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May 25, 2015

Posts in "Mitch McConnell"

May 22, 2015

After Rand Paul’s Objections, Patriot Act Lurches Toward Expiration (Updated)

Rand Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn't get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn’t get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated May 23, 2 a.m. | The Senate failed to advance even a one-day extension of the Patriot Act surveillance authorities early Saturday, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leading bipartisan objections to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an extraordinary sequence.

The end result is that the Senate will reconvene for legislative business at 4 p.m. on May 31, staring down a midnight deadline to reauthorize the programs in question, including some far less contentious than the bulk data collection that’s gotten most of the attention.

“This week, I stood on the floor for roughly 11 hours in defense of the Fourth Amendment and successfully blocked the renewal of the Patriot Act. We should never give up our rights for a false sense of security,” Paul said in a statement. “This is only the beginning — the first step of many. I will continue to do all I can until this illegal government spying program is put to an end, once and for all.”

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May 21, 2015

McConnell Says Senate Could Finish Friday ‘With Cooperation’ (Video)

The Kentucky senators are at odds on the NSA surveillance issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell might want to have a chat about the schedule. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The senior senator from Kentucky might need to have a little chat with the junior senator from Kentucky.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Thursday the Senate could finish its work on trade, Patriot Act surveillance authority and a highway patch by close of business Friday. That would let lawmakers make it to their home states well in advance of the Memorial Day parades.

But that would require “cooperation” that at this point is nowhere to be found, principally because of Sen. Rand Paul’s threat of maximum obstruction of any extension of the NSA’s surveillance powers. Full story

May 19, 2015

Plenty to Navigate to Get ‘Fast Track’ Through Senate (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell has to navigate amendments to get TPA passed this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:21 p.m. | The pathway to Senate passage of legislation to restore “fast-track” authority for trade authority is full of obstacles, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to avoid any more.

A proposal from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to attach language related to reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to the trade package pending on the floor generated discussion at Tuesday’s Republican conference lunch, and McConnell emerged saying the trade bill wasn’t the right venue for a debate over the lending agency’s future.

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May 18, 2015

McConnell Threatens Memorial Day Recess

McConnell is threatening senators with weekend work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell is threatening senators with weekend work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s time to start threatening recess.

Like clockwork Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned senators he intends to force them to stick around until they are finished with their work.

“The Senate will finish its work on trade this week, and we will remain in session as long as it takes to do so,” said the Kentucky Republican.

“I would advise against making any sort of travel arrangements until the path forward becomes clear.” Full story

May 17, 2015

McConnell Shrugs Off Paul’s NSA Surveillance Filibuster

The Kentucky senators are at odds on the NSA surveillance issue. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Kentucky senators are at odds on NSA surveillance as Paul contemplates a filibuster. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The split in the Kentucky Senate delegation over the government’s surveillance powers was on full display again Sunday on the morning news programs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC’s This Week that while he agrees with his junior Republican colleague Sen. Rand Paul on most topics, the question of authorities for the National Security Agency to collect phone records under the Patriot Act is clearly not one of them.

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Rand Paul’s NSA Filibuster Vow Complicates Senate’s Memorial Day Getaway

Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell are on opposite sides of the NSA surveillance debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky’s senators are on opposite sides of the NSA surveillance debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate is supposed to be finishing up a six-week work period, but would lawmakers really leave for the Memorial Day recess without resolving the debate over National Security Agency surveillance?

For Sen. Rand Paul the answer is “yes,” because a lack of affirmative legislative action by the Senate by June 1 would mean the expiration of the authorities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

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May 7, 2015

McConnell, Reid Agree on One Thing: Don Ritchie Rocks (Video)

Ritchie, left, shares a laugh with Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ritchie, left, shares a laugh with Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are frequently at odds. One thing they do agree on is the good job Donald Ritchie has done in his many years in the Senate Historical Office, including in his role as Senate historian since 2009.

On the floor Thursday morning, McConnell called the retiring Ritchie “one of the smartest guys around here” and said, “I don’t think any of us would want to face him on ‘Jeopardy.'”

And Reid said the historian was one of the few people who could quell his rowdy caucus. “Every week I begin my caucus by calling on the Senate historian and he talks to us about so many fascinating things. … And quite frankly, it shuts up my caucus. When he shows up, they suddenly are attentive,” Reid said.

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Paul’s Anti-NSA Push Is at Odds With McConnell’s Agenda (Updated) (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell, right, has introduced a long-term extension of surveillance powers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:34 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul is calling the debate on an issue that puts him at odds with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “a defining moment for our country.”

In a series of tweets, the junior Kentucky Republican declared he would do what was in his power to preclude reauthorization of expiring National Security Agency surveillance powers under the Patriot Act.

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May 5, 2015

Reid Threatens to Short-Circuit Trade Bill (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reid and McConnell are again battling over the Senate schedule. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Does Minority Leader Harry Reid have the votes to throw a monkey wrench into President Barack Obama’s trade agenda?

The Nevada Democrat indicated as much to the Huffington Post in an interview published late Monday, though he was not as explicit about his intentions Tuesday morning on the floor of the chamber.

“McConnell said he wanted to move to trade in the next two or three weeks, and I’m going to — maybe he can, but I don’t think he’s going to have an easy time doing it, because I will not let him do that. We’re not going to lay over, as I said, until we have some way to move forward on FISA and the surface transportation bill,” Reid said in the Huffington Post interview. “He has some decisions to make and he’s going to have to work around me and the caucus.”

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April 22, 2015

A Possible Path Forward on Patriot Act

Burr says the new surveillance bill is a marker for negotiations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr says the new surveillance bill is a marker for negotiations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Senate worked its way out of two legislative knots Wednesday, passing a human-trafficking bill, 99-0, and setting up a Thursday vote on the long-delayed nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the path to reauthorizing surveillance activities would be a lot easier if the White House engaged Congress sooner rather than later.

“The White House usually keeps everything close to the vest until all of a sudden, you produce a piece of legislation and then they’re open to share with you their problems with it,” Sen. Richard M. Burr said. “I wish they’d adopt another strategy.”

The North Carolina Republican joined Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in introducing a bill late Tuesday that just might get an administration reaction. It would effectively extend the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, such as those related to bulk collection of phone and other records under the law’s Section 215, through a prospective lame-duck session at the end of the next president’s first term. Burr said that was a marker for negotiating. The authorization is set to lapse at the beginning of June.

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April 17, 2015

For Lynch, Next Week Just Might Be the Week

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lynch appears to have a narrow majority backing her nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the end of a week that saw bipartisanship break out all around the Senate, Loretta Lynch remained in limbo.

The Thursday afternoon announcement there would be no further Senate votes for the week guaranteed that the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be attorney general, would enter another week awaiting Senate confirmation. The contrast was on the president’s mind Friday.

“And I have to say that there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough,” Obama said at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job. This is embarrassing, a process like this.”

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April 14, 2015

Democrats Rebut McConnell’s Message to States on EPA

Whitehouse led a group of five senators in a letter to 50 governors. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A group of Democratic caucus members in the Senate has asked governors to consider the views of other Kentuckians before taking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s advice on implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The Kentucky Republican has espoused the view that states should consider avoiding developing their own plans for implementing the power standards. But the five senators behind Tuesday’s open letter to the governors point out that the Democratic leadership in McConnell’s home state is moving forward with its own EPA plan.

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Senate’s To-Do List Keeps Getting Longer (Video)

McConnell outlined an extremely busy legislative calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell outlined an extremely busy legislative calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A debate over Iran may highlight the Senate’s agenda, but it already seems like there might be too much to do.

Sen. Bob Corker’s efforts to get broad support for bipartisan legislation to provide a role for Congress in reviewing a final international agreement with Iran about nuclear weapons appears to have paid dividends. And the Corker legislation seems to be on an expedited path to the floor after a markup set for Tuesday afternoon. Full story

April 13, 2015

Senate Returns to an Immediate ‘Doc Fix’ Deadline

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the doc fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the ‘doc fix.’ (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers will already be facing a time crunch when the Senate returns Monday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been withholding payments to doctors treating Medicare patients to give Congress a window to work through a long-term resolution to the Sustainable Growth Rate problem that sees physicians regularly facing draconian cuts in payment rates without a patch known as a “doc fix.”

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April 6, 2015

McConnell Skeptical of Iran Deal After Leading Freshmen on Middle East Trip

McConnell and several freshmen senators meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan. (Courtesy Royal Hashemite Court)

McConnell and several freshmen senators meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan. (Courtesy Royal Hashemite Court)

Fresh off a trip to the Middle East, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirmed Monday afternoon that his chamber would weigh in legislatively regarding the framework agreement between the United States, Iran and other nations involved in the negotiations.

“Last week I led a Senate delegation to Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Iran’s support of Hezbollah, the Assad regime, Shia militias in Iraq, Houthi insurgents in Yemen — along with its ongoing nuclear ambitions — reveal an ongoing effort to both expand the Iranian sphere of influence throughout the greater Middle East and undermine America’s standing and presence in the region,” McConnell said in a statement. “These issues, along with Iran’s determination to expand its ballistic missile and conventional military capability, are of grave concern to me; moreover, the concerns of our allies and partners were raised throughout our visits.”

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