Mike Rounds

When Allies Attack: Friction Between Democrats, Immigration Advocates
Hard feelings about groups pressuring minority party

Demonstrators with United We Dream and others rally in the atrium of the Hart Building in January to call on Congress to pass the so-called DREAM Act to protect young immigrants from deportation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Friction lingers between Senate Democrats and progressive advocacy groups after the chamber failed to advance a bipartisan bill in February to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. 

Tensions came to a breaking point in the weeks before the Senate voted on several immigration-related proposals aimed at extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, aides say. The rift was a long time in the making, as some Democratic lawmakers questioned the strategy that pro-immigration and progressive groups used to drive action over the past six months.

Mike Pence Breaks Another Tie Senate Vote
With veep help, Senate confirms Vought for deputy OMB director slot

Vice President Mike Pence broke another tie Senate vote on Wednesday, his ninth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators voted to confirm Russell Vought as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote Wednesday with the chamber deadlocked at 49-49. It was the ninth time Pence has broken a tie since he took office last January. 

GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Mike Rounds of South Dakota were absent, necessitating Pence’s drive down Pennsylvania Avenue as the Senate split along party lines on the vote.

‘Dreamers’ in Limbo After Senate Rejects Immigration Plans
It remains unclear when Congress will take up DACA legislation again

Immigration rights advocates demonstrate in favor of “Dreamers” at a protest in Washington on Dec. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate squandered three opportunities on Thursday to advance legislation that would protect so-called Dreamers from deportation and enhance border security measures.

Lawmakers could not muster the 60 votes needed on any of the three proposals, all of which would have offered a path to citizenship for at least 1.8 million Dreamers in return for some degree of border security. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to support a last-ditch bipartisan deal announced Wednesday, but even that was not enough.

Four Up, Four Down on Senate Immigration Proposals
Bipartisan, Democratic, Republican amendments all blocked

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Senate minority leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., were not able to convince enough senators on the other side of their respective aisles to advance any of the immigration proposals. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted down all four immigration proposals in front of it on Thursday, failing to cut off debate on each one of them and leaving the chamber at a loss on how to proceed, eventually, on the high-profile issue.

First up was a motion to cut off debate on a proposal from Arizona Republican John McCain and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons to provide conditional permanent residence to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program if they meet certain qualifications, and would authorize $110 million annually, for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2022, for grants for border security activities in states with international or maritime borders.

GOP Plans to Keep Discussing Health Care, Even if Trump Does Not

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., thinks the GOP needs to continue discussing the nation's challenges when it comes to health insurance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Health care policy isn’t set to be a major focus of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday, although some Republicans say the GOP needs to talk about the rising costs of health insurance.

Republicans on Capitol Hill say they don’t want Trump to shy away from talking about health care, despite the fact that the 2010 health care law remains mostly intact a year into the GOP-controlled Congress and Trump presidency. Some Republicans say they’d like to hear Trump encourage lawmakers to keep working to address rising premium costs.

Why the House Is Voting on Defense Funding a Third Time
Messaging and internal politics lead to another vote on increasing military spending

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, reached an agreement with defense hawks such as House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry to hold another vote on fiscal 2018 defense funding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House vote this week on a stand-alone defense appropriations measure to boost funding for the military serves two primary purposes for Republicans: messaging and peacekeeping.

While the chamber has already twice passed legislation to fund the Pentagon above the fiscal 2018 sequestration budget cap, Tuesday’s vote allows the GOP to continue emphasizing its support for national security.

Trump Takes Back Seat in Shutdown-Ending Talks
Despite past rhetoric and boasts of deal-making, president let Congress figure it out

President Donald Trump addresses staff at the White House on Saturday while lawmakers worked on an agreement to end the government shutdown. (Courtesy Joyce N. Boghosian/White House)

President Donald Trump on Saturday, amid a government shutdown that tarnished the anniversary of his first year in office, was surrounded by a room of people at the White House, apparently hanging on his every word. But these were his own staffers, not lawmakers working to turn the federal lights back on.

Trump and his top aides, even before the government went dark at 12 a.m. Saturday, tried to assign blame for the shutdown to Democrats as well as responsibility for ending it. Yet there is a sense in Washington that the president, who as a candidate said his business-world success made him uniquely qualified to cut deals with Congress, left the heavy lifting to others.

Senate Passes Three-Week CR to Reopen Federal Government

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate floor in the Capitol after the chamber passed a continuing resolution to reopen the government on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 81-18 to pass a continuing resolution running through Feb. 8 on Monday afternoon, sending it back to the House as Day Three of the partial government shutdown dragged on.

The House is expected to clear the stopgap for President Donald Trump’s signature, ending the shutdown in time for federal workers to return to their offices Tuesday morning. A number of House Democrats appear likely to back the measure after opposing a previous version last week, and top Democrats predicted the CR would be passed this time.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Hoping for Breakthrough on Shutdown
Group of 20 presenting options to break stalemate to leaders

From left, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., leave a meeting in Sen. Susan Collins’s office with other Senate moderates as they try to find a way to end the government shutdown on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There is growing optimism that the Senate will be able to muster the votes necessary to advance a three-week funding measure to reopen the federal government, Republican and Democratic aides and lawmakers say.

The deal is a central discussion of a coalition of roughly 20 bipartisan members that have been meeting Saturday and Sunday. The group is discussing the offer with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. 

How House Republicans Got to ‘Yes’ on Funding the Government
Leaders navigated twists and turns in negotiations with the Freedom Caucus

Speaker Paul D. Ryan leaves his office in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

All eyes will be on the Senate on Friday as lawmakers there race against the clock to avert a government shutdown. But over in the House, Republicans are happy they were able to pass a four-week stopgap measure without turning to the Democrats for help.

It wasn’t an easy task for House GOP leaders to cobble up the 216 votes within their conference needed to pass a continuing resolution. (The bill ended up passing Thursday, 230-197.) Yet throughout the negotiations, leadership remained confident its members would get there, given the urgency of the deadline and the political consequences if they failed to meet it.