Susan Collins

Senators to Watch as Trump Era Begins
Rank-and-file senators likely to be key players in 115th Congress

Georgia Sen. David Perdue, left, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III are both senators to watch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans may have full control in Washington, but the Senate remains the Senate, which means it’s the place where rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans retain the most clout and potential for influence. Here are the key senators from outside of the top echelons of the leadership structures to watch as the 115th Congress gets underway.

The moderate from Maine will be the first person to watch on any contentious votes, particularly on budget reconciliation votes that aim to repeal parts of the 2010 health care law. She has, for instance, been among the small number of Republicans opposing efforts to tie the GOP health care plans to stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Word on the Hill: Inauguration Planning
Wi-Fi and portable potties

Spectators on the National Mall watch an address by President Barack Obama during his second inauguration in 2013. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

What’s your plan for the inauguration? There are plenty of galas and balls to try and get into mainly on Thursday and Friday.

Thanks to Comcast, you can look up something to do at the last minute or contact your friends easily. Through Jan. 26, the internet provider has more than 6,800 Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots outdoors around Washington for the public to connect for free.

Word on the Hill: One Week Out
Women’s March adds new partners

Dr. Ben Carson arrives in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee offices before his confirmation hearing to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday. Confirmation hearings continue into next week (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration is only a week away.

Watch for our list of balls, counter-parties and other things to do around the District that day. And feel free to pass along any events you want to share with our readers — email AlexGangitano@cqrollcall.com

Republicans Not So Sure About Trump's Call for Drug “Bidding”

Rep. Charlie Dent , R-Pa., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Sept. 7, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans are downplaying or dismissing President-elect Donald Trump’s call Wednesday for the government to start “bidding” for prescription drugs.

Addressing the high price of prescription drugs is a popular bipartisan issue, but Republicans tend to favor an approach that would stimulate competition that could help bring prices down. Under the Medicare drug program, price negotiation does occur between drug companies and the insurers who administer the coverage, but the federal government is forbidden from leveraging the bargaining power of Medicare as a whole.

Vote-A-Rama: Democrats State Their Case, But Resolution Passes
Feinstein missing from votes; Sessions arrives at last minute

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, at top, rises to explain why he was voting against the budget resolution early Thursday morning. (C-SPAN)

At 1:05 a.m., Republicans began the final vote of a seven-hour Vote-A-Rama — the budget resolution that would begin the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act, then departed the chamber as Democrats remained silently in their chairs.

But Senate Democrats didn't go quietly into the night. At 1:11 a.m., Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer stood up and stated his opposition to adopting the resolution. Other Democrats followed in what appeared to be an unprecedented move of rising to explain their opposition before casting their votes. 

AG Pick Sessions Defends Record at Contentious Hearing
Alabama Republican argues he’s strong on civil rights

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, is sworn in on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:42 p.m. | Sen. Jeff Sessions made his case to be attorney general Tuesday, in a confirmation hearing punctuated by racially charged protesters and warnings from Democrats that minorities fear he wouldn’t protect their rights as the Justice Department leader.

The Alabama Republican decried accusations of racial insensitivity that sunk his 1986 nomination to be a federal judge as “damnably false,” and appealed to his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to study his record of 20 years working beside them in the Senate.

Booker Breaks Precedent by Testifying Against Sessions
Says AG designee’s record is ’concerning in a number of ways’

Booker will testify against his colleague. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cory Booker will on Wednesday take the apparently unprecedented step of testifying against the confirmation of fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be attorney general, a move that could firm up Booker’s progressive bona fides ahead of a possible 2020 presidential bid.

“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement. “But the immense powers of the attorney general, combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

Democrats to Grill Sessions on Race, Civil Rights
NAACP cites prosecution of three black voting rights advocates

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley meets with fellow committee member and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in his Capitol Hill office on Nov. 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats will turn the tables this week on Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, a former federal prosecutor who often doggedly questioned executive branch nominees during his 20 years on the Judiciary Committee.

Don’t expect them to go easy on their colleague as the Alabama Republican's two days of confirmation hearings start Tuesday.

Word on the Hill: Watch Out For Live Animals
McConnell pays tribute to retiring Republicans

David Bunting, from Ocean View, Delaware, playing one of the wise men carrying myrrh, walks during Faith and Action Christian Outreach's live Nativity procession in front of the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill last year. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

You may see a sheep, a donkey and camels walking around Capitol Hill today.

The annual live Nativity procession starts at 11 a.m. behind the Supreme Court, featuring animals, and actors dressed as the Holy Family and the three wise men, as well as shepherds and a little drummer boy.

Former Louisiana Democrat Poised to Become Anti-Establishment GOP Senator
Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy is favored to win Saturday runoff

Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy, left, greets a fan at a tailgate party before a football game between Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama in Baton Rouge, La., on Nov. 5. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Louisiana state Treasurer John Kennedy has a distinct advantage over 2016’s other Republican Senate candidates.

As the front-runner in the Louisiana Senate runoff this Saturday — the last Senate election of the year — Kennedy knows who’s going to occupy the White House in January. And that’s freed him up to wrap his arms around President-elect Donald Trump.