Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 4, 2015

Posts in "Budget"

August 4, 2015

Cruz Ready for Next Debt Limit Debate

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz recalled the last fight over the nation’s debt ceiling. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Remember what happened the last time Congress acted to raise the debt limit?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, certainly does.

The 2016 presidential hopeful found himself right in the middle, stopping a February 2014 effort to allow the Senate to vote on a debt ceiling measure with a simple majority.

Full story

June 16, 2015

Who Will Negotiate the Budget Deal?

Could Murray help avert another government shutdown? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Murray is trying to avert another government shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With a little more than 100 days left to avoid a government shutdown, the federal budget process is about to lurch to a halt and it remains unclear who can get it going again.

Senate Democrats are promising to filibuster all of the annual appropriations bills — including the Defense bill teed up by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., until Republicans agree to spend more money on domestic programs.

The question is at what point do real negotiations start — and who does the negotiating. Full story

By Matthew Fleming Posted at 5 a.m.
Budget

June 9, 2015

McConnell Cool to Budget Summit Talk

Reid and McConnell Democratic agenda

Reid, McConnell disagree over whether now is the time to hold a budget summit. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats and Republicans remain on a collision course over the budget, and at this point their leaders can’t even agree on how to negotiate.

Republicans have chosen to work within the sequester-created framework — at least for domestic spending — while Democrats have threatened to block any appropriations bills until Republicans agree to spend more money.

So it’s time to get everyone together to hash out the details over steaming bowls of Senate bean soup, right? Full story

By Matthew Fleming Posted at 7:09 p.m.
Budget

May 5, 2015

Senators Vow to Protect Air Force’s A-10 Fleet

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

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate defense hawks fired warning shots over the Air Force’s nose on Tuesday over plans to retire the A-10 Warthog, vowing to fund the fleet through the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Air Force, looking to save more than $4 billion over the next few years, has pushed recently to retire the fleet of close-air support aircraft. But without an adequate replacement, Congress is clamoring for answers. Full story

April 29, 2015

Budget Resolution Clears Corker Hurdle

Corker (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Corker had withheld support for the budget conference report until Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bob Corker has signed off on the conference report for the fiscal 2016 budget resolution, clearing an obstacle for House and Senate Republicans to move forward.

The Tennessee Republican had been particularly concerned about a move by the conference negotiators to weaken his provision that would have phased out the use of certain changes in mandatory programs to raise discretionary spending (the so-called CHIMPs).

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:30 a.m.
Budget

April 28, 2015

Senate Democrats Warn GOP on Appropriations (Video)

 (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Even before GOP lawmakers filed a budget resolution conference report, Senate Democratic Conference Chairman Charles E. Schumer put down a marker.

“Republicans should be warned right here, right now, Democrats are not going to help you pass appropriations bills that lock in senseless, automatically triggered cuts that hurt the middle class,” the New York Democrat said. “Instead, we’ll be eager to work with our Republican colleagues to prevent those cuts from taking effect and restoring both defense spending and vital middle class funding in an even way, one dollar for defense, one dollar for the middle class.”

Full story

April 10, 2015

After Budget Votes, Democrats Push Paid Sick Leave, Middle Class Tax Credits, Federal Benefits for Gay Couples (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Murray’s amendment was among those to get clear of 60 votes during the budget debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:28 p.m. | Senate Democrats want Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to embrace lessons of the budget vote-a-rama that took place just before recess.

In a letter to the Kentucky Republican, a copy of which was obtained in advance by CQ Roll Call, nine Democratic senators called for votes on issues like paid sick leave and Social Security benefits for same-sex couples.

“Too often, the budget vote-a-rama is characterized as a partisan exercise that leaves no lasting policy impact. Working with you, we hope to make this Budget vote-a-rama different. While we strongly oppose the underlying Senate Republican budget and the negative impacts it would have on middle-class and working families, we believe the following four amendments represent policies that deserve a vote in this Congress,” the senators wrote.

Full story

March 31, 2015

10 Things We Learned From the Vote-a-Rama

vote-a-rama

Toomey got attention for changing his vote during last week’s vote-a-rama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the vote-a-rama in the rearview mirror, it’s worth taking stock of what the 15-plus hours of nonbinding votes on dozens of amendments said about the 2016 presidential election, how vulnerable senators voted and what issues might now come to the fore. Full story

March 27, 2015

Senate Budget Passes as Vote-A-Rama Wraps (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:20 a.m. | The Senate approved the GOP’s budget blueprint on a 52-46 vote following an epic vote-a-rama that featured dozens of test votes on everything from carbon taxes to Social Security benefits for same-sex marriages.

Two Republicans eyeing the White House voted no: Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, but otherwise the vote was along party lines.

“By passing a balanced budget that emphasizes growth, common sense and the needs of the middle class, Republicans have shown that the Senate is under new management and delivering on the change and responsible government the American people expect,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

“The Democrat-led Senate for years refused not only to pass a balanced budget, but any budget at all. Those days are over, and the proof is passage of a balanced plan with ideas that Congress’ nonpartisan analysts tell us would boost jobs, raise income and drive economic growth,” the Kentucky Republican added.

There were moments of drama, like two vulnerable GOP senators up in 2016 switching their votes to “yes” to back paid sick leave, giving it 61 votes.

Senators even voted to nix their own health insurance benefits on a 52-46 vote around 2:30 a.m. — a vote David Vitter of Louisiana has been seeking for nearly two years, much to the consternation of many of his colleagues.

Earlier the Senate Republicans eyeing the presidency jostled for position on war funding. Full story

Vitter Amendment Rears Its Head in Wee Hours of Vote-a-Rama (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter knows he has better leverage on must-pass legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:47 a.m. | Sen. David Vitter won a small victory in the wee hours Friday, resurrecting his amendment to end employer-provided health benefits for members of Congress.

Fourteen hours into the vote-a-rama, 52 senators voted to approve the Louisiana Republican’s proposal. It came first in a series of seven votes wrapping up the marathon session. The nonbinding vote marked Vitter’s latest salvo in an ongoing crusade against congressional enrollment in Obamacare.

“This amendment would say no, we’re going to live by that statute. We’re going to go to the exchange for our health care. No special subsidy, no special deal, and it would also apply to the president, the vice president and their political appointees,” Vitter said, making clear it wouldn’t pertain to congressional aides.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., refuted the idea of there being anything special about getting a health care subsidy.

“Today every single senator is treated like every single person in the country who works for a large employer. Those large employers all make a contribution to their employees’ health care,” Boxer said. “Now colleagues, you do not have to take that employer contribution. If you don’t want it, give it back.”

Boxer added she assumes Vitter pays his subsidy back to the Treasury Department.

One Democrat, Michael Bennet of Colorado, who faces the voters in 2016, joined Vitter, while three Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dan Coats of Indiana — voted no.

Coats announced this week he won’t seek reelection.

As part of his crusade, Vitter has tried to attach the amendment to all kinds of legislation, including a low profile energy efficiency measure. But the senator, who wants to become governor of Louisiana, has learned he has the best leverage with must-pass measures like the budget.

Vitter also tried taking on the House of Representatives, asking Speaker John A. Boehner to help him get information on Congress’ small-business exchange applications. So far, House officials have shrugged off his request, writing it off as an attempt to score political points.

Niels Lesniewski and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Rand Paul Proposes Higher Defense Spending — If It’s Paid for

Voting Marathon: More Test Marketing Than Attack Ads

Vote-a-Rama Presents Political Peril for Vulnerable Incumbents

Start Preparing Now for the Budget Vote-A-Rama

Democrats Outline Floor Strategy for Budget Battle

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

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:19 a.m.
Budget, Health Care

What Senators Read About During Vote-a-Rama: Iran Deal

One of Iran’s most notable former diplomats, the ex-spokesman for the nation’s nuclear negotiation team, wrote the most popular book spotted on the Senate floor during the annual vote-a-rama. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:50 a.m.
Budget, Iran

March 26, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Benefits Endorsed on Senate Floor (Updated)

Schatz (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Schatz (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:22 a.m. | The Senate endorsed Social Security and veterans benefits for married gay couples Thursday night in a 57-43 vote, with 11 Republicans joining every Democrat.

The amendment slowed down the vote-a-rama, with a group of Republicans huddled in the well and at times talking to sponsor Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

The nonbinding amendment to the budget resolution still falls short of the 60 votes needed to beat back filibusters in the chamber. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:46 p.m.
Budget, LGBT

Live, On Periscope, From the Vote-a-Rama

Moran and Thune were live on Periscope during the vote-a-rama. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Moran and Thune on Periscope during the vote-a-rama. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

For a pair of Republican senators, the budget vote-a-rama seemed like a great time to demonstrate they aren’t luddites.

Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Jerry Moran of Kansas teamed up to shoot a brief video using the Periscope live-streaming app to share with their constituents (and all of the Internet) what the Senate is doing on what will be an exceptionally long night.

Full story

Deal on Kirk’s Iran Amendment Leads to Unanimous Vote

Mark Kirk Bowe Bergdahl Taliban video

Kirk (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As evening approached in the Senate’s budget vote-a-rama, lawmakers found some common ground on Iran. A 100-0 vote followed.

Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., and Banking Committee ranking Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio ultimately teamed up on an amendment designed to make it easier to punish the Iranian regime with revived and new sanctions in the event the president can’t certify Iran is complying with any agreement.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 6:19 p.m.
Budget, Iran

Bill Nelson: Don’t Censor ‘Climate Change’ (Video)

Florida Democrat Bill Nelson used the annual Senate vote-a-rama to dis Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s alleged ban on the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

Nelson has an amendment pending aimed at blocking federal agencies from censoring speech related to climate change. It would set up a procedural hurdle to Senate consideration of any future legislation that censors a federal agency’s use of climate change science.

Nelson called it “common sense” to protect those terms during a Thursday morning speech. “But we have all read news reports at the state level, at the local level, maybe even at the federal level that, indeed, some folks are trying to muzzle scientists from speaking about the science involving the oceans, the atmosphere, climate and the weather.”

Full story

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