Senators: Should Trump have sole nuclear launch authority?

Senators considered Tuesday for the first time in more than 40 years whether the president should continue to have the sole authority to launch a nuclear attack — a question that comes amid increasingly saber-rattling rhetoric between Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

“We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing that yielded few clear answers about checks on the commander in chief’s power. “Let’s just recognize the exceptional nature of this moment.”

Though Republicans were not as vocal about their concern, some did express worry that one person alone can make the decision to launch a nuclear Continue reading “Senators: Should Trump have sole nuclear launch authority?”

What Trump is missing by skipping the DMZ

Lawmakers who have visited the 2.5-mile-wide demilitarized zone between North and South Korea say President Donald Trump should make the trek as well — and that it would teach him a lot about the real-life consequences of "fire and fury."

The DMZ isn’t on the itinerary for Trump’s 13-day Asia trip, which will take him to South Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Instead, he’s scheduled to visit U.S. troops at an Army garrison south of Seoul.) But Americans who have been to the border say it would offer him a “surreal” and “eerie” experience, in a territory where North Korean soldiers watch visitors’ every move and a major Westernized city lies an easy bus ride away.

“North Korean soldiers come running down and they’re filming you,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), who visited the demilitarized zone during the spring. “They were right up next to Continue reading “What Trump is missing by skipping the DMZ”

Trump’s NASA pick faces blistering criticism on Capitol Hill

Democrats pummeled President Donald Trump’s pick to lead NASA at his confirmation hearing Wednesday, criticizing his past controversial statements on gay rights and climate change as well as poking holes in his professional qualifications.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, commended Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) for his military service, but said his experience as a pilot alone does not qualify him to lead NASA and make the budgetary and engineering decisions that come with the job.

The senator also slammed Bridenstine for numerous past controversial statements, including discriminatory remarks about the LGBT community and a denial that humans contribute to climate change.

“Your recent public service career does not instill great confidence about your leadership skills or ability to bring people together,” Nelson said. “In fact, your record and behavior in Congress is as divisive and extreme as any in Washington.”

In Continue reading “Trump’s NASA pick faces blistering criticism on Capitol Hill”

Court rejects Trump’s transgender troop ban

The Pentagon cannot enforce the Trump administration’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military, a federal court ruled in a decision released Monday that advocates called a “colossal victory.”

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, saying the military cannot remove transgender service members from the ranks and that it must continue to provide medical care for them. The recruitment of transgender troops will still be delayed until Jan. 1, under a delay previously ordered by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The decision comes in a lawsuit brought by GLAAD and the National Center for Lesbian Rights against the administration.

Jennifer Levi, a lawyer for the groups, called it an “enormously important decision.”

Levi said she expects the government to appeal the decision.

President Donald Trump tweeted in July that transgender troops would no longer be able to Continue reading “Court rejects Trump’s transgender troop ban”

Mulvaney: No other votes until Senate votes again on health care

The Senate should not vote on anything else until it’s voted again on repealing Obamacare, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday.

Mulvaney said that “yes,” it’s official White House policy that the Senate shouldn’t hold a vote on another issue — not even an imminent crisis like raising the debt ceiling— until the Senate votes again on health care.

“In the White House’s view, they can’t move on in the Senate,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “You can’t promise folks you’re going to do something for seven years, and then not do it.”

The House, which has passed an Obamacare repeal measure, is on its summer break until after Labor Day, but the Senate plans to work at least another two weeks.

In a string of recent tweets, President Donald Trump has urged Republican senators to not “give up” on repealing Obamacare and Continue reading “Mulvaney: No other votes until Senate votes again on health care”

Collins urges Congress to end Obamacare payment uncertainty

Sen. Susan Collins on Sunday called on Congress to end the uncertainty caused by President Donald Trump saying he might end funding to subsidize health insurance for low-income people.

Trump threatened to stop government payments that subsidize insurance for low-income people following the Senate’s rejection last week of the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

On Sunday, Collins said she’s “troubled” by the uncertainty those statements are creating, including destabilization of insurance markets.

”That’s one thing that Congress needs to end," the Maine Republican said. "We need to make very clear that that subsidy is important to those very low-income people, and we need to appropriate the money to ensure that it continues.”

Collins, who was one of three Republican votes that stopped an Obamacare repeal measure from passing the Senate, also said she supports reforming the nation’s health care but that it should be done through regular Continue reading “Collins urges Congress to end Obamacare payment uncertainty”

HHS secretary pledges to implement ‘law-of-the-land’ Obamacare

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says Obamacare is harming the American people, but it’s his “responsibility” to “follow the law of the land.”

Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” questioned Price on Sunday about whether he would implement Obamacare and encourage people to enroll now that the Senate has defeated a proposal to repeal and replace the health care law.

“Our job is to follow the law of the land, and we take that mission very, very seriously,” Price said. “The role of the Health and Human Services Department is to improve the health, the safety and the well-being of the American people. And what we understand, what the American people understand, is that their health and well-being is being harmed right now by the current law.”

“Our goal is to put in place, as well as the president’s goal, is to put in Continue reading “HHS secretary pledges to implement ‘law-of-the-land’ Obamacare”