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New bipartisan Senate group facing uphill climb in bid to end shutdown

Sen. Benjamin J. Cardin is among the senators trying to cut a deal to end the shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan Senate group has launched new talks  to end the lingering partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 and is now the longest in history, but they are well aware of the uphill climb awaiting them. 

Senators who met Monday haven’t coalesced around a single approach that can gain the approval of President Donald Trump as well as Democratic leaders in both chambers. But the group still appears to be discussing what kind of border security package can pass muster with the principal negotiators.

Steve King controversy deepens, with Liz Cheney now calling for resignation
House Republicans’ No. 3 leader wants Iowa Republican gone

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., thinks Rep. Steve King should resign. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The No. 3 House Republican is calling on Rep. Steve King to resign, exposing a rift among GOP leaders as the controversy over the Iowa Republican continues coming to a head.

“I agree with Leader McConnell actually. I think he should find another line of work,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney said Tuesday morning. That was a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Monday said if King did not know what was wrong with white supremacy and white nationalism, as he said in a recent New York Times article, he should get out of politics. 

Barr assures senators of his independence
AG nominee says Mueller investigation isn’t a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions ‘probably did right thing’ in recusing himself

William Barr, nominee for attorney general, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | William Barr appeared to be on a path to confirmation as the next attorney general Tuesday, after he gave senators key assurances about the special counsel probe into the 2016 elections and distanced himself from some of President Donald Trump’s comments about the investigation.

Barr avoided the kind of missteps during more than seven hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that might cost him votes of Republicans, who have a 53-47 advantage in the chamber. But some Democrats say he did not do enough to reassure them that he would protect Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and make the results public.

House will vote Tuesday to condemn Steve King
Majority Whip James Clyburn introduces resolution of disapproval

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said the House could vote as soon as this week to condemn  Rep. Steve King. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:02 p.m. | The House will vote Tuesday to disapprove of comments Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King made in a New York Times interview questioning how the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” had become “offensive.”

The resolution of disapproval, introduced Monday by Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, actually only makes one specific reference to King.

How the House rebuke of Steve King would work
Whether reprimand or censure, a formal ding from the chamber comes with few consequences

Democrats Bobby Rush and Tim Ryan have introduced separate measures to censure Iowa Republican Steve King over a pattern of racist comments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders are planning to hold a vote Tuesday on a resolution of disapproval against Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King for racist comments, while two rank-and-file members are pushing for a stronger rebuke.

Democratic Reps. Bobby L. Rush of Illinois and Tim Ryan of Ohio introduced separate measures on Monday to censure King, setting into motion votes on one of Congress’ formal means of punishing members.

Six things William Barr will tell senators at his AG confirmation hearing

William Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, meets with Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in the Russell Senate Office Building on January 9, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney general nominee William Barr will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that he did not pursue the position and was reluctant to be considered for his second stint as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Barr, 68, plans to say he put off his partial retirement because he believes he can do a good job leading the department during a time when the country is “deeply divided” and the American people must know there are places in government where the rule of law holds sway over politics.

Burned in the past, Democrats reluctant to give ground in wall fight
Democrats and allies concerned conceding would set a precedent for more rounds of brinksmanship

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, said she “absolutely” expects President Donald Trump would trigger additional shutdowns as a bargaining chip if Democrats make a deal with him on wall funding now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown, now in its record-setting 24th day, is about more than just a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats and their allies are concerned that if party leaders cut a deal with President Donald Trump on wall funding, it would set a precedent for more rounds of dangerous brinksmanship in the months and years to come.

Trump: ‘I never worked for Russia’
President rejects Lindsey Graham’s plan to reopen federal government

President Donald Trump declines to answer a final question as he departs the White House on Monday for New Orleans to address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday denied working for the Russian government after a report detailing a FBI counterintelligence probe into whether he was working for Russia and against U.S. interests.

The New York Times report stated federal investigators became concerned about Trump actions around the time and after he fired former FBI Director James Comey, including admitting publicly he did so with the Justice Department’s broader Russian election meddling investigation on his mind.

The border wall blitz, brought to you by Donald Trump and Mike Pence
Dramatic week ends with president touting barrier of ‘steel that has concrete inside’

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive to the Capitol to on Wednesday to urge Senate Republicans to hold the line on his proposed southern border wall and a record-tying partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Eager to shift public opinion in favor of taxpayers funding a southern border wall as part of any legislation to reopen a quarter of the federal government, the White House has deployed its top guns, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, on a public relations blitz.

Several polls show about half of Americans blame the president for the shutdown, while around 35 percent blame Democrats. What’s more, Trump’s approval rating has dipped during the 21-day funding lapse that has left 800,000 federal workers furloughed and without paychecks Friday for the first time. Even a survey by Rassmussen Reports — typically more friendly to conservatives like the president — found most Republicans who responded see a wall as effective but not an emergency.

Shutdown could drag on as Trump won’t move ‘fast’ on national emergency for wall
Dug-in president calls on Congress to ’come back and vote’

President Donald Trump speaks as he is joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise in the Rose Garden at the White House last week. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump signaled Friday that a partial government shutdown now in its record-tying 21st day could drag on for a while as he said he will not move “fast” to declare a national emergency to access border wall funds.

The president told reporters during a border security event in the White House’s Cabinet Room that he has the “right” and legal authority to make the move, which would allow him to access Defense Department dollars and shift them to the construction of a border barrier. But he made clear he plans to continue to press Democrats to give in to his demands before he issues such a decree.