Niels Lesniewski

Lawmakers Want to Push Back at Saudi Arabia With or Without Trump
Question may be whether there is a veto-proof majority for legislation

At least when it comes to Congress, Tuesday’s afternoon statement from President Donald Trump might not prove helpful to the cause of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi royal family.

Even some of Trump’s strongest supporters on Capitol Hill are insisting the legislative branch will act to respond to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, even though there is still no sign of it on the legislative agenda.

Schumer Asks if Acting AG Talked to White House About Russia Probe Details
Senate Democratic leader requests review by Justice Department inspector general

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants to know if the acting attorney general talked to the White House about the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Specifically, the New York Democrat is asking Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz about contacts between Matthew G. Whitaker and other parts of the Donald Trump administration about the work of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team.

Bill Nelson Concedes Florida Senate Race After Hand Recount
Governor Rick Scott’s victory over Nelson boosts GOP’s Senate majority

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has conceded Florida’s Senate race to his Republican opponent Gov. Rick Scott following a hand recount.

“I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service. This victory would not be possible without the hard work of so many people,” Scott said in a statement. “Now the campaign truly is behind us, and that’s where we need to leave it.”

Senate Human Rights Caucus Lauds Mike Pence for Pressuring Aung San Suu Kyi
Vice president reportedly called for pardoning of Reuters journalists

Vice President Mike Pence is getting bipartisan backing for pressing Aung San Suu Kyi over the imprisonment of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar.

Pence met with the state counsellor of the country, also known as Burma, in connection with his trip to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, which has taken him countries across Asia, as well as Australia.

Suicide Nooses in Cells Prompt ICE Query From Elizabeth Warren, Democrats
Letters come after DHS inspector general found makeshift nooses in detention cells

A group of Senate Democrats want the private prison industry to explain whether it is complying with federal standards for housing at ICE immigration detention centers.

Led by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the senators have written to CoreCivic and GEO group about their housing practices following reports from the inspector general at the Homeland Security Department.

Mitch McConnell Upbeat About Path Forward for Border Funding After Meeting With Trump
Senate majority leader was among Republicans huddling with the president on Thursday

Returning from a meeting with President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was optimistic about a deal on finishing off remaining spending bills without a shutdown showdown over building a wall at the border with Mexico.

“We had a good discussion about funding the government and the other sort of end-of-year items, and we’re optimistic we’re going to be able to get that done, get the farm bill done and move on toward the conclusion of the session,” McConnell said.

Senate Appropriators Cast Doubt on Mueller Protections Making It Into Spending Deal
Chairman wants to keep December spending deal as clean as possible, despite interests of Pelosi, House Democrats

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby thinks trying to attach language designed to shield Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a big December spending package would be ill-advised.

Asked ahead of a meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump about the interest of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to use the must-pass spending measure as the vehicle for such a bill, Shelby said, “She’s not talking about putting it in an appropriations bill?”

Catherine Cortez Masto Becomes First Latina to Lead DSCC
A Nevada Democrat will be returning to the leadership table

A Nevada senator is once again a key member of Senate Democratic leadership.

First-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was announced as the next chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday, becoming the first Latina to lead the committee.

Todd Young Elected to Lead Senate Republican Campaign Arm
Indiana Republican has a challenging cycle ahead of him

Sen. Todd Young was elected on Wednesday to be the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a much more difficult cycle for incumbent protection on the Republican side.

The Republican from Indiana was the only candidate for the post, which is being vacated by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. Gardner is himself in what is expected to be among the most hotly contested races of the 2020 cycle.

After Momentous Election, Senators Largely Settle for Leadership Status Quo
Republicans add woman to leadership slate for first time since 2010

In the aftermath of a momentous midterm election, senators in both parties are largely sticking with the status quo when it comes to their own elected leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York were re-elected to their posts by acclamation, along with the entire slate of nine other Democratic leaders.

Chuck Schumer Says Florida Recount Votes Should Be Counted Past Sunday if Needed
Minority leader appeared alongside incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson on Tuesday

“We will not have a re-run of 2000.”

That was what Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday, speaking of the handling of the recounting of ballots in Florida.

Mark Warner Welcomes Amazon, But Warns Big Tech
Top Democrat on Senate Intelligence wants to see more data transparency from Facebook, others

One of the Senate’s most tech-savvy members is applauding Amazon’s decision to locate half of HQ2 in Crystal City, but he had some strong language for the technology industry at large when it comes to data privacy.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who resides not far from the part of Northern Virginia that is now slated for investment and redevelopment as an Amazon campus with 25,000 jobs, said he hoped the move would further catalyze a regional technology industry boom.

What’s Going On in the Senate This Week
Chamber to take up Coast Guard reauthorization and Federal Reserve nominee

Senators return to Washington on Tuesday with plenty of housekeeping to take care of before the 115th Congress comes to close.

Before getting to leadership elections and greeting incoming Senate colleagues, the current class has some legislating left to do. First up is a long-stalled reauthorization of the Coast Guard.

Lindsey Graham Wants Rick Scott in Senate GOP Meetings Ahead of Recount Deadlines
S.C. senator thinks Scott will win, and should take part in leadership elections

Sen. Lindsey Graham said that Florida Gov. Rick Scott should make plans to come up to D.C. to participate in next week’s Senate Republican Conference meetings.

That includes the leadership elections for the 116th Congress, which are scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Arizona Counties Have Until Next Wednesday to ‘Cure’ Mail-in Ballots in Senate Race
Announcement comes day after Democrat Sinema pulls ahead of Republican McSally in count

Some county officials in Arizona will have until the middle of next week to resolve issues with mail-in ballots for the state’s tight Senate race.

Under an agreement announced Friday by an Arizona judge, county recorders in rural Arizona will have time to allow people to “cure” issues with signatures that do not match their mail-in ballots, The Associated Press reported.

Legislation to Protect Robert Mueller Still Not on Senate Agenda, McConnell Says
Senate majority leader says President Donald Trump will let the Russia investigation run its course

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that legislation to shield special counsel Robert S. Mueller III from being fired is still not on the Senate agenda.

“It’s not going to come up because it isn’t necessary,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters.

Bill Nelson’s Campaign Lawyer Predicts a Hand Recount, and a Victory
Attorney Marc Elias calls it a ‘jump ball’ between Nelson and Scott heading to recount

The Democratic Party’s premier election lawyer predicts that the Florida Senate race is heading for a hand recount, and he said Thursday that he thinks Sen. Bill Nelson may in fact be re-elected.

Marc Elias, the partner at Perkins Coie who is now representing Nelson’s Senate campaign for recount purposes, said he expected that when the first round of counting of ballots is completed, the margin between Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott will come down to within the 0.25 percent threshold required under Florida law for a manual count. The race is already within the 0.5 percent machine recount threshold.

Mitch McConnell Talks About Working With Nancy Pelosi
Two leaders have a long history dating to Appropriations Committee

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the most likely next speaker of the House are not strangers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and McConnell have had to work together over the years, as long-tenured leaders of their respective conferences. And McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, noted their history goes back many years before that.

Democratic House Means More Time for Senate Nominations — And Another Trump SCOTUS Pick?
The Senate will still have plenty to do, even as legislation languishes with divided government

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is fond of saying that unlike the House, the Senate is in the “personnel business.”

That is only going to be more true in the 116th Congress, with Democrats taking control of the House and chances for legislating likely becoming fewer and further between.

Florida Polls Show Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson Ahead
Races for governor and senator appear to be intertwined

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — How can a wildly expensive Senate campaign be an undercard?

Apparently, when you have an open-seat race for governor with a quickly emerging Democratic star running against a former congressman aligned with President Donald Trump.