Niels Lesniewski

Mike Pompeo says he is not running for Senate in Kansas in 2020
Former congressman says he will be secretary of State as long as Trump wants him in that role

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he was ruling out running for Senate in Kansas in 2020 — at least as long as he is still the top diplomat.

“I love Kansas. I’m going to be the secretary of State as long as President Trump gives me the opportunity to serve as America’s senior diplomat,” Pompeo told NBC’s “Today Show” when asked about a possible race for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Pat Roberts.

‘The dumbest f---ing idea I’ve ever heard’ and other highlights of the Senate’s European adventure
Senators have been traveling the globe this week, with many attending conferences in Europe

Over President’s Day weekend, it might have been easier to get a quorum of the U.S. Senate together in Europe than in Washington.

Trump will sign spending bill, declare national emergency
Mitch McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor

The big bipartisan government funding deal is going to become law, but it will be far from the end of the border security battle between President Donald Trump and members of Congress.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Thursday that Trump intends to sign the spending conference report, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had indicated earlier.

Spending deal would kill Donald Trump’s federal pay freeze
Sen. Chris Van Hollen among lawmakers touting a cost-of-living adjustment

The bipartisan spending agreement finalized Wednesday night and set for votes Thursday includes language ending President Donald Trump’s pay freeze for federal workers.

Appropriators had long planned to give a cost-of-living adjustment to civilian federal employees for 2019, notwithstanding Trump, and the agreement has followed through on that.

In bid to avoid shutdown, spending deal drops Violence Against Women Act extension, other contentious provisions
House and Senate conferees were signing the document Wednesday night, votes expected Thursday

As negotiators were finalizing a final fiscal 2019 funding package highlighted by border security spending Wednesday evening, it became clear that an extension of the Violence Against Women Act wouldn’t make the cut.

Several policy riders in the mix earlier Wednesday, including back pay for federal contractors for wages lost during the 35-day partial shutdown and the VAWA extension, didn’t make it in the final bargaining over the fiscal 2019 spending conference report, according to aides in both parties.

Senate panel spars over judges, advances GOP effort to cut nomination debate time
Party-line vote in committee could set up a contentious floor debate

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee took a predictably partisan turn Wednesday when the panel voted along party lines to advance a resolution that would slash debate time for most presidential nominees.

Ranking member Amy Klobuchar led the opposition to the proposal, arguing that two hours for post-cloture debate was not enough, especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Violence Against Women Act extension could complicate spending bill
The existing act has received bipartisan support, but Democrats want an expansion of the law.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that a potential extension of the Violence Against Women Act has emerged as a bit of a complication to passing the spending package. 

“The Speaker is objecting to a modest extension of the Violence Against Women Act,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor.

Foreign Relations chairman says Trump has met reporting burden on Khashoggi murder; other senators disagree
‘The administration has been very forthcoming, the State Department has been very forthcoming,’ says Jim Risch

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee insists that the Trump administration has been responsive to congressional requests for information about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, despite claims to the contrary from several colleagues. 

“We received a response to the inquiry that we made last fall,” Sen. Jim Risch said. “I’ve said we have been briefed on this matter numerous times, met with not all of the 17 intelligence agencies, but a good number of the intelligence agencies.”

Mitch McConnell will make Democratic senators vote on the ‘Green New Deal’
Move could be part of 2020 strategy for GOP and McConnell himself

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he intends to call up the “Green New Deal ” for a vote in the Senate.

The Kentucky Republican’s maneuver is likely an effort to both get the many Democratic senators running for president on the record on the resolution, as well as to demonstrate that there are senators on both sides of the aisle opposed to the outline.

Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on big banks to help workers during government shutdowns
In letters shared first with Roll Call, Warren said inquiries could be particularly important if ‘agreement in principle’ falls apart

As lawmakers work to avoid another partial government shutdown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up pressure on big banks to make sure they help federal employees and contractors, especially if the “agreement in principle” falls apart.

“We are now less than a week away from the February 15 deadline to fund the government, and President Trump has threatened to drag the American public through a shutdown for a second time,” the Democrat from Massachusetts wrote in a series of new letters shared first with Roll Call.

Joni Ernst repays D.C. $1,900 in taxes after claiming homestead tax break
In effect, the senator had claimed her Capitol Hill condo on as her primary residence

Sen. Joni Ernst has paid back Washington, D.C., for improperly claiming a tax benefit reserved for people who make their primary residence in the District.

The Iowa Republican had claimed the D.C. homestead exemption, which reduces the value of primary residences for tax purposes. The Des Moines Register was first to report the senator’s repayment, which totaled almost $1,900 for taxes going back to 2016.

House members want official office supply store to stock tampons
Three House lawmakers seeking clear guidance on using office funds for feminine hygiene products

Three House lawmakers are asking the new leadership of the House Administration panel to clarify if tampons and other feminine hygiene products can be purchased with official office allowances.

It’s the latest development in a saga that started last summer when Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a New York Democrat, was denied permission to buy tampons for his office using his Members’ Representational Allowance.

Senate Rules panel could advance plan to cut debate time on Trump nominees next week
Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and James Lankford introduced the newest version on Wednesday

Senate Republicans are moving ahead with an effort to effectively change the rules, reducing the amount of debate time allowed on many lower-level nominations by President Donald Trump.

The resolution, which has been championed by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., was being reintroduced Wednesday. It’s expected to be marked up by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee next week, according to a person familiar with the scheduling.

Democrats running for president want presidential transitions to share security clearance applicant lists
Elizabeth Warren is among the headliners on the new legislation

Most of the Senate Democrats running for president are headlining an effort to force presidential transitions to turn over lists of security clearance applicants to Congress.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is headlining the effort, and co-sponsors include potential or confirmed 2020 hopefuls like Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Shelby: Trump SOTU didn’t move the needle on border security talks
Senate Appropriations chairman was still looking ahead to meeting with experts on Wednesday

If President Donald Trump’s lengthy State of the Union remarks on immigration were intended to change the course of the congressional talks on border security, it doesn’t seem to have worked.

Trump’s speech does not seem to have changed the dynamic much at all when it comes to negotiating a House-Senate spending compromise that the president would like to include funding for a physical border wall. At least, that was the view of Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby.

McConnell wants border security conference to produce a bill, even if Trump signature is unclear
Senate majority leader is praying for the conferees to succeed

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the House and Senate negotiators working on a border security spending agreement to reach a deal — even if there aren’t assurances that President Donald Trump will sign it.

The Kentucky Republican made those comments hours ahead of Trump’s State of the Union, which was rescheduled to Tuesday thanks to the most recent partial government shutdown.

Chuck Grassley has no problem with corn syrup in beer (but he doesn’t drink it)
Senate Finance chairman responds to the Bud Light Super Bowl ads

If the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee were a beer drinker, he would not be a fan of Bud Light.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley took a moment out of a call with reporters Tuesday morning to thank brewers who use corn syrup, in response to a Super Bowl advertising campaign by Anheuser-Busch InBev that trashed competitors for including the ingredient.

Menendez wants to protect former Trump golf resort workers from being deported
Writes to both FBI director and DHS secretary

Sen. Robert Menendez wants to make sure undocumented immigrants who formerly worked at President Donald Trump’s golf clubs are not deported while allegations of misconduct by the Trump organization are being investigated.

Donald Trump is ignoring the law today. And no one really cares.
First Monday in February is legally the deadline for sending a president’s budget to Congress

President Donald Trump is ignoring the law today.

And no one really cares.

Road ahead: State of the Union, plus Cohen, Barr, Whitaker and Trump tax returns
Legislating will not be the focus of the week for the House or Senate

Normally, the State of the Union address would dominate this week’s headlines on Capitol Hill — but it just might be overshadowed by what’s scheduled to happen at the end of the week.

On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and the Intelligence Committee will conduct a closed-door deposition of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.