Joe Manchin III

Attempts to Find Bipartisan Mood Challenged at Start
Despite hope among both parties, partisanship rears ugly head

President Donald J. Trump addresses the crowd after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the West Front of the Capitol, January 20, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s inauguration ushered in hopes from both sides of the aisle for some bipartisan comity. But shortly after Trump departed the Capitol Friday, those feelings ran headfirst into the partisan scars of the previous Congress.

Some Democrats see the GOP reaping the rewards of what they call a strategy of obstruction in the last Congress, and it might be difficult for them to heed calls for bipartisanship, even if it’s something they might believe needs to happen. 

Celebrating the Inauguration
Many began planning before November, while for others, it was more recent

Singer Katy Perry at President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. What celebrities will be in D.C. this year? (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Long before the election results were in, state societies and organizations in Washington were planning their ways to celebrate the inauguration.

And with inauguration 2017 drawing people from around the country — and the world — groups are putting on events that bring them all together.

Perry, Mnuchin Round Out Senate Hearings Before Inauguration
Democrats will try to keep the focus on health care

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Energy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump’s nominees to run the Energy and Treasury departments are the last to face Senate committees before the incoming president is sworn in on Friday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is acknowledging the Senate may only confirm a few nominees right away. 

The Senate is on track to confirm just three of Trump’s Cabinet nominees on Jan. 20, McConnell told USA Today on Wednesday. He blamed Democrats for slowing down the process, though Democrats say they need more time to properly vet Trump’s nominees.

Confirmation Hearings Bring Out the Senate Angst
McConnell said to expect votes on Cabinet nominations Friday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will return on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By BRIDGET BOWMAN and JASON DICKCQ Roll Call

The Senate eased into inauguration week with a pair of confirmation hearings, with committees taking up the cases for, or against, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to be Interior secretary and Betsy DeVos to be Education secretary.

Schumer Says He’ll Oppose Sessions’ Nomination
Democrats unlikely to be able to block nomination, however

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said he couldn't support Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general because “I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Thursday that he will oppose Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination to be the next attorney general.

“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration,” the New York Democrat said in a statement.

There’s Danger for Democrats, Too, in Obamacare Repeal
Blame for not replacing health care law may end up on everyone’s hands

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, center, and Reince Priebus, incoming White House chief of staff, leave a news conference with Republican senators after the Senate luncheons in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“So the dog finally caught the car.” That seemed to be the consensus in Washington Wednesday after Vice President-elect Mike Pence and congressional Republicans declared with confidence that they will begin to repeal Obamacare immediately, but struggled to say what Americans could expect as a replacement for the president’s signature health care law, or when.

“It will literally begin on Day One,” Pence promised in a press conference about President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for dismantling Obamacare. But when asked what exactly will happen on Day One, or what the House will eventually vote on, Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to go into detail.  

Parsing New Senate Committee Rosters for Future Career Moves
Senators with 2020 ambitions, or 2018 re-election worries, hope for help from new assignments

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker have both landed plum committee assignments that could bolster their 2020 presidential prospects. (Bill Clark/Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photos)

There’s little doubt about committees being a stronger force for shaping legislation in the House than in the Senate. That is why so many lobbyists and lawmakers had their ears pressed to the door Wednesday while the Republican Steering Committee started filling openings on the most influential House panels. 

But when it comes to shaping national political careers, it’s the Senate where such assignments often represent the biggest value. That is why everyone already pondering the next Democratic presidential campaign, and before that, the senatorial balance of power after the 2018 midterms, has been parsing the committee rosters finalized this week.

Joe Manchin: Trump Whisperer?
Democratic senator met Wednesday with Pence

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III met Wednesday with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After picking the Senate over a possible job in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III is trying to play the bridge-builder role between the Senate Democratic caucus and the incoming administration.

Manchin told reporters that he spoke with Vice President-elect Mike Pence after Wednesday’s party caucus lunches about Republican designs to repeal the 2010 health care law. Pence attended the Republican conference’s lunch meeting, as he plans to do regularly when he is in town while vice president.

Bipartisan Mood as Congress Sworn in
Hugs, greetings across the aisle as contentious issues loom

Rep.-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., waves to the gallery as she arrives on the House floor to take the oath of office on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For many, their first day of work in Washington was dreary and puddle-filled, but in the Senate, there were no political parties for a brief moment.

During a full day of rain in the nation’s capital, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. returned to the Senate perhaps for the last time to swear in the 27 re-elected senators and seven newly elected ones.

Heitkamp Says She's 'Likely' to Stay in Senate
The North Dakota Democrat has been floated as a potential Trump Cabinet pick

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., spoke Thursday about her future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said she will likely remain in the Senate, despite being floated as a one of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential Cabinet picks.

“The job that I have right now is incredibly challenging. I love it,” the North Dakota Democrat told her brother Joel Heitkamp’s KFGO radio program on Thursday morning. “These are ongoing discussions but also I will tell you that my first love is serving the people of North Dakota.“