Richard J Durbin

View from the gallery: Senators struggle to sit in silence at Trump trial
Senators-turned-jurors sneak in snacks, lunge for phones during rare breaks to weigh in on arguments

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, arrive at the Capitol on Tuesday for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham looked restless during the first hour of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, when none of the senators had access to their cellphones and the president’s lawyers and the House managers traded procedural arguments.

It was an unusual first day of buttoned-down decorum for the exclusive club of 100 senators-turned-jurors, who were made to stay in their floor seats, not eat, not talk and not tweet during only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 21
Senate blocks every one of Schumer’s amendments on rules proposal

House impeachment managers address the media in the Capitol on the Senate trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted along party lines, 53-47, to block every motion Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer put forward Tuesday in an attempt to subpoena testimony from cabinet officials, State Department and White House documents, and communications regarding Ukraine.

The amendments were offered to the impeachment rules resolution and were the first of several attempts by the New York Democrat to alter the rules proposal during the first day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. After Schumer offered his fourth amendment at about 9:30 p.m., Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a consent agreement to stack the amendment votes so they could be dispatched quickly.

House Democrats push through measure to nullify Trump student loan rule
Democrats get only 6 GOP votes as effort moves to Senate

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., is the sponsor of the Democratic measure to overturn the Trump administration's revamp of the Obama-era student borrower debt forgiveness rule. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Thursday passed mostly along party lines a measure that would overturn a Trump administration rule rolling back protections for student loan borrowers, but the margin was well short of being veto-proof.

The joint resolution passed 231-180 with six Republicans joining 225 Democrats in favor. It now heads to the Republican-led Senate but must wait until after the presidential impeachment trial.

More votes to terminate Trump's border emergency in the works
Lawmakers can vote again starting Feb. 15, 2020 to terminate the emergency declaration

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Top Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that they intended to force another vote on termination of the national emergency that President Donald Trump has used to boost border wall spending.

"Bipartisan majorities in Congress have repeatedly rejected diverting money from critical military construction projects to build a single additional mile of border wall. Robbing the Defense Department of these much-needed funds in order to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build is an insult to the sacrifices made by our service members," Schumer said in a joint statement with Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Trump Iran address comes as congressional plans on War Powers in flux
Trump threatens more sanctions against Iran as he makes move to deescalate tensions

President Donald Trump is seen on a television in the House Subway tunnel below the U.S. Capitol as he speaks to the nation about tensions with Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signaled a cooling of tensions with Tehran after it struck U.S. military targets inside Iraq, saying in a national address that “Iran appears to be standing down.”

He called that “a good thing for all parties concerned and for the world.”

Impeachment trial could sideline Iran war powers debate
Confusion about calendar abounds

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The confluence of a pending impeachment trial and the potential for military conflict with Iran has left senators with unusual anxiety and a lack of control over their own calendars.

Normally, a privileged resolution under the War Powers Act seeking to stop President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran would take precedence over other Senate business — and a floor debate and vote would be expected as early as next week.

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.