Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2015

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

1267 Posts

November 24, 2015

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.

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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.

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November 20, 2015

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

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

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.

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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

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.

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Senate Bides Time as Highway Bill Negotiations Continue

highway bill

Collins departs from the weekly Senate Republicans luncheon on Nov. 10. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

It might feel like Groundhog Day with another deadline arriving to fund highway programs, but negotiators hope this one will be the last.

They have until the end of the week to produce and advance a conference agreement on transportation programs, absent another extension. It’s also the vehicle for reviving the Export-Import Bank.

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November 12, 2015

Does Obamacare Repeal Have a Senate Path Without the Mandates?

Cruz and Rubio are among those o. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz, Lee and Rubio have previously expressed concerns about a reconciliation bill that doesn’t fully repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The search is on for 51 Senate votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, raising questions about whether the House’s attempt to use the budget reconciliation process to do so will succeed.

Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both presidential candidates, and Sen. Mike Lee are on record that they “cannot support” a bill that doesn’t “fully repeal” the health care law. The offices of Cruz and Rubio referred CQ Roll Call back to a joint statement from three weeks ago when asked for a response to Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s ruling this week that Obamacare’s employer and individual mandates fail the test for inclusion in a reconciliation bill. Full story

November 11, 2015

Senate Seeks Bipartisanship in Rules Overhaul

Sen. Patty Murray, from left, Schumer and Reid after the Democratic policy luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Patty Murray, from left, Schumer and Reid after the Democratic policy luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is upbeat that the Senate’s rules will be tweaked by the time he’s expected to become Democratic leader in 2017 — regardless of which leadership job that becomes.

But for any rules change plan to advance, the New York Democrat says it will have to be bipartisan and need a two-thirds vote. Both sides agree the “nuclear option” won’t be used to implement adjustments in how the Senate takes up legislation.

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November 9, 2015

Reid Whacks Grassley Over Clinton Emails, Nominees

Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate’s week by blasting Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a blockade on ambassadors over former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails.

“Many of these foreign service officers are always ready to serve at a moment’s notice in hot spots throughout the world. Hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re not partisan. They’re diplomats,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a floor speech. “That’s why it’s troubling to see the senior senator from Iowa politicize these promotions.” Full story

Enzi, Sanders Mourn Passing of Budget Panel’s Top Clerk

Kamp, seen here distributing the president's fiscal 2015 budget request. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kamp, seen here during distribution of the president’s budget request. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Budget Committee is mourning the untimely death of one of its staffers, Adam Kamp.

Kamp, 30, had been the committee’s chief clerk since February 2014, and he was recognized by Chairman Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming for his contributions to shepherding the new GOP majority’s budget resolution through the legislative process.

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Ties to Coats Bind Top Leadership Staffers in Congress

McConnell walks with Soderstrom. (Bill Clark, CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell walks with Soderstrom. (Bill Clark, CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Dan Coats wishes he had been able to do more with the all-star staff he assembled more than two decades ago, given the sphere of influence two of them now occupy in the top echelons of Congress.

The Indiana Republican’s staff leader in the early ’90s was Dave Hoppe, who just returned to the Capitol as chief of staff to Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. Hoppe in turn hired Sharon Soderstrom for Coats’ team. She’s now chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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