Patrick J Leahy

Democratic lawmakers ‘astonished’ by Trump’s claim that taking foreign ‘dirt’ is routine
Mitt Romney calls it 'unthinkable' to accept information from foreign government to influence elections

President Donald Trump argued accepting intelligence on a political opponent from foreign sources, which is illegal under federal campaign finance laws, is routine by presidential candidates and congressional campaigns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers pushed back strenuously on President Donald Trump’s claim during a television interview Wednesday that accepting “dirt” on political opponents from foreign sources is routine.

Democrats responded incredulously to Trump’s statement that he would accept intelligence on a political opponent from another country if offered, and that doing so is common practice in congressional campaigns. 

Senate GOP border aid package to largely track Trump request
Top Democrat on Appropriations details demands that will earn votes on measure

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined the border supplemental aid package the Senate will move in the coming days. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans appear likely to bless President Donald Trump’s $4.5 billion emergency border funding request in its entirety, gambling that either just enough Democrats will fall in line or they’ll be able to send a signal to the White House that it’s time to negotiate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up a yet-to-be-unveiled draft supplemental measure June 19. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday it will contain $4.5 billion, including “more than $3 billion” for food, shelter, medical care and other necessities for the thousands of unaccompanied minors and families seeking refuge from violence in their home countries, many from the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Lindsey Graham confronted with the ghosts of the ‘gang of 8’
“We would have a very different situation” had that bill passed, acting DHS secretary says

Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Security secretary, says the border situation would have been better than it is now had the ‘gang of eight’ legislation from 2013 been enacted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is looking for strategies on moving his immigration overhaul legislation, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan presented one possible path: Graham’s old work with the “gang of eight” that produced a bill the Senate passed in 2013 with a veto-proof majority. 

At a hearing Tuesday before Graham’s panel, McAleenan said the current border situation now wouldn’t be as bad if the bipartisan gang of eight compromise of 2013 — which passed the Democratic Senate 68-32 but was never taken up by the Republican House — had become law.

Border spending package seeks aid for migrants, but no money for Trump’s wall
The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill to address the migrant surge next week

Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., conducts a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “The Secure and Protect Act: a Legislative Fix to the Crisis at the Southwest Border,” on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security, testified. Graham said the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill last week to address the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to take up a supplemental spending bill next week to address the surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday.

The decision marked the first sign of movement on a stand-alone border funding bill, which President Donald Trump first requested on May 1. Republican leaders had tried to include the money in a $19.1 billion aid package for victims of natural disasters that cleared Congress last week, but Democrats objected, citing various concerns over family detention policies and information sharing about undocumented immigrants among federal agencies.

Bipartisan Senate group seeks to block Saudi arms sales as Trump administration tries to avoid congressional review
Top Democrat on Foreign Relations Menendez formally announces 22 separate disapproval measures

Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez, D-N.J., right, is leading a bipartisan effort to push back on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's use of an emergency declaration for arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bipartisanship is breaking out in the Senate to push back on yet another emergency declaration from the Trump administration.

This time, the rebuttal comes over announced arms sales, including to Saudi Arabia, under the auspices of an emergency declaration from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Thad Cochran, former Senate Appropriations chairman, has died at age 81
Mississippi Republican known for old-school civility served in Congress for 45 years

Former Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who died Thursday, served in Congress for 45 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a dependable provider for his home state during more than four decades in Congress, has died at the age of 81.

Cochran, who retired from the Senate on April 1, 2018, after dealing with health issues, died Thursday morning in Oxford, Mississippi, according to a statement circulated by Chris Gallegos, his longtime communications director.

Senate passes long-stalled disaster aid bill with Trump support
Negotiators agreed to revisit stripped border-related funding after the Memorial Day recess

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and chef Jose Andres talk after running into each other in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Andres was on Capitol Hill for a briefing held by the Power 4 Puerto Rico Coalition, calling on Congress to help Puerto Rico achieve future growth and prosperity after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. On Thursday the Senate approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid deal which included $600 million in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico to help restore funding that ran dry in March. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After months of negotiations, Congress and the White House on Thursday reached agreement on a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that will help communities recover from a series of deadly storms and wildfires. 

The draft bill does not include the border-related funding for migrants at the southern border sought by the Trump administration, the last hurdle that had been preventing a deal on the package.

Senate to take one last shot at disaster, border aid bill
The remaining sticking points are over immigration and oversight provisions related to Trump’s border funding request

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for a news conference after the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon on May 14, 2019. On Thursday McConnell said on the Senate floor, that his colleagues need to come up with a disaster aid compromise “today, because one way or another the Senate is not leaving without taking action.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans were huddling behind closed doors Thursday morning to discuss their next move on supplemental aid for disaster victims and handling a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

One emerging possibility was to drop billions of dollars in aid the White House is seeking for border-related agencies, including Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

Bernhardt defends Interior public records review policy
Bernhardt said the so-called ‘awareness review’ policy was legal and ‘very long-standing in the department’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testifies during a Senate Appropriations on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2020 budget proposal for the Interior Department in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Bernhardt said to lawmakers the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended on Wednesday the agency’s policy allowing politically appointed officials to review and comment on public records requests that relate to them.

Appearing before a Senate appropriations subcommittee to testify about his department’s budget, Bernhardt said the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal.

Republicans reviewing Democrats’ latest disaster aid offer
Chair declined to provide offer details, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 7, 2019. On Wednesday Shelby said Republicans are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims, which includes money for addressing an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican negotiators are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims that would also handle a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., declined to provide details on the offer, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week.