Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 5, 2015

Posts in "Politics"

March 4, 2015

McConnell Discourages States From Crafting Clean Power Plans

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is suggesting states shouldn’t act on their own to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power plans.

In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader, the Kentucky Republican offers advice for governors and other state officials.

“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism,” McConnell wrote.

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Rubio, Lee Unveil Tax Code Overhaul, Welcome Critics

Lee and Rubio prepare to hold a news conference on their tax plan rollout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lee and Rubio prepare to hold a news conference on their tax plan rollout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Say this much about Sen. Marco Rubio: He’s not afraid to put ideas on the table.

The Florida Republican joined Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to present an outline for overhauling the tax code Wednesday morning that — scored statically and in a vacuum — would be sure to reduce the government’s revenue by tens of billions of dollars and eliminate or restrict a slew of popular tax credits and deductions.

But, the pair is floating a white paper and welcoming the critics, even if it would expose them to criticism in future political endeavors. Both Lee and Rubio have Senate seats that are up for re-election in 2016, and Rubio appears to be laying the groundwork for a White House bid.

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February 27, 2015

Senate Votes on Full DHS Funding, With House Set to Punt (Updated)

Pelosi and Reid conduct a news conference Thursday in the Capitol’s Senate studio to criticize Republican leaders on the hold up of the Department of Homeland Security funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:39 p.m. | The Senate did its best to wrap up the current year’s funding debate, even as the House is opting for another punt.

Senate Democrats said they wouldn’t try to block the House’s punt, meaning a likely Groundhog Day version of the debate three weeks from now.

After weeks at loggerheads, the Senate moved quickly Friday morning to pass a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for the balance of the fiscal year. The key vote was on invoking cloture to bat back any potential filibuster of the underlying bill — a 68-31 outcome well north of the 60 needed to clear the procedural hurdle. Democrats were united in seeking the “clean” funding bill but Republicans fractured, with most voting to filibuster the plan put forward by their Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to break the impasse.

Senate Republicans who face the voters next year in states won by President Barack Obama split on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania voted to advance the bill.

Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa voted no.

The final vote on passage was also 68-31.

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February 26, 2015

McConnell’s Move to Avert Shutdown Cheers Vulnerable Senators Up in 2016

McConnell wants to end the DHS funding fight ASAP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell wants to end the DHS funding fight ASAP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is always looking ahead to the next election.

And as much as the Kentucky Republican’s move to go ahead with a clean bill funding the Department of Homeland Security drew the ire of the conservative base, others including those on the ballot and vulnerable in 2016 said it was important to resolve the issue and get on with the GOP agenda.

Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk, who is running for re-election in the generally blue state of Illinois, said Tuesday that GOP senators should tell the House Republicans who are against advancing the appropriations bill without riders in opposition to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration that “this is the way the Senate demands this go.”

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February 25, 2015

Kaine Won’t Attend Netanyahu Speech

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kaine is skipping the Netanyahu Congress speech. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine is the latest Democrat to announce he will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress next week.

The Virginian said in a statement provided first to CQ Roll Call that he’s concerned in particular about the timing of the March 3 address, just weeks ahead of the scheduled Knesset elections on March 17.

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February 24, 2015

Watch Live: John Kerry Testifies Before Senate Foreign Relations

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the first time in the 114th Congress on the State Department’s fiscal 2016 budget request. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Full story

February 3, 2015

Democrats Unified, in Campaign Mode on Immigration Orders

Reid and Schumer talk to reporters Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reid and Schumer talk to reporters Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The gavel had barely dropped on Senate Republicans’ failed first attempt to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration when the Democratic campaign arm started blasting GOP senators for their votes.

Democrats defied Republicans in hopes the GOP would splinter on the House Homeland Security funding bill, with every single Democrat voting to filibuster debating the House’s Homeland Security bill over its attempt to roll back executive actions for millions of immigrants.

“Senate Republicans should stop the political theater and listen to the national security experts in their party who have urged passage of a clean bill that would prevent a DHS shutdown,” DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in a statement.

But just weeks from the deadline to keep the Department of Homeland Security from facing a funding lapse, the theatrics from the two parties showed no signs of waning.

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January 28, 2015

Lynch to Say She Wants Better Relations With Congress

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lynch met with Leahy in December. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch takes the hot seat Wednesday morning, she’s planning to tell senators that she’s aiming for better relations with the legislative branch.

“I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this Committee, the United States Senate, and the entire United States Congress – a relationship based on mutual respect and Constitutional balance,” Lynch is expected to say, according to prepared remarks. “Ultimately, I know we all share the same goal and commitment: to protect and serve the American people.”

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January 22, 2015

Graham: Anti-Abortion Bill Will Return, but ‘Nobody’s for Rape’

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The lead Senate sponsor of anti-abortion legislation that was pulled from the House schedule late Wednesday said Thursday it should not move forward without changes to the rape provision.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he was looking forward to a debate on abortion policy once the issues with the bill are resolved.

“This is going to be about wholesale abortions on demand in 20 weeks, five months into pregnancy, and it won’t be about rape,” Graham said. “Nobody’s for rape.”

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January 20, 2015

Rand Paul’s Message: ‘Do No Harm’ In Foreign Affairs

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., makes his way through the basement of the Capitol before a vote on the Senate floor, December 12, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Paul will have his own response to the State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Possible 2016 contender Sen. Rand Paul says that the foreign policy potion of his own response to Tuesday’s State of the Union address will focus on an old adage from his medical career: “Do no harm.”

“I think one the biggest things about foreign policy is that you should think before you act, and that’s one of the themes that I’ll have tonight is: First, do no harm. As physicians, we’re taught first to do no harm, which means think through,” the Kentucky Republican said. “You have enormous power as a surgeon. Before you cut into someone, make sure you have the right diagnosis. Try not to make mistakes.”

Paul is issuing his own video response, separate from the official message to be delivered by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

In an interview in his Washington office ahead of the speech by President Barack Obama, Paul used the potential for additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program as an example where Congress should avoid doing such harm. Full story

January 15, 2015

Ernst Gives GOP #SOTU Rebuttal a Folksy Feel

State of the Union 2015

Ernst heads to the Senate subway following a vote on Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans are going folksy with their choice to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., jointly announced at their retreat Thursday that Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, would deliver the Republicans’ rebuttal.

Ernst, who upset former Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa in 2014 as one of the party’s majority-makers, gained notoriety during her campaign for an ad she ran conflating her childhood on the farm castrating pigs with her ability to cut government spending. Full story

January 13, 2015

Menendez Staffer Bids Farewell to Hill Life

O'Brien is leaving Capitol Hill to join General Electric. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

O’Brien is leaving Capitol Hill to join General Electric. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Danny O’Brien never had a career path plotted out — certainly not one that included serving as Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff director for the past two years, in the Clinton White House or in senior Senate posts for now-Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Now, after more than 20 years in the public sector, O’Brien is calling it quits to join General Electric’s global government affairs team. Full story

January 6, 2015

Keystone Debate to Test Waters of New Senate

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell has waited years for the moment he’ll take the reins of a dysfunctional chamber and try and show Republicans can govern.

He’ll face tests right off the bat — from how to handle the filibuster rules changes that have divided his conference to keeping the Senate on topic as he looks to clear a series of bipartisan bills to kick off the year, starting with approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We’ll hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments, but there will be no effort to try to … micromanage the amendment process,” the Kentucky Republican said last month, when announcing his plan to bring Keystone to the floor first.

It’s part of a plan, nearly a year in the making, to get the new majority off to a fast start. Full story

December 29, 2014

A Look Back at 2014 in the WGDB

The Senate leaders appeared together at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in June on the subject of campaign finance. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate leaders appeared together at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in June on the subject of campaign finance. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As we close the books on the 113th Congress, and the first full calendar year for this blog, it’s our turn to again thank you, the readers, for joining us throughout the year as we’ve followed the ebbs and flows of the Senate.

We’ve covered issues with national and international implications — including debates over the debt limit and federal spending, nuclear talks with Iran and the threat posed by the terror group ISIS. But we’ve also spent time closer to home,  documenting staff changes and life operating under the Dome.

Full story

December 22, 2014

Senator Calls on White House to Host Showing of Pulled Sony Film

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter wants the White House to hold a screening of the Sony film “The Interview.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One senator wants President Barack Obama to invite members of Congress to the White House for a screening of “The Interview.”

That’s the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy from Sony Pictures Entertainment that the studio pulled after a hacking which the FBI says North Korea is responsible for. The movie plot centers on an effort to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

In a Dec. 19 letter to Obama, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the president should host an event to show the movie when the 114th Congress convenes in January.

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