Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

Armed with a "laundry list of questions," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will lead the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday in a hearing to examine the militarization of local police departments. The hearing follows public outrage over what some saw as an excessive police response to protests in Ferguson following the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer.

Three different federal departments have programs to help local police departments acquire military-type hardware, including armored vehicles, and tactical gear and weapons.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been roughly 45 years since Patrick Howe served in Vietnam. And he’s been waiting that long to receive his Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained in battle.

With the help of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office, Howe received his long-delayed medal on Monday at St. Peters City Hall. He called the moment “an extreme honor.”

“I’m just extremely honored and overwhelmed with what’s happening because Vietnam vets didn’t get the recognition when they came home,” Howe said. “So today, it’s just a big honor.”

police line ferguson 81814
Ray Jones | UPI

Law-enforcement response to the unrest in Ferguson is generating a congressional hearing into “militarized’’ police, and a call for a bipartisan state committee to review the state response.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s planning a September hearing of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, which she chairs, “to examine federal programs that enable local police departments to acquire military equipment.”

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

(Updated at 4:20 p.m., Thurs., Aug. 14)

As of Thursday, the Missouri Highway Patrol is now in charge in Ferguson. And Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who announced the change, said at a news conference that the public should see a difference at once.

The St. Louis County police have been widely criticized for their aggressive, even militaristic stance -- using armored vehicles and tear gas -- to quell protests stemming from last Saturday's police shooting. 

Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

A bipartisan group of senators -- including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. -- and several victims of sexual violence presented at a press conference on Wednesday their arguments for legislation they say is long overdue and necessary to push colleges and universities into doing more to protect students and rid their campuses of sexual predators.

“This bill represents a rare thing in Washington — a truly collaborative, bipartisan effort—and that bodes well for our shared fight to turn the tide against sexual violence on our campuses,” McCaskill said.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics.  This week the trio discusses the last-minute money surge to the state’s primary candidates, as well as key races in St. Louis. 

The Politically Speaking crew also talked about U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s big donation to the state Democratic Party and what it means for state legislative contests in the fall.

On the show:

Jim Howard/St. Louis Public Radio

Imagine two schoolboys scrambling to their feet after tussling in the dirt, both trying to convince a teacher that their fight wasn’t all that bad, and each vouching for the other that they really do get along just fine. That image may give you an idea of how hard-fought negotiations over a compromise bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, turned into the kind of jovial news conference conducted Monday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

(Updated 11:30 a.m., Mon., July 28)

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has underscored her influence within the Missouri Democratic Party by writing a check for $240,000 – making her the new top donor for the party.

And wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield has donated another hefty sum to one of his favorite officeholders, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.

But Sinquefield gave even more Monday to a Republican rival for Dooley's job, state Rep. Rick Stream.

File photo

For U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, more sanctions against Russia aren’t enough to demonstrate the United States’ fury over Thursday’s crash of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine.

The plane is believed to have been hit by a Russian-made missile fired by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

Durbin and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., both believe that the bulk of the blame lies with “Putin’s effort to destabilize the Ukraine,’’ as Durbin put it.

via the Missouri Courts website

Updated Thursday, July 17 to include a statement from Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka).

Seventeen years after his first nomination, former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White has been approved for a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of Missouri.

The U.S. Senate voted 53-44 to confirm his appointment Wednesday.

It was a long journey that began in 1997 when President Bill Clinton nominated White for a seat on the Eastern District Court of Missouri. At the time he was the first African-American judge on the Missouri Supreme Court.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

(Updated 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 15)

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, is continuing this week to make the rounds of the national news outlets as he promotes his new book, “Firing Back.”

But most Republicans, nationally and in Missouri, are continuing to ignore his book – and him.

In the book, Akin generally defends his controversial 2012 contention that in cases of “legitimate rape,’’ women rarely get pregnant because “their bodies have ways of shutting the whole thing down.”

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says a staff survey of 440 colleges and universities regarding campus sexual assaults has found that 41 percent of those responding “have not conducted a single investigation in five years” despite allegations by possible victims.

That finding is disturbing, McCaskill told reporters Wednesday because it means those colleges "are saying there are zero instances of sexual assault, which is hard to believe."

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., received a lot of attention last week for her pointed questioning of TV celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz during a hearing on weight-loss scams. She spoke with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh today about that hearing, and her concerns about obesity in America.

“I think it is irresponsible for a doctor of medicine who understands science-based research to tout anything as a miracle pill for weight loss,” said McCaskill, explaining that she thought Dr. Oz “sometimes blurs the line between entertainer and doctor.”

Missouri Supreme Court

Updated 12:22 p.m., Thurs., June 19: On June 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Ronnie White's nomination to the U.S. Senate floor. The committee's 10-7 affirmative vote makes it highly likely that White's nomination to the federal bench will be approved.

Here's the original story about White's nomination from April:

(Courtesy of Sen. Claire McCaskill)

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Tuesday chaired a hearing on Capitol Hill to discuss what she called a “crisis in consumer protection”: weight-loss diet scams.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of television’s “Dr. Oz Show”, was the hearing’s star witness. Other witnesses included Mary Koelbel Engle, associate director of the Division of Advertising Practices for the Federal Trade Commission, and Steven Mister, president and CEP of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

During the hearing McCaskill scolded Oz for claims that he’s made about weight-loss aids on his show.

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says the Iraqi government bears most of the blame for the violence now engulfing the country and is urging caution as the U.S. government decides how to respond.

“The mess that is in Iraq right now is Iraq’s doing,” McCaskill said in a conference call Tuesday with Missouri journalists. “The U.S. put them on a path of free and fair elections, and to have a military that could enforce the rule of law...I’m sick to my stomach that what we have done in that country has been so carelessly and casually abandoned in favor of sectarian dominance.”

(via Flickr/[sic])

(Updated 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, June 3)

Within minutes after the Environmental Protection Agency announced its proposed regulations for coal-fired power plants, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt blasted the decision as a “unprecedented power grab.”

Blunt followed through on Tuesday by co-sponsoring a bill, called the “Coal Country Protection Act,’’ that would allow carbon-emissions limits to go into effect only if other federal agencies could guarantee that no jobs would be lost, electricity rates wouldn’t go up, and the nation’s economy wouldn’t be hurt.

Gov. Jay Nixon speaks to a class at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

When it comes to a proposal to raise the state’s sales tax to pay for transportation projects, two of Missouri’s top Democratic officials appear to be on opposing sides of the fence.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill favors the proposal, which – if approved by voters in August – would enact a 10-year, 0.75 percent sales tax for transportation projects. And even though he’s sent signals that he opposes the proposal, Gov. Jay Nixon is withholding statements about the tax increase for now.

(via Wikimedia Commons/ United States Department of State)

The two Republican members of Congress who represent the St. Louis area – Ann Wagner and Blaine Luetkemeyer – are calling for the resignation of  U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Their declarations come as several of the nation’s VA facilities, including Cochran Medical Center in St. Louis, have been accused of improper or delayed care to military veterans.

Wagner, R-Ballwin, said that Shinseki – in office since 2009 -- had “failed to provide timely services and care for our veterans.  Secretary Shinseki has failed to fulfill his mission at the VA.”

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is releasing the latest results of a survey of Missouri military veterans who have received care at Veterans Administration’s facilities around the state, including Cochran and Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis.

While not disclosing any details, McCaskill told reporters Tuesday that “every year we’ve done it, the VA has done a little better. I’m particularly pleased this year because we’ve had even more responses this year than we had last year.”

Missouri’s U.S. Senators are seeking answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs  about reports of lax mental health services in St. Louis’s VA hospital system.

The inquiry stems from allegations by the system’s former Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Jose Mathews, regarding an “artificial backlog” of patient care created by staff who treat veterans for only a fraction of the workday.

According to the Associated Press, Mathews claims in a federal whistleblower complaint filed last year that he was demoted after his efforts to make employees work harder and more efficiently.

Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri could play a crucial role in approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated a vote could be held in the next few days to authorize the pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through the U.S. to the Gulf Coast.

McCaskill is one of the few Senate Democrats in favor of the project. During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, she argued the oil will be flowing regardless of the pipeline’s approval.   

/ Claire McCaskill's congressional office

Politics can be a 24/7 occupation, as anyone with a cell phone, computer or cable subscription knows. It's not hard to find political news, commentary or just plain rants. They are everywhere. Sometimes it takes a little more digging to find the context, perspective or background on major issues of the day.

Once a week, our political team shares stories that gave them insight into the news of the day or perhaps just some reading pleasure.

Veto overrides

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

After working to reduce problems with sexual assault in the military, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is turning her attention to the same issue at the nation’s colleges and universities.

Both settings, she said Thursday, have ways they are alike in how such cases are treated.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., contends that Missouri’s “Wild West” approach to politics — which imposes no restrictions on campaign donations or lobbyists — is partly to blame for her party’s lack of a candidate for state auditor this fall.

But the senator also asserts that the current state of affairs for Missouri campaigns isn’t good for anyone or any political party, calling it “bizarre and, frankly, not good for our government.”

provided by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill

Members of a Senate panel Wednesday accused General Motors of trying to cover up problems with an ignition switch that is now tied to 13 deaths.

Nora Ibrahim/St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are talking about what’s best for the Bridgeton landfill and the World War II-era radioactive material stored at the neighboring West Lake landfill.

So says U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who was among four Missouri members of Congress – two Republicans and two Democrats – who cosigned a recent letter asking the EPA to work with the Corps, which previously dealt with similar radioactive sites elsewhere in the St. Louis area.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
File photo | Senate livestream

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill,D-Mo., arguably won her most significant victory since her 2012 re-election with Thursday’s Senate vote in favor of her approach to fighting sexual assaults in the military.

Most significantly, her approach would keep sexual assault cases within the military chain of command, although she would restrict commanders’ powers to overturn jury verdicts in sexual assault cases and bar commanders from substituting lesser charges.

Mo. National Guard, via Flickr/M. Queiser

Missouri’s two U.S. senators – Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill – are joining forces as they raise concerns about the Defense Department’s proposed cuts in spending for the National Guard.

The trims would have a $34 million economic impact on Missouri through 2016, Blunt told reporters Thursday. The reduced spending would primarily affect Guard operations in Springfield, Warrensburg and St. Joseph, he said.

(UPI file photo)

U.S. Claire McCaskill is sticking by her TV statement that if she were running for re-election this year, she probably wouldn’t ask President Barack Obama to join her on the campaign trail.

McCaskill, D-Mo., says she also doubts that the White House is surprised or upset over her comments,  made Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

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