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October 30, 2013
Sen. Joe Manchin III became the last Senate Democratic holdout to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Wednesday, CQ Roll Call has confirmed.
The West Virginia Democrat apparently told The New York Times that he will vote yes when the bill comes before the chamber, as soon as next week.
EXCLUSIVE: Joe Manchin says he will vote for LGBT non-discrimination bill. He was the last Dem holdout. Supporters now just one vote shy
— Jeremy W. Peters (@jwpetersNYT) October 30, 2013
CQ Roll Call asked Manchin Tuesday and Wednesday morning about his position, but the senator’s office said he had not yet made a decision.
His support gets Senate Democratic leaders very close to the 60 votes they need to beat back an expected filibuster.
The bill now appears to have the backing of 58 lawmakers — including the entire 54-member Democratic caucus and four Republicans. When Sen.-elect Cory Booker, D-N.J., is sworn in Thursday, the Senate will be just one vote way from overcoming a procedural blockade.
On Tuesday, Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Bill Nelson of Florida came out in favor of the measure.
Meredith Shiner contributed to this post.
October 29, 2013
Sen. Mark Pryor’s office has told an Arkansas blogger that the senator will support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when it comes up for a vote in the Senate, possibly as soon as next week.
Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times reported Tuesday evening that a staffer for the Arkansas Democrat confirmed that Pryor would vote “yes” on ENDA. The bill would bar employment discrimination because of sexual orientation.
If the report is true, the only Senate Democrat who has not signaled support for the measure is West Virginian Joe Manchin III. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill earlier Tuesday. Fifty-three members of the Democratic caucus and four Republicans have now signaled their support for the measure.
The measure will likely still have to overcome an attempted filibuster. Senate Democratic leaders have not yet nailed down the 60 votes needed to beat back such a blockade, but Pryor certainly gets them closer to that goal. The swearing-in Thursday of newly elected New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker is also likely to help with the count.
October 15, 2013
Updated 10:27 p.m. | The Senate’s leaders appear to have a path forward on a legislative package to avert a default and reopen the government, but a lot of staff work remains before reaching the finish line.
“They’re still working out the details between Sens. McConnell and Reid, and we’re close,” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said.
“They had a basic agreement of what would be included. The staff is now working on a lot of — action going on right now on a lot of different items, but all pointing in the right direction at this moment,” the Illinois Democrat told reporters a few minutes later.
October 14, 2013
Sen. Barbara Boxer likened GOP lawmakers to people who abuse their spouses on Monday when discussing the current government shutdown and the looming debt limit deadline.
The California Democrat, like most in her party, blames the lack of government funding and current impasse over raising the debt ceiling on Republicans who have insisted on passing measures aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
First she compared the current budget crisis to walking down the street on a nice day and then deciding to bash yourself in the head with a rock.
Then she said:
“It’s a self-inflicted wound. I never questioned, never questioned the fact that Republicans, Democrats, and independents love this country. Love this country. I never questioned it. But I have to say, when you start acting like you’re committing domestic abuse, you’ve got a problem. ‘I love you dear, but you know, I’m shutting down your entire government. I love you dear, but I’m going to default and you’re going to be weak.’ Something is dreadfully wrong.”
See the full clip on C-SPAN.
October 8, 2013
Sen. James M. Inhofe is recovering in Tulsa, Okla., after doctors advised an emergency quadruple bypass surgery for five blocked arteries in his heart.
Oklahoma news outlets reported Tuesday that doctors discovered the 78-year-old Republican’s heart problems after he went in for another procedure on Friday.
“I went in for a routine colonoscopy that everyone gets and was sent to the hospital instead for open-heart surgery,” Inhofe told the Tulsa World. “The doctors said, ‘Your colon is perfect, but your heart is what we are worried about.’”
According to the The Oklahoman, two of Inhofe’s arteries were completely blocked and two had 90 percent blockage. A fifth artery was 75 percent blocked.
October 3, 2013
Updated Oct. 4, 10:51 a.m. | A female suspect was killed by police after a car chase from the White House to the Capitol, law enforcement officials confirmed Thursday evening.
A Capitol Police officer was injured in a crash with the suspect’s car and airlifted to an area hospital. Bryan Carter, a 23-year veteran of force, was treated and released from MedStarWashington Hospital Center, by 9:30 p.m. Thursday. A Secret Service agent was also injured, officials reported, but no details on that agent’s condition were given.
A child who was in the suspect’s car was not harmed, but was taken to the hospital, officials said at a news conference Thursday evening. The one-year-old female child rescued from the suspect’s vehicle by a Capitol Police officer sustained no injuries. She was examined, then released from a local hospital and placed in protective custody.
Four road closures remained in effect overnight as the investigation continued on the northern side of Capitol Hill. Roads were reopened in time for morning traffic.
The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the effort, with support from the Capitol Police, Secret Service, and the FBI.
“Based on preliminary findings, this was an isolated incident with no nexus to terrorism,” the Capitol Police said in a Thursday night statement. “The response to this incident was swift and our established security procedures worked. We would like to commend the men and women from the [Capitol Police] for their bravery.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters that shots were fired at two separate locations outside the Capitol Thursday, as police attempted to stop the woman, who Lanier said tried to breach security at both the White House and on the Capitol grounds. Police officers fired on the suspect’s car near Garfield Circle, but the fatal shots appear to have been delivered when after the car crashed on the 100 block of Maryland Avenue NE. The car chase started at 15th and E streets outside the White House, Lanier confirmed.
Lanier said it was important to note that security measures at both the White House and the Capitol “worked.” Amid questions about whether the suspect’s actions were accidental in nature, Lanier said she couldn’t say for certain but was “pretty confident this is not an accident.”
Law enforcement officials declined to give any details about the suspect’s identity, and Lanier noted they were still investigating the incident and would have to notify the woman’s next of kin before releasing her name. Some news outlets reported that the car the woman was driving had Connecticut license plates.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer earlier confirmed that the Capitol Police officer did not appear to have life-threatening injuries. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has the lead on the investigation, in cooperation with the Capitol Police, the Secret Service and the Park Police.
Gainer told CQ Roll Call that “the woman did have a child in the car. Child was not injured. I don’t know the age. The child has been taken to a local hospital.”
Gainer said there is no profile on the female suspect yet.
“The great news is, it’s not terrorism-related and what caused the woman to do whatever she did down at the White House, I’m not sure. Why the Secret Service ultimately chased her, I mean they were trying to make an arrest and she circled the Peace and Garfield Circles a couple times, and then headed up Constitution. That’s east-bound on Constitution where ultimately there was shots fired from … we’re trying to figure that out, but the Capitol Police, uniformed Secret Service. She was hit. She’s been taken to the hospital,” Gainer said.
Asked if there was any evidence the woman was trying to get into the Capitol, Gainer said, “I don’t know that. She couldn’t get into the Capitol because there’s barricades up.”
The Capitol officer who was injured crashed into a barricade while joining the pursuit.
“On something like this, we begin the lockdown, determine what’s going on, pop the barriers. We gave directions to pop the barriers. The officers down there kept the barriers down for some period of time to let the cars through,” Gainer said.
The injured Capitol Police officer was coming from the north on Louisiana Avenue, Gainer said, and made a left-hand turn to go east on Constitution Avenue. “Just as he came around the corner the barrier was popped,” Gainer said. “All that stuff happens very quick.”
The officer’s car clipped the barricade and sustained a lot of damage, Gainer said.
September 30, 2013
Updated 4:05 p.m. | The Senate voted to table House amendments intended to delay Obamacare and repeal a medical device tax.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wasted no time when the Senate came in Monday at 2 p.m. He made the motion, which cannot be filibustered, without any debate.
The amendments were on a House-passed bill to keep the government funded past Tuesday. If the House and Senate do not act before midnight tonight to fund government agencies, the government will shut down.
The vote occurred largely along party lines, 54-46.
The Senate also approved by unanimous consent a bill that would continue to pay American military personnel in the event of a shutdown. On Sunday, the House unanimously passed the legislation, which would apply to active-duty servicemen as well as some civilian and Department of Defense contractors, so the bill now goes to President Barack Obama’s desk.
At a press conference following the vote, Senate Democratic leaders continued to insist they would not take up any stopgap spending measure that includes policy riders.
“The best analogy I can think of — let’s say Nancy Pelosi, during the [2008 Wall Street bailout] debate, when the world economy was teetering on the edge of a cliff, and George Bush was president and needed the vote, said she wouldn’t pass TARP unless Republicans rolled back all the Bush tax cuts,” said Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles E. Schumer.
The New York Democrat continued, “What they’re asking is the No. 1 priority of the first Obama administration, just like the Bush tax cuts were of their administration. So it would be like a group of members, if we gave into this, next, what about a group of rural members saying we’re going to shut down the government unless we get the farm bill just as we like? What, what about a group of civil libertarians saying we’ll shut down the government unless NSA stops the metadata program? It could go on and on. It would be absurd, and it would be unprecedented.”
September 25, 2013
Sen. John McCain took to the Senate floor Wednesday to lambaste Sen. Ted Cruz’s attempt to liken his political opponents to those who tried to appease Adolf Hitler.
McCain also noted the Texas Republican — who held the Senate floor for 21 hours Tuesday into Wednesday — was not around in 2009 and 2010 when Republicans put up a united front in what McCain described as a long and hard fight to defeat the health care law.
“To somehow allege that many of us are nor haven’t fought hard enough, I think, does not comport with the action that took place on the floor of the Senate,” McCain said.
But he took particular affront to Cruz’s statement during his all-nighter that the people who say Obamacare can’t be defunded are similar to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whom Cruz described as saying, “accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe, but that’s not our problem.” Full story
September 24, 2013
Sen. Ted Cruz compared the fight against Obamacare to the battle against Nazi Germany and mused on the intimidating nature of the moon. The Texas Republican talked about the deliciousness of White Castle mini burgers, how he doesn’t know Ashton Kutcher personally, and how he is a coward when it comes to wearing boots versus comfortable shoes. And he found time to read some bedtime stories to his daughters.
There have been so many moments in Cruz’s stem-winder. Here are a few of the best:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doubled down Tuesday on his opposition to Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal to filibuster a House-passed spending bill that would keep the government funded past Sept. 30.
On Monday, McConnell’s spokesman said the Kentucky Republican would vote to end debate on the bill, a vote that Cruz claims will facilitate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to strip Obamacare defunding language from the bill.
But McConnell said that is exactly why Republicans should support the motion to invoke cloture on the bill — because it will put pressure on Democrats to affirmatively support the controversial 2010 health care law. Full story
September 23, 2013
Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate’s battle over defunding Obamacare with a tense but cordial tussle on the Senate floor Monday.
Cruz, the Texas Republican who pushed the House GOP into adding defunding language to its bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, sought to blame Reid, and by extension Democrats, for causing a possible government shutdown come Oct. 1. And he did it after baiting Reid into objecting to two requests that would have favored Republicans in the debate.
“Five minutes ago, the Senate could have acted to prevent a government shutdown,” Cruz said after the interaction. And, he lamented, “there is a tendency in this town toward brinkmanship.”
Cruz offered two unanimous-consent requests — one to to clear the House-passed continuing resolution with its ban on Obamacare money intact and another to require any amendment votes to clear a 60-vote threshold. Reid objected to both, but not before noting that Cruz’s stunt interrupted his afternoon schedule. Full story
July 31, 2013
Senate Democratic leaders struggled Wednesday to beat back a filibuster of President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, holding a vote open for more than five hours and convincing one GOP senator to switch her position.
But in the end, the 60-40 vote crossed the threshold they needed to advance the nomination to a confirmation vote. Sixty votes are needed to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on most Senate business, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently backed off a plan to use the “nuclear option” to end the minority’s ability to filibuster executive branch nominees such as Jones.
Democrats spent almost an hour lobbying GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to change her vote, but even when she did they still fell one vote short without the vote of Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who was back home in North Dakota. So they took the unusual step of holding the vote open until Heitkamp could get back to Washington, D.C.
Murkowski explained her vote change in the following statement: “When I initially voted against cloture, it was based on my understanding that the nominee was the subject of an investigation, because I believe that it is common sense to not confirm someone who is the subject of an active investigation.
“During the vote, I was informed by colleagues that the investigation phase has concluded and a mediation process has been initiated to resolve this issue. Based on this new information, I voted to proceed to a yes or no vote on which I will cast my vote against Mr. Jones.”
The delay pushed a scheduled Wednesday vote on the nomination of Samantha Power to be United Nations ambassador to Thursday.
July 30, 2013
The Senate GOP’s personal parliamentarian and floor manager will leave the chamber for the private sector at the end of this week, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday.
Secretary for the Minority David Schiappa, who has been a longtime member of The Roll Call Fabulous 50 list of the most influential staffers on Capitol Hill, has spent 29 years in the Senate — in both the majority and minority — and 13 years as the party’s secretary in charge of “scheduling legislation on the floor, informing senators of all pending business and keeping them updated on bills, motions, nominations and amendments in preparation for roll call votes,” according to the McConnell statement.
Schiappa also serves as the go-between with the secretary for the majority – a post currently held by Gary Myrick – and offers parliamentary advice to help Republicans achieve their goals on the floor. McConnell announced that another longtime member of the GOP’s floor staff would take over for Schiappa. Laura Dove, the daughter of former Senate Parliamentarian Bob Dove, will assume the secretary position when Schiappa leaves.
McConnell said of Schiappa: “Dave has played a key role in every legislative accomplishment in the Senate during his tenure as Secretary. His wisdom and legislative expertise have been invaluable not only to the last three Senate Republican Leaders, but to every member of the Senate on both sides of the aisle. Our conference, and indeed all 100 members, have benefited immensely from Dave’s sage advice and counsel and he’s going to be missed by Senate members and staff alike.” Full story
July 25, 2013
Sen. Richard M. Burr on Thursday took aim at conservatives who have threatened to shut down the federal government if the 2010 health care law is not defunded, calling it the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”
In an audio recording posted by Public Radio International’s Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich, the North Carolina Republican was asked by reporters if he was supportive of the efforts led by GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida.
“That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of,” Burr said. “As long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be the law.”
One reporter — we suspect The Associated Press’ Andy Taylor — noted Burr was in the House during the 1995 government shutdown that proved disastrous for Republicans.
“I was around in 1995,” Burr acknowledged. “Some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you’d better have a specific reason to do it that’s achievable. Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the federal government.” Full story
July 16, 2013
Updated 4:44 p.m. | A side deal that Sen. Rob Portman brokered with Richard Cordray helped pave the way for the Senate’s overwhelming vote Tuesday morning to advance the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head’s nomination.
In the end, the Ohio Republican’s efforts, along with the help of Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona, helped Cordray get a whopping 17 Republicans to support moving forward with his nomination for a full appointment atop the CFPB.
In a conference call with Ohio reporters, Portman — who has been working for months to defuse the GOP-led filibuster threat on Cordray — said the vote to limit debate was “a bigger vote than I expected, frankly, because we were able to get certain assurances from Rich Cordray regarding some accountability measures we talked about.”
Portman said Cordray has agreed to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee, even though the committee does not have jurisdiction over the CFPB because it is funded directly from the Federal Reserve. Portman also said Cordray pledged to implement cost-benefit analysis of CFPB regulations. Full story