Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

Posts in "Policy"

December 19, 2014

Martin Paone New Senate Liaison

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Paone, seen here packing his belongings in his Senate office on Jan. 30, 2008 as he prepared to depart from 32 years on Capitol Hill. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House’s new Senate liaison is an old familiar face around the chamber, and someone who really knows how the trains run.

Martin P. Paone will join the Obama administration as deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs, a White House official confirmed Friday afternoon.

Paone ran the Senate’s floor operations for the Democrats as their party secretary from 1995-2008, and in a 32-year tenure on Capitol Hill, spent 29 of them on the floor. That meant he was involved in many of the chamber’s most memorable moments, including the 1988 incident when Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, D-Wva., went through the procedural maneuvers to compel attendance that led to the arrest of Oregon Republican Bob Packwood.

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December 18, 2014

Rand Paul on Cuba: Open Trade a Better Way to Fight Communism

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Paul said opening up Cuba could be more effective than an embargo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul says President Barack Obama should expect to face thousands of riders on next year’s spending bills.

“I say we put not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of instructions to the president on how it should be spent,” the Kentucky Republican said Thursday. “That’s the power of the purse. Now, some have been disappointed we haven’t used it so far, but we haven’t controlled the Senate, so we haven’t been able to do it.” Full story

December 17, 2014

Lindsey Graham Balks at Funding U.S. Embassy in Cuba (Updated)

graham012814 445x296 Lindsey Graham Balks at Funding U.S. Embassy in Cuba (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:10 p.m. | The debate over President Barack Obama’s announced changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba will face a tough test at the Senate Appropriations Committee next year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is expected to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, said Tuesday he would mount an effort to prevent the use of funds for a U.S. embassy to open in Havana.

“I will do all in my power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba. Normalizing relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time,” the South Carolina Republican said Wednesday on Twitter.

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December 16, 2014

Democrats Close Out Majority With Wins on Nominations

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Reid said that the Democrats could have accomplished more during the lame-duck session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“This will be the last vote of this Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced shortly before 9:30 p.m.

The Senate’s end-of-session mechanics kicked into high gear Tuesday, with the chamber confirming a slew of President Barack Obama’s judicial and executive nominations and clearing a one-year retroactive extension of lapsed tax breaks that will resolve the issue for just weeks.

Reid, who will become the minority leader in the 114th Congress, told reporters he thinks the Democrats could have seen more accomplished in the lame-duck session.

“There’s a lot more we could and should have done,” Reid said, adding, “We did OK this time, but we’ve had better.”

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McConnell Puts Keystone First on the Agenda (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The incoming Senate majority leader is putting approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project first on his 2015 agenda.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday told reporters that in looking ahead to the new year, a bill sponsored by Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota would lead off the floor schedule. Full story

December 15, 2014

Coburn Faces Blowback Over End-of-Session Blockade

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tom Coburn faced renewed criticism Monday evening over his blockade of bipartisan measures aimed at preventing veterans from committing suicide, improving energy efficiency and extending terrorism insurance.

It was another lonely fight for Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who is retiring early and has become something of a pariah to many veterans’ advocates. In this case, Coburn opposed the bill’s pricetag of $22 million worth of new authorizations without, he says, addressing larger issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 9:08 p.m.
Policy

Ahead of Holidays, Schumer Slams High Cost of Flying (Video)

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Schumer wants to know why airlines are adding a fuel surcharge with fuel prices on the decline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

How does a senator spend his only off-day during the end-of-session holiday rush? If you’re Charles E. Schumer, you go home to New York and hold a news conference about the high price of airline tickets.

“What adds insult to injury is a lot of the airlines, when prices were going up added a surcharge, a fuel surcharge. Well, that fuel surcharge is still on the tickets even though prices are going down,” said Schumer, the No. 3 man in Senate Democratic leadership.

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December 13, 2014

Menendez Files ISIS Force Amendment to ‘Cromnibus’ Despite No Chance of Vote

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee thinks the current Congress should stick around long enough to consider an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State, and he’s reiterating that as the Senate wraps up its work.

Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., moved a use of force resolution through his committee Thursday, and then filed it as an amendment to one of the last trains leaving the station this year — the catchall “cromnibus” spending bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already used the procedural tools at his disposal to prevent amendments, but senators frequently file them anyway for messaging effect. Full story

December 12, 2014

Reid Hopes for Quick ‘Cromnibus’ Passage, Getaway

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Now, it’s the Senate’s turn to tackle the catchall “cromnibus” spending bill before departure.

The measure sits in line behind the annual defense authorization, which is set to pass mid-afternoon. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the compromise spending measure — which includes 11 of the 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2015, as well as a short-term continuing resolution.

“There are senators who are unhappy with this legislation, and they’ll have their chance to make their objections heard,” Reid said. “I hope we can complete work on this bill as soon as we complete the defense bill, but that depends on everyone’s cooperation here.”

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December 10, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Channels Ted Cruz on ‘Cromnibus’

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Elizabeth Warren is rallying House Democrats to kill the cromnibus unless a provision benefiting banks is stripped.

One of the Senate’s leading liberals is borrowing a page from the playbook of Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is pushing to strike out language from the “cromnibus” spending bill unveiled Tuesday that would roll back restrictions on “swaps” transactions included in the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul known as Dodd-Frank. Repealing the “push-out” provision would mean that certain derivatives could again be held in bank units with federal deposit insurance.

Using a strategy sometimes employed by Cruz for entirely different policy reasons, Warren said that with the $1.013 trillion spending package first being considered by the House, her counterparts there should act to strip it out.

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GOP: Staffers Should Use Obamacare

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

All Senate GOP staffers should get their health benefits through District of Columbia’s Obamacare exchange and not use a special carveout for committee and leadership staff, a resolution adopted by the Senate Republican Conference Wednesday said.

The resolution from Sen. David Vitter was adopted by voice vote, according to Republican aides.

“Republican senators made a strong, principled statement today in passing my resolution. Washington should have to live under Obamacare just like everybody else until we repeal it. And we won’t be complicit in Obama’s illegal rule designed to protect Washington insiders,” Vitter said in a statement. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:06 p.m.
Policy

December 9, 2014

Reid Outlines Endgame, Again Warns of Weekend Work (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As final preparations seemed to be underway to pass the “cromnibus” funding most of the government for the rest of the fiscal year — and avoid a shutdown — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made one more warning about the session extending past Thursday.

“The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. There’s no reason the government should shut down, and we’re ready to pass a yearlong spending bill to take care of this,” the Nevada Democrat said. “There’s still factions within the Republican party who want extreme measures. You’ve all heard them, just like I have.”

“For the extremists within the Republican Party … there’s always a reason to take a poke at the president. If it’s not one thing, it’s some other thing. The American people certainly shouldn’t be facing another government shutdown, but I guess that’s what we’re facing,” Reid said, noting that almost 100 riders had been at play in the process of crafting the catch-all spending bill. Full story

Watch: John Kerry Testifies on ISIS War

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a 2 p.m. hearing on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force in the United States’ war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Secretary of State John Kerry will testify.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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December 8, 2014

McConnell Plots a Functional, Bipartisan Senate

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McConnell said divisions among Senate Democrats in the next Congress will trump any discipline problems within his Republican majority.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to hit the ground running in January — and he thinks Democrats are ready to join him in crafting a more open, functional Senate.

In an exclusive interview in his Capitol office suite, the incoming majority leader told CQ Roll Call he’s been preparing his would-be chairmen to move quickly since spring.

“The worst experience any majority can have is that you convene and you look around and nothing’s ready to go. So what I said to the members who hoped they would be chairmen [was], ‘Let’s don’t have that problem. Be thinking now about legislation that you have, preferably that enjoys some Democratic support, because we certainly didn’t think we were going to have 60 and we don’t,’” the Kentucky Republican said.

McConnell pointed to conversations he’s had with Democrats, whose cooperation will be required to get the Senate functioning as he would like.

Full story

December 5, 2014

Rockefeller Opposes Leahy FOIA Bill

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Rockefeller (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Once on a glide path to passage through the Senate, the FOIA Improvement Act is in trouble after retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., came out against the bill designed to make government more transparent.

“I have a long record of support for open government and the [Freedom of Information Act] process,” Rockefeller said in a release. “I am concerned that provisions in this bill will have the unintended consequence of harming our ability to enforce the many important federal laws that protect American consumers from financial fraud and other abuses.” Full story

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