Richard J Durbin

Senator Plots Bill to Prevent a Repeat of United Airlines Episode
Van Hollen seeks support for ‘Customers Not Cargo’ Act

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen says his draft bill aims to avoid a repeat of the United Airlines incident at Chicago O’Hare on Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Chris Van Hollen is drafting legislation to make the forcible removal of passengers from commercial airlines illegal.

The Maryland Democrat circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter Wednesday, seeking co-sponsors for what he is billing as the “Customers Not Cargo Act.”

After Syria Strike, Trump Administration Talks Tough
White House’s domestic focus pivots to warning foes president will ‘act’

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a Tomahawk missile as part of strikes on Syria ordered by President Trump on Thursday evening. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price/U.S. Navy)

The Trump administration is suddenly warning would-be foes and touting its leader as a no-nonsense commander in chief, after focusing mostly on domestic policy for its first 77 days.

Last week, the White House was still very much concentrated on health care, a tax overhaul and other domestic agenda items. It held special advance briefings on Trump’s summit with his Chinese counterpart, addressing trade and his use of the Congressional Review Act. It centered on U.S. jobs and on rolling back Obama-era regulations to give a boost — as the administration contends — to the American economy. Trump’s aides were very much in a mode to enact his “America First” agenda, pushing his efforts to “rebuild our country,” as the president himself often puts it.

Hill Frustrated by Trump Administration’s Lack of Long-Term Syria Plan
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker: ‘I wish we were further along’

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, an Armed Services member, said Friday he wishes the Trump administration was closer to having a long-term Syria plan after launching an airstrike there Thursday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senior Trump administration officials did not disclose to lawmakers any long-term plans for dealing with Syrian strongman Bashar Assad or the years-old conflict in his country, further complicating President Donald Trump’s relationship with Congress.

Republican and Democratic senators expressed surprise and frustration, after a classified briefing Friday, that the new president and his team have no strategy for what comes next, following a Trump-ordered Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to a reported Assad government chemical attack that killed dozens of the country’s own civilians.

Don’t Expect Military Force Authorization for Syria Soon
Lawmakers want a plan from the president

Kaine said the strikes in Syria were unlawful, and has argued that military force be approved by Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin walked into the closed-door briefing on military strikes in Syria, with a joint resolution in his hand.

“I’m going to see what part of this still applies, and I think a lot of it still does,” the Illinois Democrat said as he entered the secure briefing room in the Capitol on Friday where Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was addressing senators.

In Abrupt Reversal, Trump Fires Cruise Missiles at Syria
President: Strikes in ’vital national security interest’

President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House on Feb. 6. On Thursday night, he ordered missile strikes on a Syrian air base in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons on civilians (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By JOHN T. BENNETT and BRIDGET BOWMANCQ Roll Call

In an abrupt policy reversal, President Donald Trump on Thursday evening ordered missile strikes on a Syrian air base after that country’s embattled regime carried out a deadly sarin gas attack that killed dozens of civilians.

Senate’s Supreme Court Nuclear Countdown Reaches Zero
Filibuster of Neil Gorsuch followed by procedural motions triggering ‘nuclear option’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, is set to use the “nuclear option” to get Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court. (Al Drago/The New York Times/Pool File Photo)

The Senate’s Supreme Court doomsday clock has reached midnight.

Senators voted, 55-45, to limit debate on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court — short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster under precedents in effect as of the opening of business Thursday.

Moderates Could Get More Attention in Post-Nuclear Senate
Need to get just a simple majority for SCOTUS nominees will create new dynamic

Moderates like Maine’s Susan Collins could occupy a more prominent role in a post-nuclear option Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate moves toward getting rid of the ability of 41 senators to block Supreme Court nominees, moderates could see their profiles rise in any post “nuclear option” reality with a renewed emphasis on party unity. 

Conventional wisdom is that presidents would be able to pick more stridently partisan nominees for the high court if the risk of a super majority filibuster is eliminated. But such a procedural change would also put a bigger target on moderate members of the majority.

The Senate’s Era of Hard Feelings
Distrust, political pressure mire Supreme Court fight

Judge Neil Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There is no bipartisan compromise in sight as the Senate heads for a showdown over the Supreme Court that is likely to alter longstanding chamber norms and rules, thanks to a tense partisan environment and distrust resulting from past judicial battles.

Senate Democrats solidified enough votes Monday to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans will likely deploy the so-called nuclear option to change Senate rules by a majority vote, and lower the threshold to end debate on Supreme Court nominees from 60 to a majority, so Gorsuch can overcome the filibuster.

Kelly: Homeland Isn't Targeting Law-Abiding ‘Dreamers’
“By definition, they’re no longer DACA if they have a violation”

Gen. John F. Kelly, USMC (Ret.), testifies during the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on his confirmation to be Secretary of Homeland Security on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Homeland Security Department is not seeking to deport undocumented young people enrolled in an Obama administration program who have not violated the terms of their protected status, Secretary John F. Kelly told Senate Democrats on Wednesday.

The status of these young people, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the United States by their undocumented immigrant parents has been a subject of concern since President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and deport millions of people living in the country illegally. 

Defense Supplemental Request Overstated By $5.2 Billion
Pentagon asks for money, twice

President Donald Trump has requested money to be added to his defense supplemtnal bill that is already in the bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration wants Congress to add $30 billion to its fiscal 2017 Defense spending bill, but about $5.2 billion of the proposed addition is already in the bill, according to a Senate committee.

CQ Roll Call disclosed on March 20 that the administration’s $30 billion supplemental request for the Pentagon contained more than $3 billion in ship and aircraft programs that were already in the House-Senate agreement (HR 1301) that the House passed earlier this month and that awaits Senate action.