Niels Lesniewski

Will the Senate Keep Montenegro Out of NATO?
Democrats question if Corker is slowing the Senate’s advice and consent

Donald Trump’s election may have put a Balkan state’s admission to NATO on ice.

President Barack Obama has sent the Senate a proposed protocol to approve the accession of Montenegro to the alliance. But adopting the new protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization requires the advice and consent of the Senate, and work on a resolution supporting ratification appears to have stalled.

Elaine Chao Expected to Lead Transportation Department
Former Labor secretary is wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate former Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao to run the Transportation Department, according to multiple media reports.

Chao served as Labor secretary during the entire administration of George W. Bush, and was deputy Transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

After Fidel Castro, How Will Trump Approach Cuba?
President-elect has promised to roll back Obama administration's actions without a better deal

While President Barack Obama offered prayers for the people of Cuba and condolences for the family of deceased Cuban President Fidel Castro, President-elect Donald Trump called out the decades-long repression of the authoritarian regime.

“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Trump said in a statement Saturday. “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

‘A Tyrant is Dead’ — Congress Reacts to the Death of Fidel Castro
Longtime Cuban dictator died Friday night at age 90

Even in the middle of the night, the reaction to the death of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was swift from South Florida lawmakers and those with Cuban-American ties.

“The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western Hemisphere,” Florida GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Havana, said in a statement.

Ben Carson in Line to Lead Housing Department
Former GOP presidential hopeful was considered for multiple roles

Updated 6:50 p.m. | Former Republican presidential hopeful and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is under consideration to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration, according to numerous media reports.

Armstrong Williams, a spokesman for Carson and a conservative media personality, on Wednesday disputed a Wall Street Journal story that said President-elect Donald Trump had offered to nominate Carson and that Carson had accepted. The Journal later corrected its story. 

Cardin Pushes Trump to Avoid Conflicts in Business Dealings Abroad
Maryland Democrat to introduce resolution aimed at president-elect

One of the Senate’s top Democrats on foreign policy wants President-elect Donald Trump to take pre-emptive steps to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his business’ dealings abroad.

A nonbinding resolution set to be introduced by Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin when the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving break would call on Trump to place his business interests in a blind trust or otherwise divest from holdings that could run afoul of the seldom-discussed Emoluments Clause, which bars anyone with an “office of profit or trust” from receiving gifts from foreign states without the consent of the legislative branch.

Senate Democrats Can't Stop Sessions, So How Much Will They Fight?
AG hopeful only needs a majority to approve his nomination

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general leaves Senate Democrats with a complicated choice.

Sen. Jeff Sessions appears poised to lead the Justice Department, despite accusations of racism that derailed his nomination for a federal judgeship three decades ago. As far as records go back, no sitting senator has ever been denied confirmation to a Cabinet post.

Schumer Says Obama Should Protect DREAMers if Trump Won't
But open to deals with president-elect on trade, infrastructure

If it looks like President-elect Donald Trump won’t protect DREAMers, the incoming Senate minority leader wants President Barack Obama to do it on his way out the door.

Asked if undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and have benefited from deferred enforcement action by the Obama administration made a mistake in coming out and providing information about themselves to the government, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said, “I hope not.”

Van Hollen Named Chairman of Senate Democrats‘ Campaign Arm
Incoming Maryland freshman faces daunting 2018 electoral map for party

Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen of Maryland will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2018 cycle, incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Friday.

Chris Van Hollen was our first choice for DSCC chairman because of his talents, his work ethic, and his experience,” Schumer said in a statement. “He has the confidence of our caucus and will do a great job for our candidates running in 2018. The map is tough for Democrats, but I have no doubt that Sen.-elect Van Hollen is up to the task.” 

McCain Says ‘Idiots’ Supporting a CR Would Benefit Putin
Armed Services chairman wants full defense spending bill done this year

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain thinks colleagues pushing for a stopgap spending bill through next March are “idiots.”

The Arizona Republican said a sprawling defense policy bill being negotiated would have limited utility “if these idiots say they want to go for the continuing resolution.”

Tim Kaine Will Not Run for President or VP in 2020
Former VP nominee says he wants to stay in the Senate

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, fresh from a devastating defeat as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, will not run for president or vice president in 2020, an aide said Thursday.

“He will run for re-election to the Senate in 2018 and serve his full term in the Senate — where, at the will of Virginia voters, he hopes to be for a very long time in the model of John Warner,” Kaine spokeswoman Amy Dudley said.

Orrin Hatch Feeling Urge to Run in 2018
After planning to retire, senior-most GOP senator now seriously reconsidering

The Senate’s longest serving Republican is thinking about running for another term.

Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a member of the Senate since 1977 and its president pro tempore, said after Wednesday’s leadership elections that he was getting significant pressure to seek an eighth term.

Schumer Expands Leadership Team
Incoming Democratic leader splits deputy post

The Senate Democrats have their leaders for next year, with familiar faces in new places.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer won the backing of his caucus Wednesday morning to take over as minority leader for the 115th Congress. That was no surprise, as the New York Democrat essentially clinched the job to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid at the end of March 2015.

Senate Leadership Elections Set Stage for 2017
McConnell and Schumer take top posts

The Senate’s leadership elections went off without a hitch Wednesday, with victorious Republicans keeping their top echelon intact.

Democrats elevated Charles E. Schumer to the role of minority leader for the next Congress, as anticipated, but the most interesting development might be that the Brooklyn lawmaker is going to need a bigger meeting table.

Tim Kaine Cites Importance of Senate Democrats as Check on Trump
Democratic vice presidential nominee back to work at the Capitol

Sen. Tim Kaine was back at the Capitol Tuesday with a raised profile, and reflective after his ill-fated vice presidential bid.

The Virginia Democrat said he would be focusing his energy on the same issues he had before, particularly military issues important to his home state and his work on the Foreign Relations Committee. He was fully aware that Senate Democrats may be spending a lot of time blockading the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump.

Harry Reid: Newspaper Columnist?
Retiring Senate Democratic leader ponders his next act

Harry Reid is looking for work.

The retiring Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader — who was also a gaming commissioner and a police officer long ago — is talking up his prospects for a new career as a newspaper columnist.

McConnell Pledges Obamacare Rollback But Cautions About Overreach
Majority leader upbeat about Trump administration

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called repealing Obamacare a “pretty high item,” on the agenda for 2017, but he also cautioned those emboldened by the victory of President-elect Donald Trump against overreaching.

“I think it’s always a mistake to misread your mandate, and frequently new majorities think it’s going to be forever. Nothing is forever in this country. We have an election every two years right on schedule, and we have had since 1788,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We’ve been given a temporary lease on power, if you will.”

GOP Rep. Mia Love Wins a Second Term in Utah's 4th District
Slow vote count criticized by state Republican Party

Updated Nov. 11 11:51 a.m.  | Republican Rep. Mia Love will hold off Democratic challenger Doug Owens in their rematch for Utah’s 4th District, The Associated Press projects.

Love was leading Owens 53 percent to 42 percent with 78 percent of precincts reporting as of Friday morning, but the counting in Salt Lake County has been remarkably slow, with Love's campaign anticipating the margin will grow.

Republican Bruce Poliquin Re-Elected in Maine’s 2nd District
Contest was a rematch against Democrat Emily Cain

GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin will defeat Emily Cain in Maine’s 2nd District, The Associated Press projects.

Poliquin led Cain 55.2% percent to 44.8 percent with 77 percent of precincts reporting.

New Member: Democrat Jimmy Panetta Elected in California’s 20th District
Son of former Defense secretary Leon E. Panetta is heading to Congress

More than two decades after his father left the House, another Panetta is on his way in from California. 

Jimmy Panetta, a Democrat, will defeat Republican Casey Lucius in California's 20th District, The Associated Press projects.