leadership

Senators Silent After Meeting With FBI Director Comey
Friday afternoon meeting came after votes finished for recess

Senators were not in a talkative mood after meeting with FBI Director James B. Comey on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not much can get between senators and a recess. Except, perhaps, FBI Director James B. Comey. 

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with ex-officio member and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, huddled for a total of more than two hours on Friday with Comey.

Congress Caught Unaware by National Guard Report
Mitch McConnell says he will ‘take a look’ at any White House proposal

Border protection agents during a service at the Capitol in 2008. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress was caught somewhat flat-footed Friday by reports that the Trump administration is considering calling on the National Guard to round up and deport undocumented immigrants. 

“I hadn’t heard about it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said when asked about an Associated Press report on a memo drafted by the Department of Homeland Security. The document proposed mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops across 12 states to gather immigrants who were in the country illegally. AP reported that the memo, dated Jan. 25, bore the name of DHS Secretary John Kelly, and had circulated among DHS staff.

Emerging GOP Plan Would Replace Parts of Obamacare as It’s Repealed
Ryan, Walden, Brady present plan that includes provisions that are controversial among some Republicans

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters Thursday that legislation to repeal the 2010 health care law would be announced after the Presidents Day recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Developing House Republican legislation to repeal the 2010 health care law would also include replacement provisions that are controversial among the GOP rank and file, like a refundable tax credit to help individuals purchase insurance and a plan for dealing with Medicaid expansion.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady on Thursday presented to the House Republican Conference their vision for a “repeal plus” bill that would undo most of the health care law and set up some pieces of a yet undeveloped Republican replacement. 

Senate Democrats Coalesce on Demands for Russia Probe
Minority party hopes public attention forces issue on GOP

Schumer, center, Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Dianne Feinstein at a news conference on investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats have laid out their demands for independent investigations into potential contact between Russian officials and members of President Donald Trump’s team, and are hopeful public outcry will force the administration and congressional Republicans to comply.

Democrats held what they called an “emergency” caucus meeting Wednesday to discuss former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation following revelations he discussed sanctions with Russia’s  ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. The meeting also followed a New York Times report that a handful of Trump officials had been in contact with Russian intelligence officers leading up to the presidential election.

Ambitious House Agenda on Medicaid Could Stall in Senate
GOP senators doubt changes could gain traction in upper chamber

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he thinks there might not be enough “political will” for a major Medicaid overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators are warning that major changes to the Medicaid program may not survive the upper chamber, despite an aggressive push from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to include a substantial overhaul of the program in the Republican measure to repeal the health care law.

In the House, Ryan and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden are pushing their colleagues to consider major Medicaid changes on a repeal bill this spring. Those include funding mechanisms like so-called block grants and per capita caps or a cap on Medicaid enrollment for states that expanded the program under the health care law, according to House aides.

No Party Line for GOP on Flynn Fallout
Members left to guess about next steps in inquiry

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters as he heads to a briefing in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans were swarmed on Tuesday with questions about what President Donald Trump knew and when did he know about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s questionable interactions with Russian authorities. But there was little consensus on the best venue for getting to the bottom of it.

“I think it’s good for the American people to understand, in a fulsome way, everything that’s happened. And to get it behind us,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said. “This is going to go on forever if we don’t address it somehow.”

Tim Kaine on the Constitution’s ‘230-Year Checkup’
Virginia senator says Trump presidency is ‘living experiment’ on overreach

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said last Friday that the Constitution is being tested under Donald Trump’s presidency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

FAIRFAX, Va. — Sen. Tim Kaine says that with President Donald Trump in office, Americans are in a “living experiment” to see whether or not the Constitution still works to check executive power. 

Given the roles that sons of the commonwealth played in crafting the Constitution, perhaps it is no surprise that a Virginia senator would make the case that the relevancy of the document itself will be tested by the 45th president.

McConnell Lines Up Slew of Cabinet Nominee Votes
Mick Mulvaney will be first of half-dozen nominations to get vote

South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney is expected to receive a vote on his nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid the groundwork for another procedural slog on the Senate floor that could stretch into the early part of March.

First up after a previously scheduled vote Tuesday morning on Linda McMahon’s nomination to helm the Small Business Administration will be the Office of Management and Budget director nominee, Rep. Mick Mulvaney. The South Carolina Republican will receive a vote this week after what’s expected to be a blistering debate likely focused on his tea party past, including his past opposition to increased defense spending.

Amid Senate Tensions, Hatch Eyes Bipartisan Tax Deal
Utah Republican says House GOP plan will not pass the Senate

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch says that despite “a lot of bitterness around here,” he plans to meet with Senate Democrats to gauge interest in a bipartisan tax proposal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has launched a new push for a bipartisan Senate alternative to the contentious House Republican tax plan, as President Donald Trump begins to frame administration priorities.

The Senate Finance chairman said last week he was meeting with Democratic tax writers one-on-one and hoped there would be leeway for deals, after bitter debates over Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin riled the Senate and exposed deep partisan fault lines.

Unanimous Vote for Obama-Era Official as VA Secretary
David Shulkin provides rare bipartisan confirmation moment

David Shulkin has earned a promotion at the VA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a break from the partisan rancor over Donald Trump’s nominees, senators came together to back the president’s choice to helm the Department of Veterans Affairs, who so happened to be a senior-level holdover from the administration of President Barack Obama.

David Shulkin received overwhelming bipartisan support to head the VA, which has been plagued by health care scandals in recent years. Senators quickly backed Shulkin in a unanimous vote.