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December 19, 2014

Posts in "Republicans"

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 14, 2014

How Big Is the Ted Cruz Caucus?

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Eleven Republicans sided with Ted Cruz on all three key votes on the ‘cromnibus.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s a question that will prove crucial next year when Mitch McConnell takes the reins of a new Senate: Just how big is the Ted Cruz caucus?

Three votes on the “cromnibus” late Saturday night suggest it could be as large as 22 senators — a dangerously high number for McConnell — or as few as a handful.

Let’s break down the three votes — on filibustering the $1.1 trillion package, on Cruz’s point of order aimed at targeting the president’s immigration action, and final passage. Full story

December 12, 2014

Sen. Thad Cochran’s Wife Dies at 73

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From the archives: Rose and Thad Cochran at the “Gourmet Gala” in 2004. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rose Clayton Cochran, wife of Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran, died Friday morning after a long battle with dementia, Cochran’s office announced. She was 73.

She battled dementia for years, but had been moved to hospice care in Mississippi in the past two weeks, her daughter, Kate Cochran, said in a Facebook post. Sen. Cochran was at her bedside at the time of her death, but will return to Washington, D.C., to vote on the government funding bill, the Clarion-Ledger reported. Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 2:26 p.m.
Republicans

December 11, 2014

‘Dr. No’ Bids Farewell — and Continues to Forestall Senate Work

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Coburn delivered his farewell speech on the Senate floor Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In bidding farewell to the Senate — and perhaps to Washington — Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn dismissed some of the most common notions about the chamber.

“The magic number in the Senate is not 60 … and it’s not 51, a majority. The most important number in the Senate is one. One senator,” Coburn said from the Senate floor on Thursday. “With that comes a tremendous amount of responsibility, because the Senate has a set of rules, or at least did, that gives each individual member the power needed to advance, change or stop legislation.”

Full story

December 8, 2014

McConnell to Nominate Julie Adams as Secretary of the Senate

Updated 6:08 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that longtime aide Julie Adams would become secretary of the Senate when he becomes majority leader next year.

“I’m confident that she will continue serving this institution and our colleagues with the skill and professionalism she’s demonstrated throughout her career in both the Senate and White House,” said McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who will become majority leader in 2015.

Adams, who has been McConnell’s director of administration, will succeed Nancy Erickson, who has held the post since 2007. Adams will formally be nominated for the position at the start of the new Congress.  Full story

Mitch McConnell Interview Transcript

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McConnell talked with CQ Roll Call on Dec. 5. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski interviewed incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Dec. 5. A lightly edited transcript follows.

Full story

December 2, 2014

Mark Prater, the GOP’s Tax Policy ‘Kingmaker,’ Is Hunting for a Deal

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Prater speaks with CQ Roll Call in the Finance Committee’s hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It may seem ironic that one of the most powerful staffers on big money issues on Capitol Hill has passed up a far more lucrative career on K Street.

But Mark Prater, the Senate Finance Committee’s top Republican tax lawyer, shrugs and gives a wry chuckle when asked why he never cashed out.

“I love this job. It’s a great job … [with] great people,” the self-effacing Prater said in an interview. “It’s a big privilege.”

And while he’s given up the potential for a big payday, he’s gained something else: The chance to do a major rewrite of the tax law, which hasn’t been accomplished since 1986.

“Let’s put it this way, when it comes to tax policy on anything the Finance Committee does, he is the real kingmaker,” said former Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. Full story

November 24, 2014

Rand Paul Wants Senate Vote on Declaring War on ISIS

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Paul wants a Senate vote on ISIS. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul has upped the ante in the debate over the role of Congress in the fight against ISIS.

The Kentucky Republican formally announced Monday he would be introducing a resolution to formally declare war against the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, setting up the possibility of a contentious vote as part of a potential use of force authorization debate next year.

Full story

November 19, 2014

Grassley Says Obama’s Immigration Action Worse Than King George (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said President Barack Obama’s expected executive actions would go beyond the dreams of even King George III.

As Democrats were gathering at the White House for a meeting with Obama ahead of the formal announcement of the immigration moves in a Thursday evening address to the nation, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, was on the floor of the Senate speaking about a series of administration actions that Republicans have found objectionable, ranging from the use of recess appointments to the transfer of five Taliban prisoners out of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom of the American people is at stake. That’s what the framers believed,” Grassley said, before quoting from James Madison in Federalist 51.

Full story

Mike Enzi Challenging Jeff Sessions for Budget Gavel

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Enzi wants to lead the Budget Committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans have a battle for a gavel.

Asked if he was interested in becoming Budget chairman when the Republicans take control of the Senate next year, Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming told reporters simply, “Yes.”

Enzi has seniority over the current ranking member, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and a contest had been rumored in recent weeks. The two senators had previously confirmed conversations about the matter.

Full story

November 18, 2014

McConnell Cites ISIS in Opposition to Leahy Surveillance Bill

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McConnell opposes efforts to roll back NSA data gathering. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came out against a surveillance bill sponsored by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., citing concerns that it could hurt the nation’s ability to combat terrorists like Islamic State.

“Many of these fighters are familiar with America’s intelligence capabilities and many are savvy with communications: these are terrorists who know how to use encryption and they know how to change devices frequently,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “That’s part of the reason why I’m so strongly opposed to the legislation.”

McConnell is set to become majority leader in the next Congress and his comments will likely make it more difficult for the bill to advance. The Senate is expected to vote on cloture on whether to take up the bill Tuesday evening and 60 votes are needed to move ahead.

McConnell added that he believes the bill would curtail the intelligence community’s surveillance powers and that would “end one of our nation’s critical capabilities to gather significant intelligence on terrorist threats.”

“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs,” McConnell said. Full story

November 13, 2014

Obama Veto Pen Could Soon Get a Workout

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

President Barack Obama might want to find some veto pens. A lot of them. After setting a modern record for fewest vetoes — just two early on in his presidency — thanks to a Democratic Senate, Republicans could soon be sending him reams of legislative cannon fodder.

While conventional wisdom suggests relatively few controversial bills would head to the president’s desk, because after all, Republicans will need at least six senators who caucus with the Democrats to beat back filibusters — Republicans can bypass filibusters in multiple ways if Democrats try to gum up the works.

Republicans have already talked about using the budget reconciliation rules to bypass filibusters so they can put spending and tax bills on the president’s desk with their priorities — including potentially an attempt to gut much of Obamacare.

They also plan to use another power to strike at the heart of Obama’s pen-and-phone agenda. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can vote to block recently enacted regulations, and such votes cannot be filibustered.

Back in 2011, Senate Republicans forced a vote on a resolution to block the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on “net neutrality.” Then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, offered the disapproval resolution, which Democrats rebuffed, 46-52. Should the FCC move ahead in the coming year on rules that are in line with what Obama and the White House outlined Monday, Republicans could have the votes to send a disapproval resolution to the president’s desk.

That’s after Republicans from all corners panned Obama’s announcement Monday that he supported viewing consumer broadband as a utility and encouraged FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to ensure net neutrality.

“The president’s call for the FCC to use Title II to create new net neutrality restrictions would turn the Internet into a government-regulated utility and stifle our nation’s dynamic and robust Internet sector with rules written nearly 80 years ago for plain old telephone service,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune. “The president’s stale thinking would invite legal and marketplace uncertainty and perpetuate what has needlessly become a politically corrosive policy debate.”

The South Dakota Republican is in line to take the gavel of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee next year. That panel’s jurisdiction includes telecommunications policy.

The EPA — and climate change regulations in particular — also face incoming fire from Sen. James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican in line to regain the chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“Last year, Senator Inhofe said he would be using the Congressional Review Act on any major EPA regulation that comes out under the Obama Administration, and I expect you will only see more momentum for this now that the Republicans have the majority in the Senate,” Inhofe spokesperson Donelle Harder told CQ Roll Call in an email. “There is widespread concern for how the EPA’s overbearing regulations are going to impact American job creation and the affordability and reliability of our nation’s electricity grid.”

Inhofe himself said as much back in April, when he pledged to use the CRA to try to force floor votes on EPA regulations.

“I’m committed to using the Congressional Review Act on any significant EPA regulation that comes out until the EPA gets honest about the cost accounting it uses in its rules. Because if the agency is not going to be honest, then the EPA, the President, and the Members who support their policies need to own them, which in the Senate means up or down votes on whether to keep or get rid of the EPA’s regulations,” Inhofe said.

Asked about the prospects of the Obama administration facing efforts to upend environmental policy through the CRA, EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in an email that the public supported the agency’s efforts.

“A healthy environment for our children should garner bipartisan support, not be a political football. Poll after poll shows that a strong majority of Americans support EPA’s effort to protect public health. Across the country, citizens want EPA to safeguard clean air and clean water, which are essential building blocks for a strong economy,” Purchia said. “We don’t need to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy because the two go hand in hand.”

Opposition to EPA emissions proposals affecting coal-fired power plants was one of the recurring themes of the re-election campaign of the man set to become majority leader next year, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the EPA is sure to face the prospect of spending restrictions and policy riders through the appropriations process as well.

Obama’s newly announced climate deal with China hasn’t cooled Republican passions on the issue, either.

“This unrealistic plan, that the President would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” McConnell said in a statement. “The President said his policies were on the ballot, and the American people spoke up against them. It’s time for more listening, and less job-destroying red tape. Easing the burden already created by EPA regulations will continue to be a priority for me in the new Congress.”

White House counselor John Podesta has already dismissed the idea that Congress will be able to block Obama’s climate regulations.

Other regulations that could land on Obama’s desk with congressional disapproval resolutions range from health care to labor.

There are time limits and conditions defined in the statute, so not everything the administration does will trigger a filibuster short-circuit for the GOP.

And the process will mainly be a way for Republicans to voice their displeasure — and put Senate Democrats on the record — rather than a plan to realistically change administration policy. A veto would still have to be overridden in both chambers, and Republicans would need major Democratic backing to achieve the 67 Senate votes and 290 in the House to override.

Indeed, the process has successfully upended an agency rule-making only once: an Occupational Safety and Health Administration ergonomics rule proposed at the end of the Bill Clinton presidency fell victim to a disapproval resolution that became law after Republican President George W. Bush took office.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

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November 12, 2014

Executive Action on Immigration Could Imperil Omnibus, Cornyn Warns (Video)

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Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The No. 2 Senate Republican said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration could endanger bipartisan efforts to craft an omnibus spending bill in the lame-duck session.

“Part of what’s I think creating the difficulty is the president’s threatened Obama amnesty, and one of the ways that that could be addressed would be through the spending,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “The president seems hell bent to do this, which I think is a terrible mistake, but it’s his to make.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is poised to become the next majority leader, again cautioned Obama about the effect of making the widely-expected moves on immigration. Full story

November 5, 2014

Manchin Promises to Stay a Democrat; Angus King Doesn’t Answer

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Manchin won’t join the GOP. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate Senate Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has no plans to switch parties following last night’s sweep to the majority for Senate Republicans — and we’re still waiting to hear from Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, on his plans.

“Senator Manchin is a proud West Virginia Democrat and will remain one,” a Manchin aide said in an email.

Manchin, who has chafed under the Senate gridlock, was seen as a possible target for Republicans to try to woo.

Full story

After Catching a Wave, Senate Republicans Look to Legislate

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Moran, right, with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., on the campaign trail. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Having emerged from an Election Day that many Republicans only dreamed of, the Senate Republicans’ campaign chairman was already looking forward to a Senate starting to function again.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told a home state radio station that frustration with the lack of legislative activity contributed to his seeking the campaign job in the first place.

“This place has been run, for the four years I’ve been in the United States Senate, with the goal of doing nothing,” the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said on KNSS. “Boy, this place better change. It’s why I was willing to chair the Senate campaign committee, is to get us in a position in which Sen. Reid was not the leader with the plan to do nothing, and I intend as a member of the United States Senate — not as a Republican senator but as a Kansan, as an American — to do everything I can to see that we work to accomplish things.” Full story

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