Niels Lesniewski

Schumer Warns Trump Against Trying to Replace Sessions With Recess Appointment
New York Democrat made remarks on the floor

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not even stepped aside, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is already warning President Donald Trump against attempting a recess appointment of a replacement in August.

On the floor Tuesday, the New York Democrat said that members of his caucus were prepared to use every means available to prevent a recess appointment to replace Sessions during the break. That likely means the Senate will technically be in session throughout the month, even after the chamber’s scheduled already-extended time in Washington, D.C.

Democrats Mix Politics With Policy Rollout in Virginia
‘Better Deal’ agenda seeks to unite party factions

By NIELS LESNIEWSKI and BRIDGET BOWMAN

BERRYVILLE, Va. — The visit by House and Senate Democrats to a rural Virginia county that voted for President Donald Trump wasn’t technically all about politics, but they were unavoidable.

Democrats Want to Seize Populism From Trump
Prepare their agenda with a new focus on antitrust policy

When congressional Democrats unveil their “better deal” agenda Monday afternoon, they will be trying to reclaim the populist mantle from President Donald Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer says the shift in messaging is about a commitment to reorienting the function of government.

McCain Absence Felt Well Beyond Health Care
Defense, immigration are among his top priorities

The effect of John McCain’s absence from the Senate goes well beyond the vote-counting on health care.

The Arizona Republican has long been in the middle of major legislative battles, always willing to mix it up with his colleagues and spar with reporters in the Capitol’s hallways. (Few senators would video-bomb a CNN correspondent during a live shot.)

Durbin and Graham Are Still DREAMing
Lawmakers unveil updated legislation to grant legal status to certain immigrants

Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks that despite all the campaign rhetoric, President Donald Trump might be the one to build consensus among Republicans on immigration.

Graham said that unlike either Barack Obama or George W. Bush, Trump might be able to reach elements who are the most fearful of immigrants.

McCain’s Absence Leaves Health Care Bill Stalled

While negotiations on the GOP bill to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law had derailed earlier this week, the news of Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor leaves the bill in greater peril. Watch for senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski’s analysis on what the Arizona Republican’s absence means for the chamber....
New FBI Director Expected to Be Confirmed Before August Recess
Approved by Judiciary Committee on Thursday

Senators want the new FBI director on the job as soon as possible, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to see Christopher Wray confirmed before August recess. That looks increasingly likely, as the Judiciary Committee unanimously approved his nomination, teeing it up for floor consideration as soon as McConnell moves ahead.

But the year’s nomination process has been so fraught that McConnell’s staff sent a statement out announcing the Kentucky Republican’s intentions complete with a warning shot to Democrats. 

John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer
Discussing treatment options with family and doctors

Sen. John McCain has a brain tumor and may  undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

The tumor was diagnosed after the longtime senator and war hero underwent surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

McCain Absence Gives GOP More Time to Win — Or Lose — Health Care Votes
Schedule change could put focus back on Russia

That Sen. John McCain’s absence from the Capitol this week led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay consideration of a bill to roll back the 2010 health care law is a sign of just how narrow the vote margin might be.

And it could bring the focus back to the chamber’s various Russia investigations.

McConnell Delays Obamacare Rollback While McCain Recovers From Surgery
McCain had surgery Friday to address a blood clot

Updated 10:40 p.m. | Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain is staying in Arizona next week, recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot, which will delay action on rolling back the 2010 health care law.

“Senator McCain received excellent treatment at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, and appreciates the tremendous professionalism and care by its doctors and staff. He is in good spirits and recovering comfortably at home with his family,” McCain’s office said in a statement. “On the advice of his doctors, Senator McCain will be recovering in Arizona next week.”

Why Republicans Exempted Their Own Insurance From Obamacare Rollback
The unusual nature of staff and member health benefits

Senate budget rules are giving opponents of the rollback of the 2010 health care law an easy way to attack Republicans for hypocrisy.

The Senate GOP may not really want to immunize their own member and staff health plans from their health care policy changes, but because they are seeking to bring their bill to the floor under the expedited budget reconciliation process, they have little choice.

Pence Pitches Paul in Kentucky
Bevin disparages idea that expanding health coverage is good

Vice President Mike Pence hasn’t given up on winning over Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the commonwealth’s senior senator, has been leading the effort to craft the latest variant of repeal and replacement legislation that’s expected to be revealed Thursday.

Is Shorter August Recess Prelude to Deals?
Health care, nominations will go long way to determining path

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced a truncated August recess, but the new schedule might just be the opening bid in a complex negotiation with Democratic leaders over the terms of debate on executive and judicial nominees, as well as big-ticket legislative items. 

In his statement announcing the delay, McConnell said the chamber would work on the fiscal 2018 authorization bill for the Defense Department and “the backlog of critical nominations that have been mindlessly stalled by Democrats.”

Recess Postponed in Senate
Mitch McConnell announces two extra weeks in session

Senators will need to delay their departures for August recess.

Shortly after eight rank-and-file Republican senators urged postponing the recess to focus on the GOP agenda, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the break would start two weeks later than originally scheduled. 

Health Care’s Senate Mountain Stage
West Virginia race provides forum for marquee issue

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — The front-runners have now formally entered a potentially bruising Republican Senate primary in West Virginia, even as the state’s incumbents are in the middle of the health care debate.

Patrick Morrisey, the state attorney general, kicked off his widely expected campaign from a motel here in his home base in the Mountain State’s eastern panhandle.

Budget Cuts Would Sting in Trump Country
Republicans shy away from proposed cuts to popular programs

CHITTENANGO, N.Y. — It would make sense that the hometown of L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Wizard of Oz, would be in a county that voted for President Donald Trump.

Trump easily carried this part of upstate New York, which contains places just as rural as Dorothy Gale’s Kansas. But despite the nearby Yellow Brick Road Casino in a converted strip mall, there’s no Emerald City. So Republican members of Congress who represent these parts have a particular challenge and have to fight for federal dollars for their districts.

Ticks, Floods, and a Dash of Health Care
Recess talks vary widely across Senate leadership

Finding the votes for the Republican effort to roll back the 2010 health care overhaul may be the most pressing matter at the Capitol, but it hasn’t been the only topic of conversation for senators back home over the July Fourth recess.

Take the example of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During a speech to Republicans in Hardin County, Kentucky, on Friday, McConnell likened the health care negotiations to a “Rubik’s Cube.”

Democrats Propose Topics for Trump-Putin Meeting
Don’t let Putin make 2018 campaign his playground, senators say

Senate Democrats have some friendly suggestions for topics that President Donald Trump should discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Germany, scheduled for Friday.

In a letter sent to Trump just as he landed in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday, five senior Democrats make the case that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election should be at the top of the agenda.

Rosen Formally Challenges Heller for Senate in Nevada
First-term congresswoman makes expected bid official

Updated 1:50 p.m. | Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen has formally jumped in to challenge incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Rosen, a Democrat from the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, had been widely expected to launch a bid against the Republican incumbent.

Cancel August Recess? Senator Takes Case to Trump
Georgia’s David Perdue also sent letter to Mitch McConnell

A Republican senator leading the call to cancel the August recess is taking his case to President Donald Trump.

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia led a letter Friday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signed by nine other GOP senators, saying that there is simply too much unfinished business to take the traditional extended break in August.