Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 30, 2015

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

1048 Posts

May 29, 2015

To Counter Putin, Poland and Lithuania Officials Want U.S. Bases, Durbin Says

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Officials in Lithuania and Poland told Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin they’re concerned enough about the threat posed by Russia that they want to host U.S. military bases.

The Illinois Democrat traveled to the two NATO member states, as well as to Ukraine, during the Memorial Day break, meeting with officials in the three countries. Durbin told reporters Friday he met in Lithuania with the country’s president and prime minister, as well as members of Parliament.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:21 p.m.
Policy

Rand Paul Will Force Patriot Act Provisions to Expire (Updated)

Paul could force a nearly one week expiration of the Patriot Act all by himself. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul announces on Twitter he is planning to force the expiration of parts of the Patriot Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated May 30, 11:06 a.m. | Sen. Rand Paul made it official Saturday: Patriot Act surveillance authorities are going to lapse.

The Kentucky Republican fired off a series of tweets outlining his past steps designed to stop what he has called the unconstitutional use of general warrants.

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May 27, 2015

Cruz Threatens to Subpoena Treasury Officials to Testify About Obamacare Rules

Cruz wants to keep the filibuster, even though it makes it harder to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning he might seek to compel testimony from the Treasury Department about the Affordable Care Act.

The Texas Republican presidential candidate, who has the gavel of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, said his staff had been informed by the Obama administration that witnesses would not be available to testify about the rule-making process for providing subsidies under Obamacare because of ongoing litigation.

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Rand Paul Blasts Critics in the ‘Eye Roll’ Caucus (Video)

Paul hit back at his critics in a missive to campaign supporters Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul hit back at his critics Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

 

In his latest fundraising message, Sen. Rand Paul is calling out an “eye roll” caucus of senators who are against his efforts to upend Patriot Act surveillance programs.

“If I’m going to slug it out Sunday with the spy state apologists, I’m going to need all the help and support I can get,” the Kentucky Republican wrote Wednesday. “Unfortunately, it seems the President, the senior senator from Arizona and other members of the ‘eye roll’ caucus who can’t stand any mention of the Bill of Rights are all operating out of the same playbook.”

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Menendez, McCain Sent Letter to FIFA Just Before Indictments

McCain says Obama's "shameful" decision to pull troops from Iraq years ago led to the loss of Ramadi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McCain joined with Menendez in sending a letter to FIFA on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Well, this timing was prescient.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and John McCain, R-Ariz., fired off a letter to the FIFA Congress encouraging the international soccer governing body to reconsider granting a fifth term at the helm to President Sepp Blatter.

The election had been scheduled for later this week at a meeting in Switzerland, but that plan may have to change after Swiss law enforcement agents swept through a hotel where top FIFA authorities gathered to round up officials on criminal charges in the United States, as The New York Times reported from Zurich.

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May 22, 2015

After Rand Paul’s Objections, Patriot Act Lurches Toward Expiration (Updated)

Rand Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn't get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn’t get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated May 23, 2 a.m. | The Senate failed to advance even a one-day extension of the Patriot Act surveillance authorities early Saturday, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leading bipartisan objections to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an extraordinary sequence.

The end result is that the Senate will reconvene for legislative business at 4 p.m. on May 31, staring down a midnight deadline to reauthorize the programs in question, including some far less contentious than the bulk data collection that’s gotten most of the attention. Full story

Cruz, Rubio Team Up on Iran

Rivals and allies, Cruz and Rubio are demanding the Pentagon report on Iranian military capabilities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rivals and allies, Cruz and Rubio are demanding the Pentagon report on Iranian military capabilities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rival Republican presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida are teaming up on Iran.

The duo, along with Georgia GOP Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, are demanding a report on Iranian military power from the Pentagon.

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May 21, 2015

Administration Ramps Up NSA Pitch as Burr Makes New Offer

Burr has a new proposal to extend the NSA's bulk surveillance powers by two years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr has a new proposal to extend the NSA’s bulk surveillance powers by two years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Senate Intelligence chairman floated a new proposal, the Obama administration is warning senators against doing anything other than clearing the USA Freedom Act.

A senior administration official said late Thursday that even adopting a short-term extension of the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act could set up a “very uncertain future for these national security authorities.”

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Intelligence Chairman Doubts Either NSA Bill Has 60 Votes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr doesn’t see either NSA surveillance bill getting through the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Fortunately, I’m not the one that’s responsible for counting the votes,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday when asked about Congress possibly moving a shorter-term extension of expiring Patriot Act surveillance powers.

Earnest is indeed fortunate on this one, because the people involved in the debate on Capitol Hill seem to have no idea what the endgame looks like with House members already having left town for Memorial Day recess, and the Senate’s supposed to start in just days.

Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., has been backing a two-month extension of all of the surveillance powers under the Patriot Act that are set to lapse by June 1, including the bulk collection of telephone records.

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May 20, 2015

Just Before Midnight, Rand Paul Ends ‘Filibuster’ (Updated)

Rand Paul's "filibuster" led to a long day in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rand Paul’s “filibuster” led to a long day in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated May 21, 7:18 a.m. | Sen. Rand Paul continued to speak until almost midnight — and his campaign operation continued to solicit fundraising dollars — on the most eventful day of waiting the Senate’s seen in a while.

By the time he yielded the floor after roughly 10 and a half hours, the Kentucky Republican had many colleagues join him on the floor. After finishing, Paul told a small gaggle of reporters who had stayed until the end that he seized an opportunity earlier in the day, and said he didn’t advise Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., before doing so.

“I didn’t tell him or anything because obviously if they block you from the floor, you can’t take the floor. So, I had to wait my turn and hope nobody would block me,” Paul said.

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Stabenow: Opponents ‘Have to Deal With’ Currency Amendment on Trade

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Stabenow is insisting on a simple majority vote on the currency amendment she cosponsored with Portman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Whenever the Senate’s able to vote to limit debate on the pending trade legislation, senators will still have to tackle a tough amendment about currency manipulation.

And the supporters of the amendment, led by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., about the inclusion of enforceable currency provisions in trade agreements, have no reason to make their proposal easier to defeat by agreeing to a 60-vote super majority threshold.

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Rand Paul Takes the Floor to Contest NSA Surveillance (Updated) (Video)

Paul toured Independence Hall on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul toured Independence Hall on Monday and vowed to “filibuster” an extension of the NSA’s surveillance powers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:44 p.m. | At approximately 1:18 p.m. Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor for what’s best described as an extended oration about the Fourth Amendment.

Unlike Rand Paul’s filibuster of the choice of John O. Brennan to head up the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013, which was designed to protest the Obama administration’s use of drones, the Kentucky Republican isn’t really holding up Senate business this time since the chamber is sitting through an “intervening day.”

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May 19, 2015

McConnell Sets Trade Promotion Authority Endgame in Motion (Video)

McConnell set up a Thursday vote to cut off debate on Trade Promotion Authority package knows as "fast-track." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell set up a Thursday vote to cut off debate on the Trade Promotion Authority package known as “fast-track.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a series of dueling objections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday evening to limit debate on the Trade Promotion Authority bill that’s a top priority for himself and President Barack Obama, but the endgame was far from clear.

By moving to invoke cloture, the Kentucky Republican has set a key vote on the package that combines “fast-track” trade authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance for Thursday morning, but what happens then is far from certain. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had cautioned against truncating the debate without considering lots of amendments, though the two parties were sparring throughout the afternoon about the process.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 10:28 p.m.
Policy, Trade

Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Trade

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Portman’s currency amendment to the fast-track trade bill faces a veto threat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not long after the administration went public with a veto threat against his currency manipulation trade amendment, Sen. Rob Portman took to the floor to highlight President Barack Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.

“The president in the past has spoken articulately and vociferously against currency manipulation. His statements have been very clear: He not only thinks it’s wrong, he thinks it must be enforced. and so I would find it surprising that he wouldn’t be willing to move forward on this,” the Ohio Republican said.

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Plenty to Navigate to Get ‘Fast Track’ Through Senate (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell has to navigate amendments to get TPA passed this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:21 p.m. | The pathway to Senate passage of legislation to restore “fast-track” authority for trade authority is full of obstacles, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to avoid any more.

A proposal from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to attach language related to reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to the trade package pending on the floor generated discussion at Tuesday’s Republican conference lunch, and McConnell emerged saying the trade bill wasn’t the right venue for a debate over the lending agency’s future.

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