Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 25, 2015

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

1007 Posts

April 24, 2015

Iran Bill Supporters Seek to Avoid Contentious Amendments

Corker will manage floor debate on the Iran review legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Corker will manage floor debate on the Iran review legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Supporters of the Senate’s Iran legislation know they have to do a delicate dance on the floor.

With Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promising an open-amendment process for the bill negotiated by Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and ranking Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the advocates for the carefully crafted compromise know they will have to bat back unwanted amendments — including some they might support — to stave off the return of a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

“The White House has made very plain that they dropped their veto threat for the bill as constituted,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said. “Look, I was one of the co-sponsors, but there might be amendments that would cause me to withdraw. If there are amendments that try to take what has been scrupulously nonpartisan and make it partisan, you’re going to see a lot of people who are on the bill moving off of it.”

Full story

April 23, 2015

Leahy, Paul Honored Together as ‘Constitutional Champions’

Leahy and Paul were honored Wednesday evening. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Leahy and Paul were honored Wednesday evening. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Looking only at voting records, you wouldn’t expect Rand Paul and Patrick J. Leahy to share an award of any kind.

But the Kentucky Republican who’s running for president and the Vermont Democrat who is now the longest-serving senator gave remarkably similar policy speeches Wednesday evening. The remarks by the two senators to The Constitution Project’s annual awards gala highlighted the fact that on civil liberties issues, party labels aren’t representative of much.

Full story

April 22, 2015

A Possible Path Forward on Patriot Act

Burr says the new surveillance bill is a marker for negotiations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr says the new surveillance bill is a marker for negotiations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Senate worked its way out of two legislative knots Wednesday, passing a human-trafficking bill, 99-0, and setting up a Thursday vote on the long-delayed nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the path to reauthorizing surveillance activities would be a lot easier if the White House engaged Congress sooner rather than later.

“The White House usually keeps everything close to the vest until all of a sudden, you produce a piece of legislation and then they’re open to share with you their problems with it,” Sen. Richard M. Burr said. “I wish they’d adopt another strategy.”

The North Carolina Republican joined Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in introducing a bill late Tuesday that just might get an administration reaction. It would effectively extend the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, such as those related to bulk collection of phone and other records under the law’s Section 215, through a prospective lame-duck session at the end of the next president’s first term. Burr said that was a marker for negotiating. The authorization is set to lapse at the beginning of June.

Full story

Tough Talk on Trade Between Wyden and Reid

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Wyden said Reid has been blunt with him over their trade policy legislation disagreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden did not sound surprised by Minority Leader Harry Reid’s call Tuesday for him to slow down progress on Trade Promotion Authority legislation that was being marked up Wednesday afternoon.

“Sen. Reid and I have talked often about this, and he’s already a straight-shooter. You know, he and I have been working together for over three decades,” the Oregon Democrat said of his colleague from Nevada. “Nancy and I are just very fond of Senator Reid and Landra.”

Full story

April 21, 2015

State Department IG Tells Senate He Needs Own Network (Video)

Kerry is secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kerry is secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Can an inspector general be truly independent while department officials have access to his computer network?

State Department Inspector General Steve A. Linick’s testimony before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee Tuesday morning might leave lawmakers asking that question. Linick said that along with needing better communication about potential criminal activity and misconduct by State Department personnel and others, he said getting an independent computer network would be a priority.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:48 p.m.
Policy

Harry Reid a ‘Hell No’ on Obama’s Fast Track Push (Video)

(Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom WIlliams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday his advice to Sen. Ron Wyden is to “slow down” so-called “fast-track” trade legislation. Full story

By Steven Dennis and Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:22 p.m.
Trade

Rand Paul Calls GOP Hawks Obama ‘Lap Dogs’

 Paul, R-Ky., testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "The Need to Reform Asset Forfeiture" on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul calls McCain and Graham “lap dogs” for Obama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday he thinks fellow Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain are, in effect, “lap dogs” for President Barack Obama.

“If there’s anyone who is the most opposed to President Obama’s foreign policy, it’s me. And these people who call loudest to criticize me are great proponents of President Obama’s foreign policy. They just want to do it 10 times over. But I’m the only one actually standing up and saying, ‘The war in Libya was a mistake,'” the Kentucky Republican said on Fox News. “The bombing of Assad would make ISIS stronger. The arms to the Islamic rebels would make ISIS stronger.”

Full story

Senate Reaches Trafficking Deal, Teeing Up Loretta Lynch Confirmation (Updated) (Video)

McConnell and Cornyn

McConnell, left, announced a deal on the Senate floor during his opening remarks Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:41 a.m. | Loretta Lynch can expect to be confirmed as the next attorney general within a day or two after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a deal on a sex trafficking bill that had been tied up in abortion politics for weeks.

“There have been good-faith negotiations to resolve the impasse that has prevented the Senate from moving forward on this bill,” McConnell said Tuesday. “And now, I’m glad we can say there is a bipartisan proposal that will allow us to complete action on this important legislation so we can provide help to the victims who desperately need it.”

“As soon as we finish the trafficking bill, as I’ve indicated for some time now, we’ll move to the president’s nominee for attorney general—hopefully in the next day or so,” he said.

Full story

Legislative Deadlines for Presidential Candidates to Watch

Cruz will get another chance to weigh in on the debt limit before the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz will get another chance to weigh in on the debt limit before the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s no shortage of deadlines in 2015 that will put the national media spotlight on Capitol Hill, even as much of the attention is on shooting ranges, ballrooms and diners in early presidential states.

And for what’s likely to be four Republican senators making runs for the White House and their advisers, these moments will be an opportunity to distinguish themselves from fellow legislators — and perhaps for the candidates running from governor’s mansions or the business community.

Full story

April 17, 2015

Cruz Iran Letter Uses the Royal ‘We’ — Briefly

( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz has concerns about Iran. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz fired off a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Friday that declared “we” are making requests for the countries involved in the Iran talks — even though no other senators signed the letter.

The Texas Republican, who is seeking his party’s nomination for president in 2016, said without congressional approval or Senate consent to ratification of a treaty, any final agreement between the P5+1 negotiators and the Iranians could be null and void with a future administration.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:17 p.m.
2016, Iran, Ted Cruz

For Lynch, Next Week Just Might Be the Week

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the end of a week that saw bipartisanship break out all around the Senate, Loretta Lynch remained in limbo.

The Thursday afternoon announcement there would be no further Senate votes for the week guaranteed that the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be attorney general, would enter another week awaiting Senate confirmation. The contrast was on the president’s mind Friday.

“And I have to say that there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough,” Obama said at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job. This is embarrassing, a process like this.”

Full story

Wyden Knows His Challenge on Trade: Fellow Democrats

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

“Trade has never been for the faint-hearted,” Sen. Ron Wyden said Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing a bipartisan agreement on legislation to promote trade deals.

The Oregon Democrat is in the unenviable position of being his party’s leading voice on Capitol Hill in support of revived fast-track Trade Promotion Authority for President Barack Obama, a position that puts him squarely in line with the White House and most Republicans, but at odds with key parts of the Democratic coalition.

Full story

April 16, 2015

What ‘Abolish the IRS’ Really Means

Lee, left, and Rubio, talked about the 'Abolish the IRS' pitch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee, left, and Rubio, have an ‘Abolish the IRS’ pitch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Abolish the IRS” is a popular Republican refrain, getting time on the campaign trail and promotion from the Republican National Committee. But don’t take the catch phrase literally.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Floridian who aims to be the party standard-bearer in the 2016 presidential contest, effectively conceded Wednesday there’s a bit of hyperbole involved.

Rubio’s partner on a tax code overhaul proposal, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said what conservatives really want is a significantly simpler tax code that would dial back the kind of power the IRS has accumulated.

Full story

April 15, 2015

Graham Questions Why Police Didn’t Shoot Down the Gyrocopter

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the gyrocopter that prompted a security scare after landing on the West Front of the Capitol Wednesday should have been taken out while in the air.

“He should have been subject to being shot out of the sky. I don’t know why he wasn’t, but our nation is under siege. Radical Islam is a threat to our homeland. There are probably radical Islamic cells in our backyard already,” the South Carolina Republican said. “And if somebody is willing to, you know, approach vital government infrastructure, they should do so at their own peril.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 8:06 p.m.
2016, Policy

April 14, 2015

Rubio, Menendez Quickly Out of the Gate Against Cuba Policy Changes (Video)

Not long after the White House announced the president’s intent to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, Sen. Marco Rubio was out with video responses in English and Spanish decrying the much-anticipated move.

“Well, the decision made by the White House today is a terrible one, but not surprising unfortunately. Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. They harbor fugitives of American justice, including someone who killed a police officer in New Jersey over 30 years ago. It’s also the country that’s helping North Korea evade weapons sanctions by the United Nations,” Rubio said. “They should have remained on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and I think sends a chilling message to our enemies aboard that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 6:58 p.m.
Cuba
Page 1 of 68

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...