Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 25, 2015

November 24, 2015

‘Lioness’ Mikulski Gets Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24:  U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) (2nd R) during an East Room ceremony November 24, 2015 at the White House in Washington, DC. Seventeen recipients were awarded with the nationÕs highest civilian honor.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mikulski became the dean of women in the Senate. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded 17 Americans their country’s most prestigious honor. In true American form, there were Presidential Medals of Freedom for baseball legends, Hollywood legends and musical legends.

And then there was a social worker from Maryland who became a true Washington legend, Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. Full story

Marco Rubio Reprises Obamacare Line of Attack

GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has the lowest vote participation rate of any senator in 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rubio wants to maintain restrictions on funding “risk corridor” payments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican vying for position in the crowded GOP presidential field, is reiterating his opposition to an insurance-company friendly part of the Affordable Care Act and hoping congressional leaders follow along.

“So far we’ve succeeded in stopping the Obama Administration from bailing out health insurance companies under ObamaCare, and it’s critical that Congress once again stand with taxpayers to stop any taxpayer-funded bailout of health insurers from happening,” Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said in a letter to GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, including the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Full story

November 23, 2015

Heroin Epidemic Prompts Calls for More Congressional Spending

Shaheen proposed ending discrimination against same-sex marriage in the military. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Shaheen wants supplemental funding to fight heroin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As appropriators work to craft an omnibus spending package to fund the federal government, one of them is making a pitch for additional funding to combat heroin.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is proposing a $600 million emergency supplemental for health care and law enforcement expenses associated with fighting the heroin epidemic that’s swept through communities across the country, including in the Democratic senator’s home state of New Hampshire.

Full story

November 20, 2015

Why Mike Lee Won’t Do Hallway Interviews

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, runs to the Senate floor to vote. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee says he won’t be doing hallway interviews anymore. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mike Lee is no longer taking hallway interviews. Full story

Domestic Surveillance Re-Emerges in Senate, on the Trail

rand paul

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A debate over domestic surveillance that appeared resolved months ago is getting new life in the Senate — and on the 2016 presidential trail.

Speaking to college students Thursday at George Washington University, presidential hopeful Rand Paul called “bullshit” on the idea there should be expanded screening of phone records in the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks in France. Full story

November 19, 2015

Paul Holding Up Spending Bill Over Refugee Welfare

rand paul

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he won’t allow a transportation and housing spending bill through quickly without a vote about Syrian refugees, likely halting final passage until after Thanksgiving.

In a statement, Paul called it “an outrage” that Senate leadership filed cloture on the bill without his amendment regarding welfare for new refugees, and he promised he “will not back down.” Full story

Restaurant Associates Pushes Back on Senators’ Criticism

Sanders rallied with workers who went on strike earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sanders rallied with workers who went on strike earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s food service vendor is pushing back against lawmakers’ criticism of the organization’s approach to worker wages and conditions, an embarrassing situation that has led to boycotts of cafeterias, including by Senate leaders.

In a Nov. 13 letter to the CEO of Restaurant Associates’ parent company, Compass Group, Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and the majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, expressed concern about workers’ wages and their ability to unionize. The senators also noted that the National Labor Relations Board found merit in allegations of retaliation against workers who went on strike. The company is now seeking to refute those claims. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 5 a.m.

November 18, 2015

Senators Focused on Visa Waiver Vulnerabilities

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and others have pushed for changes to the visa waiver program in response to the Paris attacks.  (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and others have pushed for changes to the visa waiver program in response to the Paris attacks. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

While Syrian refugee resettlement has dominated the headlines in Congress this week, the more pressing national security debate in the Senate is about the way tourists and other travelers enter the United States.

Senators from both sides of the aisle emerged from closed briefings concerned about security risks posed by the visa waiver program, which allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. Full story

November 17, 2015

McConnell Joins Call for Syrian Refugees Admission ‘Pause’

syrian refugees

McConnell and other Republican senators conduct a news conference Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined the calls for a “pause” in Syrian refugees admissions, echoing Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

The Kentucky Republican pointed to the influx of Iraqi refugees in his home state indicted on terrorism charges back in 2011. Full story

McCain: Obama Assertion on ISIS ‘Embarrassing’

paris attacks

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain criticized President Barack Obama’s defiant defense of the administration’s strategy to combat the Islamic State terror group.

Speaker with reporters Tuesday, the Arizona Republican took umbrage with Obama’s assertion that GOP hawks have failed to offer an alternative plan for fighting the violent extremist groups. He also said building the Arab ground force he envisions is possible as long as Obama pledges to help it take down Syrian President Bashar Assad. Full story

Paris Terror Attacks Give Graham an Opening in 2016 Race

Graham (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Graham (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham has tried in vain to make the GOP presidential race a fight over who has the best plan to crush the Islamic State. But as coordinated terror attacks on Paris dominate headlines, will primary voters finally listen to the South Carolina Republican?

Graham has long pushed for military intervention in Syria, with a substantial ground component. He told CQ Roll Call Monday that he hoped his message would pick up traction, particularly in New Hampshire — host of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary and where he will travel this weekend with Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain.

Full story

November 16, 2015

Rubio Criticizes Cruz Over Surveillance After Paris Attacks

marco rubio

Rubio speaks at the 2015 Wall Street Journal CEO Council at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday connected the threat from the Islamic State terror group to recent action by Congress that he said weakened the U.S. intelligence community’s surveillance powers — and one of his leading presidential opponent’s votes on it.

The Florida Republican said the enactment of the USA Freedom Act left America “unnecessarily vulnerable” to terrorist threats. That was the legislation that eliminated the federal bulk collection of telephone records, moving data to the telephone companies. Full story

White House Briefings on Paris Set for House, Senate

paris attack

Cornyn speaks with reporters on Nov. 10. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 8:32 p.m. | Members of Congress will get briefings from the Obama administration on the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, with sessions set Tuesday in the House and Wednesday in the Senate.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey will update House lawmakers at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Capitol Visitors Center, at the request of Speaker Paul D. Ryan. Obama administration officials will then brief the entire Senate Wednesday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters.

Full story

Mikulski to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Mikulski, left, and Streisand, center, will both receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mikulski, left, and Streisand, center, will both receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama announced Monday that Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Mikulski, the longest serving woman in Congress, will be honored at a White House ceremony on Nov. 24, along with other public servants and artists who have contributed to the country. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 5:35 p.m.

Paul Seeks U.S. Visa Moratorium After Paris Attacks

rand paul

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rand Paul wants a moratorium imposed on the issuance of visas to enter the United States from dozens of countries.

The Republican presidential candidate from Kentucky said his legislative plan would apply to about 30 countries he said contain “significant Jihadist movements.” He also said there would be a 30-day waiting period for countries under the visa waiver program.

Full story

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