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March 6, 2015

Posts in "Mitch McConnell"

March 5, 2015

Senate Democrats Press McConnell to Schedule Lynch Confirmation Vote (Updated)

RY 28: U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Democrats are ramping up pressure in the Senate to approve Lynch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:23 p.m. | Frustrated with the pace of Loretta Lynch’s confirmation process, Senate Democrats are ramping up pressure on Republicans to schedule floor consideration of the president’s pick to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

They are circulating a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying the nomination of the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has already been pending for 117 days and it should be called up swiftly. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters that the entire Democratic caucus had signed on.

Full story

March 4, 2015

McConnell Discourages States From Crafting Clean Power Plans

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is suggesting states shouldn’t act on their own to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power plans.

In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader, the Kentucky Republican offers advice for governors and other state officials.

“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism,” McConnell wrote.

Full story

March 3, 2015

McConnell’s Turn to Iran Legislation Surprises Democrats (Video) (Updated)

Updated 7:21 p.m. | In between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress and Netanyahu’s meeting with Senate leaders, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to move full speed ahead with legislation to give Congress a say in any potential nuclear deal with Iran.

Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced the details of a bipartisan bill Feb. 27 that would require the Obama administration to transmit any agreement from the international P5+1 talks to Capitol Hill for a 60-day review period. Full story

February 26, 2015

McConnell’s Move to Avert Shutdown Cheers Vulnerable Senators Up in 2016

McConnell wants to end the DHS funding fight ASAP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell wants to end the DHS funding fight ASAP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is always looking ahead to the next election.

And as much as the Kentucky Republican’s move to go ahead with a clean bill funding the Department of Homeland Security drew the ire of the conservative base, others including those on the ballot and vulnerable in 2016 said it was important to resolve the issue and get on with the GOP agenda.

Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk, who is running for re-election in the generally blue state of Illinois, said Tuesday that GOP senators should tell the House Republicans who are against advancing the appropriations bill without riders in opposition to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration that “this is the way the Senate demands this go.”

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February 23, 2015

McConnell Offers Plan to Break DHS Logjam

Updated 7 p.m. | Just days from a shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun to pivot toward a new strategy to separate funding for the Department of Homeland Security from the GOP’s plan to roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration actions.

The Kentucky Republican offered a standalone bill focused on the 2014 immigration actions alone after Democrats for the fourth time filibustered the House-passed DHS bill, this time on a 47-46 vote, 13 shy of the 60 needed to advance.

“It isn’t tied to DHS funding. It removes their excuse,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. Full story

Senate Democrats Show Limits of GOP Spending Strategy

Reid and McConnell Democratic agenda

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Republican leaders seized control of the Senate, they quickly targeted must-pass appropriations bills — not shutdown showdowns — as their best tool for reining in the Obama White House.

Two months into the 114th Congress, they have run smack into the limits of that strategy.

The immigration fight that has stalemated the fiscal 2015 Homeland Security spending bill, leaving the department days away from a possible shutdown, makes clear the high hurdles that remain for getting bills to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Even worse for Republicans, Senate Democrats found a strategy that has left the GOP feuding with itself over who needs to make the next move.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Full story

February 13, 2015

GOP Senators Also Pushing to Nuke Filibusters, Says House Lawmaker

Mo Brooks, R-Ala., speaks during a news conference with House and Senate members on immigration on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Brooks said GOP senators are also asking McConnell to change the filibuster rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House conservatives are increasingly pushing the Senate to “go nuclear” and change filibuster rules so that a Department of Homeland Security funding bill blocking the president’s executive action on immigration can move forward. But according to one GOP lawmaker member, it’s not just the House pushing for that change.

Alabama Republican Mo Brooks told CQ Roll Call Friday that he had spoken to senators supportive of changing the filibuster rules. Full story

February 3, 2015

Ferrier Takes Helm of Senate Republican Communications Center

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ferrier is returning to the Senate after less than a year in the private sector. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The post-employment “cooling off” period didn’t even have time to expire before Antonia Ferrier found her way back to the Senate as part of the new Republican majority.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office announced Tuesday morning that the Kentucky Republican was bringing in Ferrier as as the new staff director of the Senate Republican Communications Center, replacing the departing John Ashbrook. It’s one of a series of moves as the GOP media and speechwriting operation reloads about a month into life as the majority.

Full story

January 23, 2015

McConnell Shows He’s the Boss

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The honeymoon may be over for Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican’s open-process experiment took a turn Thursday night when the newly minted majority leader showed his patience has its limits, as he forced a series of votes to table Democratic amendments and refused to allow their sponsors a minute to explain them.

Full story

January 22, 2015

Wendell Ford, Longtime Kentucky Senator, Dies at 90

Ford, left, made sure to attend Grimes' election eve rally in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ford, left, made sure to attend Grimes’ election eve rally in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky political legend and purveyor of Southern wit Wendell H. Ford has died.

Ford, 90, had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

A Democrat, Ford served in the Senate for 24 years before retiring at the end of his fourth term in 1999. Prior to being elected to the Senate, Ford served as Kentucky governor, lieutenant governor and did a stint in the state Senate.

Full story

January 12, 2015

Power Takes Obama’s Iran Case to Kentucky

(Tom Fougerousse/University of Louisville)

Power is the first Cabinet member to appear with McConnell since he became majority leader. (Tom Fougerousse/University of Louisville)

America’s top diplomat at the United Nations took the Obama administration’s case against enhancing Iran sanctions to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home turf Monday — delivering remarks that sounded like a State of the Union prelude.

Ambassador Samantha Power reiterated the administration’s view that “increasing sanctions would dramatically undermine our efforts” to halt nuclear weapons development by the Iranians in talks, which have been extended through June.

“First, imposing new sanctions now will almost certainly end a negotiations process that has not only frozen the advance of Iran’s nuclear program, but that could lead us to an understanding that would give us confidence in its exclusively peaceful nature. If new sanctions were imposed, Iran would be able to blame the U.S. for sabotaging the negotiations and causing the collapse of the process, and we would lose the chance to peacefully resolve a major national security challenge,” Power said. “Second, … new sanctions will actually likely weaken the sanctions pressure on Iran, by undermining crucial international support for the existing multilateral sanctions on Iran.”

Power’s comments about Iran came when McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, was just steps away. They were part of a wide-ranging foreign policy address sponsored by his namesake McConnell Center on the University of Louisville campus. The Senate majority leader has said bringing additional conditional sanctions against Iran to the Senate floor for a vote is among his early priorities in 2015.

Power became the first Cabinet member to make a public appearance with McConnell since his elevation to majority leader earlier in January.

“Amidst all of this apparent rancor and partisanship, you in the audience might be a bit surprised to see a member of President [Barack] Obama’s cabinet — and the ambassador to the United Nations, no less — down here in Kentucky at the invitation of the new Republican Senate majority leader,” Power said. “You might wonder whether I’m here to pick a fight or walk into an ambush.”

Much of the speech focused not on Capitol Hill partisan battles, but on areas where the two parties have found common ground, from the response to the outbreak of Ebola in Africa to U.S. efforts to support pro-democracy efforts in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

McConnell has long made the situation in Myanmar a priority, and Power praised his work with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on sanctions against the repressive military junta that contributed to the country opening up and moving in a pro-democratic direction. But, the progress has been at times tepid.

“That is the challenge we face today: ensuring that Burma builds on the areas in which it has made progress, and avoids backsliding. And we have to be prepared to adapt our strategy to the conditions we observe, including setbacks. We — and when I say we, I am confident Leader McConnell shares this view — we have to examine every tool in our toolkit and ask: How can we take steps that may contribute to empowering the Burmese people and helping the country move towards genuine democratic reform?” Power said. “Our tools include incentivizing continued progress, shining a bright light on the government’s shortcomings, and imposing targeted sanctions on individuals who stand in the way of change.”

In addition to discussing democratic development in Myanmar, Power acknowledged differences of opinion about the Obama administration’s engagement with Cuba.

“Some of the embargo’s staunchest defenders are Democrats and Republicans with deep ties to the island — people whose families came to America fleeing the Castros’ repression. These are men and women who are completely dedicated to doing all they can to ensure that Cubans on the island get to enjoy true freedom. So it is important to acknowledge that while there may be disagreements on the best way to get there, we share a common goal of advancing the rights of the Cuban people,” Power said.

She reiterated the administration’s view that after decades of the embargo against Cuba failing to bring about the desired outcome, it was time to change the strategy.

“The changes President Obama announced take away the Castros’ most trusted alibi for abuse, helping empower the Cuban people to secure the greater freedoms they want and deserve,” she said. “The change in policy also denies repressive governments in the region the ability to continue cynically to use our Cuba policy to deflect attention from their own abuses, such as Ecuador’s crackdown on the press, or Venezuela’s imprisonment of key opposition leaders.”

Related:

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

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January 6, 2015

Keystone Debate to Test Waters of New Senate

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell has waited years for the moment he’ll take the reins of a dysfunctional chamber and try and show Republicans can govern.

He’ll face tests right off the bat — from how to handle the filibuster rules changes that have divided his conference to keeping the Senate on topic as he looks to clear a series of bipartisan bills to kick off the year, starting with approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We’ll hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments, but there will be no effort to try to … micromanage the amendment process,” the Kentucky Republican said last month, when announcing his plan to bring Keystone to the floor first.

It’s part of a plan, nearly a year in the making, to get the new majority off to a fast start. Full story

December 16, 2014

McConnell Puts Keystone First on the Agenda (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The incoming Senate majority leader is putting approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project first on his 2015 agenda.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday told reporters that in looking ahead to the new year, a bill sponsored by Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota would lead off the floor schedule. Full story

December 14, 2014

How Big Is the Ted Cruz Caucus?

Ted Cruz

Eleven Republicans sided with Ted Cruz on all three key votes on the ‘cromnibus.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s a question that will prove crucial next year when Mitch McConnell takes the reins of a new Senate: Just how big is the Ted Cruz caucus?

Three votes on the “cromnibus” late Saturday night suggest it could be as large as 22 senators — a dangerously high number for McConnell — or as few as a handful.

Let’s break down the three votes — on filibustering the $1.1 trillion package, on Cruz’s point of order aimed at targeting the president’s immigration action, and final passage. Full story

Saturday Session a Preview of What’s to Come

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(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

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