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

Posts by Steven Dennis

117 Posts

July 26, 2015

Despite Rebukes, Ted Cruz Doubles Down on Charge McConnell Lied (Updated)

McConnell defended his decision to set up a vote on the Ex-Im Bank two days after Ted Cruz called him a liar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell defended his decision to set up a vote on the Ex-Im Bank two days after Cruz called him a liar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:05 p.m. | The Senate opened Sunday with a reading by the Senate President Pro Tem Orrin G. Hatch of the Senate’s rules of decorum, in an apparent rebuke of Sen. Ted Cruz calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on Friday. And things got more personal from there.

Shortly thereafter, McConnell defended his actions setting up a vote to revive the Export-Import Bank, even though he opposes it — and other top Republicans rebuked Cruz on the floor even as the Texas Republican defended his comments in an extraordinary speech of his own.

The back and forth between Hatch, Cruz and Cruz’s senior Texas colleague, Majority Whip John Cornyn, made for an extraordinary sequence. Full story

July 22, 2015

Senate Votes to Advance Highway Bill (Updated)

Updated 8:31 p.m. | The Senate broke a logjam late Wednesday to advance a bipartisan highway bill despite several top Democrats voting to filibuster the package.

The vote caught many senators by surprise. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore,. were warming up for the Washington Kastles Charity Classic when they got word of the vote. They dropped their racquets, got on their phones and prepared to pack it in and head back to the Capitol.

Full story

July 16, 2015

Senate Passes No Child Left Behind Rewrite

Lamar Alexander shepherded the No Child Left Behind rewrite through the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lamar Alexander shepherded the No Child Left Behind rewrite through the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No Child Left Behind is a step closer to a major overhaul giving far more flexibility to states to act — or not — on poorly performing schools.

The vote on the Senate bill — 81 to 17 — sends it to a conference with the House bill, which the White House threatened to veto. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:42 p.m.
Policy

July 13, 2015

Senate Democrats Warn White House on Iran Arms Embargo

Menendez said an Iran arms embargo should continue even if they reach a deal on their nuclear program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Menendez said an Iran arms embargo should continue even if they reach a deal on their nuclear program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ending the arms embargo on Iran — something White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to rule out Monday — is causing the administration trouble with Capitol Hill Democrats. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 7:11 p.m.
Iran

July 1, 2015

McConnell Once Wanted Reagan on $10 Bill, Now Says Replacing Hamilton Is ‘Terrible Idea’

McConnell says taking Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill is a "terrible idea."(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell says taking Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill to make way for a woman is a “terrible idea.” In 2004, he talked up doing the same to make room for Ronald Reagan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Ronald Reagan died, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., proposed replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with the Republican president.

But McConnell slammed the Treasury Department’s plan to replace Hamilton to make room for a woman when asked about it Tuesday.

“A really bad idea, which is not to say that some woman or women in American history shouldn’t be honored, but the last person who ought to be removed from currency is the person who basically founded the American banking system and created the financial system for the United States, Alexander Hamilton,” McConnell said in a local TV interview.

Full story

June 24, 2015

Mississippi Senators Defend Jefferson Davis

A statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy and a Mississippi senator, has a prime spot in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy and a Mississippi senator, has a prime spot in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi’s two senators are ready to change the state flag, but they still honor and defend Jefferson Davis, the man who served as the president of the Confederacy and whose statue stands prominently in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tossed Jefferson Davis under the proverbial bus Tuesday — calling for the Davis statue in Kentucky’s Capitol to be moved to a museum — part of a wave of efforts across the nation to roll back Confederate symbols after images emerged of Dylann Roof, accused of killing nine in a racially motivated massacre in Charleston, S.C., posing with the Confederate battle flag. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 7:08 p.m.
Potpourri

June 23, 2015

McConnell: Move Kentucky’s Jefferson Davis Statue to a Museum (Video)

A statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy and a Mississippi senator, has a prime spot in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy and a Mississippi senator, has a prime spot in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rather than wait for outside pressure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the statue of Jefferson Davis prominently displayed in Kentucky’s state capitol should be moved to a museum — but he wasn’t quite ready to propose moving the Jefferson Davis statue out of the U.S. Capitol.

The Kentucky Republican noted Davis’ sole link to the Bluegrass State is he was born there, but then moved to Mississippi and went on to become the president of the Confederate States of America.

Full story

Senators Unveil 6-Year Transportation Bill

Inhofe chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Inhofe chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have unveiled a new six-year surface transportation reauthorization costing more than a quarter-trillion dollars, but it’s still unclear how the Senate would pay for it.

The bill would place a new priority on funding streams for off-system bridges as well as a new grant program for projects of strategic and national significance. According to summary materials obtained by CQ Roll Call, it would provide for increased focus on backlogs related to the Interstate Highway System and the National Highway System. Full story

June 2, 2015

Senate Clears USA Freedom Act After Ending Rand Paul Filibuster (Updated)

McConnell belatedly succeeded in overcoming Paul's opposition to any Patriot Act extension. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell helped cut off Paul’s filibuster but voted against the USA Freedom Act after the Senate rejected his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:09 p.m. | The Senate passed an overhaul of Patriot Act surveillance provisions Tuesday after rejecting the pleas of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and putting an end to Rand Paul’s filibuster.

The Senate voted 67-32 to clear the USA Freedom Act — the bill resurrecting and revising the lapsed Patriot Act surveillance authorities — to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

The vote capped a multi-week drama that had brought the Senate to a standstill and pitted the two Kentucky Republicans against each other, the White House and the House and led to a short-term expiration of Patriot Act authorities the administration said were critical to the intelligence community.

The National Security Agency will have up to six more months to collect bulk phone metadata before that program must be converted to a system of expedited queries of telecom companies for individual records.

The Senate rejected a package of amendments proposed by Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., who has been a consistent skeptic of the House-passed bill along with Paul’s fellow Kentucky Republican, McConnell.

McConnell and Burr sought to extend the transition period to a full year, wanted to require a certification that the telecom companies would be able to deliver the information sought by the National Security Agency, and wanted to nix an amicus process for the secret FISA court.

The tweaks, however minor — as they’ve been billed by Senate Republicans leadership — had been considered poison pills by the House, and were all easily rejected by the Senate in a humbling defeat for the majority leader.

McConnell, meanwhile, just before the vote announced he would oppose the USA Freedom Act. He said it was unwise to take away a tool for fighting terrorists at a time of rising threats, and said the public agreed with him.

“Sixty-one percent say ‘I’m not concerned about my privacy, I’m concerned about my security,'” McConnell said.

He fumed that the bill amounted to a resounding victory for Edward Snowden and for terrorists plotting new attacks.

But House leaders and the White House had strongly urged the Senate to reject any amendments and simply clear the bill to the president’s desk.

Once signed, the NSA will be able to restart its bulk phone metadata collection, a process the administration has said could take up to a full day.

Earlier the Senate voted 83-14 vote to end Paul’s filibuster and limit debate.

Here’s the list of the 14 senators who voted to filibuster the USA Freedom Act:

Related:

Senate Odd Couple — Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul — Won’t Split Despite NSA Rift

McCarthy to Senate: Pass USA Freedom Act ‘as Quickly as Possible’

Angry John McCain Calls Rand Paul ‘the Worst’

Senate Advances Patriot Act Overhaul, but Too Late to Foil Rand Paul

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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May 31, 2015

Senate Advances Patriot Act Overhaul, but Too Late to Foil Rand Paul (Updated)

Rand Paul arrives at the U.S. Capitol to block any Patriot Act extension Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rand Paul arrives at the Capitol determined to block any Patriot Act extension Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:52 p.m. | The Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance the USA Freedom Act Sunday evening, but too late to prevent Sen. Rand Paul from being able to force a short-term expiration of Patriot Act surveillance authorities at midnight.

The vote came after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., threw in the towel on advancing any short-term extensions of the Patriot Act authorities under the continuing objections of Paul, the fellow Kentuckian he has endorsed for the presidency. Full story

May 30, 2015

It’s Rand Paul vs. Almost Everybody on Patriot Act (Updated)

(Screenshot from Rand Paul's Facebook page)

There might be a lot of Republicans in Obama’s corner, but Paul isn’t one of them. (Screenshot from Rand Paul’s Facebook page)

Updated May 31 3:49 p.m. | Rand Paul’s presidential campaign wants to portray his fight to block any Patriot Act extension as a faceoff against President Barack Obama. But the Kentucky senator is waging an increasingly lonely battle.

Some of his usual tea party allies are abandoning him. House Republican leaders are not pleased with his antics. And then there’s Paul’s feud with the senior senator from Kentucky and the most prominent Republican to endorse his presidential campaign, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 4:42 p.m.
Intelligence

May 22, 2015

Senate Passes Trade Promotion Authority (Updated)

Portman's currency amendment, which has drawn a veto threat, failed.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Rob Portman’s currency amendment, which drew a veto threat, failed. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Updated 10:20 p.m. | The Senate passed President Barack Obama’s Trade Promotion Authority package Friday, sending the precursor to major trade deals with Asia and Europe to the House.

The package survived a near-death experience Thursday, with the Senate voting narrowly to cut off a filibuster in an extended vote, and again Friday, when the Senate narrowly rejected a bipartisan currency enforcement amendment that had drawn a veto threat. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 9:29 p.m.
Trade

May 21, 2015

McConnell Says Senate Could Finish Friday ‘With Cooperation’ (Video)

The Kentucky senators are at odds on the NSA surveillance issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell might want to have a chat about the schedule. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The senior senator from Kentucky might need to have a little chat with the junior senator from Kentucky.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Thursday the Senate could finish its work on trade, Patriot Act surveillance authority and a highway patch by close of business Friday. That would let lawmakers make it to their home states well in advance of the Memorial Day parades.

But that would require “cooperation” that at this point is nowhere to be found, principally because of Sen. Rand Paul’s threat of maximum obstruction of any extension of the NSA’s surveillance powers. Full story

May 18, 2015

McConnell Threatens Memorial Day Recess

McConnell is threatening senators with weekend work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell is threatening senators with weekend work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s time to start threatening recess.

Like clockwork Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned senators he intends to force them to stick around until they are finished with their work.

“The Senate will finish its work on trade this week, and we will remain in session as long as it takes to do so,” said the Kentucky Republican.

“I would advise against making any sort of travel arrangements until the path forward becomes clear.” Full story

May 15, 2015

Reid: O’Malley Who? Leader Dismisses All but Clinton

For Reid, it's all about Hillary Cinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Reid, it’s all about Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Harry Reid, in classic Harry Reid style, utterly dismissed the presidential aspirations of his Senate colleague Bernard E. Sanders, former Sen. Jim Webb and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in one biting sentence in an interview airing Friday.

For the Senate minority leader, the independent from Vermont and the Democrats from Virginia and Maryland governor, respectively, don’t even merit a mention.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:49 a.m.
2016
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