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

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

1090 Posts

July 1, 2015

Kaine, Warner Question Shutdown of Security Clearance System

Virginia's senators are asking Archuleta about security clearances. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Virginia’s senators are asking Archuleta about security clearances. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Virginia’s Senate delegation wants answers about the shutdown of an Office of Personnel Management system for handling security clearances.

A significant number of constituents of Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner either work for the federal government or as contractors in positions that require valid security clearances to do their jobs.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:05 p.m.
Policy

June 30, 2015

Democrats Want Domestic Terrorism Probe After Charleston Shootings

Blumenthal is among the Democrats wanting a domestic terrorism probe after the Charleston shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Blumenthal is among the Democrats wanting a domestic terrorism probe after the Charleston shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Charleston, S.C., shootings have prompted six Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to push for hearings on domestic terrorism.

Spearheaded by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and the top Democrat on the committee, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senators point to statements by alleged shooter Dylann Roof before the massacre at the black church.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:08 a.m.
Democrats, Policy

June 29, 2015

In Washington, Ted Cruz’s ‘Truth’ Will Make Him More Enemies

A new book by Ted Cruz slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the "Washington cartel." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A new book by Cruz — “A Time For Truth” — slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the “Washington cartel.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When their presidential bids failed, senators as liberal as Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and as conservative as Barry Goldwater of Arizona returned to Capitol Hill and had productive — if not legendary — careers.

But Sen. Ted Cruz’s new book is the latest indication he has no plan to be a member of such a club if his run for the White House doesn’t go as planned. He is running against what he’s taken to calling a “Washington cartel.”

As to be expected from a senator who has openly sought to undermine GOP leadership, “A Time for Truth” does not pull punches, leading off with anecdotes about one of the more bizarre sequences of events in recent Senate history: the day the clerk’s microphone was turned off for a crucial vote on raising the debt limit.

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June 26, 2015

Mike Lee’s Missed ‘Fast-Track’ Vote Causes Discord, Confusion

Lee and Cornyn talked Monday, a day before the trade vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee and Cornyn talked Monday, a day before the trade vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mike Lee had said he supported a stand-alone measure to revive Trade Promotion Authority, but when the vote was called, the Republican was still in Utah.

The speculation was that Lee avoided a floor vote after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced in an opinion piece that he would reverse course and oppose the bill, demanding a commitment to shut down the Export-Import Bank and making other requests for amendments. But, to hear Lee’s office tell it, the decision to miss the vote was due to a family commitment — seeing his sons back in Utah, who had just recently returned from Mormon missions.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 7:38 p.m.
Policy

Gay Marriage Supporters Turn Focus to ENDA

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Baldwin and Merkley were among those signing on to a statement calling for additional action on gay rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Having achieved marriage equality in Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision, supporters of gay rights are making clear there’s still much work to do, including on employment discrimination.

“In dozens of states, a couple can marry in the morning, announce their union in the afternoon, yet lose their jobs or be evicted from their apartment by the day’s end. Just as we needed Congress to pass legislation to fully realize the promise of previous Supreme Court decisions recognizing fundamental civil rights, Congress must act to fully realize the promise of today’s ruling by introducing and passing legislation to finally provide comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections to LGBT Americans,” said a broad coalition of civil rights groups and lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

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Menendez: Suspend Iran Nuclear Talks if Iran Won’t Budge

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Menendez is asking new questions about Iran’s intentions in the Iran talks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Democratic senator who has led calls for stronger sanctions against Iran is joining Republicans skeptical of the country’s intentions when it comes to the ongoing talks over nuclear capabilities.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Robert Menendez said the United States should step back from multinational nuclear negotiations with Iran.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:04 p.m.
Iran

June 25, 2015

In Highway Debate, Durbin Channels His Inner Jamie Whitten

Durbin is dubious the GOP will stick to their budget levels in appropriations bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Durbin said the Finance Committee needs to find highway money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin and other Democrats have praised the efforts of the Environment and Public Works Committee on a six-year highway bill, but are stressing that the Finance Committee needs to find the money for a full authorization measure.

“It’s time for my friend Orrin Hatch to step up and be chairman. Make some tough decisions. Help us move forward in the Senate with a bill,” Durbin said.

Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, has held several hearings on the issue of funding and financing for surface transportation programs, but the panel has yet to come up with what might be $90 billion in revenue sources needed to pay for the Highway Trust Fund beyond existing user fees.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:57 p.m.
Policy

Next Obamacare Battle? The 2016 Election (Video)

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Graham said Obamacare will be the key domestic issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold subsidies for people to purchase health insurance forestalls the need for Republicans in Congress to take action on the law, pushing the issue as a substantive matter into the 2016 election cycle.

The candidates are embracing the shift.

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June 24, 2015

Senate Votes to Send Trade Promotion Authority to Obama

McConnell succeeded in sending Trade Promotion Authority to Obama's desk.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell succeeded in sending Trade Promotion Authority to Obama’s desk. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After no shortage of fits and starts, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s trade agenda — Trade Promotion Authority — is finally heading to his desk.

The Senate voted 60-38, to clear a measure that would revive “fast-track” Trade Promotion Authority. That vote was not in doubt, with the bill having gotten the critical 60 votes needed to limit debate on Tuesday.

“This bill will help farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs throughout our country get better access to foreign markets and allow them to compete on a level playing field,” said Finance Chairman Orrin G Hatch, R-Utah. “This bill will help give these job creators – and the workers they employ – greater opportunities to grow their businesses which will help create a healthier American economy.”

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Lawmakers Seek Live Supreme Court Audio of Gay Marriage, Obamacare Decisions

Grassley and Durbin want live audio of the release of the King v. Burwell decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Grassley and Durbin want live audio of the release of the King v. Burwell decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ahead of key Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is making a plea to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., to provide a live audio feed of the release of the opinions.

The signatories of a new bicameral letter to Roberts include Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley. The Iowa Republican has long joined the Senate’s leader on the letter, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., in pushing for televised coverage of Supreme Court proceedings.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:40 p.m.
Policy

NRSC Chairman Evolves on Mississippi Flag (Updated)

Wicker has changed his stance on his state's flag. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wicker has changed his stance on his state’s flag. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:20 a.m. | GOP Sen. Roger Wicker now says his home state of Mississippi should change its flag.

“After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians,” Wicker said in a statement. Full story

June 23, 2015

New Highway Bill Has Next Best Thing to Earmarks

Inhofe and Boxer joined to unveil their highway bill Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Inhofe and Boxer joined to unveil their highway bill Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It may be tougher to grease the wheels for highway spending without earmarks, but the leaders of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee have come up with the next best thing.

Under the proposal outlined Tuesday, the administration will have to get the committee’s approval of a list of major transportation projects to be named later — a way for lawmakers to have some input on which bridges and highways get funded and which don’t.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:57 p.m.
Policy

Cruz: Kill Ex-Im Before Voting for Trade Promotion Authority

Ted Cruz announced his bid for president at Liberty University. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz has imposed new conditions on voting for the trade legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The effort to get “fast-track” trade authority for President Barack Obama has lost the support of one of the Republicans who could benefit from the powers if he became president in 2017.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday the process by which the Trade Promotion Authority measure advanced through the House meant he could not support it without new assurances about winding down the authorization for the Export-Import Bank, claiming Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, must have made some kind of backroom deal with Democrats about the bank.

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June 22, 2015

NRSC Chairman Says Mississippi State Flag’s Confederate Symbol Up to Voters

Confederate Battle Flag Mississippi South Carolina Capitol

As South Carolina struggles with the issue of the Confederate battle flag flying on the grounds of the State Capitol, the battle flag, as part of Mississippi’s state flag, hangs along the Senate subway at the U.S. Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The head of the Senate GOP’s campaign committee says it is up to the people of his state to decide about possibly changing the Mississippi state flag, which includes a battle symbol of the Confederacy.

In a statement, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker referred to a 2001 referendum on the state flag. Full story

Calls to Remove Confederate Battle Flag Resonate at Capitol

The Conservative battle flag flies outside the state capitol in Columbia, S.C. (Ben Raedle/Getty Images)

The flag flies outside the state capitol in Columbia, S.C. (Ben Raedle/Getty Images)

Monday’s avalanche of opposition to flying the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol rang throughout the nation’s Capitol as well.

“The Confederate Battle Flag means different things to different people, but the fact that it continues to be a painful reminder of racial oppression to many suggests to me at least that it’s time to move beyond it, and that the time for a state to fly it has long since passed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “There should be no confusion in anyone’s mind that as a people we’re united in our determination to put that part of our history behind us.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 6:35 p.m.
2016, Policy
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