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December 21, 2014

Posts in "Harry Reid"

December 18, 2014

Reid: Yucca Mountain Project Will Never Be Built

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Harry Reid claimed another victory Thursday in his never-ending fight to kill the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project — and ensure it stays dead.

The Nevada Democrat touted a new Nuclear Regulatory Commission report.

“The latest study released by the NRC acknowledges one of the major weaknesses of the effort to resurrect Yucca Mountain: the federal government does not have the water it needs nor control of the land necessary to build a nuclear waste dump in Nevada,” Reid said in a release.

The NRC report, released Thursday, also noted “the land is not free of significant encumbrances such as mining rights, deeds, rights-of-way or other legal rights.” Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 5:53 p.m.
Harry Reid

December 16, 2014

Democrats Close Out Majority With Wins on Nominations

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Reid said that the Democrats could have accomplished more during the lame-duck session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“This will be the last vote of this Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced shortly before 9:30 p.m.

The Senate’s end-of-session mechanics kicked into high gear Tuesday, with the chamber confirming a slew of President Barack Obama’s judicial and executive nominations and clearing a one-year retroactive extension of lapsed tax breaks that will resolve the issue for just weeks.

Reid, who will become the minority leader in the 114th Congress, told reporters he thinks the Democrats could have seen more accomplished in the lame-duck session.

“There’s a lot more we could and should have done,” Reid said, adding, “We did OK this time, but we’ve had better.”

Full story

Heller Pledges Yucca Mountain Will Stay Dead Despite Leaving Energy Committee

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The Yucca Mountain fight continues as committee assignments for the 114th Congress raise questions about what’s next for the issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., pledged that a proposal to build a nuclear waste depository at Yucca Mountain would remain dead, even though he is stepping away from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to join the Finance Committee.

“I don’t think it changes the dynamics,” Heller said of his new committee assignment for the 114th Congress.

The Nevada congressional delegation, led by outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been effective using every means available, including the power of the purse and regulatory agencies, to prevent the project from resurfacing in the state.

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 Avoids Shutdown, Passes Cromnibus in Bipartisan Vote

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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 12, 2014

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 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 3, 2014

In Final Act, Coburn Objects to Bundling Lands, Defense Bills

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

You could call it Sen. Tom Coburn’s last stand.

The Oklahoma Republican, who is retiring early at the end of the current Congress, is expected to force the Senate to jump through procedural hoops because of the bundling of unrelated lands bills in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Coburn made his opposition to the inclusion of the lands bills known in a Nov. 19 letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that CQ Roll Call obtained Wednesday morning.

“I am writing to inform you of my intent to utilize all procedural options at my disposal as a United States Senator, including objecting to any unanimous consent agreements or time limitations, if NDAA contains extraneous public lands provisions such as authorizing new National Park units, expanding wilderness areas, creating new National Heritage Areas, or expanding the federal land base,” Coburn wrote. Full story

December 2, 2014

Taxes, Defense, Appropriations Remain Big 3 Issues Before Christmas (Video)

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McConnell is optimistic about getting legislation accomplished before the holidays. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the mad rush to complete work before Christmas, there are three big-ticket items on which Democrats and Republicans seem to agree.

“Obviously the Senate is waiting on the House with respect to the tax extender package, the way forward on funding the government and the National Defense Authorization Act,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “Once those measures are received, we’ll decide how to go forward.”

“I think everybody agrees, on a bipartisan basis, those are three things we simply must do here at the end of the session,” the Kentucky Republican continued. “Fund the government, make sure we don’t have any retroactive tax increases, and follow the tradition of many years, which is to pass a National Defense Authorization Act. I’m confident the Senate will do that before we depart for the holidays.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was on the same page on high-priority legislation. Full story

December 1, 2014

Reid Threatens to Keep Senate Scheduled Until Christmas (Video)

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Reid controls the Senate schedule — for now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Senate returned from the Thanksgiving break, Majority Leader Harry Reid was already encouraging colleagues to act quickly to complete work for the year.

While both the House and the Senate would like to complete activity for the lame-duck session by the end of next week, the Nevada Democrat — who will cede the majority leader’s post when this Congress ends — was already warning legislative work could approach Christmas.

“We need to work on reauthorizing defense authorization legislation. We have a lot to do, and there isn’t much time to accomplish it. So, I encourage all senators to work hard to complete our work in a timely and efficient fashion. We may have to be here the week before Christmas, and hopefully … not into the Christmas holiday,” Reid said. “But, there are things we have to get done.”

Full story

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)

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(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

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