Kevin McCarthy Gone, In 60 Seconds

Oct 9, 2015

There was chaos on Capitol Hill on Thursday after front-runner Rep. Kevin McCarthy withdrew his name from the House speakership election. The closed-door House Republican meeting that was supposed to emerge with a speaker nominee spilled out into the hallway outside of the House Ways and Means Room in the Longworth Office Building. That's where reporters rushed lawmakers to find out exactly what had happened and where the conference might go from here.

Here's a peek into that hallway, in 60 seconds:

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says there isn't much time. Congress and the White House face two big deadlines to fund the government. It will be an intricate maneuver to meet both deadlines even as congressional leadership changes. And in an interview with NPR, Lew described behind-the-scenes negotiations meant to avert a last-minute crisis.

"There are conversations going on at a staff level," Lew told NPR's Steve Inskeep, "and I think the key is for Democrats and Republicans [in Congress] to talk to each other."

Ray Hardman / WNPR

A day after a mass shooting in Oregon, Connecticut's two U.S. senators announced new legislation that would close a loophole in the Brady Handgun Violence Act.

Updated 8:30 p.m. ET

The bill to fund the government through Dec. 11 has been signed into law by President Obama. That beats the midnight deadline for keeping government agencies operating.

Earlier in the day, the Senate and the House passed the bill, which does not strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

Remember, some House Republicans had insisted on no payments to Planned Parenthood before they would vote to extend funding for the whole government.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reported on the bill's progress for our Newscast unit:

Regional Reaction To Boehner's Resignation

Sep 28, 2015

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York

“Speaker John Boehner is a decent, principled conservative man who tried to do the right thing under almost impossible circumstances. He will be missed by Republicans and Democrats alike. Let us hope the Republican majority, which Speaker Boehner played a large role in creating, learns the right lesson from his resignation: to work with Democrats in a constructive way, rather than let a handful of extreme right-wingers dictate his party’s policy.”

(This post was last updated at 1:31 p.m. ET.)

House Speaker John Boehner will give up his seat in Congress at the end of October.

Boehner became the 53rd speaker of the House in 2011. The Ohio Republican's tenure has been marked by fierce confrontations with Democrats and sometimes with his own party. One of those fights led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013.

Amid renewed conflict with more conservative members of his party, Boehner is once again facing the prospect of a government shutdown.

Office of John Boehner

Politicians from across Connecticut have been listening to the message of Pope Francis this week and now they're reacting to a world leader whose message seeks to avoid the partisanship endemic to Washington, D.C. 

Pope Francis speaks his mind, and he did that again in his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday morning. But, in the vein of the best Jesuit teachers, Francis praised America, its rich political history and its ideals before delicately delivering some things its political leaders might, well, want to consider working on.

There were political messages that challenged the orthodoxy of both American political parties, but, in this 51-minute address, there were a lot more points of emphasis Democrats are happy about — and that put some pressure on Republicans.

Pope Francis, in an address to a joint meeting of Congress, encouraged lawmakers to work together to solve the problems of ordinary Americans and to show compassion for people across the globe who are suffering from war and hunger.

When Pope Francis addressed Congress on Thursday, he faced a body that is more Christian than the U.S. public as a whole — and also more Catholic.

First the numbers: Whereas nearly a quarter of the U.S. population says they have no religious affiliation, it's less than 1 percent in Congress.

Congress is "disproportionately religiously affiliated," said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at the Pew Research Center. "That is, the share of members of Congress who say they have a religion is considerably higher than the share of all American adults."

Connecticut Veterans Voice Support for Iran Deal

Sep 17, 2015
CPBN Media Lab

Connecticut resident and former Marine Gulaid Ismail served in Fallujah, Iraq in 2005 when he was 27 years old. Ismail enlisted after 9/11 and said he sees serving in the military as his patriotic duty.

"I didn’t want to just enjoy the liberties, and not say that I had a helping hand, you know, with regards to that," Ismail said. He supports the Iran Deal.

Army veteran Giselle Jacobs, also from Connecticut, agrees. She served in Germany in 1984 when she was 20 years old.

JD Lasica / Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said that he, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Representative Jim Himes met with General Electric Co. chief executive Jeff Immelt in an effort to keep the industrial giant from leaving Connecticut.

Dominic Chavez / World Bank

Senator Chris Murphy is joining Connecticut advocates to call for a big increase in the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the United States.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Gary Franks was the first black Republican elected to the U.S. Congress in nearly 60 years when he took office in 1991. Since his political career ended in the late 1990s, he hasn’t been heard from in Connecticut.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said the U.S. should take a greater role in the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East developing from the Syrian civil war and ISIS terrorism.

Senate Democrats banded together and blocked a resolution disapproving the landmark nuclear agreement between the U.S., Iran and five other nations on Thursday, and in doing so handed President Obama a major foreign policy victory.

The procedural vote fell two votes shy of the 60 needed to proceed. The significance of the vote is that the controversial accord, which lifts sanctions on Tehran in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear program, will be enacted without a major showdown between the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.

Senate Democrats are on the verge of delivering a big win to President Obama on the nuclear agreement between the U.S., Iran and five other world powers.

With three more Democrats announcing Tuesday they were backing the accord, it gave supporters enough votes to prevent the passage of a disapproval resolution. Any such resolution would sink the White House-backed nuclear deal that lifts sanctions on Tehran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced on Tuesday that he will support the Iran nuclear plan. Speaking in Hartford, he said, "Rejecting this agreement is fraught with unacceptable risk."

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced Wednesday that she will support the Iran nuclear agreement, giving the White House the final vote needed to protect the accord from a Republican-led effort to defeat the measure.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is leaving for the Middle East to review operations against the Islamic State.

Construction to upgrade one of Connecticut’s most important freight rail lines can begin, after the state received an $8 million federal grant. The funding arrives as the issue of how we move goods around the state is coming front and center. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

In the wake of the on-air shooting death earlier this week of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two television journalists from WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is calling on Congress to act “in any way, shape or form” to reduce gun violence in America. 

Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty on Tuesday announced her support for the Iran nuclear deal being pushed by the Obama administration.

President Obama's campaign to win support for the nuclear deal with Iran got a forceful boost Sunday when Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada announced his endorsement. Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, says he will "do everything in [his] power" to make sure the deal stands.

Reid's backing adds even more weight to a groundswell of support building on Capitol Hill for the deal between the U.S., Iran and five other nations.

Dkroetsch / Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to impose stricter regulations on drone users after a string of recent near misses with planes and helicopters. Consumer drones have also recently hindered the work of firefighters battling wildfires in the West.

Debora Timms

Members of Connecticut’s Puerto Rican community met in Hartford on Friday with U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal to discuss Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who is in line to be Democratic leader when Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada steps down next year, says he will vote against the president's nuclear control deal with Iran.

In a post on Medium, Schumer says after "considerable soul-searching," he has decided he can't support the agreement.

Schumer says among his reservations about the deal is that it does not allow for inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities at any time. He adds:

Chion Wolf / WNPR

As President Barack Obama made his case for the Iran nuclear agreement at American University on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy took to the floor of his chamber to come out in favor of the controversial deal. 

Office of Sen. Chris Murphy / Office of Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and gun safety advocates in Hartford on Monday to urge firearms dealers to wait until background checks are complete before selling a weapon. / Creative Commons

President Barack Obama scolded Congress last week at his signing of the latest federal stop gap transportation funding bill.