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November 29, 2014

Posts in "Harry Reid"

November 18, 2014

Loretta Lynch Nomination Will Wait as Reid Seeks Broader Deal (Video)

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Lynch’s nomination as attorney general will wait until Republicans control the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Republicans will play ball on confirming a number of President Barack Obama’s nominations before they take over the majority in the next Congress, but that list won’t include the next attorney general.

The Nevada Democrat said the White House wasn’t pushing for confirmation of Loretta Lynch, the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney tapped by Obama to become the next attorney general, before Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., becomes the man in charge of the Senate floor schedule.

“My personal feeling is that the White House has, through intermediaries with me, have said don’t be pushing that, we can do it after the first of the year,” Reid said.

The 114th Congress technically won’t start until a few days into the new year, but as a practical matter, Reid’s comments suggest Lynch will face a GOP-led Judiciary Committee after Obama’s expected executive action on immigration. And that could threaten her confirmation.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will be majority whip in the new Congress, suggested that the immigration announcement could impede movement on an assortment of Senate business, including nominees like Lynch.

“As some have said before me it’s going to poison the well,” said Cornyn, himself a member of the Judiciary Committee. “This place is built on some modicum of cooperation, but if the president is not going to cooperate with us it’s going to make it much harder for us to persuade members of Congress to cooperate with him on everything from nominations to legislation.” Full story

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 14, 2014

A Lame-Duck Fight Over Yucca Mountain

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Harry Reid’s longtime opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository appears set to have one of the last quacks in the lame duck, and Republicans are crying foul.

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, slammed President’s Obama’s nomination of Jeffery M. Baran to a full five-year term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and pointed to the Democratic leader’s longtime efforts on Yucca.

The Nevada Democrat “strongly supports Baran, likely due to the role he is expected to play in continuing to undermine the Yucca Mountain project, a nuclear repository in a secluded region of Nevada,” Vitter said in a press release.

“Baran’s nomination increases the likelihood that Stephen Burns…could be nominated to be the new NRC Chairman,” he said.

The president designates the chairman of the five-person commission. Vitter’s comments come after current chairwoman Allison M. Macfarlane announced in October that she would resign.

Burns was previously the chief counsel to former NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko “who was forced out of office due to his failed leadership,” Vitter said.

Jaczko is a former Reid staffer and staunch Yucca opponent whom Reid helped install at the NRC. Reid used every tool in the box, including a blanket hold on President George W. Bush’s nominees, to get Jaczko on the NRC.

Jaczko resigned from the agency in 2012 after months in which he battled accusations by the four other commissioners of the bipartisan agency of having a heavy-handed management style. That style, his detractors contend, disrupted the NRC’s ability to complete its nuclear safety mission.

Both Baran, a former aide to liberal stalwart Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Burns were confirmed in September, but Baran’s nomination was to fill a term expiring June 30. Burns’ was a full term that lasts through June 30, 2019.

Vitter, who opposed Baran’s initial confirmation in September, reiterated his concerns that he is unqualified.

“The President’s nominee to ensure the safety and success of our nuclear future visited a nuclear facility for the first time in his life this summer,” Vitter said. “It is vital to the security and reliability of our nation’s energy needs for the members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to be independent, thoughtful, and highly qualified. Baran clearly lacks that experience, and we need to hold a full EPW committee hearing.”

Baran’s confirmation would be much harder next year after Republicans take control of the Senate. His earlier nomination was confirmed 56-44 in September, before Republicans won control of the chamber in the midterm elections.

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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

Harry Reid Unveils New Leadership Team, Strategy (Video)

reid031114 445x298 Harry Reid Unveils New Leadership Team, Strategy (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Nov. 13 7:02 |Sen. Harry Reid survived a four-hour meeting with his Democratic flock with his job as their leader intact, albeit without unanimous support, as he debuted three new members of his leadership team and promised to work with Republicans to legislate.

His leadership team has three new members: Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a moderate who is the new head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is chairwoman of Steering and Outreach; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who has a newly created post to reach out to the progressive wing of the party.

The new team gives both moderates and progressives a seat at the leadership table, though the top positions in the party have not changed a bit.

“We have to continue fighting for the middle class,” Reid said. “The middle class is what is concerning every one of my senators. They’re not getting a fair shot and we are going to do everything we can in the 114th Congress to make sure the middle class of this great country of ours has a fair shot.”

Full story

Elizabeth Warren Gets Seat at Leadership Table

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Warren will get a new role in Democratic leadership. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren will get a newly created seat at the Democratic leadership table.

A Democratic source familiar with the leadership’s thinking told CQ Roll Call the Massachusetts senator’s role will involve outreach to progressives. A second source indicated the position would not supplant another member of the leadership.

Bringing Warren into the weekly leadership meetings could put her brand of populist economic messaging front and center as Democrats look to regain their majority in 2016.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has had high praise for Warren, and adding her to the team gives him a chance to tell his flock that he’s making changes after last week’s midterm disaster cost him his majority leader title.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, meanwhile, is expected to take the steering and outreach slot now occupied by Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who was ousted by Republican Dan Sullivan on Nov. 4. It’s not clear the timing of when that pick will occur.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Elizabeth Warren Leads Progressive Charge, But Has GOP Admirers Too

Elizabeth Warren Could Join Democratic Leadership

Democrats Run From Harry Reid

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Claire McCaskill Opposes Reid Staying as Leader

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri told reporters Thursday she would not vote for Sen. Harry Reid as the Democratic leader as the party heads into the minority.

“I will not,” she responded when asked whether she will vote for the Nevada Democrat.

Full story

November 12, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Could Join Democratic Leadership

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Elizabeth Warren could join Senate leadership. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democratic leaders are discussing the possibility of adding Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to their ranks, a source familiar with the conversations confirmed late Wednesday.

The move would be the most significant change to Democratic leadership teams in either chamber, which are expected to otherwise be unchanged despite the historic drubbing at the polls on Election Day.

On a conference call with liberal supporters just before the election, she received high praise from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev.

“This woman has changed the Senate,” Reid said. Full story

November 11, 2014

Visa Agreement With China Draws Senate Cheers

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The deal announced Monday that makes it easier for Chinese business people, tourists and students to stay in the United States longer won applause from senators on both sides of the aisle, especially Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The Nevada Democrat was among the first out of the gate Monday praising the agreement that will extend the duration of a variety of visas, highlighting the number of Chinese tourists who travel to his home state. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:15 p.m.
Harry Reid, Policy

November 5, 2014

After Catching a Wave, Senate Republicans Look to Legislate

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Moran, right, with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., on the campaign trail. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Having emerged from an Election Day that many Republicans only dreamed of, the Senate Republicans’ campaign chairman was already looking forward to a Senate starting to function again.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told a home state radio station that frustration with the lack of legislative activity contributed to his seeking the campaign job in the first place.

“This place has been run, for the four years I’ve been in the United States Senate, with the goal of doing nothing,” the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said on KNSS. “Boy, this place better change. It’s why I was willing to chair the Senate campaign committee, is to get us in a position in which Sen. Reid was not the leader with the plan to do nothing, and I intend as a member of the United States Senate — not as a Republican senator but as a Kansan, as an American — to do everything I can to see that we work to accomplish things.” Full story

Harry Reid Congratulates Mitch McConnell on Taking Senate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Harry Reid congratulated Sen. Mitch McConnell for taking his job late Tuesday, after Republicans swept most of the key Senate races and swamped Democrats up and down the ballot.

“I’d like to congratulate Senator McConnell, who will be the new Senate Majority Leader,” the Nevada Democrat said of the Kentucky Republican in an emailed statement. “The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together. I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”

The terse statement left much unsaid; Democrats will have plenty of infighting over what went wrong, with many already behind the scenes pointing fingers at the president and the White House.

But Reid’s floor strategy — in effect a prevent defense — also failed to bear fruit.

Reid’s statement also makes clear he intends to stick around rather than relinquish the party leadership reigns.

And despite grumbling, there’s no open revolt against his leadership — yet.

There’s also the business of what to do in a lame-duck session before McConnell controls the gavel — such as nominations and an omnibus spending bill.

But that’s tomorrow’s story.

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By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:09 a.m.
Harry Reid

October 31, 2014

Democrat Wants Elizabeth Warren to Dethrone Harry Reid as Leader (Updated)

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One Senate Democratic candidate wants Elizabeth Warren to dethrone Harry Reid as majority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:56 p.m. | Democratic South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland ramped up his effort to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Friday kicking off a campaign to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., or anyone else to challenge Reid.

“This is a fight I intend to continue no matter how long it takes because it is a fight for the new leadership the Congress must have if the larger battle to drive big money out of Congress, and thus open the door to progress for all of America, is to succeed,” Weiland said in a release.

Warren has energized the progressive wing of Senate Democrats, although she has GOP admirers too.

She’s been a sought-after draw as a surrogate on the campaign trail this year in a way that neither Reid nor President Barack Obama has been, with continued speculation despite her denials that she could run for president in 2016. There hasn’t been much talk of her taking on Reid.

Weiland’s comments come after he said during a recent debate that he would not support Reid for leader and challenged his opponent Republican Mike Rounds to oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should Rounds prevail. Full story

October 29, 2014

Reid Sends Late Gift to Begich

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is giving endangered Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, a legislative gift ahead of next week’s election.

Reid sent Begich a letter dated Oct. 28 saying he plans to hold a vote in the lame duck on a Begich bill funding veterans programs.

“As I plan our Senate agenda for November, I recall our conversations about veterans and your advocacy for their rights,” Reid said in a short Oct. 28 letter to Begich. “With Veterans Day approaching, I have decided that your bipartisan bill…will be taken up by the Senate for vote. It is indeed the right thing for our nation’s veterans.”

“Your have been a tireless advocate for Alaskas’s 73,000 veterans and veterans throughout the country,” Reid continued. “Your important bill will go a long way to ensuring secure funding for America’s veterans.”

The letter comes as Begich is in a difficult race to retain his seat to represent a GOP-leaning state and in the second midterm of an unpopular Democratic president. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race against Republican Dan Sullivan as a Tossup/Tilts Republican.

In an editorial in Roll Call Oct. 1 — the anniversary of the last government shutdown — Begich argued that the bill would shield veterans from the politics that arise in the appropriations process and any potential future shutdowns, by funding veterans’ need in advance. Full story

October 28, 2014

Reid Returns to Washington, Daughter Undergoing Surgery

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., unexpectedly returned to Washington from his home state due to a family emergency.

“Senator Reid’s daughter, Lana who resides in the Washington DC area, unexpectedly became ill with a serious medical condition that requires surgery,” Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said in an email. “She is receiving treatment in Washington DC so Senator Reid flew back from Nevada to be with her.”

Full story

Democrats Run From Harry Reid

Harry Reid’s caucus is running from him on the campaign trail, but that doesn’t mean a revolt is in the works — yet.

The majority leader has twisted the Senate into a pretzel all year to protect his vulnerable members, but the Nevada Democrat is now facing skepticism on the campaign trail from some of those same Democrats, as well as from some would-be newcomers. And there’s at least one scenario that could force his hand.

Still, there’s that old saying: You can’t beat somebody with nobody, and so far, none of the senators who might have the chops to take on Reid have made any noises about doing so. Full story

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