Niels Lesniewski

Senators Make Another Bid to Authorize War Against ISIS
Flake and Kaine have tried before

“When I voted in 2001 to authorize military force against the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks, I had no idea I would be authorizing armed conflict for more than fifteen years, and counting.”

That’s what Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday. The Arizona Republican was announcing yet another effort with Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, to get Congress to go on record to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State and other terror groups.

Debt Limit Deadline Already Creeping Up Congress
Mnuchin, Mulvaney make case for action sooner rather than later

Congress and the Trump administration may be facing off over raising the debt limit sooner than planned.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wanted Congress to complete a clean measure to lift the debt ceiling before the August recess on Wednesday.

Michael Flynn Gets Another Chance From Intelligence Committee
Panel seems ready to hold him in contempt of Congress

The Senate Intelligence Committee is giving former national security adviser Michael Flynn another chance to produce documents about his interactions with Russian officials, even as the panel’s leaders are sending signals that they are unafraid to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The committee leadership has now sent a letter questioning the claim by Flynn and his lawyers that he can use the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination to avoid producing documents subpoenaed by the panel.

Trump Budget’s Chilly Reception Will Be Nothing New
Congress routinely rebuffed Obama budgets too

President Donald Trump’s budget request finally gets its full release Tuesday morning, but the stories of its inevitable rejection on Capitol Hill could have been written weeks ago.

There has been ample bipartisan skepticism of the proposed cuts to domestic programs coming out of Trump’s budget office for fiscal 2018, but overall, the reaction and follow through on it will not likely be much different than it ever was under President Barack Obama.

Senators Warn FCC, Trump Administration About Freedom of the Press
Comes after CQ Roll Call reporter was pinned against a wall while covering the commission

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”  

Graham: Congress Will Have to Stay out of Mueller’s Lane in Russia Probe
Conversations between Trump and Comey could be subject of special counsel

The senator leading one of the probes into Russian activities related to the 2016 election says the appointment of a special counsel is likely to restrict public access to information.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee looking into the Russian election interference efforts, has been among the senators seeking testimony from former FBI Director James B. Comey in the aftermath of his firing by President Donald Trump. But now Graham is not expecting to hear much.

Tillis OK After Collapse During Capital Challenge Race
Republican senator says he'll be back to work in the Senate

Updated as of 10:12 a.m. on May 17

Sen. Thom Tillis said he was doing fine after he collapsed during Wednesday morning’s ACLI Capital Challenge road race.

At Center for American Progress, a Tryout for 2020 Ideas
D.C. gathering alternates between liberal goals, Trump reaction

Potential Democratic presidential candidates took center stage Tuesday for what might prove to be the kickoff of the 2020 campaign, but the popular characterization of the progressive policy confab as a “CPAC for liberals” might have missed the mark.

The Center for American Progress’ 2017 Ideas Conference looked like the kind of muted 2020 cattle call one would expect from a gathering in the ballroom of the Georgetown Four Seasons in Washington. Missing were the raucous crowds that overtake the sprawling gathering at National Harbor for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Warren to Trump: Everyone is Accountable — Even You
Senator’s speech at progressive policy will focus on conflicts of interest

When Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivers a lunchtime keynote address to a progressive policy conference Tuesday afternoon, she will be directing her remarks at the president.

“I have news for Donald Trump: No matter how much he might admire Vladimir Putin’s Russia, here in America, we will never accept autocracy. Here in America, we embrace and defend democracy,” the Massachusetts Democrat will say. “And we do that by demanding that everyone in our government is accountable, even the President of the United States.”

After Sacking Comey, Trump Faces Lowest Approval Ratings Yet
Poll for End Citizens United shows support for independent Russia investigation

A new poll shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen to its lowest level since his inauguration.

The poll from Public Policy Polling, which was conducted for the liberal group End Citizens United, found Trump’s approval seriously underwater, with only 39 percent approving of his job performance and 56 percent opposed.

A Historian-Senator’s Fight Against ‘Perpetual Adolescence’
Ben Sasse says his new book is about parenting, not politics

Can a senator write a book that is really not about politics? Ben Sasse has certainly tried. 

“The Vanishing American Adult,” which hits bookshelves Tuesday, is at its core about strategies for parenting and the effort to combat what the Nebraska Republican views as the problem of “perpetual adolescence.”

Grassley Says Next FBI Director Must be Independent of Trump
Judicial Committee chairman suggests tapping a former federal judge to replace Comey

Even before President Donald Trump’s Friday morning tweetstorm, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley was saying the next FBI director needs to be independent from the president.

The Iowa Republican said he does not think the nominee for the next FBI director will have any conflict of interest requiring recusal from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Grassley Signals Deference to White House on Circuit Judges
Blue slips on district judges might carry more weight than appellate picks

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says that he is likely to give more weight to objections from Democrats on district judge nominees than more powerful circuit court picks.

“I think the blue slip is more respected for district court judges historically than it has been for circuit,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley said Thursday in an interview with Roll Call and the Associated Press for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program.

Mike Lee Floats Merrick Garland for FBI Director
Republican senator suggests Obama’s Supreme Court pick to replace Comey

Sen. Mike Lee on Thursday suggested that President Donald Trump should nominate Judge Merrick Garland to be the next FBI director.

Garland, the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is best known as former President Barack Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court seat now filled by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., put the Garland nomination on ice.

Michael Flynn Subpoenaed in Senate Intelligence Russia Probe
Chairman Burr has said he prefers voluntary cooperation

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday issued a subpoena to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for documents pertaining to the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

The committee announced it was issuing the subpoena after Flynn declined a voluntary request for cooperation.

Senate Democrat Finalizing Independent Counsel Plan After Comey’s Termination
Blumenthal says he hopes legislation will not be required

With FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination, one Senate Democrat is accelerating plans to craft legislation for an independent counsel to investigate President Donald Trump and ties to Russia.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was himself a federal prosecutor, told CQ Roll Call late Tuesday that he had been working on writing a bill that would look similar to the old lapsed statute for such outside prosecutors, but the effort will now accelerate.

Hurricane Prep Tour Arrives Before FEMA Administrator Does
Trump wants a former Alabama emergency manager in the post

ARLINGTON, Va. — When the hurricane hunters and other federal officials came together Tuesday to promote emergency preparedness, there was no Senate-confirmed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be found.

The acting administrator is Bob Fenton, a longtime FEMA official who has been running the show since January and is the regional administrator for Region IX, based in the West.

Health Care Will Determine Progress of Rest of Agenda
Spending debate, tax code rewrite all interrelated

Last week’s legislative victories — finishing an omnibus spending bill and getting the rollback of the 2010 health care law through the House — are the foundation for the months of battles to come on Capitol Hill. 

Appropriators can begin to turn their attention toward the first full fiscal year of Donald Trump’s presidency, but their Senate colleagues will also have to deal with the procedural morass that comes with trying to reinvent the health care system through budget reconciliation.

Rand Paul Wants to Know if Intelligence Community Spied On Him
Makes public details of request to President Trump

Sen. Rand Paul is renewing a request to know if he was subject to surveillance by the intelligence community during the Obama administration.

“This inquiry goes beyond just myself and my office,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement Friday. “The American people need to know if their elected representatives in the Legislative branch have been swept up in Executive branch surveillance.”

Senate Clears $1 Trillion Omnibus for President’s Signature
Bill funds government through September

Months later than many appropriators would have liked, the voting has wrapped up its work to fund the government through the end of September.

Senators voted 79-18 to send the $1.07 trillion omnibus bill, which featured the remaining 11 of the 12 regular spending measures as well as a variety of emergency spending measures, on to President Donald Trump.