Chris Coons

Senate Panel Tees Up Mueller Protection Bill Despite Headwinds
McConnell indicates measure won’t reach Senate floor

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, pictured here with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says the views of Majority Mitch McConnell are important but do not govern what happens in the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say they want to act on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III — even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially killed it by saying it won’t make it to the floor.

They then spoke to the natural follow-up question: Why bother?

Corker Releases AUMF Without an Expiration Date
Prospects for approval uncertain with expected opposition within Foreign Relations panel

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is not concerned that the new force authorization measure does not have a commitment from leadership for a floor vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-awaited draft authorization to set new guidelines on the 17-year-old war on terrorism was released Monday night by senators and, to the displeasure of some Democrats, it would not impose significant restrictions on military operations, such as an expiration date.

The bipartisan Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2018 would repeal and replace the 2001 AUMF, which has been increasingly criticized for its expansive justification of all kinds of military actions against extremist groups that did not exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The new AUMF would also repeal the 2002 authorization that enabled the 2003 Iraq War.

Mueller Protection Bill Faces Political, Procedural Headwinds
Judiciary Committee looks at consideration of bill in two weeks

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is preparing his committee for a vote on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee appears poised to vote in two weeks on a bill that would give job protections to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even as President Donald Trump asserted again Thursday that he has the authority to fire the man investigating connections between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Thursday’s discussion revealed how the bill still faces potential political hazards at the Judiciary Committee. Democrats have raised concerns about a yet-to-be-seen amendment that Republicans want to add to the measure. Some Republicans have concerns about the constitutionality of a bill that would limit a president’s ability to make personnel decisions in the executive branch.

Bipartisan Bill to Protect Mueller Headed for Judiciary Markup
Trump dubs probe “Fake Corrupt Russia Investigation”

A bipartisan group of senators will mark up a bill to provide job protection for special counsel in the Russia investigation Robert S. Mueller III. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a compromise bill Wednesday to give Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III job protections, as renewed criticism from President Donald Trump adds more fuel to speculation that he plans to fire the man tapped to investigate connections between his campaign and Russian operatives.

Trump on Wednesday dubbed Mueller’s probe the “Fake Corrupt Russia Investigation” on Twitter, the latest in a series of statements sparked by the FBI’s search Monday of the office of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. It is one of several times since June that Trump’s statements have prompted discussion that Mueller’s job was at risk.

Podcast: Lessons for the Opioid Epidemic from the Ebola Fight
Political Theater, Episode 11

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., attend an event in the Hart Building on Feb. 26, 2015 when Sirleaf offered thanks to Congress for authorizing funds to help fight ebola in her country. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Lawmakers Missed Opportunity to Save Trump From Trump
Legislative protection for special counsel could have forced president to refocus

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he’s received assurances that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing is “not even under consideration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans have let slip a golden opportunity to make good on their most important and counterintuitive campaign promise of 2018 — covering for President Donald Trump at every mind-numbing opportunity.

They still have half a year to change their collective minds, but for now the GOP is essentially all in on one of the most outside-the-box political strategies of all time: Betting that safe passage for their imperiled majorities requires lashing themselves to a president mired in record low approval ratings, subsumed by self-orchestrated chaos and in the crosshairs of a special counsel.

Spending Bill Unlikely to Include DACA Fix
White House, Democrats talking past one another

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, says Democrats rejected the latest White House offer. Democrats counter the White House already missed its chance on a DACA fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Prospects are dim that a short-term patch that would extend a program protecting about 690,000 “Dreamers” from deportation will be included in the upcoming fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Conversations remain ongoing between Congress and the White House on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with some aides insisting a last-minute deal is a possibility. President Donald Trump wants to end the Obama administration program, but federal judges have blocked him and Dreamers brought to the United States illegally as children are in limbo.

Senate Passes Bank Deregulation Bill, House May Seek Additions
More than a dozen Democratic senators joined all Republicans

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo sponsored the measure that would ease regulations on all but the biggest banks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would be the biggest bank deregulation since 1999 and would roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

More than a dozen Democrats joined the Republicans to pass the bill, sending it to the House, where conservative Republicans may seek to attach further provisions to roll back the 2010 law. Republicans will be trying to straddle the line between the extensive reversal of bank regulation that they seek and keeping on board the Senate Democrats who will be needed to clear the measure.

Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar
Weeks in April and May could be consumed by State, CIA nominations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to clear some floor time for the nominations of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to run the CIA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whatever the Senate might have wanted to focus on in April and May will now have to compete for time with a new priority thrust upon it by President Donald Trump.

Once senators got past the initial shock of Trump’s Twitter announcement Tuesday that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they quickly moved toward paving the way to debate and confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor, as well as Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead that agency.

Humor on a Congressional Curve
Separating the ridiculous from the non-ridiculous with Alexandra Petri

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., CNN's Deirdre Walsh and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., yuk it up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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Humor is sometimes the only way to deal with serious topics.