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May 24, 2015

Posts in "Politics"

May 7, 2015

Watch: Loretta Lynch’s First Testimony as Attorney General

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies held a hearing on the Department of Justice’s fiscal 2016 budget request. Loretta Lynch, who was sworn in as head of the DOJ last week, will testify for the first time as attorney general. Full story

May 5, 2015

Wicker Pledges GOP Will Adhere to Strict Spending Limits (Video)

Durbin is dubious the GOP will stick to their budget levels in appropriations bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Durbin is dubious the GOP will stick to their budget levels in appropriations bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate was preparing to finalize the fiscal 2016 budget resolution, both sides seem to want the spending blueprint to be an election issue next year.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., for instance, is touting the new GOP majority approach as returning the Senate to normal operations.

Full story

May 4, 2015

Senate Pushes Ahead With Iran Debate (Video)

Iran Bill

An amendment from Rubio is among those up for debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The debate over the role of Congress in international negotiations with Iran about nuclear development is entering another week.

Hopes to get the legislation spearheaded by Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., through the Senate quickly were thwarted Thursday when talks about setting up a series of amendment votes went off course when Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., came to the floor and offered a pair of amendments, including one by Sen. Marco Rubio that would require certification of Iran recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

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April 29, 2015

Senators Renew Bipartisan Assault on Patent Trolls

All smiles as Cornyn and Schumer announce a bipartisan deal on a patent overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

All smiles Wednesday as Cornyn and Schumer announced a bipartisan deal on a patent overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:49 p.m. | Patent trolls beware: This time it’s different.

Last year, bipartisan legislation designed to combat what supporters view as abuse of patent claims got stuck in a Senate bottleneck, with then-Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont telling the Burlington Free Press he was “furious” with his fellow Democrat, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, over keeping the bill off the floor.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:45 p.m.
Policy, Politics

April 21, 2015

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 14, 2015

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

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.

Full story

April 7, 2015

Rand Paul’s ‘Read the Bills’ Resolution Doesn’t Do Much

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul announced his 2016 presidential bid Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul’s proposal to require his Senate colleagues to read bills before voting on them would be almost wholly symbolic.

That’s because the actual text of the Kentucky Republican’s proposal to change the Senate rules to require one session day to lapse for each 20 pages of a bill before it is eligible to be considered has a workaround.

Full story

Rand Paul’s Message to Iran

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)

CQ Roll Call interviewed Paul about Iran policy in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ahead of his rollout of his presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul’s team is already pushing back against charges that the Kentucky Republican is weak on Iran.

“The Washington machine is worried that our message is resonating across all 50 states. These attacks are false. Senator Rand Paul has voted for Iran sanctions and continues to believe that Iran should be forbidden from acquiring nuclear weapons,” senior adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement. “Senator Paul will oppose any deal which does not guarantee Iran giving up its nuclear ambition.”

Full story

March 31, 2015

10 Things We Learned From the Vote-a-Rama


Toomey got attention for changing his vote during last week’s vote-a-rama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the vote-a-rama in the rearview mirror, it’s worth taking stock of what the 15-plus hours of nonbinding votes on dozens of amendments said about the 2016 presidential election, how vulnerable senators voted and what issues might now come to the fore. Full story

March 30, 2015

Remembering Ted Kennedy, in Senate Session of Sorts

From left, Warren, former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (and son of the late senator) and Sen. Ed Markey talk during a gala that was part of the dedication ceremony for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BOSTON — “Lord. What an amazing day this has been,” Senate Chaplain Barry Black said, offering an opening prayer for a session of a replica chamber constructed as the centerpiece of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., presided over the session, leading the senators (real or not) in the Pledge of Allegiance. But unlike in the real Senate, the presiding officer got the opportunity to speak.

“It’s good to be almost home,” Biden said. “This replica looks like the actual Senate chamber, and it feels like the real one with Rev. Adm. Black opening us, and once again sitting in front of the Senate parliamentarian who I looked to for guidance for so many years.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 9:07 a.m.

March 26, 2015

Rand Paul Backs More Defense Spending — If It’s Paid For (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:14 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul doesn’t have a problem with increasing the defense budget, but he wants real offsets.

And the Kentucky Republican, who seems to be gearing up for an April 7 announcement about a run for the White House, proposed an amendment to the budget resolution just before the Senate adjourned Wednesday to do so.

“This amendment is in response to others in both chambers who are attempting to add to defense spending — some way more than Senator Paul’s amendment — without paying for it. Senator Paul believes national defense should be our priority.  He also believes our debt is out of control,” Paul senior adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:01 p.m.
2016, Budget, Politics

March 23, 2015

Democrats Outline Floor Strategy for Budget Battle

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sanders, foreground, and Schumer briefed reporters on their response to the GOP budget last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate and House Democrats face different challenges in responding to the budget blueprints on the floors of their respective chambers, but they’re operating from much the same playbook.

The budget resolutions, which both moved through the House and Senate budget committees last week with customary party-line support, are indisputably political documents, which will give each side fodder leading in to the two-week recess at the beginning of April.

In the Senate, Democrats intend to focus particular attention on “meat and potato” policy issues in this year’s budget vote-a-rama. That’s how Senate Democratic messaging guru Charles E. Schumer described the Democratic plan last week.

Full story

March 17, 2015

McConnell’s Dreams of New Senate Dashed for Now (Video)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s best-laid plans for a Senate renaissance have so far fallen flat — and the gridlock is starting to wear on his conference.

Republican Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, who faces a serious re-election challenge in 2016, says his own conference shoulders responsibility for the lack of productivity.

Kirk spoke with reporters in the Capitol Tuesday, not long after a vote to limit debate on what had started as a bipartisan bill to combat sex trafficking fell a few votes short of the 60 needed amid an ongoing dispute over the GOP’s insertion of an anti-abortion funding provision.
Full story

Start Preparing Now for the Budget Vote-A-Rama

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Moran, pictured here with the GOP freshman class, said budget “gotcha” votes don’t really exist. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This night is not like all other nights.

A chance for unlimited amendments and votes in the Senate chamber only comes along once a year — at most. For the baker’s dozen of freshman senators, the so-called budget vote-a-rama they’ll endure toward the end of next week will be unlike anything else they will experience.

The advice from the veterans is rather simple: “Get a good night’s sleep, drink a lot of liquids, be patient, bring a good book.”

Full story

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