Niels Lesniewski

McCain a ‘No’ on Latest Senate Health Care Bill
Arizona Republican says there is not enough time for debate

Arizona Sen. John McCain said Friday that given the truncated timeline, he cannot vote for the health care repeal proposal floated by fellow Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana next week.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it,” McCain said. “Without a full [Congressional Budget Office] score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

Trump’s Ambassador Pick Says Russia Meddled in US Election
Jon Huntsman receives friendly reception at Foreign Relations Committee

Senate Finance Staff — Old and New — Ready for Tax Challenge
Staffers promoted to replace departed colleagues

“A little bit like Bill Belichick.”

That’s how Jay Khosla, the new staff director for the Senate Finance Committee, described the personnel management style of Chairman Orrin G. Hatch.

Pence Gets New Communications Team From the Capitol
Farah, Mandreucci start at the beginning of October

Vice President Mike Pence has poached the Capitol for a new communications team.

The departure of Pence’s longtime spokesman Marc Lotter from the White House, which was announced last week, created an opening for two communicators from Capitol Hill to move in.

Mo Brooks Announces He Voted for Roy Moore in Alabama GOP Runoff
Congressman endorses former primary rival over Sen. Luther Strange

Republican Rep. Mo Brooks on Saturday called on his supporters to rebuke the GOP establishment and vote for former Judge Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate primary runoff.

“I have voted for Roy Moore because Roy Moore not only stands with America, he will fight for America! I urge you to join that fight,” he told a rally in Huntsville, Alabama.

Mitch McConnell’s Myanmar Balancing Act
Senate majority leader defends Suu Kyi but calls for end to violence against Rohingya

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar must end, while seeking to blunt criticism of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, his longtime ally and friend.

“In my view publicly condemning Aung San Suu Kyi, the best hope for democratic reform in Burma, is simply not constructive,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor.

Former Colleagues Reflect on Life of Pete Domenici
Speaker Ryan learned from Domenici as a staffer

Speaker Paul D. Ryan was a Senate staffer back when Sen. Pete V. Domenici wielded the gavel of the Senate Budget Committee.

Ryan was one of the relatively small number of lawmakers quick to offer condolences on the passing of the Republican from New Mexico, who was one of the most influential senators of his era.

Ted Cruz Lays Marker on Tax Reform
Texas Republican wants tax bill that repeals Dodd-Frank

Updated 1:54 p.m. | Laying down a conservative marker for overhauling the tax code, Sen. Ted Cruz is calling on tax writers to go much bolder than they probably intend.

The Texas Republican wants to use as long as a 30-year budget window for a reconciliation bill that would be focused on tax cuts, rather than on a deficit neutral proposal. But the unlikeliest of the Cruz proposals is using the same reconciliation vehicle to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law.

Former Sen. Pete Domenici Dies at 85
New Mexico Republican served six terms in the Senate

Former Sen. Pete V. Domenici died Wednesday morning at age 85.

Domenici, a New Mexico Republican and leader of the Senate Budget and Energy and Natural Resources committees, as well a senior member of the Appropriations panel, retired at the beginning of 2009 after serving six terms.

After Deal, Debt Limit Talk Still Permeates Debates
McConnell dismisses calls to eliminate borrowing ceiling

Policymakers are still talking about last week’s surprise deal to fund the government and suspend the debt limit, and they might be talking about it for a while.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has thrown cold water on the idea of abolishing the debt ceiling.

Trump Smiles With Manchin at Bipartisan Senate Tax Dinner
West Virginia Democrat posts photograph with the president

Many Democrats might not want to be photographed alongside a smiling President Donald Trump, but then there’s Joe Manchin III.

Trump has been very popular in Manchin’s West Virginia. And Manchin was one of three Democratic senators who showed up for dinner and a tax overhaul discussion with the president Tuesday evening.

Bipartisan Push for Electoral Security Gets Priority Status
Amendment has support of Schumer, GOP national security leaders

Updated 9:24 p.m. | A bipartisan effort to enhance election security is among the priorities for Senate Democrats as part of the debate on the annual defense authorization measure.

“The consensus of 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies was that Russia, a foreign adversary, interfered in our elections. Make no mistake: Their success in 2016 will encourage them to try again,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday. “We have state elections in a couple of months and the 2018 election is a little more than a year away. We must improve our defenses now to ensure we’re prepared.”

Senate Appropriators Reject Trump Administration’s ‘Apparent Doctrine of Retreat’
Unusually blunt committee report rebukes State Department, OMB

Senate appropriators are rejecting the Trump administration’s foreign policy, blasting what they call an “apparent doctrine of retreat.”

Appropriations Committee reports are not usually must-reads, but the report to accompany the next fiscal year’s State-Foreign Operations spending package might be the exception. The bill and report go beyond just dismissing the budget request.

How Trump, Schumer Might Deal on Killing the Debt Limit
New York Democrat had a proposal in 2013

President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that he could support terminating the debt limit, a radical departure from Republican orthodoxy, and what’s more could work with his fellow New Yorker, Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, to make it happen. 

“For many years people have been talking about getting rid of the debt ceiling altogether and there are a lot of good reasons to do that,” Trump said Thursday. “So certainly that is something that could be discussed. We even discussed it at the meeting we had yesterday.”

Airlines Cap Ticket Prices for Irma Evacuees After Criticism, Including From the Senate
Blumenthal and Markey had asked Chao for an investigation

Airlines are responding to criticism, including from Senate Democrats, about spikes in ticket prices ahead of Hurricane Irma, with $99 caps on flights from Miami.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao requested a Department of Transportation probe of price hikes.

Democrats See Eye to Eye With Trump on Debt Limit and Harvey Aid
Ryan called Schumer and Pelosi proposal ‘unworkable’ before Trump took their side

House and Senate Democratic leaders seem to have gotten their way after President Donald Trump agreed to tacking on a three-month extension of borrowing authorities to a Hurricane Harvey aid bill.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One Wednesday that he and congressional leaders agreed to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and a three-month government spending bill. Those will be tacked on to a Hurricane Harvey relief bill, which he said will likely be inflated by an unspecified amount to address the approaching Hurricane Irma.

McCarthy Predicts Three-Month Spending Bill, Delayed Wall Debate
Harvey supplemental aid vote on Wednesday

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday that the chamber would be taking up a roughly three-month stopgap spending measure this month that would push off the debate over funding the wall along the Mexican border until near the end of the calendar year.

“We have to deal with Harvey, we have the debt ceiling, we have a continuing resolution which will be just about a three-month continuing resolution, so you will deal with the wall a little later in the year,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got the budget to get done this month, as well. The budget is the beginning of tax reform because it allows us to go to reconciliation to start tax reform.”

Senators Facing Another Crush of Nominations
Many new nominees will be lining up for consideration

September’s packed legislative calendar means the focus will be on how to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government funded, but President Donald Trump still has numerous vacant positions across his administration. 

Trump tweeted last week that he wasn’t looking to fill all of those positions. But no shortage of posts requiring Senate confirmation still need to be filled, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has kept up work on that front.

Judge: Menendez No Different Than a Cab Driver
Says he won't alter trial schedule for key Senate votes

In the eyes of the law, being a U.S. senator should be no different than being a taxi cab driver in the city of Newark, New Jersey.

That’s the underlying justification for the decision by a federal judge to deny a request by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez to allow for an altered trial schedule in Newark when he needs to be in Washington for what are described as “critical” Senate votes.

Top Ethics Democrat Gets Pushed to Do More Against Trump
Ted Deutch town hall got interesting when Emoluments Clause came up

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — You might expect a congressional town hall in a safely Democratic district to be a relatively staid affair. And you would be correct, until one woman near the front of the conference space at a municipal recreation complex here in South Florida stood up to ask the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee about enforcement of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

Citing reports about the roughly $60,000 in golf cart rental fees incurred by the Secret Service at facilities including President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in nearby Palm Beach, the questioner asked, “I want to know why everyone in this administration is thumbing their nose at my Emoluments Clause. Why are they getting rich?”