Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 3, 2015

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

932 Posts

March 2, 2015

Graham: Senate Could Overcome Veto of Iran Deal Review Legislation

Graham thinks the Senate could override a veto from the president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Graham thinks the Senate could override a veto from the president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Could Congress overcome a promised veto of legislation designed to compel the Obama administration to submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Capitol Hill for approval? At least one of the bill’s champions seems to think so.

“To the president: I expect Congress will reject your insistence that we shut up and go in a corner and just not have a say,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday on the Fox News Channel, adding that he thought there would be in excess of the 67 votes needed in the Senate to override a veto.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:03 p.m.
Iran, Policy

February 27, 2015

Senate Votes on Full DHS Funding, With House Set to Punt (Updated)

Pelosi and Reid conduct a news conference Thursday in the Capitol’s Senate studio to criticize Republican leaders on the hold up of the Department of Homeland Security funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:39 p.m. | The Senate did its best to wrap up the current year’s funding debate, even as the House is opting for another punt.

Senate Democrats said they wouldn’t try to block the House’s punt, meaning a likely Groundhog Day version of the debate three weeks from now.

After weeks at loggerheads, the Senate moved quickly Friday morning to pass a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for the balance of the fiscal year. The key vote was on invoking cloture to bat back any potential filibuster of the underlying bill — a 68-31 outcome well north of the 60 needed to clear the procedural hurdle. Democrats were united in seeking the “clean” funding bill but Republicans fractured, with most voting to filibuster the plan put forward by their Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to break the impasse.

Senate Republicans who face the voters next year in states won by President Barack Obama split on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania voted to advance the bill.

Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa voted no.

The final vote on passage was also 68-31.

Full story

February 26, 2015

Strong Leaving the Senate, Heading to Wisconsin for Walker

Strong is leaving Thune's office to work for Walker's political operation. (Tom Williams/CQ Eoll Call)

Strong is leaving Thune’s office to work for Walker’s political operation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s political operation has lured one of the top Republican communicators in the Senate away from the chamber.

Walker’s bringing on AshLee Strong, the spokeswoman for the Senate Republican Conference, as national press secretary to be based in Madison, a Walker aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call. She has worked for Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., for more than four years, most recently as senior communications director and chief spokesperson, and is departing the Senate after the Republicans regained the majority.

“AshLee has been a trusted advisor of mine for several years so this is bittersweet for me. I’m sad to see her go but this is a tremendous opportunity for her,” Thune said in a statement. “She’s one of the smartest communicators out there and Gov. Walker is fortunate to have her on his team.”

Full story

McConnell’s Move to Avert Shutdown Cheers Vulnerable Senators Up in 2016

McConnell wants to end the DHS funding fight ASAP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell wants to end the DHS funding fight ASAP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is always looking ahead to the next election.

And as much as the Kentucky Republican’s move to go ahead with a clean bill funding the Department of Homeland Security drew the ire of the conservative base, others including those on the ballot and vulnerable in 2016 said it was important to resolve the issue and get on with the GOP agenda.

Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk, who is running for re-election in the generally blue state of Illinois, said Tuesday that GOP senators should tell the House Republicans who are against advancing the appropriations bill without riders in opposition to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration that “this is the way the Senate demands this go.”

Full story

February 25, 2015

Durbin Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Airplane Smoking Ban

Everyone who flies on a commercial airliner has heard the announcement that tampering with an airplane’s lavatory smoke detector is a federal offense.

But as Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin reminded the Senate Wednesday, until 25 years ago on this day, it was legal to light up cigarettes on short-haul flights. As a House member, the Illinois Democrat  championed the ban, joining with the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., on an effort that earned plaudits in no shortage of Lautenberg obituaries.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:28 p.m.
Policy

Kaine Won’t Attend Netanyahu Speech

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kaine is skipping the Netanyahu Congress speech. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine is the latest Democrat to announce he will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress next week.

The Virginian said in a statement provided first to CQ Roll Call that he’s concerned in particular about the timing of the March 3 address, just weeks ahead of the scheduled Knesset elections on March 17.

Full story

February 24, 2015

Corker, Menendez on Bipartisan Campaign to End Modern-Day Slavery

 Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has a red X pin, symbol for the End It Movement, applied by aide Tara DiJulio, before a news conference in the Capitol on the introduction of the "End Modern Slavery Initiative Act," February 24, 2015. Ranking Member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., also attended. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corker has a red X from the anti-slavery END IT movement pinned to his lapel by aide Tara DiJulio Tuesday on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are pushing for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to rally behind an international effort to raise $1.5 billion to end slavery around the globe.

On Monday, Chairman Bob Corker posted a photo of himself alongside National Football League star Peyton Manning and Todd Helton, another former University of Tennessee signal-caller, each of the three men proudly sporting on the back of their hands the symbol of the anti-slavery END IT movement: a large red X. Full story

February 23, 2015

McConnell Offers Plan to Break DHS Logjam

Updated 7 p.m. | Just days from a shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun to pivot toward a new strategy to separate funding for the Department of Homeland Security from the GOP’s plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration actions.

The Kentucky Republican offered a standalone bill focused on the 2014 immigration actions alone after Democrats for the fourth time filibustered the House-passed DHS bill, this time on a 47-46 vote, 13 shy of the 60 needed to advance.

“It isn’t tied to DHS funding. It removes their excuse,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. Full story

Senate Democrats Show Limits of GOP Spending Strategy

Reid and McConnell Democratic agenda

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Republican leaders seized control of the Senate, they quickly targeted must-pass appropriations bills — not shutdown showdowns — as their best tool for reining in the Obama White House.

Two months into the 114th Congress, they have run smack into the limits of that strategy.

The immigration fight that has stalemated the fiscal 2015 Homeland Security spending bill, leaving the department days away from a possible shutdown, makes clear the high hurdles that remain for getting bills to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Even worse for Republicans, Senate Democrats found a strategy that has left the GOP feuding with itself over who needs to make the next move.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Full story

February 20, 2015

Rand Paul’s Twitter Needs a Legal Lesson

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul’s Twitter feed has gotten ahead of itself.

A tweet from the Kentucky Republican’s account with more than 543,000 followers Friday morning declared that the “5th Circuit of Appeals confirmed what you and I knew, Pres. Obama’s #ExecutiveAmnesty is illegal.” It then asked opponents of President Barack Obama’s immigration actions to add their names.

Full story

February 18, 2015

Hawaii Internment Camp Monument a Legacy of Akaka, Inouye

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Akaka and Inouye led efforts to secure the monument designation. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thursday’s expected announcement from President Barack Obama that the Honouliuli internment camp will become a national monument will bring to fruition an effort that dates to Hawaii’s former senators.

The process to secure the monument designation began in earnest in 2009, in much the same way many of Hawaii’s federal projects have originated for decades: through inclusion of language in an appropriations bill by the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii. Full story

February 17, 2015

Democrats Escape Cold, Spend Part of Recess in Cuba

McCaskill, center, and Klobuchar, right, were part of a CODEL to Cuba. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)

McCaskill, center, and Klobuchar, right, were part of a CODEL to Cuba. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)

Democrats from both sides of the Capitol have been spending parts of their Presidents Day recess in Cuba as relations between the communist nation and the United States begin to thaw.

The trips weren’t designed to be a means of avoiding the bitter cold, but that might be a much appreciated side effect. A House delegation led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrived on the island Tuesday, just as a trio of senators wrapped up their trip of a few days and prepared to return to the U.S. Full story

February 12, 2015

Senate GOP Pamphlet Touts Continued Fight on DHS Spending

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are being sent home for recess with a message touting their persistence on funding homeland security while blocking President Barack Obama’s executive actions.

“Dems voted three times to filibuster House-passed DHS funding bill,” says a tri-fold card of talking points distributed to GOP senators. “Blocking debate on a bill like this is exactly the kind of gridlock voters rejected in the election.”

The pamphlet, shared with CQ Roll Call by a GOP source, suggests Republicans have yet to give up on winning the public relations argument over funding the Department of Homeland Security, with less than a week left to act when the Senate returns from the Presidents Day recess.

Full story

Odd Couples Push Criminal Justice Overhauls (Updated)

Cornyn and Whitehouse conduct a news conference in the Capitol's Senate studio on bipartisan legislation to reform the prison system. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cornyn and Whitehouse conduct a Feb. 10 news conference in the Capitol’s Senate studio on bipartisan legislation to reform the prison system. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:41 p.m. | John Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse. Mike Lee and Richard J. Durbin. Rand Paul and Harry Reid.

Those three Senate odd couples have been spearheading the rollout of legislation this week that, taken together, would affect prison sentences for convicted criminals, how long they might serve and what happens to them when they’ve paid their debt to society. That follows Paul teaming up with Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy earlier this month.

And if even one of the bills could move through the committee process and then secure some precious Senate floor time, who knows what might happen.

Full story

After Another Eye Surgery, Reid Due Back After Recess (Updated)

Reid held his usual Tuesday afternoon news conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid held his usual Tuesday afternoon news conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:18 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is next expected back at the Capitol when the Senate reconvenes after the Presidents Day recess.

That’s after the Nevada Democrat underwent a second eye surgery on Wednesday, as part of the continued recovery from the New Year’s Day exercise injury that mangled his face and left significant damage to his right eye.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the no. 3 Democratic leader, said Thursday afternoon that he had yet to speak with Reid since the most recent surgery.

Full story

Page 1 of 63

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...