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July 29, 2014

Posts in "Mitch McConnell"

July 24, 2014

McConnell Seeks to Break Out Funding for Israel’s Iron Dome From Border Bill

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is introducing standalone legislation to provide funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

The Kentucky Republican’s bill would meet a supplemental funding request from the Pentagon for $225 million for the program. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., included the funding in her much broader supplemental that would primarily address the crisis of unaccompanied migrant children entering the United States from Central America — but Republicans are balking at that $3.6 billion bill.

“Republicans are united in support of our ally Israel. We have legislation that would allow Congress to meet the Secretary’s request. And we hope our friends on the other side will join us in coming to a sensible, bipartisan solution that can be passed quickly,” McConnell said in a floor speech. “As most senators know, the Iron Dome missile defense system has played a critical role in defending Israel’s population from the rocket attacks launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip.

“By passing a bipartisan measure to meet the secretary’s request, we can send a message to Hamas that its terrorist tactics and its attempts to terrorize Israel’s populace will not succeed,” he said.

Republicans aren’t happy that Mikulski’s bill would not make changes to a 2008 anti-trafficking law. The two parties remain far apart on the best way to address the immigration crisis. McConnell’s move allows Republicans to demonstrate that they are supportive of the requested funds for defense of Israel even if they oppose the broader package.

But it likely does not speak well to the prospects that the two sides will reach a deal.

July 8, 2014

Hobby Lobby, Immigration Supplemental At Top of Reid’s July Agenda (Video)

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Reid says he doesn’t support offsets to the White House’s supplementary spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans a packed July work period with the Senate expected to consider a raft of bills, including a Democratic response to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and the emergency immigration supplemental spending bill.

“We have so much to do this month,” Reid said after a meeting with his Democratic colleagues. “At the caucus that I just completed we weren’t able to get through all the issues. So we have to finish our work on Thursday just to talk about them.”

Reid said a top priority is taking action in response to the court’s 5-4 ruling that closely held corporations did not have to provide contraceptive services as part of health insurance plans if they have religious objections.

“The one thing we are going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determine by virtue of five white men,” Reid said. “This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous and we are going to do something about it. People are going to have to walk down here and vote. And if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court I think they are going to be treated unfavorably come November.” Full story

June 26, 2014

Supreme Court Strikes Down Obama’s Recess Appointments

A unanimous Supreme Court struck down President Barack Obama’s disputed recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, saying that the Senate was not technically in recess because it was holding pro forma sessions.

“For purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says that it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business,” the court ruled in the case of NLRB v. Noel Canning. “This standard is consistent with the Constitution’s broad delegation of authority to the Senate to determine how and when to conduct its business, as recognized by this Court’s precedents.”
Full story

June 24, 2014

Reid Plans Export-Import Bank Vote (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to hold a vote on the Export-Import Bank before its authorization expires at the end of the fiscal year.

“I think it’s really important that we have legislation like this that has the wide support of business groups around the country; it’s something that creates jobs,” Reid said.

But he declined to speculate when that would be and whether it would be considered separately or as part of a package, like a continuing resolution that may be needed to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year. Full story

Ahead of Recess, Highway Bill Standoff Gets Political (Video)

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Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform says a Democratic highway bill violates the group’s anti-tax pledge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the Senate returns from the July Fourth recess, lawmakers will have just about two weeks to fix a shortfall in funds for federally-backed highway projects, with both parties again in a dispute over taxes.

If past is prologue, that means campaign-style events with bulldozers and hard hats will be coming to a city near you, and there still might not be a good solution. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has floated plan to keep highway projects from grinding to a halt — but that solution has already drawn the ire of Republicans.

Still, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says talks will continue, and he remains open to GOP suggestions, which would clearly include spending cuts.

Full story

June 19, 2014

Reid Parks ‘Minibus’ Spending Bill in Amendment Dispute

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Well, so much for that idea.

The Senate’s appropriations process seemed to fall apart Thursday afternoon as the first fiscal 2015 “minibus” found itself with flat tires.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had one of their all-too-familiar floor exchanges Thursday afternoon, during which Reid proposed an agreement to take up the three-bill spending package with an amendment process that would require 60 votes for amendments to be adopted.
Full story

June 18, 2014

Democrats Ducking Vote on ‘War on Coal’ Amendment — for Now

The war over the “war on coal” has been postponed after Democrats pushed off a second fiscal 2015 spending bill in the Senate.

Late Wednesday, the Appropriations Committee decided not to move forward as scheduled with Thursday’s markup of the bill that funds the Energy Department, as well as water development projects.

The move avoids a potentially problematic vote for Senate Democrats and the Obama administration that could have stopped the Environmental Protection Agency’s bid to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants — regulations that have the affect of targeting pollution from coal. Full story

June 17, 2014

McConnell Plots Coal Amendment to Energy Spending Bill

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning an amendment to an upcoming spending bill that could put the brakes on the EPA’s plans to implement new regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants.

While it is unusual for the Kentucky Republican to appear at an Appropriations Committee gathering in person, he has maintained his seat and influence on the panel.

“I’m going to continue to fight. Kentuckians deserve no less. I’m going to keep vigorously fighting against the Obama Administration’s continued War on Coal Jobs – and this extreme, anti-Middle Class national energy tax in particular,” McConnell said in a statement.

Full story

June 10, 2014

VA Bill Could Pass Senate by Week’s End (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate could move ahead at breakneck pace on bipartisan legislation to address the  scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs — after just as swiftly voting to block a partisan student loan refinancing bill.

A test vote on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is set for Wednesday, and despite the vocal support of Democrats and an outside public relations push, it is going nowhere fast.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dissed that measure, which would allow student loans to be refinanced at lower current rates with an offsetting millionaire minimum tax. Instead, he said, the Senate should be acting on the bill to address the unfolding scandal at the VA, negotiated by Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Republican John McCain of Arizona.

Full story

June 2, 2014

Senate Democrats Give EPA Rule Mixed Reviews

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Landrieu opposes the new EPA power plant rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats from energy-producing states blasted the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to rein in carbon emissions from power plants — but most of the party fell in line behind President Barack Obama’s biggest second-term domestic initiative.

“While it is important to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, this should not be achieved by EPA regulations,” Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., said in a release. “Congress should set the terms, goals and timeframe.”

Landrieu, who is in a tough re-election campaign, said she has long opposed taking on the issue through EPA regulation and stressed that she was a “key vote” that helped block efforts to establish a cap-and-trade system in 2010. Full story

May 31, 2014

Reid, McConnell to Testify at Campaign Finance First Amendment Hearing

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Next week’s Senate Judiciary hearing on campaign finance and the First Amendment will be getting some extra firepower.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to make a highly unusual appearance, testifying before the Judiciary Committee next week on the issue of political donations and freedom of speech.

The committee announced Saturday that the Nevada Democrat and Kentucky Republican are scheduled to testify on the same panel at Tuesday’s hearing to consider a Constitutional amendment regarding the applicability of the First Amendment’s protections of free speech to campaign spending.

Full story

May 22, 2014

McConnell Wants to Keep Filibuster if GOP Gets Majority

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., doesn’t favor getting rid of the filibuster — even if the GOP takes the majority next year. But he stressed that Democrats have set a precedent for changing the Senate rules on a simple majority vote.

“I think the supermajority requirement in the Senate has been important to the country,” McConnell said, adding that he believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has done “a lot of damage” to the institution. Full story

May 21, 2014

McConnell Returns to Capitol, Makes 2014 GOP Unity Pitch (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A routine media stakeout in the Ohio Clock Corridor on the second floor of the Capitol took on a decidedly campaign feel as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returned to D.C. after a primary victory back home.

The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that after the last few elections Republicans are growing unified as they head into November following a series of primary victories for the establishment Tuesday night.

“Shortly after the polls closed last night I was endorsed by the Madison Project, the Senate Conservatives Fund, Freedom Works and Erick Erickson down at Red State,” said McConnell, who easily defeated Matt Bevin to once again be Kentucky’s GOP nominee for Senate.

The senior senator from Kentucky, who has served in the chamber since 1985, had suffered some rough treatment at the hands of the tea party wing of the party, and those groups in particular, who made no bones about wanting to see McConnell defeated by one of their own more conservative candidates.

Full story

May 13, 2014

Medical Device Tax Repeal Vote Sought by GOP (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are eager to attach a repeal of a medical device surtax to the tax cut extension package on the Senate floor, but the chamber’s top Democrat seems to have no appetite for it.

The disagreement only increases the likelihood that the broader $85 billion tax extenders bill will join a long list of measures having trouble getting off the Senate floor. The larger bill would revive a package of more than 50 tax breaks that have expired.

“For some reason they don’t want to have that vote,” said Finance ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, referring to the Democratic position on rolling back the 2.3 percent medical device tax. “A lot of companies are leaving America to go overseas.” Full story

May 8, 2014

Reid Says Koch Brothers Are ‘One of the Main Causes’ of Climate Change (Video)

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Reid laid into the Koch brothers again on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Amid the stalling energy efficiency and Keystone XL pipeline debate in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has once again resorted to blaming the Koch brothers for their “radical agenda,” on Wednesday calling the two principal owners of Koch Industries “one of the main causes” of climate change.

“The multi-zillionaire Koch brothers … they are one of the main causes of [climate change], not a cause, one of the main causes,” the Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor. “Charles and David Koch are waging a war against anything that protects the environment. Now I know that sounds absurd, but it’s true.”

On Tuesday, The White House released a report detailing the effects of climate change, which was met with a bipartisan blast of hot air in Congress.

Despite trading talking points with Reid on Tuesday, Senate Republican amendments were blocked on Wednesday when Reid “filled the tree” on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.

Niels Lesniewski and Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

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