Richard J Durbin

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Targeting China, senators want Olympics to move up human rights timeline
10 senators have written to IOC President Thomas Bach

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading an effort to pressure the IOC to speed up implementation of human rights standards . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Looking toward China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, senators from both parties want the International Olympic Committee to speed up the timeline for requirements designed to protect human rights in host countries.

In the letter signed by 10 senators led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, the lawmakers express concern about China’s track record to IOC President Thomas Bach.

House pushes ‘dozen bills or none’ approach to spending talks
GOP senators express doubts as House leaders insist on finalizing appropriations by Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he doubts that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year could be finalized before the Dec. 20 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders are insisting that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year must be finalized before any of them can reach the floor, according to sources familiar with strategy talks.

The demand for some kind of grand bargain could complicate hopes for completion of at least a portion of fiscal 2020 appropriations before stopgap funding runs dry on Dec. 20 and Congress adjourns for the winter holidays. 

‘Dreamers,’ Democrats push for DACA
While Dreamers await Supreme Court decision, Democrats push Senate leadership to pass DACA bill

DACA recipients, including Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn (left) Carolina Fung Geng, (3rd from left), plaintiff Martin Batalla Vidal (center) and Eliana Fernández (3rd from right) pump their fists before entering the U.S. Supreme Court before Tuesday’s arguments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Waving American flags and holding up signs that read “Defend DACA” and “Make SCOTUS great again,” hundreds of young immigrants, activists and their supporters demonstrated Tuesday outside the Supreme Court steps as justices inside heard arguments regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Just a few blocks away at the Capitol, meanwhile, congressional Democrats urged Senate leadership to take up House-passed legislation that would ensure protections for this population.

Supreme Court grapples with end of ‘Dreamers’ program
Decision next year could ultimately reshape decades-old immigration debate

A protester holds up a sign during a rally outside of the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A divided Supreme Court appeared reluctant Tuesday to undo the Trump administration’s decision to end an Obama-era program that gives nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers the ability to work in the United States and avoid deportation.

During more than an hour of oral arguments, attorneys for challengers told the justices that the Department of Homeland Security — while it has the authority to end the discretionary program — did not adequately explain why the administration chose to do so.

Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ look to Supreme Court, Congress for help
Supreme Court considers DACA cases

Immigration rights demonstrators hold signs in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington in September 2017 to oppose the president’s decision to end the DACA program for “dreamers.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Samuel Cervantes can’t ever imagine returning to Mexico. He hasn’t been back since his family moved to Houston when he was 5. He now fears being deported if the federal government ends the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

He also fears for his life if forced to return to a country he barely even remembers. 

Supreme Court cases could stir politics on ‘Dreamers’
Suits challenge Trump attempt to revoke Obama deportation protections

The Supreme Court building (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a trio of cases with the potential to reshape the nearly two-decades-old push in Congress for more permanent protections for immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

The cases center on whether the Trump administration properly decided to cancel an Obama-era program that gives nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers the ability to work and avoid deportation to countries they left at such a young age that they may not even remember.

Congress can help win the peace in South Sudan
Approving bipartisan Senate resolution is a way to reaffirm U.S. support for peace deal

South Sudanese refugees are helped off a truck at the Kuluba refugee center in northern Uganda in May 2018. (Geovien So/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar on Thursday pulled back from the brink and agreed to delay the formation of a government of national unity by 100 days. A crucial element of the peace process, this extension buys time to resolve critical components of the agreement, such as decisions on state borders and the reunification of security forces. However, without a new approach and reinvigorated international diplomatic effort to break the political stalemate, parties to South Sudan’s revitalized peace risk finding themselves in the same place early next year.

The consequences could be dire for the people of the east-central African nation: Two-thirds of the population (7.2 million people) are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. While ultimate responsibility rests with the South Sudanese, the U.S. government must play a concerted role in assisting their leaders to establish the necessary conditions for a sustainable peace. Congress can help by swiftly approving a bipartisan resolution reaffirming U.S. support for South Sudan, which was introduced in the Senate by Democrats Chris Coons of Delaware and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois along with Republicans Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Todd Young of Indiana. Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Cory Gardner have since signed on as co-sponsors.

Impeachment strains longstanding bipartisan support for Ukraine
Consensus built on keeping Ukraine inside the Western European camp

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy look on during a meeting at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 25. (Getty Images file photo)

The bipartisan backing for Ukraine in its long face-off with Russia has been a hallmark of Congress’ role in foreign policymaking for decades. Congress — both parties — has generally been willing to confront Moscow more forcefully over its treatment of Ukraine than the Trump, Obama or George W. Bush White Houses.

But with U.S. policy toward Ukraine the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward Kyiv out in the open, and Republicans not wanting to break with their GOP president publicly over Ukraine policy, concern is rising that this longstanding bipartisan consensus to keep Ukraine inside the Western European camp could erode.

Schumer ‘appalled’ by Rand Paul's call to out whistleblower

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., right, and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., depart from a press conference in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)