Jackie Kucinich

Gas Price Spike Prods Energy Debate

The annual spike in gas prices triggered by the turmoil in the Middle East has started well before the summer months, forcing party leaders to begin the push for their respective energy policies months ahead of schedule.

Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and other top Republicans will wade into the issue today with a press conference aimed at attacking the Obama administration’s energy policies, charging they have contributed to the spike in prices.

Schumer: All Areas Subject to Cuts, Except Social Security

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday no area of the budget should be exempt from the “all of the above” spending cuts — other than Social Security.

During a speech at the Center for American Progress, Schumer listed a litany of places where cuts can be made in a continuing resolution other than nondefense discretionary spending but said Social Security would be off the table.

Obama Faces Pressure on Trade Deals

The Obama administration is coming under increasing pressure from frustrated pro-trade lawmakers in the House and Senate to move ahead on three key trade deals.

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk's testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday comes more than a week after the release of the administration's 2011 trade agenda, a plan that was met with a cool reception from trade proponents because of its vague language on the Colombia and Panama free-trade agreements.

Lott the Lobbyist Still Advises Old Colleagues

Former Republican leader Trent Lott no longer has an office in the Capitol, but the veteran deal-maker continues to have influence in the Senate.

The Mississippi Republican, who spent 35 years in public office, has evolved from a master vote-counter into a power broker on K Street who still acts as an adviser to his former colleagues.

Reid and Schumer Ask House GOP Leaders to Come to the Table

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) urged House Republican leaders on Tuesday to stand up to far-right Members and negotiate long-term spending cuts to avoid a government shutdown.

The hard right of the party is “forcing the Speaker to reject any negotiation” on a continuing resolution that the House passed early Saturday morning, Schumer told reporters in an afternoon conference call with Reid. That measure would fund the government from March 4 to Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2011.

McConnell’s Bond With Paul Untested

After years of strained cordiality in the Kentucky Senate delegation, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) has forged an unlikely but good rapport with Sen. Rand Paul (R).

At the time that Sen. Jim Bunning (R) retired, he and McConnell hardly spoke, and it looked like Paul might fare no better. The blistering Republican primary for Senate last year saw Paul topple Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, whom McConnell feverishly worked to elect.

Thune Hits on Conservative Themes

Sen. John Thune on Thursday seemed to hit on all the right themes Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference: He slammed the Obama administration, praised President Ronald Reagan and remained coy about his White House ambitions.

The South Dakota Republican began his speech with a vague reference to 2012. Thune is one of several Republicans speaking at CPAC this week who is considering a presidential run.

Rubio Adds Well-Known GOP Strategist to Staff

Sen. Marco Rubio has hired veteran strategist Terry Sullivan to serve as his deputy chief of staff, rounding out a staff filled with heavyweights in both politics and policy.

Sullivan will oversee communications and messaging when he joins the Florida Republican’s office in early March. He has worked as a senior strategist and adviser for a number of powerful Republicans, including former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.), Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas).

McConnell Promises to Continue Attacking Health Care Bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday reiterated his pledge to continue to fight the health care law, saying during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the GOP would not stop until it is repealed.

The Kentucky Republican’s speech focused entirely on the opposition to the bill and the Republican effort to repeal it in the House and the Senate — a popular topic at the yearly gathering of conservatives. 

Tea Party Express: Hatch Is No Town Hall Crasher

The Tea Party Express appears to have buried the hatchet with Sen. Orrin Hatch, who spoke Tuesday at the group’s first town hall.

Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer dialed back her earlier comments that the Utah Republican had “invited himself” to the meeting.

Democrats Retreat to Beef Up Agenda

Senate Democrats convening for their annual retreat are hoping to put some meat on a sparse floor agenda and polish their messaging on the economy.

The trip to Charlottesville, Va., comes as the party is struggling to resolve splits within the caucus over when, where and how deeply to cut spending to shrink the $1.5 trillion deficit.

Tea Party Freshmen Will Star at Annual Meeting

The Conservative Political Action Conference has long been a rite of passage for would-be Republican presidential candidates.

But this year the GOP’s top names will share the spotlight with the newly elected lawmakers who will be hailed at the event as the tea party movement’s success stories. Those House Members and Senators represent the first general-election victories for a political movement that began in the summer of 2009 as the health care reform bill was being debated in Congress.

Senators Press Boehner for Deeper Spending Cuts

A group of conservative Senators are calling on Speaker John Boehner to cut at least $100 billion from the president’s budget request — significantly more than House Republicans had planned.

“We believe that, as part of the urgent need to cut federal spending, the total value of the fiscal year 2011 spending reductions in the upcoming continuing resolution should be no less than $100 billion,” the Senators wrote in a letter Friday to the Ohio Republican. “The American people expect at least this level — which is just one-fifteenth of the FY2011 budget deficit.”

DPCC to Streamline Caucus Messaging

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has modeled the majority’s revamped policy and messaging shop on the political operation that he built during two successful cycles at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as Senate Democrats look to re-create lost magic and counter emboldened Congressional Republicans.

Portman's Bio Makes for a Unique Player

With the budget, trade and jobs high on Congress’ priority list this year, freshman Sen. Rob Portman’s return to Washington appears almost too well-timed. 

Rubio’s Strategy: No Spotlight, Yet

Correction Appended

A year ago, then-candidate Marco Rubio received a megastar welcome when he was introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) as a keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual gathering in Washington, D.C.

Changes to Senate Rules Fall Short of Drastic Proposals

The Senate voted to agree to two changes to the chamber’s rules Thursday, three weeks after the session was officially gaveled open.

The votes were part of a bipartisan deal on the rules announced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday morning. But with only seven seats separating the majority from the minority, it was clear that the party leaders were intently focused on the future.

Senate Finalizes Panel Ratios, Doles Out Assignments

Updated: 8 p.m.

Senate Democrats shed seats on key committees, but it appears departures and electoral losses spared leaders from having to make deep cuts from key panels as assignments were finalized Thursday.

Senate Committee Assignments Trickle In; Rules Changes Considered

Updated: 9:18 p.m.

The Senate continued to slowly organize on Wednesday as a snowstorm bore down on Capitol Hill, and the chamber appeared on pace to end negotiations on rules changes by the end of the week.

Senate Ends First Day, Dashing One Strategy to Changes Rules

Updated: 1:09 a.m.

Senate leaders agreed on Tuesday to end their first day of the 112th Congress, according to two Democratic aides, in a move that scuttles a strategy to change the chamber’s rules while inching the Senate closer to an agreement on the issue.