Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

Posts in "Policy"

July 30, 2015

Senate Passes Long-Term Highway Bill, Short-Term Extension

Inhofe and Boxer conferred before an interview with CQ Roll Call about the highway bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Inhofe and Boxer conferred before an interview with CQ Roll Call about the highway bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:14 p.m. | The Senate passed its long-term highway bill (HR 22) shortly after noon Thursday, and then agreed to a House-passed three-month extension (HR 3236) before completing work for the day.

The margin for final passage of the long-term bill was fairly healthy, 65-34. The House’s patch was passed in overwhelming fashion: 91-4.

For senators involved in crafting the bipartisan bill — a six-year authorization with about three years worth of offsets to plug the hole in the Highway Trust Fund — the solution is not ideal. They would have preferred the House stick around to at least consider accepting the Senate bill.

Full story

July 29, 2015

Highway Bill Might Be Senate’s Last Accomplishment Before August

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s on the road to shipping the House a six-year highway bill before leaving for August recess, despite the fact House members won’t be around to debate it.

Senators voted Wednesday morning to clear the final major procedural hurdle on the highway measure, but that could be the chamber’s last significant bill before the August recess, even with the Senate planning to stick around for another week. Other than advancing a three-month bill to keep transportation programs running past the end of July, there’s little thus far on the schedule for the first week of August. Full story

Boxer, Inhofe Want to Avoid Highway Bill Trick or Treat

Boxer and Inhofe discussed the highway bill in the EPW hearing room. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Boxer and Inhofe discussed the highway bill in the Environment and Public Works hearing room. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ask Sens. James M. Inhofe and Barbara Boxer about most issues, and they will disagree.

But when it comes to building roads and bridges, the conservative Oklahoma Republican and liberal California Democrat are in lockstep. That was on full display during a rare joint interview Tuesday afternoon, as they encouraged the House to move quickly after the Senate on a six-year highway bill, rather than allow the expected three-month extension to turn into a punt right up to another deadline ahead of Halloween.

Full story

July 28, 2015

Rand Paul: GOP Will Discuss Best Way to Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After a rally with supporters of his effort to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Rand Paul said it’s not yet certain whether his bill will get a vote.

“I don’t think it’s decided which bill it’s going to be. The only thing that’s been decided is that there will be a bill to defund, and I’ll be part of the discussion,” the Republican from Kentucky said in a brief interview. “I respect Sen. Lankford and others who want to do it, so we’ll just have to work on exactly what the final bill is.”

Full story

Local Senators Want Highway Bill to Overhaul Metro


Mikulski had lunch with Obama Thursday ahead of his address to the Democratic retreat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mikulski is among the local senators pushing a Metro safety overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate delegations from the states adjoining the nation’s Capitol have a proposal to improve the beleaguered Metro system.

Specific to the D.C.-area system, the bill would change the way federally designated members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority get their appointments. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:54 a.m.

With Votes to Advance, Inhofe Makes Highway Bill Sales Pitch to House

Inhofe plans to force votes to block EPA regulations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Inhofe is arguing that the Senate highway bill is a more conservative policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


With a series of obstacles being cleared late Monday, the Senate’s on the road to passing a long-term highway bill, and one of the chamber’s most conservative members is trying to make the case that his product will be more conservative than the House’s stopgap approach.

Following the 62-32 vote to invoke cloture and thus limit debate on a highway bill substitute amendment that was the product of bipartisan negotiations led in the end by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and ranking Democrat Barbara Boxer of California, Environment and Public Works Chairman James M. Inhofe urged House Republicans to take up the Senate’s bill.

“They know what the bill is, they’ve had it in front of them for two months,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “When they see the bill and they see how much money it’s going to cost if they don’t pass it, then I think [House Republicans will realize] that the conservative position is to pass a long-term bill.”

Full story

July 27, 2015

Rand Paul Planned Parenthood Bill May Get a Vote

Paul (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood might be the one that gets a Senate vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are looking to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood before leaving the Capitol for August recess.

It’s an effort that is unlikely to be much more than a procedural or show-vote given that they only control 54 seats in the chamber and the Democratic minority is certain to balk at any vote without a 60-vote threshold.

Full story

July 26, 2015

Senate Votes to Revive Export-Import Bank, Keep Obamacare (Updated)

McConnell set up Sunday's victory for Ex-Im Bank supporters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell set up Sunday’s victory for Ex-Im Bank supporters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:57 p.m. | In a pair of losses for conservatives, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Sunday to revive the Export-Import Bank while failing to overcome a filibuster of an attempt to repeal Obamacare — with more fireworks to come.

The rare Sunday votes set the stage for the Senate to send a long-term highway bill tied to the Ex-Im Bank to the House later this week, but not before facing other gambits by conservatives, including a procedural vote forced by Sen. Ted Cruz regarding the Iran deal and an effort to deploy a maneuver akin to the “nuclear option.” Full story

Cruz Calling McConnell a Liar Likely to Linger

Cruz spoke against the Ex-Im Bank on July 15. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz spoke against the Export-Import Bank on July 15. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Rush Limbaugh asked Sen. Ted Cruz what blowback he expected from accusing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of lying about reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, the Texas Republican said he was gearing up for more fights.

“Teeth are bared, the knives are out and the cartel is coming after me,” Cruz said in the radio interview Friday, as he was on the way to catch a flight.

Full story

July 24, 2015

Cruz Accuses McConnell of Lying About Deal on Reviving the Export-Import Bank (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:29 a.m. | Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accused his own majority leader of effectively lying to fellow senators about his intentions Friday in a floor speech that could have serious repercussions.

“The majority leader looked me in the eye, and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie. And I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every single one of us,” the GOP presidential candidate said. “What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over and over again was a simple lie.”

Full story

July 23, 2015

Senate Taking Scenic Route on Highway Bill (Updated)

highway bill

Senators confer before a July 9 news conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 7:17 p.m. |Senate negotiators on a long-term highway bill worked out some issues in a new version unveiled Thursday afternoon, but lawmakers appeared on track for weekend work, including potential Sunday votes.

A shortfall in transit funding in the original agreement led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Environment and Public Works ranking member Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., put the deal at risk early, though 62 senators ultimately voted Wednesday to limit debate on advancing to the vehicle for the bill.

Full story

GOP Seeking Venues to Attack Planned Parenthood

Tillis (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tillis drafted an amendment that could effectively block the VA from funding Planned Parenthood. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans want the debate over federal funding of Planned Parenthood to take place everywhere.

As expected, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has filed an amendment to the vehicle for the highway bill that would block taxpayer dollars from flowing to the organization in the aftermath of controversial videos that critics said showed the organization was engaging in improper organ harvesting after abortions.

“The continued disregard and disrespect for human life at Planned Parenthood, a partially taxpayer-funded organization, is shocking and appalling,” Paul said in a statement Wednesday.

Full story

Watch Live: Senate Hearing on Iran Nuclear Deal

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a Thursday hearing on the Iran nuclear deal announced last week. Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew are expected to testify.

Coverage begins at 10 a.m. Full story

By JM Rieger Posted at 9:51 a.m.
Iran, Policy, Videos

July 22, 2015

Senators Want DHS to Thwart Federal Data Breaches

Collins and Warner share a word just before their press conference.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Collins and Warner speak just before their press conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Should the Department of Homeland Security be able to protect taxpayers’ information on the IRS website without asking for permission?

A bipartisan coalition of senators says yes, and they’re pushing legislation that would give the Homeland Security secretary powers to detect intrusions on .gov domains and take steps similar to what the National Security Agency can do with the Pentagon.

Full story

David Perdue Emerging as Key Player on Foreign Relations

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Perdue’s business background and sober approach have made the freshman senator a player on the Foreign Relations Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

David Perdue knew he wanted a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee before he became a senator, and joining the panel has positioned him well for having a voice in the debate over last week’s agreement with Iran about its nuclear program.

There’s been no shortage of bluster and rhetorical flourishes about the potential consequences from detractors of the agreement between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. There have even been comparisons to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler by Neville Chamberlain before the outbreak of World War II.

Full story

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