Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

November 21, 2014

Politically Connected Ambassador Nominees to Get Floor Votes

When the Senate returns from Thanksgiving, the first pressing business will be confirming a pair of President Barack Obama’s nominees who might not stand a chance in a Republican-led Senate.

The Senate is set to vote on Dec. 1 to limit debate on the nominees to be ambassadors to Argentina and Hungary, both of whom were criticized early this year for not knowing much about the countries in question. Neither nominee is a career diplomat. They’re both major Obama campaign contributors.

Full story

Parents of ‘Dreamers’ Need Act of Congress, White House Says

immigration 304 072814 445x296 Parents of Dreamers Need Act of Congress, White House Says

Immigration reform protesters with United We Dream erect a giant story book in front of the White House to illustrate the stories of immigrant families on July 28. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration action leaves millions still at risk of deportation, including one group activists had long hoped the president would protect: the parents of the “Dreamers” he granted relief to two years ago.

The White House’s lawyers concluded Obama didn’t have the authority to do so without Congress, a verdict that’s not sitting well with some of his own supporters.

“Today’s victory is tremendous, but to be real, it is incomplete. Millions of Dreamers have siblings who have U.S. citizenship or green cards so their parents will qualify for this new program — and hundreds of thousands more Dreamers will now be eligible for protection,” United We Dream Managing Director Cristina Jimenez said in a statement Thursday evening. “But too many of our parents, LGBTQ brothers and sisters and friends were left out. United We Dream doesn’t agree with that decision and we are determined to fight for their protection. Our community sticks together.”

As he headed to Las Vegas Friday along with Democratic lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, he will face an audience that’s expected to include some of the parents of DACA recipients who will remain at some risk of deportation. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:25 p.m.
Immigration

November 20, 2014

Senate Democrats Press McDonough on CIA Torture Report

brennan001 051514 445x298 Senate Democrats Press McDonough on CIA Torture Report

McDonough, right, was under pressure from Senate Democrats during a private meeting Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee pressed White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Thursday to allow pseudonyms to be released in a summary of a panel report on CIA interrogation abuses.

“The report would be a pseudo report if we didn’t allow the pseudonyms,” said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who is on the panel.

Udall’s comments came after Democrats met for more than three hours with McDonough. But the entire meeting was not spent on the topic of the report, Udall said.

Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and other Democrats on the panel, including Udall, have been negotiating with the White House on a redacted summary of the report, which they hope to release to the public.

“I asked the chief of staff to take another look at this for me with the president,” said Udall, who lost his re-election bid to Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Full story

Senate’s 2015 Calendar Features Fuller Weeks, Fewer Breaks

senate luncheons009 111814 445x296 Senates 2015 Calendar Features Fuller Weeks, Fewer Breaks

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In addition to longer workweeks, it appears the Senate will be in session more frequently in 2015.

As expected, the Senate will kick off work in the 114th Congress on Jan. 6, and the chamber isn’t expected to take a full week break until Presidents Day. That’s according to a draft calendar obtained by CQ Roll Call that shows the Senate in recess the third week in February, for the two weeks around Easter Sunday (which falls on April 5), and the weeks of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Full story

Reid: Obama Immigration Executive Action ‘Isn’t Anything New’ (Video)

USA OBAMA SPEECH WAS35 61A4612DD26E4BBE85A4D3F83764EF52 445x295 Reid: Obama Immigration Executive Action Isnt Anything New (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t expect a novel legal justification from the White House for President Barack Obama’s decision to provide unilateral deportation relief to the undocumented, said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

When asked if he thinks the president’s move would survive a likely court challenge, Reid said, “In the secret bowels of the White House did [the president] and his staff come up with something unique and different? No.”

Reid argued that over the past 60 years every president has taken immigration-related executive action, so no new legal justification is needed. Full story

Durbin Says Omnibus in Progress, Warns Against Defense CR

senate luncheons002 111814 445x296 Durbin Says Omnibus in Progress, Warns Against Defense CR

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Appropriators appear to be making good progress on behind-the-scenes negotiations on a big omnibus bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

That’s the word from Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate who also happens to wield the gavel of the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense.

“I just finished a Defense Appropriation subcommittee joint meeting this morning. We’ve agreed on virtually everything, but four or five issues,” he said. “Those five issues are going upstairs, which is not unusual, to be decided at the full committee level. I hear that they’re going to meet [on] Dec. 1, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, at the highest level to resolve these outstanding issues. We’re moving forward on a good program to get an omnibus done.”

Full story

McCain, Corker Doubtful of White House’s ISIS Strategy, Intent for AUMF

911 Remembrance Ceremony 14 091113 445x317 McCain, Corker Doubtful of White Houses ISIS Strategy, Intent for AUMF

McCain and Corker are skeptical of the Obama administration’s intent for an AUMF. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Leaving Wednesday’s closed briefing on the fight against the Islamic State, the terror group also known as ISIS or ISIL, Sen. John McCain said he doubted the Obama administration really wanted to have a new Authorization for Use of Military Force at all.

“They keep talking about the AUMF. They haven’t, they haven’t sent over anything. I’ve been involved in numerous of these crises where they send over a request for the authorization for the use of military force,” the Arizona Republican said. “You can’t believe they really want it if they don’t even send over a proposal.”

Full story

November 19, 2014

Grassley Says Obama’s Immigration Action Worse Than King George (Video)

grassley 066 061213 445x285 Grassley Says Obamas Immigration Action Worse Than King George (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said President Barack Obama’s expected executive actions would go beyond the dreams of even King George III.

As Democrats were gathering at the White House for a meeting with Obama ahead of the formal announcement of the immigration moves in a Thursday evening address to the nation, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, was on the floor of the Senate speaking about a series of administration actions that Republicans have found objectionable, ranging from the use of recess appointments to the transfer of five Taliban prisoners out of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom of the American people is at stake. That’s what the framers believed,” Grassley said, before quoting from James Madison in Federalist 51.

Full story

Senate Republicans Up in 2016: No Shutdown Over Immigration

kirk 122 111314 445x296 Senate Republicans Up in 2016: No Shutdown Over Immigration

Kirk wants no part of a government shutdown over immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The coming battle over immigration with the White House has Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2016 fearful of a possible shutdown showdown.

Indeed, many refuse to even entertain the possibility.

“There will be no shutdown,” said Sen. Mark S. Kirk, a Republican who will face voters in two years in President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois. Full story

Mike Enzi Challenging Jeff Sessions for Budget Gavel

InternetSalesTax 05 042313 445x307 Mike Enzi Challenging Jeff Sessions for Budget Gavel

Enzi wants to lead the Budget Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans have a battle for a gavel.

Asked if he was interested in becoming Budget chairman when the Republicans take control of the Senate next year, Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming told reporters simply, “Yes.”

Enzi has seniority over the current ranking member, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and a contest had been rumored in recent weeks. The two senators had previously confirmed conversations about the matter.

Full story

End of the Road for Michael Boggs Nomination?

chambliss isakson 150 101013 445x304 End of the Road for Michael Boggs Nomination?

Chambliss, left, and Isakson, right, still hope Boggs will be confirmed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Time is running out for Michael P. Boggs, whose nomination by President Barack Obama to the district court bench in Georgia roiled Democrats and raised new questions about the longstanding Senate practice of giving senators a veto over court picks in their home states.

Georgia Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson said Tuesday they remain hopeful that the controversial judicial nomineewill get confirmed before the end of the congressional session.

“We’ve still got days left in the session,” Chambliss said.

“We’ll just have to see,” Isakson said. Full story

Negotiations Over CIA Torture Report Nearing End

votes006 031214 445x303 Negotiations Over CIA Torture Report Nearing End

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein expects her panel’s long-delayed report on the CIA’s use of torture to be released before Republicans take over the chamber, signaling to reporters there’s one sticking point left.

“Well, no one wants to move that more quickly than I do,” said the California Democrat. “We are down to essentially one item in the redaction. It happens to be a very sensitive and important item.” She didn’t elaborate.

Feinstein has been negotiating with the White House for months over redactions to the report’s executive summary, with Democrats on the panel routinely ridiculing efforts by the CIA to redact large portions of the report. Full story

November 18, 2014

NSA Overhaul Dies in Senate Vote (Updated)

luncheons002 071514 445x298 NSA Overhaul Dies in Senate Vote (Updated)

Leahy’s NSA reform bill died on the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:19 p.m. | An effort backed by the Obama administration to overhaul the NSA’s controversial surveillance activities died in the Senate Tuesday.

Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voted to block the bill, which came just two votes shy of the 60 needed to come to the floor for debate.

Just four Republicans joined Democrats to advance the bill: Ted Cruz of Texas, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Bill Nelson of Florida was the only Democrat to vote against cloture.

The 58-42 vote came as a blow to the measure’s champion, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. It was aimed at ending the bulk collection by the government of phone data and other records of Americans and reforming oversight of the NSA’s programs.

Leahy decried opponents who he said used fear to oppose the bill. He recalled that a lethal anthrax letter was addressed to him — and he would have died if he had touched it — but said the Constitution and civil liberties are more important.

McConnell, however, blasted the measure as one that would aid America’s enemies, including ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State.

His fellow Kentucky Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, voted against the bill because it didn’t go far enough in his opinion to roll back surveillance under the Patriot Act.

“In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans were eager to catch and punish the terrorists who attacked us,” he said in a statement. “I, like most Americans, demanded justice. But one common misconception is that the Patriot Act applies only to foreigners—when in reality, the Patriot Act was instituted precisely to widen the surveillance laws to include U.S. citizens,” Sen. Paul said. “As Benjamin Franklin put it, ‘those who trade their liberty for security may wind up with neither.’ Today’s vote to oppose further consideration of the Patriot Act extension proves that we are one step closer to restoring civil liberties in America.”

Sarah Chacko contributed to this report.

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 7:55 p.m.
Intelligence

Keystone XL Pipeline Stalls in Senate Vote (Video) (Updated)

landrieu 208 111814 445x286 Keystone XL Pipeline Stalls in Senate Vote (Video) (Updated)

Landrieu working the phones Tuesday ahead of the Keystone XL vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 7:42 p.m. | A Senate bill aimed at approving the Keystone XL pipeline stalled Tuesday, dealing a blow to Sen. Mary L. Landrieu’s tough re-election bid.

Republican leaders plan to bring the pipeline legislation back up next year, when GOP reinforcements appear certain to bring it over the line and to President Barack Obama’s desk.

The 59-41 vote fell just one vote short of overcoming a filibuster led by Democrats.

In addition to Landrieu, Democrats who backed the pipeline included Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester of Montana, John Walsh of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Republicans hope their ranks will include Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is challenging Landrieu in next month’s runoff election in Louisiana and like Landrieu has long backed the pipeline, which would ship oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Cassidy sponsored the Keystone bill that earlier passed the House.

Full story

Loretta Lynch Nomination Will Wait as Reid Seeks Broader Deal (Video)

reid 209 111814 445x296 Loretta Lynch Nomination Will Wait as Reid Seeks Broader Deal (Video)

Lynch’s nomination as attorney general will wait until Republicans control the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Republicans will play ball on confirming a number of President Barack Obama’s nominations before they take over the majority in the next Congress, but that list won’t include the next attorney general.

The Nevada Democrat said the White House wasn’t pushing for confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney tapped by Obama to become the next attorney general, before Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., becomes the man in charge of the Senate floor schedule.

“My personal feeling is that the White House has, through intermediaries with me, have said don’t be pushing that, we can do it after the first of the year,” Reid said.

The 114th Congress technically won’t start until a few days into the new year, but as a practical matter, Reid’s comments suggest Lynch will face a GOP-led Judiciary Committee after Obama’s expected executive action on immigration. And that could threaten her confirmation.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will be majority whip in the new Congress, suggested that the immigration announcement could impede movement on an assortment of Senate business, including nominees like Lynch.

“As some have said before me it’s going to poison the well,” said Cornyn, himself a member of the Judiciary Committee. “This place is built on some modicum of cooperation, but if the president is not going to cooperate with us it’s going to make it much harder for us to persuade members of Congress to cooperate with him on everything from nominations to legislation.” Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...