Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 26, 2015

Posts in "Policy"

April 24, 2015

Iran Bill Supporters Seek to Avoid Contentious Amendments

Corker will manage floor debate on the Iran review legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Corker will manage floor debate on the Iran review legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Supporters of the Senate’s Iran legislation know they have to do a delicate dance on the floor.

With Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promising an open-amendment process for the bill negotiated by Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and ranking Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the advocates for the carefully crafted compromise know they will have to bat back unwanted amendments — including some they might support — to stave off the return of a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

“The White House has made very plain that they dropped their veto threat for the bill as constituted,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said. “Look, I was one of the co-sponsors, but there might be amendments that would cause me to withdraw. If there are amendments that try to take what has been scrupulously nonpartisan and make it partisan, you’re going to see a lot of people who are on the bill moving off of it.”

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April 23, 2015

Leahy, Paul Honored Together as ‘Constitutional Champions’

Leahy and Paul were honored Wednesday evening. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Leahy and Paul were honored Wednesday evening. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Looking only at voting records, you wouldn’t expect Rand Paul and Patrick J. Leahy to share an award of any kind.

But the Kentucky Republican who’s running for president and the Vermont Democrat who is now the longest-serving senator gave remarkably similar policy speeches Wednesday evening. The remarks by the two senators to The Constitution Project’s annual awards gala highlighted the fact that on civil liberties issues, party labels aren’t representative of much.

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April 22, 2015

Tough Talk on Trade Between Wyden and Reid

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Wyden said Reid has been blunt with him over their trade policy legislation disagreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden did not sound surprised by Minority Leader Harry Reid’s call Tuesday for him to slow down progress on Trade Promotion Authority legislation that was being marked up Wednesday afternoon.

“Sen. Reid and I have talked often about this, and he’s already a straight-shooter. You know, he and I have been working together for over three decades,” the Oregon Democrat said of his colleague from Nevada. “Nancy and I are just very fond of Senator Reid and Landra.”

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April 21, 2015

State Department IG Tells Senate He Needs Own Network (Video)

Kerry is secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kerry is secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Can an inspector general be truly independent while department officials have access to his computer network?

State Department Inspector General Steve A. Linick’s testimony before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee Tuesday morning might leave lawmakers asking that question. Linick said that along with needing better communication about potential criminal activity and misconduct by State Department personnel and others, he said getting an independent computer network would be a priority.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:48 p.m.
Policy

Legislative Deadlines for Presidential Candidates to Watch

Cruz will get another chance to weigh in on the debt limit before the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz will get another chance to weigh in on the debt limit before the end of the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s no shortage of deadlines in 2015 that will put the national media spotlight on Capitol Hill, even as much of the attention is on shooting ranges, ballrooms and diners in early presidential states.

And for what’s likely to be four Republican senators making runs for the White House and their advisers, these moments will be an opportunity to distinguish themselves from fellow legislators — and perhaps for the candidates running from governor’s mansions or the business community.

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April 17, 2015

Wyden Knows His Challenge on Trade: Fellow Democrats

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

“Trade has never been for the faint-hearted,” Sen. Ron Wyden said Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing a bipartisan agreement on legislation to promote trade deals.

The Oregon Democrat is in the unenviable position of being his party’s leading voice on Capitol Hill in support of revived fast-track Trade Promotion Authority for President Barack Obama, a position that puts him squarely in line with the White House and most Republicans, but at odds with key parts of the Democratic coalition.

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April 16, 2015

What ‘Abolish the IRS’ Really Means

Lee, left, and Rubio, talked about the 'Abolish the IRS' pitch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lee, left, and Rubio, have an ‘Abolish the IRS’ pitch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Abolish the IRS” is a popular Republican refrain, getting time on the campaign trail and promotion from the Republican National Committee. But don’t take the catch phrase literally.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Floridian who aims to be the party standard-bearer in the 2016 presidential contest, effectively conceded Wednesday there’s a bit of hyperbole involved.

Rubio’s partner on a tax code overhaul proposal, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said what conservatives really want is a significantly simpler tax code that would dial back the kind of power the IRS has accumulated.

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April 15, 2015

Graham Questions Why Police Didn’t Shoot Down the Gyrocopter

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the gyrocopter that prompted a security scare after landing on the West Front of the Capitol Wednesday should have been taken out while in the air.

“He should have been subject to being shot out of the sky. I don’t know why he wasn’t, but our nation is under siege. Radical Islam is a threat to our homeland. There are probably radical Islamic cells in our backyard already,” the South Carolina Republican said. “And if somebody is willing to, you know, approach vital government infrastructure, they should do so at their own peril.”

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 8:06 p.m.
2016, Policy

April 14, 2015

A Busy and Bipartisan Tuesday

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For all the talk of the death of bipartisanship, Tuesday’s busy legislative day in the Senate provided quite the counter-argument.

A little more than a day after returning from a two-week recess, the legislative dam burst, with senators making significant headway on sticky issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, a replacement for the payment formula for doctors who treat Medicare patients and possibly even the confirmation process for Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general. Full story

Democrats Rebut McConnell’s Message to States on EPA

Whitehouse led a group of five senators in a letter to 50 governors. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A group of Democratic caucus members in the Senate has asked governors to consider the views of other Kentuckians before taking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s advice on implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The Kentucky Republican has espoused the view that states should consider avoiding developing their own plans for implementing the power standards. But the five senators behind Tuesday’s open letter to the governors point out that the Democratic leadership in McConnell’s home state is moving forward with its own EPA plan.

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Watch Live: Senate Committee Debates Iran Nuclear Framework

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee meets Tuesday to mark up Sen. Bob Corker’s legislation creating a 60-day congressional review period of any nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the United States and five other countries.  Full story

Senate’s To-Do List Keeps Getting Longer (Video)

McConnell outlined an extremely busy legislative calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell outlined an extremely busy legislative calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A debate over Iran may highlight the Senate’s agenda, but it already seems like there might be too much to do.

Sen. Bob Corker’s efforts to get broad support for bipartisan legislation to provide a role for Congress in reviewing a final international agreement with Iran about nuclear weapons appears to have paid dividends. And the Corker legislation seems to be on an expedited path to the floor after a markup set for Tuesday afternoon. Full story

April 13, 2015

Bipartisanship on Display on No Child Left Behind Replacement Effort

Alexander, seen here, and Murray may have a way forward on an education bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alexander, seen here, and Murray may have a way forward on an education bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress has no shortage of trouble moving big-ticket legislation, so it might be preposterous to think the Senate can move forward on replacing the education law known most recently as No Child Left Behind.

But, the Senate might have the right partners to pull it off. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced an agreement over the recess, and they’re moving full-speed ahead with a Tuesday markup.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:42 p.m.
Policy

Senate Returns to an Immediate ‘Doc Fix’ Deadline

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the doc fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the ‘doc fix.’ (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers will already be facing a time crunch when the Senate returns Monday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been withholding payments to doctors treating Medicare patients to give Congress a window to work through a long-term resolution to the Sustainable Growth Rate problem that sees physicians regularly facing draconian cuts in payment rates without a patch known as a “doc fix.”

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April 10, 2015

After Budget Votes, Democrats Push Paid Sick Leave, Middle Class Tax Credits, Federal Benefits for Gay Couples (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Murray’s amendment was among those to get clear of 60 votes during the budget debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:28 p.m. | Senate Democrats want Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to embrace lessons of the budget vote-a-rama that took place just before recess.

In a letter to the Kentucky Republican, a copy of which was obtained in advance by CQ Roll Call, nine Democratic senators called for votes on issues like paid sick leave and Social Security benefits for same-sex couples.

“Too often, the budget vote-a-rama is characterized as a partisan exercise that leaves no lasting policy impact. Working with you, we hope to make this Budget vote-a-rama different. While we strongly oppose the underlying Senate Republican budget and the negative impacts it would have on middle-class and working families, we believe the following four amendments represent policies that deserve a vote in this Congress,” the senators wrote.

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