Richard J Durbin

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.

Pentagon Leaders Say Soft Power Central to ISIS Strategy
Mattis, Dunford pitch appropriators on supplemental funding proposal

Defense Secretary James Mattis says soft power is key to defeating terrorists abroad. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pentagon leaders on Wednesday stressed the importance of diplomacy in the fight against the Islamic State but sidestepped questions from Senate appropriators about the Trump administration’s proposed 29 percent cut to the State Department and other foreign operations accounts in fiscal 2018.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford pitched lawmakers on the military’s $30 billion request for supplemental funding for fiscal 2017, as well as the planned $54 billion boost to defense accounts proposed for next year, arguing that military readiness has been depleted after 16 years of war.

Nuclear Option Looms as Supreme Court Hearings Wrap Up
Senators ready to blame opposing party for any upending of Senate rules

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings wrapping up, senators will soon confront whether his nomination will upend Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet said  whether he would move to change Senate rules that currently require 60 votes to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination. If eight members of the Democratic caucus do not join the 52 Republicans to move the nomination forward, McConnell could move to change the rules, lowering the threshold to a simple majority.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Stand Firm in Opposing GOP Health Care Plan
Senators in tight races are making a moral argument against the bill

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III talks with constituents during a town hall meeting in Martinsburg, W.Va., last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Senate Democrats up for re-election in Republican-leaning states are united in opposition to the GOP health care plan.

For them, overhauling the health care system is not just about policy. It’s a matter of right and wrong.

Bennet Faces Colorado Blitz on Supreme Court Nominee
Colorado Democrat could help GOP move Neil Gorsuch’s nomination

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet introduced Judge Neil Gorsuch at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Michael Bennet is facing pressure to support his home state’s Supreme Court nominee not just from Republicans, but also from one of Colorado’s most popular figures, Denver Broncos great John Elway.

Shortly before the Colorado Democrat was set to introduce Judge Neil Gorsuch at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Monday, the appellate judge’s publicity team released a letter that the revered former quarterback and current Broncos’ general manager sent to the committee in favor of Gorsuch’s nomination. 

Word on the Hill: Gorsuch on Snapchat
Albright, spottings, and grad school

Monday's snapchat filter from the NRSC. (Photo courtesy of the NRSC)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has decided to have some fun with Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination hearings.

The NRSC launched a Snapchat filter series in support of Gorsuch, and a new filter will be unveiled each day that you can use if you’re in the area. The committee asks that you send your photographs with the filter to ‘TheNRSC’ on Snapchat.

Gorsuch: Judges Aren’t ‘Politicians in Robes’
SCOTUS nominee tries to ease concerns about his legal philosophy

Judge Neil Gorsuch takes his seat for the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on Monday for his Supreme Court nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Judge Neil Gorsuch used family details to introduce himself to the country Monday on the opening day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and sought to ease Democrats’ concerns about his legal philosophy.

In his opening statement, Gorsuch spoke of starting off married life with his wife, Louise, in a small apartment. The federal appeals court judge shared his favorite memories of his teenage daughters, such as bathing chickens for the county fair. The Colorado native mentioned his father’s lessons that kindness is a great virtue and there are few experiences closer to God than wading in a trout stream.

Trump Will Need Democratic Cooperation to Replace US Attorneys
Judiciary Committee process, plus scarce floor time, could leave career lawyers in charge

Preet Bharara is one of 46 former U.S. attorneys whose posts the Trump administration now has to fill. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Under normal circumstances, senators might act quickly to advance and confirm a president’s nominees to be U.S. attorneys across the country.

But with President Donald Trump in office, nothing is proving to be ordinary.

Senators Cranky About Appropriations Process
Little appetite for another continuing resolution

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had spoken against punting on appropriations bills last fall with a continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I will never vote for a CR again.”

That was all the normally talkative Sen. Lindsey Graham cared to say when asked about the prospect of completing his State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill this year, or, as has become custom, funding that part of the government through another continuing resolution. The South Carolina Republican wants to create a new account to help countries in Eastern Europe battle Russian propaganda, something that wouldn’t happen if spending is just put on auto-pilot through a CR. 

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.