Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 16, 2014

Posts by JM Rieger

14 Posts

March 13, 2014

McCain Rails GOP on Ukraine Bill: ‘Don’t Call Yourself Reagan Republicans’ (Video)

Sen. John McCain hammered Republicans on the Senate floor Thursday for refusing to pass by unanimous consent a Senate Foreign Relation Committee bill which would provide economic aid while imposing sanctions on Russia.

“What has happened? Where are our priorities? You can call yourself Republicans, that’s fine, because that’s your voter registration. Don’t call yourself Reagan Republicans,” the Arizona Republican said.

Full story

Graham to Kerry: ‘Let Me Know What I Can Do’ to Help With Boehner (Video)

Following remarks Wednesday from Speaker John A. Boehner saying IMF aid to Ukraine is unnecessary, Sen. Lindsey Graham personally offered assistance to Secretary of State John Kerry as the House and Senate continue to debate the appropriate response to the Ukrainian crisis.

“Hey, John, good job,” the South Carolina Republican was heard saying before Kerry turned off the desk mic. “Let me know what I can do to help you with Boehner.”

Graham’s remarks were caught following a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the State Department’s fiscal 2015 budget. Meanwhile, Kerry travels to London on Friday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Correction 11:40 p.m.

An earlier version of this report misstated where Kerry is traveling on Friday.

March 6, 2014

Dalai Lama Gives Senate Opening Prayer (Video)

It was a historic morning in the Senate Thursday, when the Dalai Lama gave the Senate’s opening prayer in place of Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black.

Attendance, however, left something to be desired. A good number of staffers were gathered on the floor and in the galleries, but the chamber was by no means packed. Perhaps a dozen senators were present when Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., brought the Senate into session and yielded to the Dalai Lama for the morning prayer.

“We make our world. Speak or act with a pure mind, and happiness will follow you,” he said. “This is my favorite prayer. Daily I pray this.”

Following the opening prayer, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., requested that the Senate recess in order for senators to meet with the Dalai Lama. Full story

March 5, 2014

Harkin Calls DOJ Vote Lowest Point in 30-Year Career (Video)

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, on Wednesday called the Senate’s rejection of President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division the “lowest point” of his 30-year career.

“I don’t say that lightly,” Harkin said. “I was here during the impeachment process, trial for President [Bill] Clinton. I kind of thought that was a sham, but that didn’t compare to what happened today.”

Harkin, the sixth-longest serving member in the 113th Congress, criticized the Senate for what he called an “emotional vote.”

“I will not name any names, but I had one senator say, ‘my head tells me that he should be confirmed but my guts, my emotions say no.’ Shame, on all of us here; especially the lawyers.”

Obama’s pick, Debo P. Adegbile, was the first nominee blocked since Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” in November.

By JM Rieger Posted at 9:12 p.m.
Uncategorized

January 8, 2014

Dueling Senate Leaders Lament Obstructionism, Partisanship (Video)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid traded floor speeches on Wednesday, accusing the other of partisanship while calling for an end to obstructionism.

The Kentucky Republican criticized the “nuclear option” invoked by the Nevada Democrat in November, but he emphasized he was not trying to “point the finger of blame.”

“My purpose is to suggest that the Senate can do better than it has been and that we must be if we’re to remain as a great nation,” McConnell said. “This is a behavioral problem. It doesn’t require a rules change. We just need to act differently with each other.”

McConnell, who proposed an amendment on Tuesday that would tie jobless benefits to an Obamacare delay, criticized the majority leader for not allowing amendments on the unemployment insurance bill that advanced yesterday.

Reid accused the Republican leadership of distorting the facts.

“Since I’ve been leader, seven out of 10 amendments on which the Senate has voted have been … Republican amendments,” Reid said.

Reid called the remarks a “diversion” from the GOP’s “callous” and “cold-hearted” positions on issues facing the Senate.

 

 

November 21, 2013

Nuclear Showdown: Reid Vs. McConnell (Video)

Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out their best arguments for and against the “nuclear option” to end filibusters of most judicial and executive branch nominees on Thursday.

McConnell lost the battle when Democrats voted to effectively change the rules and prevent filibusters on all nominations except those to the Supreme Court.

 

November 20, 2013

Key Moments in the Military Sexual-Assault Debate (Video)

As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s legislation removing the military chain of command from sexual-assault prosecutions gained support, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., pushed back on the Senate floor Wednesday, arguing that sexual-assault cases should remain in the military’s chain of command.

Levin and McCaskill are pushing other changes as well that Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, has said will make the situation better for sexual-assault victims in the armed forces.

Votes on the competing proposals could come Wednesday evening, but no time had been set by mid-afternoon. Full story

November 7, 2013

The Best Floor Moments from the ENDA Debate (Video)

Following a key procedural vote Monday bringing up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a vote today, the Senate is set to vote this afternoon to prevent discrimination by employers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Watch Roll Call’s best moments from Senate floor debate this week:

As of Wednesday evening, no opponents of the measure had spoken on the floor. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., became the first member to do so Thursday morning. Coats expressed concern about protections for religious institutions that are opposed to same-sex relationships.

November 4, 2013

Kirk Makes First Floor Speech Since Stroke on ENDA (Video)

Nearly two years after suffering a stroke, Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., on Monday made his first speech on the Senate floor since December 2011.

Kirk, who underwent rehabilitation for more than 11 months before returning to the Senate in January, took the floor in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prevent discrimination by employers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

By JM Rieger Posted at 6:22 p.m.
LGBT, Republicans, Videos

October 4, 2013

Has Strong Shutdown Rhetoric Violated Senate Rules? (Video)

The debate surrounding the government shutdown has been white hot in the Senate over the past few weeks, leading some lawmakers to complain about a lack of decorum.

Indeed, twice over the past two days, senators reminded their colleagues of Senate rules.

“I think we’ve all here in the Senate kind of lost the aura of Robert Byrd, who was such a stickler for Senate procedure,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday morning on the Senate floor. “I think we’ve all let things get away from us a little bit. The Senate is a very special place with very particular rules.”

Longstanding Senate precedents tied to the Senate’s original rules require senators to speak through the presiding officer, as noted in “Riddick’s Senate Procedure.”

“Senators in debate should address each other through the Chair and in the third person,” the book of precedents explains.

Additionally, Senate Rule 19 states: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

Interestingly, Reid may have been reminding himself of those rules and precedents. The Nevada Democrat, who has sparred with tea party darling Sen. Ted Cruz over the past month, criticized the Texas Republican on Thursday for influencing  House Republicans’ political strategy.

“The latest plan came from the junior senator from Texas [and it] is to cherry pick parts of the government he likes,” Reid said. He added that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., “is following Cruz’s idea specifically. Sen. Cruz is now joint speaker. He lectures the House on occasion, as he does people over here.

Reid’s reference quickly drew criticism, particularly because Cruz was not on the floor at the time to defend himself. Full story

October 3, 2013

Senate Chaplain Asks God to ‘Save Us From the Madness’ of Shutdown

After congressional leaders and the president failed to reach an agreement on the government shutdown last night, Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black used his opening prayer Thursday to hammer members of Congress.

After asking God to “save us from the madness,” Black said in his deep, authoritative voice, “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”

Black has served as the Senate chaplain for more than 10 years and echoed criticisms of Congress’ inability to strike a deal to end the first government shutdown in 17 years.

 

September 25, 2013

McCain Criticizes Cruz’s Nazi Germany Reference (Video)

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

Best Clips of Ted Cruz’s Talkathon on Defunding Obamacare (Video)

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:

 

 

McConnell: Cruz Plan Would Shut Government and Keep Obamacare Funded (Video)

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

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