Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Posts by Bridget Bowman

58 Posts

February 9, 2016

Senate Moves on From Flint Crisis — For Now


With no consensus on how to address water contamination in Flint, Mich., the Senate has shelved discussion of a bipartisan energy bill for at least two weeks and plans to move on Wednesday with debate on a package of sanctions against North Korea.

“This is not an effort to scuttle the energy bill at all, but it is an effort to make sure that we’ve got a path forward on helping the Flint families,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who is seeking federal dollars to help Flint replace the corroded pipes that are leaching lead into the city’s drinking water supply. “Once we get an agreement things will move fast.”

Full story

McCain Condemns ‘Loose Talk’ on Campaign Trail


McCain condemned the campaign rhetoric. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCain condemned the campaign rhetoric. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon to condemn what he called “loose talk” on the presidential campaign trail over the use of torture.

McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese as a prisoner while serving in the Vietnam War, sought to dismiss statements from GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Trump said during a Saturday debate that he would bring back waterboarding and other forms of torture. The rhetoric escalated Monday night, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, when Trump at a rally repeated an audience member who called presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a “pussy” for not supporting waterboarding. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:34 p.m.
2016, Trump

Flint Aid Negotiations Continue as Time Runs Out


Peters, left, and Stabenow, right, have been pushing for aid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Peters, left, and Stabenow, right, have been pushing for aid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers and Senate staffers worked through the weekend to find a way to provide aid to Flint, Mich., and move forward on a bipartisan energy bill. But, as of Monday, negotiations were still ongoing.

Democrats stalled debate on the energy bill  last week after senators failed to agree on how to address the crisis in Flint, where corroded pipes have leached toxic levels of lead in the water supply. With the Senate set to consider a North Korea sanctions bill on Wednesday, negotiators are running out of time to reach an agreement. Full story

February 8, 2016

Zika Virus Funding Met With Caution in Congress


Burwell will brief lawmakers on the Zika virus Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burwell will brief lawmakers on Zika Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Capitol Hill leaders responded cautiously to President Barack Obama’s announcement Monday that he would ask Congress to provide $1.8 million in emergency funding to bolster the response to the Zika virus.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is set to brief Senate leaders and relevant committee leaders  Tuesday on the virus, which is typically spread through mosquitoes and has been linked to a birth defect. The World Health Organization last week declared the virus a global health emergency. Full story

February 5, 2016

As Zika Virus Reaches D.C., Congress Calls for Action


Alexander said his committee wild a hearing on the Zika virus. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alexander said his committee will hold a hearing on the Zika virus. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Zika virus reaches the United States and the nation’s capital, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for an urgent response to prevent its spread, and are scheduling briefings and committee hearings to address it.

District of Columbia health officials confirmed this week three cases of the virus in D.C., including one pregnant woman. On Friday, Senate Democrats wrote to President Barack Obama, calling for an “urgent and aggressive response” to the virus. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:33 p.m.
Health

February 3, 2016

Rubio’s Senate Backers Seek to Sway More Colleagues


Daines is among the senators who campaigned for Rubio in Iowa. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Daines is among the senators who campaigned for Rubio in Iowa. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Florida Republican Marco Rubio’s strong third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses could accelerate his bid to secure Senate endorsements for his presidential campaign, supporters said Tuesday.

Rubio’s campaign told Roll Call that in the aftermath of the showing in Iowa, aides have had conversations with many members of the House and Senate about endorsements.

In addition, the aide said that what was described as a handful of additional endorsements should be expected in the days ahead, with the message being that Rubio is best equipped to defeat Clinton in November.

One Senate Republican, South Carolina’s Tim Scott, announced his support for Rubio on Tuesday, bringing the candidate’s congressional endorsement total to five senators and 23 House members. Beyond the endorsements, several senators traveled to Iowa in the past few days to campaign for Rubio.

Full story

February 2, 2016

Vitter Threatens to Stall OPM Nominee Over Obamacare


(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter is demanding answers about congressional enrollment in Obamacare. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is threatening to stall the Office of Personnel Management director’s nomination from moving forward unless he receives information on congressional enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.

In a Tuesday letter to OPM’s acting director Beth F. Cobert, who is set to appear at a nomination hearing this week, Vitter asked that Cobert answer a series of questions and disclose correspondence relating to an OPM rule that allowed lawmakers and their staff to enroll in the District of Columbia’s small business health insurance exchange.

“To date, information I have received from your predecessor has not been responsive to the questions I have posed,” Vitter wrote in the letter shared with Roll Call. “In order for your nomination to move forward, please answer the following questions and provide the information requested.”
Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 7:20 p.m.
Health Care

January 29, 2016

Senate Food Workers Allege ‘Raise Theft’


Capitol food workers have gone on strike for more than a year (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Food workers have gone on strike for more than a year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After achieving an apparent victory with wage increases in a new contract, Senate food workers now say that a number of workers have been illegally barred from receiving a raise.

In a complaint filed with the Labor Department on Jan. 14, Good Jobs Nation, the group that has been organizing worker strikes over the past year, charged that the Senate’s food service vendor altered workers’ classification, to make them no longer eligible for substantial wage increases included in a contract renegotiated in December.

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 4:43 p.m.
Uncategorized

Elizabeth Warren Releases Report Showing How Corporate Criminals Get Off Easy


Warren released "Rigged Justice" Friday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Warren released “Rigged Justice” Friday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo

As Congress considers overhauling the criminal justice system, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is working to show that law enforcement is “shockingly weak” when it comes to corporate crimes.

Warren’s office released a 13-page report on Friday, titled “Rigged Justice: 2016; How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy,” which argues that the justice system is rigged in favor of corporations and executives who commit crimes. The report highlights 20 cases that, in Warren’s staff’s view, demonstrate how the federal government failed to hold corporations and executives accountable for breaking the law.

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January 28, 2016

Lawmakers Who’ve Led on Heroin Epidemic Get Hit on It Anyway


From left, Ayotte, Shaheen, Portman and Gov. Peter Shumlin, testify at a Judiciary hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Ayotte, Shaheen, Portman and Gov. Peter Shumlin testify at a Judiciary hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The mood in the Senate hearing room Wednesday morning was somber as lawmakers pledged bipartisan support to combat the scourge of heroin and prescription drug addiction. But with two of the Senate’s most vulnerable Republicans testifying, the hearing offered the opportunity to demonstrate some passion for an issue voters care about intensely. It also gave Democratic opponents a chance to criticize them. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 5 a.m.
2016

January 27, 2016

Heroin Epidemic Hearing Highlights Need for Resources


Ayotte, left, and Shaheen, right, testified at the hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ayotte, left, and Shaheen, right, testified at the hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers, state officials, advocates and law enforcement officers attempting to mitigate the heroin and prescription drug crisis plaguing the country had a message for Congress: We need your help.

“Listen, we need financial help. The states cannot do this alone,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, said at a Senate Judiciary hearing Wednesday. He later added, “We’re scraping together pennies to try and make our treatment centers stand on their own.”

Full story

January 26, 2016

For One Day Only, the Senate’s a Matriarchy


Mikulski, center, talks to her fellow women senators at her Women's Power Workshop. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mikulski, center, talks to female senators at her Women’s Power Workshop. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 It might have been the first time this has ever happened: On Tuesday morning, as the Senate reconvened after a winter storm, every senator, staff member and page in the chamber was a woman.

Full story

Senate Women Rule as Work Begins After Blizzard


Murkowski opened the Senate. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Murkowski opened the Senate. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the Senate reconvened Tuesday after a major winter snow storm, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski noticed something a bit unusual.

“You look around the chamber and the presiding officer is female, all of our parlamentarians are female, our floor managers are female, all of our pages our female,” Murkowski said, opening the Senate session as Maine Republican Susan Collins sat in the presiding officer’s chair.

“Now, this was not orchestrated in any way, shape, or form. We came in this morning, looked around and thought, something is different this morning. Different in a good way, I might add,” Murkowski continued. “But something is genuinely different, and I think it’s genuinely fabulous. So perhaps it just speaks to the heartiness of women, that you put on your boots and put your hat on and get out, slog through the mess that is out there.”

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 11:46 a.m.
Energy

January 21, 2016

Democrats Vow to Push GOP to Address Student Debt


Murray, left, and Schumer, right, said they push the GOP to address student debt. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Murray, left, and Schumer, right, said they will push the GOP to address student debt. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats pledged Thursday to prod the Republicans who control Congress to combat student loan debt this year, whether through legislation or floor amendments.

“I want to make sure that we get this done,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., one of several Democrats unveiling a legislative package to relieve spiraling debt levels. According to the Federal Reserve, student loan debt topped $1.3 trillion in Sept. 2015. “We’re willing to look at any way to get that done.” Full story

Campaign Venom Blocks Syrian Refugee Debate


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell arrives for the Senate Republicans’ policy lunch Wednesday in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The rancorous politics of the presidential campaign spilled onto the Senate floor Wednesday and blocked debate on a bill that would effectively keep refugees from Iraq and Syria from entering the United States.

Republicans argued that the legislation, which cleared the House in November with an overwhelming majority, is needed after recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamic extremists. But Democrats said the bill only feeds the fear and hatred stirred up by GOP presidential candidates.

Full story

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