The World-Herald’s Washington Bureau rounds up news highlights from Capitol Hill and beyond.
Lawmakers are back home for this week’s July Fourth break, mingling with crowds at parades and watching firework displays.
Before leaving Washington, however, they checked off a few to-do items, including passing a bill to address humanitarian issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A standoff between the House and Senate ended with House Democrats backing down and allowing the Senate version to pass, with the bipartisan support of all Nebraska and Iowa members.
The Senate also approved its version of the annual defense authorization bill that included support for Nebraska military installations.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, was in Japan for the G-20 summit and focused on trade talks with China.
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In other news:
In an upcoming memoir, author E. Jean Carroll details allegations that Trump sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s.
Those claims drew little in the way of reaction from Nebraska’s all-GOP delegation.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and Sen. Ben Sasse did not offer comments, while Sen. Deb Fischer said she prefers to focus on legislating issues such as the border crisis and national defense.
“He’s addressed it,” Fischer said of Trump.
Trump has denied the accusations, as he has other allegations of sexual misconduct. Trump says the assault never happened and in an interview with the Hill, added of Carroll that “she’s not my type.”
Rep. Don Bacon said that “not my type” comment was “very inappropriate.”
But Bacon also said it’s possible the truth of what happened will never be totally clear.
“All victims or accusers deserve to be listened to respectfully, and the accused have a right to presumption of innocence until our legal system gives a verdict,” Bacon said.
Rep. Adrian Smith said he has “concerns about the credibility of the allegations” against Trump.
Asked to specify what those concerns are, Smith said:
“I don’t have the information, but I just think on the entire issue, regardless of who it is, both sides should be heard and that due process should be respected.”
Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, declined to comment on the claims, while Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said that accusers deserve to be heard but that it’s up to people other than Congress to investigate the facts.
Sen. Chuck Grassley said sexual assault can’t be tolerated.
“But I don’t know any of the facts in the case, so I’d have to know more of the facts to comment any more,” Grassley said.
Bacon joined a bipartisan group of House members last week in introducing legislation to specify lynching as a deprivation of civil rights and provide enhanced sentencing under federal hate crime statutes.
Bacon said there have been 200 unsuccessful attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation going back to 1918.
“Sadly, my own district has a horrible stain in its past with the lynchings of Will Brown and George Smith, both murdered at the hands of lawless and angry mobs in Omaha,” Bacon said in a press release. “We cannot simply wash away the past, but we can try to honor the victims by acknowledging that lynching is a terroristic crime that was frequently used to intimidate and oppress African-Americans.”
Standing Bear statue debut
A tentative date has been set for the unveiling of Nebraska’s new Standing Bear statue at the U.S. Capitol.
The legendary Ponca chief will replace William Jennings Bryan, who has long held a premium spot in Statuary Hall.
Fortenberry has been working to ensure that the new statue gets the same or equally prominent positioning in the hall.
The event is on the calendar for Sept. 18, pending confirmation from various congressional leaders.
“This is a very exciting development for Nebraska, for indigenous people, and for all Americans, as we honor one of our great civil rights leaders,” Fortenberry said.
Meet the Nebraska state senators
Here are the 49 state senators of Nebraska's 106th Legislature. You can click here to find your state senator.