Niels Lesniewski

Republican Senator Seeks Radical Changes to Budget Process
David Perdue floats combining appropriations and authorizations

Senate Republican freshmen have seen enough to know that the way Congress approaches the federal budget is broken.

And a prospective fix that one of them is unveiling Thursday is nothing short of radical — at least by the standards of the often creaky Senate.

One Murphy's Gun Safety Group Backs Another Murphy
Rep. Patrick Murphy among Democrats winning support of Sen. Chris Murphy

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy will roll out a new set of political endorsements on Thursday that are built around his effort to promote gun safety.

The Connecticut Democrat has made measures such as expanded background checks for gun buyers a personal cause since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his home state. And he has increasingly taken his campaign from the Senate floor to the ballot box.

Reid Endorses Flint Deal, Says CR Issues Can Be Worked Out
Michigan senators still plan to vote against CR over Flint

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he is confident Congress will be able to to resolve outstanding issues with the continuing resolution.

The Nevada Democrat said he has discussed an agreement on assistance for the Michigan city of Flint with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and he has received assurances from leadership that money for Flint's water contamination crisis will be provided in a lame-duck session of Congress after the elections.

Former GOP Sen. John Warner Backs Clinton
Ex-Virginia senator has a history of backing Democrats since retirement

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — It was old home week on the presidential campaign trail in a Northern Virginia civic center Wednesday morning.

The state's former senator, Republican John Warner, announced that he would be casting his presidential ballot for the Democratic ticket of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

Mistrust Of House GOP Threatens Stopgap Spending Bill
Flint aid and Louisiana flood relief at risk of being sidelined

Mistrust of House Republicans is making it difficult for Congress to agree on a plan to fund the government past the end of the week.

Democratic senators on Tuesday indicated that they might support a short-term spending bill that doesn't address flood relief for Louisiana or aid to deal with the lead-tainted water supply in Flint, Michigan, as long as they get a commitment that the House will address the Flint crisis in another piece of legislation.

Absences Pile Up for Some House Members Seeking Other Offices
But others manage perfect voting records in September

As Labor Day comes and goes, it can be hard for candidates to peel away from the campaign trail to get back to their day jobs — even if that involves voting as a member of Congress.

House members running for a different office, most of whom are seeking promotions to the Senate, have missed about 10 percent more roll call votes this month through Sept. 22 than their colleagues seeking re-election, according to a Roll Call analysis. The lawmakers include a few contenders in high-profile races who have missed a substantial number of votes this month.

Is Congress Headed Toward a Government Shutdown?
Mitch McConnell would need crossover votes for his continuing resolution

It might be time to dust off the government shutdown clocks.

A senior Democratic aide said Senate Democrats are expected to block the stopgap spending plan that’s currently on the table.

Elizabeth Warren is Everywhere
Campaigning for Hillary Clinton, on TV and in the Capitol, her message is clear

Sen. Elizabeth Warren might be even busier and more vocal than if she had run for president.

Wednesday afternoon, the Massachusetts Democrat was headlining a Center for American Progress Action Fund event highlighting the progressive planks of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's agenda while bashing GOP standard bearer Donald Trump.

Thune Prepares Rebuke to Lavish-Spending Commerce Official
Amendment would require reporting of spending on office renovations

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune is launching a new effort to force the Commerce Department to explain the excessive expenditures of a former undersecretary.

During a Wednesday markup, the South Dakota Republican intends to attach language to a bill designed to promote foreign investment that would direct the Commerce Secretary to report on renovations to the office of the undersecretary for international trade. The Commerce Department's inspector general identified some $50,000 worth of taxpayer-funded renovations to the office.

Republicans Charge Reid With Slowing Spending Talks
Democrats respond the GOP never suggested a truncated work period

Harry Reid is holding Patrick J. Toomey hostage.

At least that is what a growing number of Republicans are openly speculating, promoting the notion that the Senate's departing minority leader is slow-walking spending talks to keep the most vulnerable GOP incumbents tethered to the Capitol and away from the campaign trail.

Senate to Debate Selling Arms to Saudis, War in Yemen
Paul and Murphy plan to force vote

A small-but-vocal band of senators who want the chamber more engaged in debates over war and authorizing the use of force have found a way to carve out floor time.

Senators will face a vote this week on a resolution disapproving the sale of more than a billion dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Monday afternoon that it looked likely that the measure he's drafted with a bipartisan group also led by Connecticut Democrat Christopher S. Murphy will get a vote on Wednesday.

Congress Increasingly Concerned About Russian Election Meddling
Trump campaign doesn't respond when asked about telling Putin to stop

As Donald Trump was in Washington on Friday to promote his new Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, concerns continued to grow a few blocks away on Capitol Hill about Russia undermining the U.S. election.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said she was talking to her House counterpart, fellow Californian Adam B. Schiff, about what could be done regarding the threat.

Warren Wants FBI Transparency About Financial Crisis
Fires off letters to FBI director and Justice Department inspector general

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants the FBI to explain why people involved in causing the 2008 financial crisis didn't face criminal prosecution.

In a new letter to FBI Director James B. Comey, the Massachusetts Democrat is calling for the kind of transparency the bureau showed after its decision to not recommend criminal charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of State.

Corker Calls Aung San Suu Kyi 'Somewhat Arrogant' About Human Slavery
Says Myanmar leader was rather dismissive of human rights concerns

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker expressed shock over the reaction he got Wednesday from a well-known leader of Myanmar when he broached the subject of fighting modern slavery.

The Tennessee Republican had breakfast with Aung San Suu Kyi, the state counsellor and foreign minister of Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, at Vice President Joseph R. Biden's residence.

Why Ted Cruz Might Influence a Government Funding Battle
Other GOP senators also want delay in internet governance transition

Sen. Ted Cruz has found a signature issue for this year's government funding debate — but this year the Texas Republican may be in tactical agreement with more mainstream GOP colleagues.

"The Obama administration’s proposal to give away the internet is an extraordinary threat to our freedom and it’s one most Americans don’t know anything about," Cruz wrote in a fundraising message to supporters Tuesday.

Ryan Finds New Floor Director
Hugh Halpern will replace Anne Bradbury

Hugh Halpern, the longtime staff director of the House Rules Committee, will be taking over as director of floor operations for Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

A senior Republican aide confirmed the move Tuesday morning.

Louisiana Lawmakers Make Plea to Obama for Flood Aid
Call to make relief funds part of stopgap funding bill now being negotiated

Louisiana lawmakers want federal dollars to aid in the recovery from devastating recent flooding in their state.

The delegation, led by Republican Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy, are making a plea to President Barack Obama for a timely request.

Mike Pence Makes Surprise Visit to Pentagon 9/11 Memorial
Spends about a half-hour at memorial after speaking in Washington

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence spent half an hour Saturday afternoon on an unannounced visit to the memorial at the Pentagon.

Pence, the Indiana governor, and his wife, Karen, laid a bouquet of white roses at the portion of the memorial honoring Army Lt. Gen Timothy Maude.

Senators Might Skip Town ASAP
Incumbent Republicans eager to pass stopgap and maximize time on the campaign trail

The Senate's scheduled to be in session through Oct. 7, but lawmakers could attempt to finish up next week.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have said they are working to hammer out a deal on a continuing resolution to fund the government past the end of the month, as well as to provide needed supplemental money to combat the Zika virus outbreak.

NARAL Pitches Football-Themed 'Playbook' Against Trump
Group to launch campaign outside Trump event Friday in D.C.

The day after the NFL regular season began, a leading abortion rights group is launching a football-themed protest at a conservative conference Friday in Washington featuring Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The effort from NARAL Pro-Choice America will seek to bracket events across the country in targeted races with trading cards and "playbooks" tying records on abortion-related policy questions to Trump.