Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 22, 2015

Posts in "Policy"

May 22, 2015

Patriot Act Endgame Muddy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell is trying to cut a deal to extend the Patriot Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate appeared to be lurching toward passing a short-term extension of existing surveillance authorities under the Patriot Act, despite insistence by the House that members on that side of the Rotunda wouldn’t be coming back before a June 1 deadline.

That news could be a tough pill to swallow for advocates of overhauling the surveillance programs who want to see the National Security Agency end the bulk collection of telephone metadata. But, as Senate Republicans emerged from a special meeting of the conference Friday afternoon, it appeared there had been a clear message that a vote to take up the USA Freedom Act, an overhaul bill that received 338 affirmative votes in the House, would lead to curtailing the Memorial Day recess.

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May 21, 2015

Intelligence Chairman Doubts Either NSA Bill Has 60 Votes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr doesn’t see either NSA surveillance bill getting through the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Fortunately, I’m not the one that’s responsible for counting the votes,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday when asked about Congress possibly moving a shorter-term extension of expiring Patriot Act surveillance powers.

Earnest is indeed fortunate on this one, because the people involved in the debate on Capitol Hill seem to have no idea what the endgame looks like with House members already having left town for Memorial Day recess, and the Senate’s supposed to start in just days.

Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., has been backing a two-month extension of all of the surveillance powers under the Patriot Act that are set to lapse by June 1, including the bulk collection of telephone records.

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May 20, 2015

Stabenow: Opponents ‘Have to Deal With’ Currency Amendment on Trade

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Stabenow is insisting on a simple majority vote on the currency amendment she cosponsored with Portman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Whenever the Senate’s able to vote to limit debate on the pending trade legislation, senators will still have to tackle a tough amendment about currency manipulation.

And the supporters of the amendment, led by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., about the inclusion of enforceable currency provisions in trade agreements, have no reason to make their proposal easier to defeat by agreeing to a 60-vote super majority threshold.

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May 19, 2015

McConnell Sets Trade Promotion Authority Endgame in Motion (Video)

McConnell set up a Thursday vote to cut off debate on Trade Promotion Authority package knows as "fast-track." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell set up a Thursday vote to cut off debate on the Trade Promotion Authority package known as “fast-track.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a series of dueling objections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday evening to limit debate on the Trade Promotion Authority bill that’s a top priority for himself and President Barack Obama, but the endgame was far from clear.

By moving to invoke cloture, the Kentucky Republican has set a key vote on the package that combines “fast-track” trade authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance for Thursday morning, but what happens then is far from certain. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had cautioned against truncating the debate without considering lots of amendments, though the two parties were sparring throughout the afternoon about the process.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 10:28 p.m.
Policy, Trade

Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Trade

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Portman’s currency amendment to the fast-track trade bill faces a veto threat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not long after the administration went public with a veto threat against his currency manipulation trade amendment, Sen. Rob Portman took to the floor to highlight President Barack Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.

“The president in the past has spoken articulately and vociferously against currency manipulation. His statements have been very clear: He not only thinks it’s wrong, he thinks it must be enforced. and so I would find it surprising that he wouldn’t be willing to move forward on this,” the Ohio Republican said.

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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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Next Yucca Mountain Debate Will Wait for the Floor

Alexander, R-Tenn. is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in his Dirksen Building office, February 2, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Alexander’s move heads off a committee fight on Yucca Mountain funding, but could lead to a debate on the Senate floor (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s next big battle over funding for nuclear waste storage in Nevada will wait for the floor.

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water has decided against including money for Yucca Mountain in his bill, putting off the debate until the bill is approved by the committee and is subject to an open amendment process on the floor.

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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 14, 2015

Schumer Rebuts Boehner, Ties Amtrak Funding to Crash

Schumer slammed Boehner for saying its stupid to ask about Amtrak funding in the wake of the deadly crash in Pennsylvania. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Schumer slammed Boehner for saying its stupid to ask about Amtrak funding in the wake of the deadly crash in Pennsylvania. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Senate Democrat from Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor says Speaker John A. Boehner is denying facts about the circumstances of Tuesday evening’s crash outside Philadelphia.

“Speaker Boehner’s comments are patently false. Experts have made clear that Positive Train Control could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer said. “It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality.”

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:40 p.m.
Policy

May 13, 2015

Shaken By Amtrak Derailment, Carper Plans Hospital Visit

Carper got off the Amtrak train that crashed last night before it derailed. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Carper got off the Amtrak train that crashed last night before it derailed. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Thomas R. Carper has seen many mangled trains in his life, but the derailment Tuesday of Amtrak 188 in Northeast Philadelphia was particularly personal.

As he had acknowledged Tuesday evening in a statement issued after the crash, the Delaware Democrat had been a passenger aboard the same northbound regional train earlier in the night, taking it north from Union Station in Washington, D.C., to the Joseph R. Biden Jr., station in Wilmington in his home state.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:02 p.m.
Policy

May 12, 2015

McCain Joins Flake in Blasting ‘Paid-For Patriotism’ in NFL, Other Sports (Video)

Flake is targeting Pentagon spending on sports teams. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Flake is targeting Pentagon spending on sports teams. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

John McCain joined Jeff Flake Tuesday in ripping arrangements in which the Pentagon paid NFL and other sports teams for displays of patriotism, and said he intends to wield his Armed Services gavel to take aim at the practice.

As part of his regular “Pork Chops” series, about two weeks ago, Flake’s office revealed an advertising partnership between the New Jersey National Guard and the New York Jets in which the Defense Department paid for promotional consideration to recognize service members at home games at the Meadowlands.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:37 p.m.
Policy

May 11, 2015

Coons Knows Manufacturing Push Needs GOP Support

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Coons is one of the leaders of the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Chris Coons has started a matchmaking service.

No, not a dating app. The Delaware Democrat is working with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to spearhead an effort to bring together Republican and Democratic senators interested in manufacturing jobs — and he’s even discussed the subject in a one-on-one meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:15 p.m.
Policy

Senators See Bipartisan Momentum for Criminal Justice Overhaul

Proposals to overhaul the criminal justice system are piling up in Grassley's committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Proposals to overhaul the criminal justice system are piling up in Grassley’s committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators’ plans for an overhaul of the criminal justice system are piling up in the Judiciary Committee — and the latest spate of officer-involved tragedies could give them a boost.

While many bills touching all aspects of criminal justice sit idly by, recent movement in the committee shows change could be coming. One bill seeks to review the entire criminal justice system, while another approved last month addresses recidivism; and a subcommittee is set to review body cameras for police officers.

But even as senators speak of change and bills pop up in the hopper, America can expect a slower, more measured response from the Senate.

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May 7, 2015

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Iran Bill; Boehner Looks to House Action (Updated)

Iran bill

Corker makes his way to the Senate floor Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:52 p.m. | After a few false starts, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to give Congress a say in a final international agreement with Iran on nuclear development.

The Senate voted, 98-1, to pass the measure as agreed upon by Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and ranking member Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., after 93 senators voted to limit the debate, without addressing further amendments.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:05 p.m.
Iran, Policy

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