Jeff Merkley

At Center for American Progress, a Tryout for 2020 Ideas
D.C. gathering alternates between liberal goals, Trump reaction

California Sen. Kamala Harris took aim at the administration’s approach to drug policy at Tuesday’s Center for American Progress gathering. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Potential Democratic presidential candidates took center stage Tuesday for what might prove to be the kickoff of the 2020 campaign, but the popular characterization of the progressive policy confab as a “CPAC for liberals” might have missed the mark.

The Center for American Progress’ 2017 Ideas Conference looked like the kind of muted 2020 cattle call one would expect from a gathering in the ballroom of the Georgetown Four Seasons in Washington. Missing were the raucous crowds that overtake the sprawling gathering at National Harbor for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Post-Comey Senate Forecast Is Turbulent
Procedural roadblocks could set back legislative ambitions

Aides to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer declined to comment on what steps Democrats planned to take should none of their demands on the Russia probe be met. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY JOE WILLIAMS AND NIELS LESNIEWSKI

A partisan standoff in the fallout of the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey could significantly stall the Senate legislative calendar, as Democrats appear ready to utilize procedural rules to coerce Republicans into acting on a number of demands.

Ellison Talks About How to Hold Officials Accountable on Health Care
Talked about recruiting new leaders

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., led a town hall with activists on how to push back against Republican efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison told Democratic activists on Tuesday that they can prevent a rollback of the 2010 health care law and push for single-payer health care.

Ellison, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, took part in a town hall hosted by People’s Action as part of the advocacy group’s founding convention at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill.

Photos of the Week: Senate Goes Nuclear to Confirm Gorsuch
The week of April 3 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gives a thumbs-up on Thursday after the Senate invoked the "nuclear option" which will allow for a simple majority vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice nominee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The consideration of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court was front and center all week on Capitol Hill. The final vote for confirmation took place Friday morning, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the Senate, but the lead-up had more fireworks — with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoking the “nuclear option” on Thursday to lower the threshold of cloture votes needed, effectively clearing the way for Gorsuch’s approval. 

Merkley Stages 15.5-Hour Anti-Gorsuch Talk-a-Thon in Senate
Merkley’s action won’t delay procedural vote on nomination, which was already set before speech

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley wrapped up his marathon floor speech Wednesday morning after more than 15 hours. He then gave bagels and muffins to Senate staff following the all-nighter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Merkley staged a nearly 15½-hour long marathon speech to protest Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, wrapping up at just before 10:15 Wednesday morning. 

The speech fell just a few minutes short of the seventh-longest Senate speech in the chamber’s history, which lasted 15 hours and 30 minutes. But Merkley’s action did not delay a procedural vote on Gorsuch, which was set before he began his speech.

Opinion: This Budget Isn’t Dead on Arrival
Trump’s budget draws the battle lines between the parties

A president’s budget sets the tone, direction and parameters of the debate over government operations and Republicans in Congress will be hard-pressed to go against a president of their own party, Allen writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Every year, Congress affixes the same toe tag to the White House budget within minutes of its delivery: “Dead on Arrival.”

The phrase is such a cliche, and so often repeated by members of Congress who dislike the president’s numbers, that it’s hard to find a news story about each year’s budget that doesn’t include those three words. It’s also discounted as just a “blueprint,” “a political document” or a “proposal” written for disposal. When I was a budget reporter for CQ, and at other publications, these were my watchwords.

Liberal Groups Warn Democratic Senators Over Gorsuch
Votes on SCOTUS nominee could ‘haunt them for the rest of their careers’

Liberals are pushing for Democrats such as Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin to oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Liberal groups are pushing for Democratic senators to block Judge Neil Gorsuch from the Supreme Court and say the lawmakers could pay a price if they don’t vote against him.

The groups announced the launch of a campaign called “The People’s Defense” led NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn.org, CREDO, Indivisible, and the American Federation of Teachers.

Senate Democrats Plan All-Nighter Over EPA Nominee
But Scott Pruitt is likely to be confirmed despite objections

Scott Pruitt is the current attorney general of Oklahoma. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are planning to once again stage a series of overnight speeches on the Senate floor, this time in opposition to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the EPA. 

“We intend to stand our ground,” said Delaware Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the ranking Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee. While Pruitt appears poised for confirmation, Carper said Democrats were not going quietly into the night.

Democrats in a Dilemma Over Trump's Court Nominee
Senate Democrats will get a lot of advice about how to handle President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court — and it appears they need it.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court Justice nominee, meets with North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in her Hart building office on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There’s pressure from liberal advocacy groups and the party’s energized base for Democrats to pull out all the stops in an attempt to block Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation. Not only do those interests have concerns about his approach to abortion rights and environmental law, but they thirst for revenge for Republicans’ obstruction of former President Barack Obama’s nominee for the same seat.

Some moderate legal and political commentators, meanwhile, have urged Democrats to wait for another potential Supreme Court nominee to launch an all-out confirmation war — a possibility during the Trump administration since two justices are in their 80s. Gorsuch would replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, so his elevation from a federal appeals court in Denver wouldn’t shift the ideological balance of the high court anyway.