Niels Lesniewski

Government shutdown pushing Metro off the rails to the tune of $400K every weekday
Issues could get worse if benefits are not transferred after January 21

Metro is facing $400,000 in lost revenue each business day that the government is partially shut down . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Metro, which operates trains buses and parking garages in and around Washington, D.C., is losing roughly $400,000 from its receipts for every business day that the partial government shutdown persists.

That revelation from WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld came in a letter to the Democratic senators from Maryland and Virginia who represent many users of the Metro system, including federal employees.

Elizabeth Warren wants big banks to give details of assistance to furloughed federal workers as shutdown continues
Democratic senator highlights more transparency from credit unions about help for the workers who are not being paid

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants details of what large banks are doing to help customers affected by the partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants specifics from big banks about what they are doing to help federal workers who haven’t received paychecks due to the partial government shutdown.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who is often an adversary of large financial institutions, actually praised some of them for public statements expressing support for the furloughed federal employees (and those required to report to work without pay).

Grassley wants IRS to give taxpayers a break if they messed up witholdings

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, center, thinks the IRS should give taxpayers a break if they did not withhold enough from their paychecks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee does not want taxpayers punished if they end up owing an abnormally large amount of money to the IRS this tax season because of issues with the changes in tax withholding under 2018 tax code changes.

While Sen. Charles E. Grassley praised the efforts of the IRS and the Treasury Department to advise people of the importance of updating tax withholding figures, as well as the online calculator, he said that it was clear there could be issues.

Senate effort to block Russia sanctions relief comes up short
Clear majority of senators supported attempt to maintain sanctions on three Russian firms, but not 60 of them

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., fell short of 60 votes on his Russia sanctions measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer came up just short in his effort to get legislation through the chamber blocking the Treasury Department from easing sanctions on a trio of Russian companies.

Less than 24 hours after securing 57 votes to support a motion to proceed to the joint resolution disapproving of Treasury’s move to lift sanctions on three Russian firms that have been controlled by sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the same number of senators voted to limit debate — but that was three short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and get the measure to a final passage vote.

Senate votes to start debating Russia sanctions measure, but may lack votes to finish it
Joint resolution seeks to block sanctions relief for three Russian companies

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has led the joint resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Eleven Senate Republicans split from the Trump administration Tuesday afternoon, backing an effort by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer to force a floor debate on sanctions on Russian firms.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had appeared at Tuesday’s Senate GOP lunch to make the case for letting sanctions relief for three sanctioned Russian companies to go forward.

Barr and Mueller are friends? Hearing unlikely to derail attorney general confirmation
 

Attorney general nominee William Barr (who previously served in the position under President George H.W. Bush) faced questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The nominee's position on the investigation is a top priority for several senators. Despite Barr's past criticism of the investigation, the former attorney general called Mueller a good friend who would not engage in a “witch hunt.” 

Roll Call’s senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski takes a look at how Barr’s performance at the hearing suggests his nomination will likely proceed unimpeded.

Steven Mnuchin makes case to GOP to allow easing of sanctions on Russian companies
Visited Senate Republican lunch ahead of votes on Schumer resolution

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged the Senate to ease relief on Russian companies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is making the case to Senate Republicans that they should stop an effort to block sanctions relief against three Russian companies.

But as he left Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch, Mnuchin did not seem certain about the vote count ahead of an expected Tuesday afternoon vote on a motion to proceed to a resolution disapproving of the sanctions relief proposed for En+ Group plc, UC Rusal plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

John Thune’s new whip office staff learning the ropes and getting to work
Office features a mix of veteran Senate and House aides

Staffers for Sen. John Thune pose in his new whip office in the Capitol on Jan. 10. Front row, from left, David Cole, Scarlet Samp and Jason Van Beek; back row, from left, Cynthia Herrle, Geoffrey Antell, Brendon Plack and Nick Rossi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s Republican majority has a new occupant of the whip’s office, and with it come some new people for senators and their staffs to interact with when trying to get legislation to the floor.

The leader of the operation for Majority Whip John Thune will be a familiar face from the South Dakota’s previous role as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Schumer: no sanctions relief for Russian oligarch until Mueller finishes investigation
Senate minority leader plans to force Tuesday votes on disapproval of Trump administration plan

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer plans to force votes to stop Treasury from easing sanctions again Russian companies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer plans to force votes Tuesday on an attempt to disapprove of sanctions relief against companies associated with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said Monday that there should be no sanctions relief for the companies, despite some structural changes to the ownership, until Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller finishes his work investigating Russian election interference in the U.S.

How the House rebuke of Steve King would work
Whether reprimand or censure, a formal ding from the chamber comes with few consequences

Democrats Bobby Rush and Tim Ryan have introduced separate measures to censure Iowa Republican Steve King over a pattern of racist comments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders are planning to hold a vote Tuesday on a resolution of disapproval against Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King for racist comments, while two rank-and-file members are pushing for a stronger rebuke.

Democratic Reps. Bobby L. Rush of Illinois and Tim Ryan of Ohio introduced separate measures on Monday to censure King, setting into motion votes on one of Congress’ formal means of punishing members.