Richard J Durbin

Kamala Harris leads Senate push to let ‘Dreamers’ work on Capitol Hill
The proposal would amend law to include DACA beneficiaries as eligible for paid employment in Congress

Dreamers protested outside of the Capitol in January 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are introducing legislation this week to end the prohibition on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients working on Capitol Hill.

The proposal led by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez-Masto would amend current law to include DACA beneficiaries as an additional category of people eligible for paid employment in Congress.

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’
Transportation secretary also says the Trump administration has ‘learned from the past’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes as she fielded questions at a Senate Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.

Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

Copies of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

Senate subway system partially conked out
Dirksen-Hart trains went offline for part of busy Wednesday

Parts of the Senate subway system were out of commission on Wednesday. (Katherine Tully-McManus/CQ Roll Call)

The subway between the Dirksen and Hart Senate office buildings and the Capitol went out of service Wednesday afternoon during votes, forcing lawmakers and lobbyists alike to hoof it down the long tunnel.

Architect of the Capitol employees worked to get the train back on schedule, but had to interrupt their work to alert dozens of people heading into the train that it wasn’t operational. Some made it on board before being shooed out of the cars.

Senate leaders interrupt Grassley speech to announce Trump’s support for deal, national emergency plans
 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell interrupted Sen. Charles E. Grassley in the middle of a floor speech Thursday to announce that President Donald Trump had agreed to sign a funding bill to keep the government open, and that Trump intends to declare a national emergency.

The White House confirmed those plans, saying Trump was "delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”

Senate panel spars over judges, advances GOP effort to cut nomination debate time
Party-line vote in committee could set up a contentious floor debate

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., led the advancement of the proposal to effectively change the rules for debating presidential nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee took a predictably partisan turn Wednesday when the panel voted along party lines to advance a resolution that would slash debate time for most presidential nominees.

Ranking member Amy Klobuchar led the opposition to the proposal, arguing that two hours for post-cloture debate was not enough, especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Negotiators unlikely to meet self-imposed Monday shutdown deal deadline
Both sides were discussing a simple stopgap measure as a fallback if appropriations deal isn’t reached

From left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Appropriations chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N. Dak., talk before the start of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee on Jan. 30, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House and congressional leaders on Monday were buying themselves a little more time for negotiations that appeared to stall out over the weekend, with both sides discussing a simple stopgap measure as a fallback to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Top appropriators met late afternoon at the Capitol in hopes of salvaging a full-year DHS spending bill, as well as completing work on six other fiscal 2019 bills that are largely completed. But it wasn’t clear if the meeting of the so-called “four corners” — Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D- N.Y. and ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas — would yield an immediate breakthrough.

Barr nomination to get votes on the Senate floor next week
Comes after 12-10 committee vote, which reflected concerns from Democrats about how he would handle the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | William P. Barr is on track to be confirmed as the next attorney general next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to limit debate and cut off any filibuster threats against the Barr nomination Thursday, setting up votes as soon as the Senate finishes work on a bipartisan package of public lands bills.

Unshackled by leadership, appropriators ready to deal on border

Top congressional leaders say they will leave a border security conference committee to work its will. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top congressional leaders in both chambers have a message for the 17 appropriators making up the House-Senate conference committee on Homeland Security spending: Do your thing.

And that’s a positive sign for negotiations on border security funding that are going down to the wire again, with a Feb. 15 deadline to avert yet another partial government shutdown. Appropriators want to reach at least an agreement in principle by the end of this week, to be able to start putting pen to paper over the weekend.

Shelby: Trump SOTU didn’t move the needle on border security talks
Senate Appropriations chairman was still looking ahead to meeting with experts on Wednesday

The State of the Union did not change the course of the border security conference committee, said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If President Donald Trump’s lengthy State of the Union remarks on immigration were intended to change the course of the congressional talks on border security, it doesn’t seem to have worked.

Trump’s speech does not seem to have changed the dynamic much at all when it comes to negotiating a House-Senate spending compromise that the president would like to include funding for a physical border wall. At least, that was the view of Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby.