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December 18, 2014

Posts in "Appropriations"

December 17, 2014

Lindsey Graham Balks at Funding U.S. Embassy in Cuba (Updated)

graham012814 445x296 Lindsey Graham Balks at Funding U.S. Embassy in Cuba (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:10 p.m. | The debate over President Barack Obama’s announced changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba will face a tough test at the Senate Appropriations Committee next year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is expected to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, said Tuesday he would mount an effort to prevent the use of funds for a U.S. embassy to open in Havana.

“I will do all in my power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba. Normalizing relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time,” the South Carolina Republican said Wednesday on Twitter.

Full story

December 14, 2014

Saturday Session a Preview of What’s to Come

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At the end of a rare Saturday session, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was direct when asked if Democrats, led by outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had gotten the better of Republicans.

“I think most Republicans think that Christmas came early for Democrats,” Graham said “I haven’t seen Harry smile this much in years, and I didn’t particularly like it.”

His comments came after Democrats set the groundwork on as many as 24 nominations, many which Republicans opposed, before clearing the massive $1.013 trillion spending package, ending the threat of a government shutdown. Full story

December 13, 2014

Senate Rejects Cruz Point of Order on Obama’s Immigration Action

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Ted Cruz’s immigration gambit was thumped by the Senate. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:05 p.m. | Ted Cruz’s proxy vote against President Barack Obama’s executive action ended in an overwhelming defeat Saturday night, splitting the GOP in half.

Not that Cruz didn’t try.

“It allows Republicans to also show they are committed to ending Obama’s amnesty once and for all in the next Congress. If we agree it is indeed unconstitutional, we have no business funding it when the GOP controls Congress,” the Texas Republican said in a statement ahead of that vote. “The Constitution matters, and we must defend it. That is why we have fought so hard to ensure this vote.”

Cruz’s point of order failed 22-74, with about 20 Republicans joining with the Democrats to oppose it, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Cruz’s fellow Texan, Republican Whip John Cornyn.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ripped Cruz’s maneuver as “irresponsible” in a statement late Saturday:

“‎While the president’s executive actions on immigration are reprehensible and deserve a strong response, I value the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution too much to exploit it for political expediency,” said Corker. “The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund the government so to assert that the House-passed spending bill is unconstitutional is not only inaccurate but irresponsible.”

Cruz’s vote was a rather blunt instrument, since he raised a Constitutional point of order against the entirety of the section of the catch-all “cromnibus” spending bill providing continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security. Putting the question directly to the chamber was in keeping with longstanding Senate practice.

“The junior senator from Texas is wrong, wrong, wrong on several counts,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor, saying the objection on Constitutional grounds had no basis, pointing out that the House had already passed the entirety of the spending bill. The other 11 regular appropriation bills (aside from Homeland Security) are funded through the end of fiscal 2015.

When Cruz sought to raise the same point-of-order on Friday, the parliamentary timing was not yet correct, and Cruz told CQ Roll Call that he would return, likely in the wee hours of Sunday morning. In fact, an agreement reached to expedite the processing of the Senate’s business put that vote Saturday night, just ahead of a vote to clear the spending bill for President Barack Obama. The vote on Cruz’s point-of-order came just after the Senate agreed, 77-19, to limit debate on the underlying legislation.

Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid, said Cruz’s gambit helped Democrats confirm more nominees.

“Senator Cruz’s stunt got two fewer votes than the twenty-four Obama nominees he helped Senate Democrats advance tonight,” he said in an email.

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

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Menendez Files ISIS Force Amendment to ‘Cromnibus’ Despite No Chance of Vote

menendez corker 034 120914 445x296 Menendez Files ISIS Force Amendment to Cromnibus Despite No Chance of Vote

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee thinks the current Congress should stick around long enough to consider an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State, and he’s reiterating that as the Senate wraps up its work.

Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., moved a use of force resolution through his committee Thursday, and then filed it as an amendment to one of the last trains leaving the station this year — the catchall “cromnibus” spending bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already used the procedural tools at his disposal to prevent amendments, but senators frequently file them anyway for messaging effect. Full story

December 12, 2014

Reid Announces Weekend Votes After Blockade (Updated)

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Cruz wants a vote on immigration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 13, 12:15 a.m. | Conservatives stalled action on the Senate floor late Friday as leaders scrambled to wrap up the 113th Congress.

Senators will reconvene at noon Saturday for a series of up to 40 roll call votes after conservatives sought to force votes to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration before consenting to a final vote on the “cromnibus” to fund the government. The collapse of a potential deal to set the votes on the spending bill for Monday came amid a longstanding feud about nominations, which will now take center stage on Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Saturday’s session will feature a lengthy series of procedural votes in order to allow him to file cloture on a number of pending nominations. He said it appeared Republicans would require procedural votes to get in and out of executive session, where he could file the cloture petitions. The GOP, which takes over the majority in January, is loath to make it easy for Democrats to process President Barack Obama’s nominations.

Full story

Senate GOP Leaders Want to Wrap Up Lame Duck ASAP

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Republican leaders are ready to end the 113th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republican leaders are pushing to wrap up the lame-duck session as soon as possible to limit the time available to outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid to clear nominations.

“I think there are reasons why it’s probably helpful to get out of here,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will be majority whip in the next Congress. “No. 1 of which is Sen. Reid can continue to move nominations through as long as we are here.” Full story

Reid Hopes for Quick ‘Cromnibus’ Passage, Getaway

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Now, it’s the Senate’s turn to tackle the catchall “cromnibus” spending bill before departure.

The measure sits in line behind the annual defense authorization, which is set to pass mid-afternoon. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the compromise spending measure — which includes 11 of the 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2015, as well as a short-term continuing resolution.

“There are senators who are unhappy with this legislation, and they’ll have their chance to make their objections heard,” Reid said. “I hope we can complete work on this bill as soon as we complete the defense bill, but that depends on everyone’s cooperation here.”

Full story

December 10, 2014

Leahy: ‘Kind of Petty’ Not to Fund Emeritus Office in ‘Cromnibus’

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not since the electoral defeat of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens departed has the Senate had a president pro tempore emeritus.

That’s the relatively new title that has been attached to senior member of the minority party in the Senate when that senator has previously served in the constitutional office of president pro tempore. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., held the title, as did Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and Stevens. And that has come along with an additional budget.

But Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., will have no such additional budget when he cedes the role of president pro tempore to his longtime Judiciary Committee colleague Orrin G. Hatch of Utah in the new Congress. Leahy called the Republican-driven decision to not provide funding for the ceremonial office in the end-of-the-year “cromnibus” spending bill “kind of petty.” Full story

Elizabeth Warren Channels Ted Cruz on ‘Cromnibus’

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Elizabeth Warren is rallying House Democrats to kill the cromnibus unless a provision benefiting banks is stripped.

One of the Senate’s leading liberals is borrowing a page from the playbook of Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is pushing to strike out language from the “cromnibus” spending bill unveiled Tuesday that would roll back restrictions on “swaps” transactions included in the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul known as Dodd-Frank. Repealing the “push-out” provision would mean that certain derivatives could again be held in bank units with federal deposit insurance.

Using a strategy sometimes employed by Cruz for entirely different policy reasons, Warren said that with the $1.013 trillion spending package first being considered by the House, her counterparts there should act to strip it out.

Full story

December 9, 2014

Reid Outlines Endgame, Again Warns of Weekend Work (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As final preparations seemed to be underway to pass the “cromnibus” funding most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year — and avoid a shutdown — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday.

“The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. There’s no reason the government should shut down, and we’re ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this,” the Nevada Democrat said. “There’s still factions within the Republican party who want extreme measures. You’ve all heard them, just like I have.”

“For the extremists within the Republican Party … there’s always a reason to take a poke at the president. If it’s not one thing, it’s some other thing. The American people certainly shouldn’t be facing another government shutdown, but I guess that’s what we’re facing,” Reid said, noting that almost 100 riders had been at play in the process of crafting the catch-all spending bill. Full story

December 8, 2014

McConnell Pushes Campaign Finance Changes

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An effort to ease limits on spending by party committees was among the late lingering issues as negotiations continued on legislation to keep the government funded past Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has championed the change, telling CQ Roll Call on Friday that eliminating the spending restrictions would vest more power with the party national committees, as well as the congressional campaign committees, calling the current practice “an absurdity in the current law.” Full story

McConnell Plots a Functional, Bipartisan Senate

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McConnell said divisions among Senate Democrats in the next Congress will trump any discipline problems within his Republican majority.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to hit the ground running in January — and he thinks Democrats are ready to join him in crafting a more open, functional Senate.

In an exclusive interview in his Capitol office suite, the incoming majority leader told CQ Roll Call he’s been preparing his would-be chairmen to move quickly since spring.

“The worst experience any majority can have is that you convene and you look around and nothing’s ready to go. So what I said to the members who hoped they would be chairmen [was], ‘Let’s don’t have that problem. Be thinking now about legislation that you have, preferably that enjoys some Democratic support, because we certainly didn’t think we were going to have 60 and we don’t,’” the Kentucky Republican said.

McConnell pointed to conversations he’s had with Democrats, whose cooperation will be required to get the Senate functioning as he would like.

Full story

November 20, 2014

Durbin Says Omnibus in Progress, Warns Against Defense CR

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Appropriators appear to be making good progress on behind-the-scenes negotiations on a big omnibus bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

That’s the word from Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate who also happens to wield the gavel of the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense.

“I just finished a Defense Appropriation subcommittee joint meeting this morning. We’ve agreed on virtually everything, but four or five issues,” he said. “Those five issues are going upstairs, which is not unusual, to be decided at the full committee level. I hear that they’re going to meet [on] Dec. 1, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, at the highest level to resolve these outstanding issues. We’re moving forward on a good program to get an omnibus done.”

Full story

November 18, 2014

Cruz: Obama is No ‘Monarch,’ Pushes Short-Term Government Funding (Video)

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Cruz  is in favor of a short-term approach to funding the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz doesn’t know if his effort to push off the debate on funding the government into next year will prove successful, but the Texas Republican is sure making an effort.

“Time will tell,” Cruz said when asked if he thought momentum was building behind using a short-term stopgap spending measure next month. “I think a long-term omnibus or CR makes no sense. It hands over the decision-making authority of Congress to the president. I think what makes sense is a simple short-term CR to get out of the lame duck and into early next year.”

Cruz said the Republican wave was a referendum on the expected executive actions on immigration policy by Obama.

Full story

November 13, 2014

Reid to Obama: Wait on Immigration Move (Updated)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Nov. 12 4:21 p.m. |Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he would like President Barack Obama to wait for Congress to pass legislation funding the government before he takes executive action giving deportation relief to undocumented immigrants.

“The president said he is going to do the executive action,” the Nevada Democrat said heading in to a Democratic lunch. “The question is when. It’s up to him. I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it. But it’s up to him.”

Reid said the president was aware of his preference.

Republicans have warned the president not to take unilateral executive action and have raised the possibility that such a move could threaten work on an omnibus spending bill currently being developed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Full story

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