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October 30, 2014

Posts in "Politics"

October 30, 2014

The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didn’t Want You to See

luncheons015 060413 445x295 The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didnt Want You to See

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Harry Reid’s strategy of blocking amendments all year was intended with one clear objective in mind — protecting his majority.

Republicans have complained vociferously about the Senate majority leader shutting down amendments all year — but behind the scenes, the Nevada Democrat’s senators asked him to do so for a very simple reason: Nobody wants to give an opponent fodder for 30-second ads in a tough election year.

Reid’s strategy had a downside, because Democrats had fewer opportunities to show their independence from an unpopular president.

But aside from that attack, Republicans have been left mostly to mine earlier votes from, for instance, the 2013 budget resolution vote-a-rama — or for parts of the Affordable Care Act they voted for years ago.

Here are some of the subjects — and TV attack lines — Reid’s strategy sought to avoid: Full story

October 20, 2014

Mikulski Sets Senate Ebola Hearing Two Days After Elections (Updated)

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Mikulski will hold a post-election Ebola hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:15 p.m. | As the threat of the Ebola virus in the United States appears to be easing, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski announced she would hold a hearing on the issue two days after voters are scheduled to go to the polls.

The hearing is set for Nov. 6, and would be the first in the Democratic-run Senate since the first U.S. Ebola case was discovered in Dallas. The hearing could take on increased urgency if the Obama administration follows through on sending over a supplemental spending request. A Democratic aide said appropriators were told to expect a request for Ebola funding as soon as this week but did not have any details on its scope or whether it would be designated as emergency funding.

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the top Republican on the subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, has been pushing for a new hearing on Ebola. Moran visited the University of Kansas hospital last week, where he said the situation had changed since a joint hearing last month of the Appropriations subcommittee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Full story

October 14, 2014

Twitter’s Most Popular Congressional Staffer Gets New Title

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz has a new communications director in his Senate shop, but it’s a familiar face. Amanda Carpenter, the most-followed congressional staffer on Twitter, is getting a title that aligns more with her recent duties.

Not surprisingly, Carpenter, who has been senior communications adviser and speechwriter — highlighted the new title in a Tweet:

When CQ Roll Call profiled Carpenter in February, she conceded that the Texas Republican’s office offered her more freedom to use her own voice on social media than many other staffers, something attributable not only to Cruz and her former Senate boss, Jim DeMint, R-S.C., but to her history as a conservative columnist and a fresh face of conservative media. Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:16 p.m.
Politics, Ted Cruz

October 10, 2014

Senate GOP Leaders Hit the Campaign Trail (Updated)

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Barrasso and Thune are among the GOP leaders hitting the stump to try and win the majority. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:38 p.m.| With the majority hanging on a handful of Senate races, Republican leaders not facing re-election have been fanning out across the nation to help stump for their candidates.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas have been focused on their re-election campaigns, though Cornyn, who has an easier race, has traveled to raise money for Senate Republican contenders.

But Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota, Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri and Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming have all been active as well in trying to give GOP candidates the edge in intensely contested races.

Barrasso has been particularly energized, but he is not expected to seek a different post within the Senate Republican leadership, such as the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He plans to keep his leadership slot chairing the Policy Committee, according to a Republican source. Full story

October 8, 2014

McConnell: My Job Is to Protect Coal Jobs, Not Speculate on Global Warming (Audio)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would have none of it when the host of Kentucky Sports Radio pressed him Wednesday for his personal views on global warming.

“What I have said repeatedly is I’m not a scientist, but what I can tell you is, even if you thought that was important — and there are some scientists who do and some scientists who don’t — but even if you thought that was important, the United States doing this by itself is going to have zero impact,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Full story

September 22, 2014

Barbara Boxer Blasts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s News Conference in New Letter (Video)

boxer001 092513 445x282 Barbara Boxer Blasts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodells News Conference in New Letter (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Barbara Boxer is making a personal appeal to the new National Football League executive in charge of government affairs, calling for more action to address domestic violence.

In the letter, the California Democrat notes past work by Cynthia Hogan, the NFL’s new senior vice president of public policy and government affairs and previous senior aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but it’s sharply critical of Hogan’s new boss, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Full story

September 18, 2014

Senate Republicans Pass Out Campaign Talking Points

Senate Republicans are being sent home for election season with a tri-fold card that provides talking points on health care, taxes, the economy — even Senate procedure.

The list of priorities on the back of the card prepared by the Republican Conference reads like an early to-do list for a possible Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

It does not explicitly call for a full repeal of the health care overhaul law often called Obamacare, but focuses generically on “health care reforms that lower costs & put patients in charge.” Full story

September 17, 2014

Tom Coburn Won’t Be Going Away Quietly

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tom Coburn is retiring at the end of this Congress, but the Oklahoma Republican has put the word out that he isn’t likely to let the Senate have its end-of-session legislative feeding frenzy.

Thursday may be the last day of the work period before the elections and, as usual, some senators are making a final push on pet legislation, including renewing a travel promotion bill that Coburn has long opposed.

“I am not inclined to let things go,” Coburn said, when asked if he planned to hold up last-minute efforts to get unanimous consent to pass legislation before the Senate heads out of town.

Full story

September 16, 2014

Congress Ducks War Authorization Vote

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Anti-war protesters disrupt a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress appears set to sprint for the exits after voting to fund President Barack Obama’s new war on ISIS — although not by name — after rejecting a smattering of calls from lawmakers to go on record explicitly debating and authorizing it.

The get-out-of-town votes could come Wednesday, as the nation celebrates Constitution Day, the brainchild of the late-Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who was long the defender of Congress’ prerogatives, especially with regard to war.

“Sen. Byrd would be on the floor demanding that the United States Senate fulfill its constitutional responsibilities, which are debate, amend and vote,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one voice in a fairly small bipartisan group pushing unsuccessfully for a full debate and votes on the authorization to use military force before going home. “This is another act of cowardice, which contributes to the low esteem in which we’re held by the American people.”

Today, the closest heir to Byrd may be Sen. Tim Kaine. The Virginia Democrat has long been an ally of the president, but he has nonetheless sharply criticized Obama — and his colleagues — for not seeking a vote from Congress authorizing the war.

“It’s the most important power that Congress has and it’s the most momentous decision that the nation makes,” Kaine told CQ Roll Call after a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. He called the issue an “obsession” of his, but suggested any comparisons between himself and Byrd are “presumptuous.” Full story

At Final Stakeout Before Election, Senate Leaders Bullish on Chances (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At what’s expected to be their final appearances before the cameras in the Ohio clock corridor before the midterm elections in November, the two political strategists leading the Senate offered predictably upbeat assessments for their respective parties’ chances.

“If the election were today, we would be just fine. The election’s not today, it’s 48 days away,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said — not long after his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell of Kentucky expressed optimism the electorate would go their way.

Full story

September 10, 2014

On Equal Pay Bill, Republicans Face Certain Criticism

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Mikulski, before a news conference on the Senate steps before the last votes on the Paycheck Fairness Act in April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans should prepare to be criticized regardless of how they vote Wednesday afternoon when the Senate reconsiders legislation known as the Paycheck Fairness Act.

It’s an underlying bill that Republicans don’t support, and voting for cloture on proceeding to it would be a reverse in strategy from the last time it came up. For Democrats, who view the GOP as meddling with their schedule of pre-election votes, either vote by the GOP counterparts will be pushed as a negative, making this a classic case of election-year theater all around.

An email circulated to Democratic communications aides and obtained by CQ Roll Call late Tuesday points to a strategy of either criticizing Republicans for voting yes to limit debate on proceeding to a gender pay equity bill that they don’t support and burning valuable floor time, or for voting no and blocking a debate.

Full story

September 9, 2014

Watch Live: Senate Committee Holds Hearing on ‘Police Militarization’

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee holds a 10:30 a.m. hearing on federal programs providing equipment to state and local law enforcement. Amid the uproar in Ferguson, Mo., the Defense Department’s 1033 program has come under scrutiny from lawmakers, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., for contributing to “police militarization.”

Witnesses include officials from the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and a photojournalist from The St. Louis American Newspaper.

 

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September 7, 2014

McConnell Hints at Prolonged Campaign Finance Debate

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats are facing the prospect of Republicans voting to prolong debate on a campaign finance constitutional amendment, a move that could interfere with Democrats’ plans for a barrage of pre-election votes on issues from student loans to the minimum wage to equal pay for women.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already scheduled a Monday evening vote to cut off debate on taking up a proposal sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. to amend the constitution to effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which threw out many limits on campaign spending on First Amendment grounds. Republicans vehemently oppose the amendment and it seemed, at least at the outset, that Democrats were planning for a quick defeat.

“Their goal is to shut down the voices of their critics at a moment when they fear the loss of their fragile Senate majority. And to achieve it, they’re willing to devote roughly half of the remaining legislative days before November to this quixotic anti-speech gambit,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in Politico opinion piece posted late Sunday.

His complaint is more than a complaint — he has assigned an extended period of time beyond the few hours of debate that would happen if his party simply voted “No” on Monday. So reading between the lines, McConnell may be hinting the GOP will allow debate to continue and, therefore, use procedure to lock Democrats into a prolonged debate.

Full story

September 5, 2014

Landrieu Offers Rebuttal to Rubio, Cassidy on Venezuela

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has responded forcefully to criticism of her blockade of sanctions against Venezuela.

In an opinion piece for Friday’s edition of The Advertiser in Lafayette, the Energy and Natural Resources chairwoman and Louisiana Democrat said that sanctions for human rights violations by the government of President Nicolás Maduro shouldn’t be configured to cost jobs in her home state.

Full story

September 4, 2014

Rubio Asks Reid to Bypass Landrieu on Venezuela Sanctions

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio wants Majority Leader Harry Reid to bypass one of his vulnerable incumbent Democrats in a bid to impose sanctions on Venezuela.

The Florida Republican sent a letter to Reid calling for the Nevada Democrat to use his prerogatives as leader to get a sanctions bill to the floor. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., opposed granting unanimous consent to advance the measure before the August break.

Full story

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