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April 24, 2014

Posts in "Mitch McConnell"

April 18, 2014

Good Friday News Dump Riles Keystone Supporters on the Hill

equal pay011 040114 445x297 Good Friday News Dump Riles Keystone Supporters on the Hill

Landrieu has been, perhaps, the biggest Democratic advocate of the pipeline. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reaction to news that the State Department would take more time to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project was swift and predictable.

“On April 18, 2014, the Department of State notified the eight federal agencies specified in Executive Order 13337 we will provide more time for the submission of their views on the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project,” the State Department said. “State Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state.”

The State Department sought to make clear that it would take time to review roughly 2.5 million public comments, but that the window for such comments wouldn’t be extended itself.

Full story

April 17, 2014

From the Archives: McConnell’s Role in Packwood Probe

KYPOL14 038 041214 445x296 From the Archives: McConnells Role in Packwood Probe

McConnell campaigns back home over the April recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Sen. Bob Packwood’s sexual harassment scandal has resurfaced as a campaign issue — nearly two decades later.

Senate Minority Leader Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently recalled his role in the ouster of Packwood, the Oregon Republican and Finance Committee chairman who resigned in disgrace back in 1995.

McConnell, then the Ethics chairman, was tasked with leading the investigation because Republicans controlled the chamber. The inquiry had Packwood on the verge of expulsion.

“The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a member of my party, had a case before the Senate Ethics Committee with regard to sexual harassment. In those days 20 years ago much of this was never taken seriously by anyone,” McConnell said on April 12 at a campaign event. “I was chairman of the Ethics Committee charged with the responsibility of dealing with a member of my own party as chairman [of] the most important committee in the Senate. After investigating the case and bringing together all of the evidence I moved to expel him from the Senate. And the Senate on the verge of expelling him, he decided to resign.”

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April 14, 2014

‘Nuclear’ Nominations Aftermath Slows Senate to Crawl

reid 225 032614 445x294 Nuclear Nominations Aftermath Slows Senate to Crawl

( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just how many of President Barack Obama’s nominees will get confirmed this year? If last week is any indication, the answer may depend on whether Democrats once again employ the “nuclear” option to effectively change the Senate’s rules.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a big deal last week about scheduling nomination votes on the Friday before recess, but with senators in both parties eager to jet out of town, the Nevada Democrat was forced to punt.

“We are slogging through these nominations,” Reid said April 10 on the Senate floor. “It is kind of slow because of the inordinate amount of time that we are caused to eat up.”

Reid pondered on the floor whether he should have gone even further on rules changes last year, given the Republican slow-walking of nominations whose confirmations have become a fait accompli, and he lamented that a minimum wage debate he hoped to have on the Senate floor before the break was delayed as a result. Full story

April 10, 2014

‘Nuclear’ Fallout Slows Senate, Briefly Delays Recess (Updated)

oversight005 022614 445x296 Nuclear Fallout Slows Senate, Briefly Delays Recess (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:30 p.m. | Fallout from last year’s “nuclear” rules change trumped the proverbial smell of jet fumes in the Senate this week, but only for a while.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had called a live quorum to summon senators to the floor and declare on the official record what he had said earlier in the afternoon, that he wouldn’t punt on the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit.

“We’ve wasted so much time that we could be working on important issues, and Republicans come to the floor [and say], ‘We want amendments,’” Reid said. “One reason we don’t do that kind of stuff is cause we spend so much time on this.”

Later in the day, Reid set a series of nomination votes for 5 p.m. Friday, but Senate Democrats say it is now anticipated those votes will be postponed until April 28, in what represents a retreat for Reid.

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April 8, 2014

Senate GOP Not Sweating Democratic Pay Equity Push (Video)

fischer 080 040814 330x222 Senate GOP Not Sweating Democratic Pay Equity Push (Video)

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., arrives in the Capitol for the weekly policy luncheons on Tuesday. Fischer co-authored the GOP’s alternative pay equity bill. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans aren’t sweating a ramped-up push by Democrats and President Barack Obama for new pay equity legislation — pushing forward women Republicans to rebut charges they have a woman problem and doubting the issue will resonate with voters.

“I think the Democrats are doing anything they can to try to change the subject from the nightmare of Obamacare and the joblessness that we experience in our country right now,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

But Democrats contend that Senate Republicans ignore the pay equity issue at their political peril come November, with control of the Senate at stake.

“They are out of touch,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of Democratic leadership, said of the GOP after a press conference touting the bill. “They are so in their conservative echo chamber that they don’t know what’s going on in America and that’s going to help us dramatically in 2014.” Full story

McConnell Doubts Individual Campaign Finance Limits Will Go Away (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, an outspoken foe of many campaign finance restrictions, said Tuesday that he didn’t think limits on individual contributions to candidates will disappear any time soon.

“I think that’s not likely to happen,” the Kentucky Republican said when asked at a news conference about the possibility of the restrictions on individual contributions being thrown out.

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April 3, 2014

Republicans Offer Deal on Unemployment Extension Vote

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 3:34 p.m. | Senate Democratic leaders are weighing an offer from Senate Republicans to agree to a vote on one catchall amendment, including authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, in exchange for finishing work on an unemployment insurance extension bill today.

A senior Senate Democratic aide said they believe wrapping several Republican amendments into one has the effect of “watering down” their efforts to score political points.

“The fact that we are considering this at all, I think, shows that their gotcha amendments have lost their punch,” the aide continued.

The proposal would likely have a 60-vote threshold, the aide said, but stressed it was still being finalized. Passage of the amendment would be unlikely since Democrats control 55 votes in the chamber. Full story

April 2, 2014

Unemployment Extension Bill Advances Narrowly in Senate

reid 020 040114 445x320 Unemployment Extension Bill Advances Narrowly in Senate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2 p.m. | The Senate’s deal to revive an extension of unemployment benefits passed a key procedural test — barely — Wednesday morning.

Senators voted to limit debate 61-38 — and thus get beyond any filibuster threats — on the five-month deal hashed out by a coalition led by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R -Nev.

Six Republicans joined with all of the Democrats — Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio. Portman and Kirk had voted to filibuster a deal in February. Four Republicans who had voted to bring the bill to the floor last week switched and voted to filibuster the deal Wednesday: Dan Coats of Indiana, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

The procedural vote required the agreement of 60 senators.

Full story

March 31, 2014

‘Doc Fix’ Heads to Obama: GOP Senators Switch Votes Within Minutes

reid 198 0325141 445x296 Doc Fix Heads to Obama: GOP Senators Switch Votes Within Minutes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

They voted for it before they voted against it.

Several Senate Republicans who backed a procedural motion to allow the measure known as the “doc fix” to get a final vote opposed the legislation — the very same day. The final vote on the bill, Congress’ 16th “doc fix” patch, was 64-35. It passed thanks to Republican moderates and party leadership on both sides.

The one-year bill was a deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. and Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio that had angered many on the right for the way it was handled in the House last week with an unanticipated voice vote.

During the first vote Monday, GOP Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and David Vitter of Louisiana joined the effort to waive the budget rules and clear the first hurdle to put the measure on a path to passage.

But it was a different mix of Republicans who supported the “doc fix” bill just minutes after and helped send it to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Blunt, Burr, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Collins, Cornyn, Hatch, Heller, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Kirk, McConnell, Murkowski, Vitter and Roger Wicker of Mississippi voted in favor of the deal itself.

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March 25, 2014

Reid Dropping IMF Provision From Ukraine Bill (Updated)

reid031114 445x298 Reid Dropping IMF Provision From Ukraine Bill (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:40 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday that Democrats have agreed to nix the International Monetary Fund provision in a Ukraine aid package, in what amounts to a victory for House Republican leaders and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and a defeat for the White House.

The Nevada Democrat told reporters Tuesday that he would like to move the bill quickly — perhaps today.

Earlier, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., conceded that removing the IMF provisions was the likely outcome.

“The House Republican leadership is intransigent about IMF, despite the fact, that IMF, I think, is very important,” Menendez said Tuesday. “And if that’s the case, and there is no pathway forward, then you know we may very well strip it out.”

Ranking member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the Ukraine measure could pass the Senate Tuesday afternoon. Full story

McConnell: Ukraine Aid Bill Won’t Pass House Without Changes

mcconnell 044 030514 445x335 McConnell: Ukraine Aid Bill Wont Pass House Without Changes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to allow amendments to a Ukrainian aid package in order to secure its passage through the House.

“Look: this bill cannot pass the House or become law in its current form—it must be amended,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Some Senate Republicans object to a provision in the Senate bill that would approve an overhaul of the structure of the International Monetary Fund, which they argue would end up costing taxpayers. Full story

March 11, 2014

Reid Disappointed CIA Unrepentant, Backs Feinstein

reid031114 445x298 Reid Disappointed CIA Unrepentant, Backs Feinstein

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev., said he is disappointed that the CIA is showing no contrition for allegedly spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but he held off on calling for immediate Senate action.

“I support [Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,] unequivocally and I’m disappointed that the CIA is apparently unrepentant for what I understand they did,” Reid said after the weekly party lunches Tuesday. Full story

March 7, 2014

Whitehouse, Waxman Offer to School McConnell on Climate Change

RI day005 061113 445x298 Whitehouse, Waxman Offer to School McConnell on Climate Change

Whitehouse, right, and former Vice President Al Gore (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two congressional Democrats are offering to school Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on climate change after the Kentucky Republican questioned whether the earth is warming.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., wrote to McConnell offering to have him meet with climate scientists to discuss the threat of climate change.

“You have a position of tremendous importance and influence on the nation’s environmental and energy policies,” the letter said. “For that reason, we believe it is crucial that you are fully informed of the latest state of the science of climate change. We respectfully request that you allow us to assist you in arranging a briefing with the nation’s preeminent climate scientists so that you can be fully informed of the threat posed by climate change.”

The offer was prompted by comments from McConnell on Friday questioning whether humans are causing climate change.

“For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t,” the Kentucky Republican told the Cincinnati Enquirer in an extended interview.

McConnell has been an ardent defender of the Kentucky coal industry, trying to stop Environmental Protection Agency rulemaking that would limit carbon emissions from new stationary power plants, though McConnell’s resolution under the Congressional Review Act has virtually no chance of success.

McConnell’s comments also come as 28 Senate Democrats, including Whitehouse, plan to pull an all-nighter Monday night to urge action on climate change.

In the letter, Whitehouse and Waxman said they were concerned by the comments.

“We are writing to advise you that your statements are inconsistent with the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused primarily by humans, and will have serious impacts if unchecked,” the letter said.

McConnell Renews Skepticism Ahead of Democrats’ Climate Change All-Nighter

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McConnell speaks at a September news conference opposing the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas standards for new power plants. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Days before Senate Democrats plan to keep the lights on all night to discuss the dangers of climate change, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is renewing his skepticism of any man-made role.

“For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t,” the Kentucky Republican told the Cincinnati Enquirer in an extended interview.

McConnell has been an ardent defender of the Kentucky coal industry, trying to stop Environmental Protection Agency rulemaking that would limit emissions from new stationary power plants, though McConnell’s resolution under the Congressional Review Act has virtually no chance of success.

The Democratic effort will serve as quite a contrast to McConnell.

Full story

March 5, 2014

Democrats Face Perils of Controversial Nominees in ‘Post-Nuclear’ Senate

Not even Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. could convince an in-cycle Senate Democrat from his home state to switch his vote and support embattled Department of Justice nominee Debo P. Adegbile.

In the view of Democratic optimists, Biden had made a rare and impromptu appearance at the Capitol on Wednesday to cast a potential tie-breaking vote for Adegbile. But in reality, Biden served as the last-ditch salesman from the administration, futilely chatting up members such as Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., inside the Senate chamber. Coons was one of seven Democrats to join Republicans to block Adegbile from being the next  assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

The scene on the floor underscored a new political reality for Senate Democrats. In a “post-nuclear option” world where up-and-down votes now reign, Democrats often will carry the full burden of filling administration posts — and the Republicans will not be afraid to make political gold from tenuous straw to do it.

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