Policy

Senate Adopts Budget With House-Backed Changes
Late amendment expected to help speed up consideration of a tax overhaul

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Thursday night that was amended at the 11th hour with the aim of making it acceptable enough to House Republicans to avoid a conference committee and speed the consideration of a tax overhaul.

The budget was adopted 51-49.

When the Budget Resolution Isn’t About the Budget
Senators acknowledge budget is all about taxes

Georgia GOP Sen. David Perdue is teaming up with a Democratic colleague, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, on amendments to the budget resolution that declare the process is basically absurd. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

When Sen. John McCain removed the suspense by announcing he would vote for the budget resolution moving through the Senate, the Arizona Republican made clear the ridiculousness of the exercise.

“At the end of the day, we all know that the Senate budget resolution will not impact final appropriations,” he said in a statement. “To do that, Congress and the White House must negotiate a budget agreement that will lift the caps on defense spending and enable us to adequately fund the military.”

Trump: Marino Withdrew From Drug Czar Consideration
Pennsylvania Republican out of Office of National Drug Control Policy consideration

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., seated at center, withdrew from drug czar consideration, Trump tweeted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tom Marino, the Pennsylvania Republican tapped by President Donald Trump as the administration’s “drug czar,” withdrew his name from consideration, Trump said in a Twitter message Tuesday.

“Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!” Trump said in the tweet.

Nominations Fill Legislative Void in Senate
Work stalled in the chamber amid partisan health care and tax effort

Callista Gingrich, nominated to be Vatican ambassador, is one of many nominees awaiting a vote from the Senate. She’ll get hers on Monday afternoon. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans have repeatedly accused the Democratic minority of slow-rolling the process of confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees for hundreds of vacant federal and judicial positions. But after engaging in a partisan agenda for most of this year, the GOP may need those confirmation votes just to fill up floor time in the chamber.

The major tenets of the Republican agenda are largely stalled, with the legislative health care effort in tatters and an overhaul of the U.S. tax code still in development.

Who Benefits From the State and Local Tax Deduction?
Roll Call analysis finds higher-income earners reap substantial returns from the deduction

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch is among the “Big Six” Republican tax negotiators. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

A fight within the Republican Party over a proposal to eliminate the state and local tax deduction threatens the future of the GOP effort to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Battle lines have been drawn, as lawmakers from states that see substantial benefit from the deduction — such as New Jersey and New York — are already sounding alarms at the proposal to remove it. 

White House Aide Nielsen Picked for Homeland Secretary
Nominee previously served as John F. Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS

Kirstjen Nielsen, deputy White House chief of staff, speaks with John Kelly, White House chief of staff in August 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has chosen Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Nielsen, 45, previously served as Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS when he led the department before taking the White House job in July. Nielsen would be leaving her role at the White House after having served as a top aide to Kelly for just a little over a month.

Diane Black, Prepping Gubernatorial Bid, Takes Victory Lap
Tennessee Republican finally shepherded budget resolution through House last week

House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black has had an undeniable impact on this year’s budget process, thanks to her efforts to forge a compromise package. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

The first woman to chair the House Budget Committee finally shepherded the fiscal 2018 resolution through her chamber Oct. 5, a traditionally thankless task that she took on after President Donald Trump tapped the former chairman, Tom Price, to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

Rep. Diane Black is now preparing to hand in her gavel after 10 months on the job, so she can focus on her campaign to become Tennessee’s next Republican governor, she announced in early August.

New Foreign Surveillance Bill Would Boost Privacy Protections
Top House Judiciary leaders reached decision last week

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and ranking member John Conyers Jr. introduced the so-called USA Liberty Act on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and the panel’s top Democrat Rep. John Conyers Jr. reached agreement last week on a new bill that would tighten privacy protections in a surveillance law considered vital by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The bill’s attempt to shore up civil liberties runs contrary to what the White House and intelligence agencies have sought, and is likely to face opposition from a group of national security hawks in the Senate who back the Trump administration position.

Even Senators Hate Robocalls
Aging Committee hearing focuses on scam calls to seniors

Maine Sen. Susan Collins said she has disconnected her home landline because of robocalls. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Even senators are plagued by their home phones ringing off the hook with inappropriate and even illegal robocalls.

“My husband and I received so many on our landline in Bangor that we discontinued the landline,” Maine Republican Susan Collins said Wednesday.

Senate Committee Advances Children’s Health Care Bill
Only Sen. Toomey spoke out against

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., emphasized the need to keep CHIP legislation bipartisan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved by voice vote its bipartisan bill to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Senators withheld amendments in an effort to speed up passage. During the voice vote, only Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., spoke out against the measure.