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

Posts by Humberto Sanchez

215 Posts

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

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

November 19, 2014

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

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

November 18, 2014

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

McConnell Cites ISIS in Opposition to Leahy Surveillance Bill

KYPOL14 172 110514 445x296 McConnell Cites ISIS in Opposition to Leahy Surveillance Bill

McConnell opposes efforts to roll back NSA data gathering. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came out against a surveillance bill sponsored by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., citing concerns that it could hurt the nation’s ability to combat terrorists like Islamic State.

“Many of these fighters are familiar with America’s intelligence capabilities and many are savvy with communications: these are terrorists who know how to use encryption and they know how to change devices frequently,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “That’s part of the reason why I’m so strongly opposed to the legislation.”

McConnell is set to become majority leader in the next Congress and his comments will likely make it more difficult for the bill to advance. The Senate is expected to vote on cloture on whether to take up the bill Tuesday evening and 60 votes are needed to move ahead.

McConnell added that he believes the bill would curtail the intelligence community’s surveillance powers and that would “end one of our nation’s critical capabilities to gather significant intelligence on terrorist threats.”

“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs,” McConnell said. Full story

Will Republicans Need a New Message on Climate Change in 2016?

senate vote008 010714 445x301 Will Republicans Need a New Message on Climate Change in 2016?

Graham suggests Republicans need to find a positive message on climate change heading into the next presidential election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans were swept into power vowing to fight the White House’s “war on coal,” but at least one says they need a broader message than “no” in 2016.

“I think there will be a political problem for the Republican Party going into 2016 if we don’t define what we are for on the environment,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. “I don’t know what the environmental policy of the Republican Party is.” Full story

November 14, 2014

A Lame-Duck Fight Over Yucca Mountain

dem meeting023 111314 445x295 A Lame Duck Fight Over Yucca Mountain

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Harry Reid’s longtime opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository appears set to have one of the last quacks in the lame duck, and Republicans are crying foul.

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, slammed President’s Obama’s nomination of Jeffery M. Baran to a full five-year term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and pointed to the Democratic leader’s longtime efforts on Yucca.

The Nevada Democrat “strongly supports Baran, likely due to the role he is expected to play in continuing to undermine the Yucca Mountain project, a nuclear repository in a secluded region of Nevada,” Vitter said in a press release.

“Baran’s nomination increases the likelihood that Stephen Burns…could be nominated to be the new NRC Chairman,” he said.

The president designates the chairman of the five-person commission. Vitter’s comments come after current chairwoman Allison M. Macfarlane announced in October that she would resign.

Burns was previously the chief counsel to former NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko “who was forced out of office due to his failed leadership,” Vitter said.

Jaczko is a former Reid staffer and staunch Yucca opponent whom Reid helped install at the NRC. Reid used every tool in the box, including a blanket hold on President George W. Bush’s nominees, to get Jaczko on the NRC.

Jaczko resigned from the agency in 2012 after months in which he battled accusations by the four other commissioners of the bipartisan agency of having a heavy-handed management style. That style, his detractors contend, disrupted the NRC’s ability to complete its nuclear safety mission.

Both Baran, a former aide to liberal stalwart Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Burns were confirmed in September, but Baran’s nomination was to fill a term expiring June 30. Burns’ was a full term that lasts through June 30, 2019.

Vitter, who opposed Baran’s initial confirmation in September, reiterated his concerns that he is unqualified.

“The President’s nominee to ensure the safety and success of our nuclear future visited a nuclear facility for the first time in his life this summer,” Vitter said. “It is vital to the security and reliability of our nation’s energy needs for the members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to be independent, thoughtful, and highly qualified. Baran clearly lacks that experience, and we need to hold a full EPW committee hearing.”

Baran’s confirmation would be much harder next year after Republicans take control of the Senate. His earlier nomination was confirmed 56-44 in September, before Republicans won control of the chamber in the midterm elections.

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.

November 13, 2014

Reid to Obama: Wait on Immigration Move (Updated)

reid 259 091814 445x317 Reid to Obama: Wait on Immigration Move (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Nov. 12 4:21 p.m. |Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he would like President Barack Obama to wait for Congress to pass legislation funding the government before he takes executive action giving deportation relief to undocumented immigrants.

“The president said he is going to do the executive action,” the Nevada Democrat said heading in to a Democratic lunch. “The question is when. It’s up to him. I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it. But it’s up to him.”

Reid said the president was aware of his preference.

Republicans have warned the president not to take unilateral executive action and have raised the possibility that such a move could threaten work on an omnibus spending bill currently being developed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Full story

Harry Reid Unveils New Leadership Team, Strategy (Video)

reid031114 445x298 Harry Reid Unveils New Leadership Team, Strategy (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Nov. 13 7:02 |Sen. Harry Reid survived a four-hour meeting with his Democratic flock with his job as their leader intact, albeit without unanimous support, as he debuted three new members of his leadership team and promised to work with Republicans to legislate.

His leadership team has three new members: Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a moderate who is the new head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is chairwoman of Steering and Outreach; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who has a newly created post to reach out to the progressive wing of the party.

The new team gives both moderates and progressives a seat at the leadership table, though the top positions in the party have not changed a bit.

“We have to continue fighting for the middle class,” Reid said. “The middle class is what is concerning every one of my senators. They’re not getting a fair shot and we are going to do everything we can in the 114th Congress to make sure the middle class of this great country of ours has a fair shot.”

Full story

Elizabeth Warren Gets Seat at Leadership Table

warren 075 0601114 445x298 Elizabeth Warren Gets Seat at Leadership Table

Warren will get a new role in Democratic leadership. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren will get a newly created seat at the Democratic leadership table.

A Democratic source familiar with the leadership’s thinking told CQ Roll Call the Massachusetts senator’s role will involve outreach to progressives. A second source indicated the position would not supplant another member of the leadership.

Bringing Warren into the weekly leadership meetings could put her brand of populist economic messaging front and center as Democrats look to regain their majority in 2016.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has had high praise for Warren, and adding her to the team gives him a chance to tell his flock that he’s making changes after last week’s midterm disaster cost him his majority leader title.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, meanwhile, is expected to take the steering and outreach slot now occupied by Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who was ousted by Republican Dan Sullivan on Nov. 4. It’s not clear the timing of when that pick will occur.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Elizabeth Warren Leads Progressive Charge, But Has GOP Admirers Too

Elizabeth Warren Could Join Democratic Leadership

Democrats Run From Harry Reid

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.

Claire McCaskill Opposes Reid Staying as Leader

mccaskill 151 072313 445x312 Claire McCaskill Opposes Reid Staying as Leader

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri told reporters Thursday she would not vote for Sen. Harry Reid as the Democratic leader as the party heads into the minority.

“I will not,” she responded when asked whether she will vote for the Nevada Democrat.

Full story

November 12, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Could Join Democratic Leadership

banking004 070814 1 445x295 Elizabeth Warren Could Join Democratic Leadership

Elizabeth Warren could join Senate leadership. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democratic leaders are discussing the possibility of adding Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to their ranks, a source familiar with the conversations confirmed late Wednesday.

The move would be the most significant change to Democratic leadership teams in either chamber, which are expected to otherwise be unchanged despite the historic drubbing at the polls on Election Day.

On a conference call with liberal supporters just before the election, she received high praise from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev.

“This woman has changed the Senate,” Reid said. Full story

Enzi Hasn’t Ruled Out Seeking Budget Gavel

Honest 005 020112 445x305 Enzi Hasnt Ruled Out Seeking Budget Gavel

Enzi, left, hasn’t ruled out a run for the Budget Committee gavel against Sessions, right. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., hasn’t ruled out claiming his seniority on the Budget Committee and seeking the chairmanship against Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the panel’s current ranking member.

“There are a lot of conversations about committees and subcommittees and I am not going to talk about it now,” Enzi said when asked if he would seek the gavel.

Sessions was also coy.

“We’ve talked,” Sessions said, noting that he considers Enzi one of his best friends in the Senate.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on the details of the conversation,” Sessions added.

Asked if he expects to be chairman, Sessions said, “It’s always up to the committee and the leaders.” He later added, “Mike Enzi’s one of the best people here, and we’ve consulted. We’ve had a good conversation.”

Enzi has seniority on the Budget Committee over Sessions, who four years ago was pushed out as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.

Sen. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, said he had not heard from Enzi on the matter, but acknowledged a gavel fight was possible.

“I don’t know,” Crapo said. “You’re not the first one to ask me if that is the case.”

“As a technical matter, the committee votes. As another technical matter all committees historically go with seniority,” Crapo said. “I suppose you could find an example where that didn’t happen, but it’s really rare.”

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., both members of the panel, said they had not heard from Enzi either.

Two years ago, Enzi also left open the possibility of taking over as Budget Committee ranking member, but ultimately decided to let Sessions keep the post.

At stake is who will be the face of the party on budget issues and shepherd a budget resolution on the chamber floor — something that soon-t0-be-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other top Republican leaders have said will be a priority next year.

Sessions has staked out a position as perhaps the chamber’s most adamant opponent of the Senate’s immigration bill and President Barack Obama’s planned executive action on immigration. Sessions is pushing Republicans to block any funding for amnesty in a spending bill to keep the government running — a move that could ultimately provoke a government shutdown showdown.

Enzi is the main Senate Republican sponsor of the Internet sales tax bill killed this week by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. He also recently penned an op-ed in Roll Call calling for slashing $7.6 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.

Neither Enzi nor Sessions voted for the bill reopening the government during last year’s shutdown over Obamacare.

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.

Executive Action on Immigration Could Imperil Omnibus, Cornyn Warns (Video)

cornyn 060 021213 445x296 Executive Action on Immigration Could Imperil Omnibus, Cornyn Warns (Video)

Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The No. 2 Senate Republican said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration could endanger bipartisan efforts to craft an omnibus spending bill in the lame-duck session.

“Part of what’s I think creating the difficulty is the president’s threatened Obama amnesty, and one of the ways that that could be addressed would be through the spending,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “The president seems hell bent to do this, which I think is a terrible mistake, but it’s his to make.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is poised to become the next majority leader, again cautioned Obama about the effect of making the widely-expected moves on immigration. Full story

Page 1 of 15

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...