and received income beyond the House’s outside earned income limit for his position, according to a report made public Wednesday by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Many of the allegations into the former chief of staff, Richard Oliver Schwab, Jr., relate to Schweikert, who is under the scrutiny of a House Ethics Committee investigative subcommittee.

Food worker chases House member hustling to votes after she didn't pay
‘She didn’t pay me!’ shouted food service worker following Rep. Carolyn Maloney into House chamber

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was pursued by a food service worker nearly into the House chamber after being surprised by unexpected midday votes on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | House members hustled to surprise midday votes Wednesday, and in her haste, one lawmaker didn’t pay for her lunch.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney speed-walked into the chamber for the second surprise vote of the day carrying a takeout container brimming with food.

National Democrats take sides in Iowa Senate primary
DSCC and EMILY’s List back Theresa Greenfield in race to take on GOP Sen. Joni Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is running for a second term in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 3:26 p.m. | National Democrats are taking sides in the primary to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in Iowa, with two groups and a presidential candidate backing Theresa Greenfield, who was an early favorite for a House race last year. 

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, which backs female Democrats who support abortion rights, both announced they were endorsing Greenfield in the race over two other Democrats who are running.