Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 28, 2015

Posts in "Democrats"

January 15, 2015

Ernst Gives GOP #SOTU Rebuttal a Folksy Feel

State of the Union 2015

Ernst heads to the Senate subway following a vote on Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans are going folksy with their choice to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., jointly announced at their retreat Thursday that Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, would deliver the Republicans’ rebuttal.

Ernst, who upset former Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa in 2014 as one of the party’s majority-makers, gained notoriety during her campaign for an ad she ran conflating her childhood on the farm castrating pigs with her ability to cut government spending. Full story

Obama Meets Senate Democrats in Baltimore After Lunch With Mikulski (Updated)

Mikulski had lunch with Obama Thursday ahead of his address to the Democratic retreat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mikulski had lunch with Obama Thursday ahead of his address to the Democratic retreat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:40 p.m. | BALTIMORE — President Barack Obama may not be Jay Leno, but he has earned top billing at the annual issues conference for Senate Democrats at a hotel where he’s speaking Thursday.

His mid-afternoon appearance is entirely off limits to the media, in contrast to his 2010 appearance down the street for a similar retreat with House Republicans. This year, most of the media attention was with the new Senate majority GOP and their House counterparts, who huddled for a joint retreat in Hershey, Pa.

There, reporters were being treated to pen-and-pad sessions and media availabilities with prominent Republicans from both sides of the Rotunda, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and her Senate counterpart, John Thune of South Dakota.

Full story

January 14, 2015

Harry Reid Absent, but Still in Charge

(Courtesy Reid's Office)

(Courtesy Reid’s Office)

As Senate Democrats headed to Baltimore for their retreat, Minority Leader Harry Reid wasn’t with them — but he will be listening in.

Even without a physical presence, the Nevada Democrat is still making the daily decisions about running the caucus — and an aide said late Wednesday he is likely to return to the Capitol next week.

Full story

January 13, 2015

Menendez Staffer Bids Farewell to Hill Life

O'Brien is leaving Capitol Hill to join General Electric. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

O’Brien is leaving Capitol Hill to join General Electric. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Danny O’Brien never had a career path plotted out — certainly not one that included serving as Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff director for the past two years, in the Clinton White House or in senior Senate posts for now-Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Now, after more than 20 years in the public sector, O’Brien is calling it quits to join General Electric’s global government affairs team. Full story

January 12, 2015

Senate Democrats Blast New House Rule on Social Security

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Operating in the minority, Democrats are beginning to show signs of being aggressive in fighting against potential changes to entitlement programs they have long championed.

Take, for example, Social Security. Senate Democrats are pushing against a change in House rules that makes it more difficult to reallocate Social Security taxes for those collecting from the Disability Trust Fund.

In a letter sent Monday to Republican Senate leadership, eight senior members of the Senate’s Democratic Conference decried the House move to establish a point of order against a fund transfer, which would would be needed next year to avert an almost 20-percent benefit cut for those receiving disability payments, unless there’s somehow a broader agreement on Social Security funding.

Full story

January 8, 2015

Senate Colleagues Pay Tribute to Boxer

Reid and Boxer came to Congress the same year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid and Boxer first arrived in Washington to serve in the House the same year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Barbara Boxer’s Senate colleagues offered a raft of heartfelt accolades Thursday, after the California Democrat’s announcement she would not seek re-election.

“Senator Barbara Boxer is one of the finest public officials the state of California has seen,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. “Her efforts to combat climate change and ensure we have clean air and clean water will be remembered long past her retirement.”

Full story

January 6, 2015

A Battered Reid Stays on Message (Video)

After missing the opening of the Senate, a battered Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in an online video message that Democrats would continue to fight for the middle class.

“We understand the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer [and] the middle class is being squeezed literally out of existence,” Reid said.” And we are going to do everything we can to fulfill the expectation the middle class has.”

Full story

January 2, 2015

Democrats Call on GOP to Keep CBO’s Elmendorf

Schumer, D-N.Y. speaks at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, on what went wrong for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections and what they must do to succeed in 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Schumer warned Republicans against “any effort to politicize” the Congressional Budget Office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer and five other Senate Democrats raised concerns in a letter Friday that Republican leaders will replace the current Congressional Budget Office director as part of an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We strongly object to any effort to politicize this important office,” the letter said. “Appointing a new CBO Director on the basis of ideology would fundamentally compromise the integrity of an institution that has served as a trusted scorekeeper.” Full story

Reid Suffers Broken Ribs in Workout Accident (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:10 p.m. | Sen. Harry Reid’s office says the incoming minority leader has been released from a Las Vegas hospital after he sustained injuries in a workout accident at his home in Nevada on New Year’s Day.

“Senator Reid has been discharged from the University Medical Center hospital in Las Vegas and is headed to his home in Henderson. He will return to Washington this weekend to be ready for the Senate to convene on Tuesday,” Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said in a statement. “He spent the day with his wife, Landra, talking to fellow senators, friends and staff and preparing for the Senate’s return. He sends his thanks to all those who sent warm wishes and is ready to get back to work.”

The Nevada Democrat’s office said earlier Friday that Reid was injured when “A piece of equipment Senator Reid was using to exercise broke, causing him to fall and break a number of ribs and bones in his face.”

Full story

December 22, 2014

Senator Calls on White House to Host Showing of Pulled Sony Film

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter wants the White House to hold a screening of the Sony film “The Interview.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One senator wants President Barack Obama to invite members of Congress to the White House for a screening of “The Interview.”

That’s the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy from Sony Pictures Entertainment that the studio pulled after a hacking which the FBI says North Korea is responsible for. The movie plot centers on an effort to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

In a Dec. 19 letter to Obama, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the president should host an event to show the movie when the 114th Congress convenes in January.

Full story

December 16, 2014

Durbin and Schumer Split Up

Alpha House

Schumer and Durbin are moving out. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate’s longstanding D.C. roommates have gone their separate ways.

Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Charles E. Schumer of New York had long rented space in a Capitol Hill row house owned by Rep. George Miller.

The retirement of the California Democrat left the two Senate Democratic leaders with a problem.

Full story

December 13, 2014

Senate Avoids Shutdown, Passes Cromnibus in Bipartisan Vote

Reid, left, and Mitch McConnell, are tested as the government gets closer to shutting down. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reid, left, and Mitch McConnell, are tested as the government gets closer to shutting down. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:26 p.m. | The Senate has avoided a government shutdown, easily clearing the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” funding the government through September.

The government was scheduled to shut down at midnight Saturday, but the Senate first cleared a four-day stopgap measure by voice vote and later reached a deal to clear the cromnibus after lawmakers in both parties sparred over who was to blame for the impending shutdown theatrics.

The final vote was 56-40 in an extremely bipartisan vote, with 21 Democrats, 18 Republicans and independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont voting no.

Republican no votes: Bob Corker of Tennessee; Michael D. Crapo of Idaho; Ted Cruz of Texas; Jeff Flake of Arizona; Charles E. Grassley of Iowa; Dean Heller of Nevada, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah; John McCain of Arizona; Jerry Moran of Kansas; Rand Paul of Kentucky; Rob Portman of Ohio; Jim Risch of Idaho; Marco Rubio of Florida; Tim Scott of South Carolina; Jeff Sessions of Alabama; Richard C. Shelby of Alabama; and David Vitter of Louisiana.

Democratic no votes: Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Cory Booker of New Jersey; Barbara Boxer of California; Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Maria Cantwell of Washington; Al Franken of Minnesota; Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Tom Harkin of Iowa; Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii; Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Carl Levin of Michigan; Joe Manchin III of West Virginia; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Robert Menendez of New Jersey; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Tester of Montana; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

In the key vote earlier Saturday night, the Senate easily cleared the 60-vote threshold to stop a filibuster attempt, 77-19. Thirteen Republicans, five Democrats and Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., voted to filibuster the bill.

The Senate then thumped an effort by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to raise a point of order over the issue of the President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Cruz’s effort failed on a similarly lopsided 22-74 vote. 

The Senate had been stuck in the midst of numerous procedural votes on nominations — with a weekend session forced by conservatives against the wishes of many in their own party. Full story

December 5, 2014

Rockefeller Opposes Leahy FOIA Bill

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rockefeller (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Once on a glide path to passage through the Senate, the FOIA Improvement Act is in trouble after retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., came out against the bill designed to make government more transparent.

“I have a long record of support for open government and the [Freedom of Information Act] process,” Rockefeller said in a release. “I am concerned that provisions in this bill will have the unintended consequence of harming our ability to enforce the many important federal laws that protect American consumers from financial fraud and other abuses.” Full story

December 4, 2014

Senate Democrats Talk Life in Minority, Plot Comeback

Manchin wants Democrats to take a new approach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Manchin (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats held a meeting Wednesday that they hoped would end intraparty finger-pointing after tough election losses, and discussed their new minority role in next Congress.

“The healing process is beginning,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III said.

Senators heard from their colleagues who won’t be coming back next Congress including Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, Manchin said.

Manchin added, “We hope to do things a little differently.” Full story

December 3, 2014

Senate Democrats Begin Planning Road Back to Majority

Senate Democrats will meet Wednesday to start plotting a path back to the majority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats will meet Wednesday to start plotting a path back to the majority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats will hold their first strategy session on taking back the majority Wednesday afternoon, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide.

The informal session will be led by Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who is DPCC vice chairman. Full story

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