Arkansas

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.

Disaster aid bill could grow, block diversion of funds to wall
Measure unlikely to go far in Senate

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., (left), is pushing for a disaster aid package. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., opposes an amendment Democrats are preparing that he describes as an “exercise in futility. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is scheduled to take up a $12.1 billion disaster aid package Wednesday that would reopen the nine closed Cabinet agencies for three weeks and, if approved during floor debate, prevent President Donald Trump from tapping the bill’s emergency funds for building a border wall.

The underlying bill would direct aid to victims of recent calamities such as hurricanes that hit Florida and the Carolinas, wildfires that ravaged California and typhoons that struck island territories in the Pacific, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., told the Rules Committee on Tuesday.

If Trump is looking for a national emergency, he should try these ones instead
Voter suppression, gun violence — those are worth fighting against

As the president fixates on the border, Democrats are trying to make headway on guns, Curtis writes. Above, Dominic Gregoire, 10, holds a picture of a shooting victim while attending an event at the Capitol last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Dueling teleprompter speeches and a high-drama walkout: This is what it looks like when our country’s leaders debate the best way to meet the challenges at the border and whether shutting down the government is the best way to settle it.

If no one budges this week — and the way talks have been going so far, optimism is not particularly warranted — the next step could be a national emergency, declared by the president. But first Donald Trump seems intent on diluting the word “emergency” to mean whatever he wants it to mean on a particular day or hour.

House Democrats’ budget to assume corporate tax increase
Yarmuth aims to bring fiscal 2020 budget resolution to floor by early April

New House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., wants to mark up a fiscal 2020 budget resolution in time to reach the chamber floor in early April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. John Yarmuth, the new House Budget chairman, said his chamber’s budget blueprint will aim to claw back lost revenue by boosting the corporate tax rate from its current 21 percent to as high as 28 percent, with rate increases also possible for high-earning individuals.

The Kentucky Democrat said Friday he wants to mark up a fiscal 2020 budget resolution, which will outline his party’s vision for taxes and spending over the next decade, in time to reach the House floor in early April. Yarmuth said Democratic leaders have told him they want to be ready so they can set the procedural stage for passage of all 12 appropriations bills before the August recess.

Here are lawmakers diverting pay in solidarity with shutdown employees
Thousands of civilian workers will not receive paychecks due next week if deal to end shutdown isn’t reached

Sen. Mazie Hirono said she will donate her paycheck to food banks in Hawaii during the shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several lawmakers have declared they will decline their paycheck or will donate it to charity in solidarity with civilian workers furloughed or working without pay.

Federal workers received their regular paychecks last week for work completed before the shutdown, but if a spending agreement is not reached soon, thousands could see a delay in paychecks scheduled for next Friday.

Senators Confirm Slew of Trump Nominees in Final Hours of 115th Congress
List does not include lifetime judicial appointments; next business will be in the new Congress

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got a deal to confirm more of President Donald Trump’s nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As a practical matter, the 115th Congress is finally history.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement that the Senate will convene for a pro forma session at 11:50 a.m. Thursday, but there will be no real business until after noon arrives, when the new Congress begins, as outlined in the Constitution. 

House Panel Plans Bipartisan Push Against Trump on Syria
Mac Thornberry, Adam Smith on same page as leaders of Armed Services

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, is working with Adam Smith, the panel's top Democrat, to push back on President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from Syria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee say they are launching an unusual bipartisan campaign to push back against President Donald Trump’s proposed withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria.

Texas Republican Mac Thornberry, the committee’s chairman, and Washington Democrat Adam Smith, the ranking member and likely the new chairman in the next Congress, said in separate interviews Thursday that they will join forces to try to slow or shape, if not stop, the president’s move. It was their first public comments on the issue.

Senate Sends Criminal Justice Bill to the House
Action comes after years of debate, bipartisan support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,resisted bringing the criminal justice bill to the floor initially, but he ultimately supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 87-12 to pass an amended criminal justice overhaul bill on Tuesday, sending a bipartisan measure that almost did not make it to the floor to what backers said was a clear and swift path to becoming law.

The bill, which was brought to the floor as an amendment to an unrelated measure, survived initial indifference from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a series of amendments from Republican opponents, and the addition of some other amendments before ultimately earning an overwhelming bipartisan final vote.

For Stripped-Down Criminal Justice Bill, Less Could Be More
Sen. Kamala Harris: It’s a ‘compromise of a compromise‘

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced her support for the bill Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill that advanced Monday evening falls short of what lawmakers and advocates had sought to do with the measure more than four years ago — but now that’s the key to enacting the most sweeping changes to prison and sentencing laws in decades.

The latest version, on the floor via an unrelated bill, is whittled down to the provisions with the broadest support, bulked up with measures demanded by law enforcement and tough-on-crime Republicans, and tweaked to get the backing of President Donald Trump.

Criminal Justice Bill Could Bring Out Drama in Senate
Tom Cotton threatens Christmas showdown, throws gauntlet at colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the chamber will consider a criminal justice reform measure, but opponents might make it a rough debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is poised to vote on a bipartisan criminal justice bill as soon as this week, the culmination of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a public campaign by lawmakers, the White House and advocates to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor this year. But that does not mean the debate will be free of drama. 

McConnell announced Tuesday that the revised bill would be put on the floor agenda this month “following improvements to the legislation that [have] been secured by several members.” That ended weeks of uncertainty about whether the Senate would have a chance to vote on prison and sentencing changes that would be the first in a generation and could become a signature accomplishment right before the end of the 115th Congress.