Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2015

Posts in "Policy"

November 23, 2015

Heroin Epidemic Prompts Calls for More Congressional Spending

Shaheen proposed ending discrimination against same-sex marriage in the military. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Shaheen wants supplemental funding to fight heroin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As appropriators work to craft an omnibus spending package to fund the federal government, one of them is making a pitch for additional funding to combat heroin.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is proposing a $600 million emergency supplemental for health care and law enforcement expenses associated with fighting the heroin epidemic that’s swept through communities across the country, including in the Democratic senator’s home state of New Hampshire.

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November 20, 2015

Domestic Surveillance Re-Emerges in Senate, on the Trail

rand paul

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A debate over domestic surveillance that appeared resolved months ago is getting new life in the Senate — and on the 2016 presidential trail.

Speaking to college students Thursday at George Washington University, presidential hopeful Rand Paul called “bullshit” on the idea there should be expanded screening of phone records in the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks in France. Full story

November 19, 2015

Paul Holding Up Spending Bill Over Refugee Welfare

rand paul

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he won’t allow a transportation and housing spending bill through quickly without a vote about Syrian refugees, likely halting final passage until after Thanksgiving.

In a statement, Paul called it “an outrage” that Senate leadership filed cloture on the bill without his amendment regarding welfare for new refugees, and he promised he “will not back down.” Full story

November 18, 2015

Senators Focused on Visa Waiver Vulnerabilities

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and others have pushed for changes to the visa waiver program in response to the Paris attacks.  (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and others have pushed for changes to the visa waiver program in response to the Paris attacks. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

While Syrian refugee resettlement has dominated the headlines in Congress this week, the more pressing national security debate in the Senate is about the way tourists and other travelers enter the United States.

Senators from both sides of the aisle emerged from closed briefings concerned about security risks posed by the visa waiver program, which allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. Full story

November 17, 2015

McConnell Joins Call for Syrian Refugees Admission ‘Pause’

syrian refugees

McConnell and other Republican senators conduct a news conference Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined the calls for a “pause” in Syrian refugees admissions, echoing Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

The Kentucky Republican pointed to the influx of Iraqi refugees in his home state indicted on terrorism charges back in 2011. Full story

McCain: Obama Assertion on ISIS ‘Embarrassing’

paris attacks

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain criticized President Barack Obama’s defiant defense of the administration’s strategy to combat the Islamic State terror group.

Speaker with reporters Tuesday, the Arizona Republican took umbrage with Obama’s assertion that GOP hawks have failed to offer an alternative plan for fighting the violent extremist groups. He also said building the Arab ground force he envisions is possible as long as Obama pledges to help it take down Syrian President Bashar Assad. Full story

Paris Terror Attacks Give Graham an Opening in 2016 Race

Graham (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Graham (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham has tried in vain to make the GOP presidential race a fight over who has the best plan to crush the Islamic State. But as coordinated terror attacks on Paris dominate headlines, will primary voters finally listen to the South Carolina Republican?

Graham has long pushed for military intervention in Syria, with a substantial ground component. He told CQ Roll Call Monday that he hoped his message would pick up traction, particularly in New Hampshire — host of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary and where he will travel this weekend with Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain.

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November 16, 2015

Senate Bides Time as Highway Bill Negotiations Continue

highway bill

Collins departs from the weekly Senate Republicans luncheon on Nov. 10. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

It might feel like Groundhog Day with another deadline arriving to fund highway programs, but negotiators hope this one will be the last.

They have until the end of the week to produce and advance a conference agreement on transportation programs, absent another extension. It’s also the vehicle for reviving the Export-Import Bank.

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November 11, 2015

The 5 Agencies Ted Cruz Would Cut

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, outlined the five federal agencies he'd cut. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz outlined the five federal agencies he’d cut. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Like a certain Texas Republican before him, Ted Cruz had a bit of an “oops” moment during Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate.

While certainly not as egregious as former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s famous faux pas at a 2011 debate when he forgot the third agency he’d like to cut  (“Oops,” Perry said), the junior senator from Texas listed the five agencies he would eliminate — but omitted the Department of Education by counting the Commerce Department twice. Full story

Senate Seeks Bipartisanship in Rules Overhaul

Sen. Patty Murray, from left, Schumer and Reid after the Democratic policy luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Patty Murray, from left, Schumer and Reid after the Democratic policy luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is upbeat that the Senate’s rules will be tweaked by the time he’s expected to become Democratic leader in 2017 — regardless of which leadership job that becomes.

But for any rules change plan to advance, the New York Democrat says it will have to be bipartisan and need a two-thirds vote. Both sides agree the “nuclear option” won’t be used to implement adjustments in how the Senate takes up legislation.

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November 9, 2015

Reid Whacks Grassley Over Clinton Emails, Nominees

Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid is firing at Grassley over State Department nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Minority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate’s week by blasting Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a blockade on ambassadors over former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails.

“Many of these foreign service officers are always ready to serve at a moment’s notice in hot spots throughout the world. Hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re not partisan. They’re diplomats,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a floor speech. “That’s why it’s troubling to see the senior senator from Iowa politicize these promotions.” Full story

November 8, 2015

It’s Veterans Week in the Senate

veterans day

Kirk is the MilCon-VA subcommittee chairman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an aggressive plan for what could be a two-day workweek ahead of the Veterans Day holiday.

The Kentucky Republican secured a consent agreement Nov. 5 that sets up a Tuesday morning vote on the Senate agreeing to a House-passed revision of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, clearing one must-do item off the calendar. Full story

November 5, 2015

McCain to Democrats: Do You ‘Give a Damn’ About Servicemembers?

McCain ripped reports of a possible extension in the Iran nuclear deal deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCain gave a biting floor speech about the blockade of the defense spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican defense policy leader in the Senate wondered aloud Thursday if Democrats “don’t give a damn” about military personnel.

During a stem-winding floor speech, Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., asked if his Democratic counterparts were blocking the defense spending bill debate not for procedural reasons — but because they don’t care. Full story

Republicans Warn White House on Gitmo Closure


Roberts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Opponents of moving Guantánamo detainees to the U.S. mainland are firing a new round of warning shots ahead of an Obama administration plan regarding closing the facility.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told reporters Thursday he could hold up as many nominations as needed to try to thwart implementation of any executive actions on transferring individuals held at the prison facility at the naval base to the United States.

Full story

November 2, 2015

Democrats Seek Repeat of Budget Success in Spending Debate

Pelosi and Reid talk to reporters.  (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Pelosi and Reid talk to reporters. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it came to cutting a budget deal to increase spending levels, the Democratic strategy worked — and all signs point to an attempt at a repeat performance in December.

The Democratic strategy, which came to be described as “filibuster summer” after a Washington Post report of an interview with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., led to the negotiations on the accord the White House expects will be signed into law soon.

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