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March 2, 2015

Posts in "Appropriations"

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

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 24, 2015

McConnell Throws in Towel on DHS Fight, but Reid Is Waiting for Boehner to Cave (Updated)

Updated 5:20 p.m. | In an extraordinary sequence of events, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Democrats exactly what they have been asking for Tuesday — “clean” full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security. And Minority Leader Harry Reid said “no” — or at least, “not yet.”

McConnell’s offer of such a bill shorn of provisions blocking President Barack Obama’s recent immigration executive orders — which he said could happen quickly with Democratic cooperation — was put on hold by Reid, who said he was waiting to hear Speaker John A. Boehner agree to pass it through the House first. 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 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

February 2, 2015

Senate Turns to Immigration Amid Return of Shutdown Rhetoric

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Senate Democrats praised the GOP majority for a new era of openness, they were already preparing for an abrupt turn when the chamber’s attention focuses on immigration.

“What we have seen over the last several weeks is the Senate I remember, the Senate I was elected to, the Senate where there was active debate, deliberation, amendments,” Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin said on the Senate floor. “For some members, it is a new experience. I hope in our role as the minority we can work with the senators with a feeling of mutual respect to achieve at least debate on the floor, if not some significant legislation.”

The Illinois Democrat, who has played the role of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s foil on the floor in the absence of Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expanded on that point in a conversation with reporters. He said that other than one “Thursday night massacre” — an evening session that had Democrats crying foul about debate time — the process had worked well.

Full story

December 27, 2014

Graham Says Iran Sanctions Vote Will Come in January (Video)

Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, on legislation that would restore "the long-standing interpretation of the 'Wire Act'" and would reverse the Justice Department's 2011 decision expand online gaming. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Graham: Iran will be a top priority in the new Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Saturday that a vote on legislation providing for more stringent conditional sanctions against Iran would be among the first items of business for the 114th Congress.

The South Carolina Republican made his comments during a joint appearance Saturday in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I’m here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead. In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill, bipartisan sanction legislation that says, if Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be re-imposed; if Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be re-imposed,” Graham said, according to an official transcript. “It is important to let the Iranians know that from an American point of view, sanctions are alive and well. So we will be following your counsel and advice. Congress will pursue sanctions for the bigger.”

Full story

December 18, 2014

Rand Paul on Cuba: Open Trade a Better Way to Fight Communism

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul said opening up Cuba could be more effective than an embargo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul says President Barack Obama should expect to face thousands of riders on next year’s spending bills.

“I say we put not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of instructions to the president on how it should be spent,” the Kentucky Republican said Thursday. “That’s the power of the purse. Now, some have been disappointed we haven’t used it so far, but we haven’t controlled the Senate, so we haven’t been able to do it.” Full story

December 17, 2014

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

 (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(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

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(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

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(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)

Cruz wants a vote on immigration, so he's trying to slow the "cromnibus" vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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

lame duck

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

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