Tom Cotton

Senate effort to block Russia sanctions relief comes up short
Clear majority of senators supported attempt to maintain sanctions on three Russian firms, but not 60 of them

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., fell short of 60 votes on his Russia sanctions measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer came up just short in his effort to get legislation through the chamber blocking the Treasury Department from easing sanctions on a trio of Russian companies.

Less than 24 hours after securing 57 votes to support a motion to proceed to the joint resolution disapproving of Treasury’s move to lift sanctions on three Russian firms that have been controlled by sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the same number of senators voted to limit debate — but that was three short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and get the measure to a final passage vote.

Senate Sends Criminal Justice Bill to the House
Action comes after years of debate, bipartisan support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,resisted bringing the criminal justice bill to the floor initially, but he ultimately supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 87-12 to pass an amended criminal justice overhaul bill on Tuesday, sending a bipartisan measure that almost did not make it to the floor to what backers said was a clear and swift path to becoming law.

The bill, which was brought to the floor as an amendment to an unrelated measure, survived initial indifference from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a series of amendments from Republican opponents, and the addition of some other amendments before ultimately earning an overwhelming bipartisan final vote.

For Stripped-Down Criminal Justice Bill, Less Could Be More
Sen. Kamala Harris: It’s a ‘compromise of a compromise‘

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced her support for the bill Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill that advanced Monday evening falls short of what lawmakers and advocates had sought to do with the measure more than four years ago — but now that’s the key to enacting the most sweeping changes to prison and sentencing laws in decades.

The latest version, on the floor via an unrelated bill, is whittled down to the provisions with the broadest support, bulked up with measures demanded by law enforcement and tough-on-crime Republicans, and tweaked to get the backing of President Donald Trump.

Criminal Justice Bill Could Bring Out Drama in Senate
Tom Cotton threatens Christmas showdown, throws gauntlet at colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the chamber will consider a criminal justice reform measure, but opponents might make it a rough debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is poised to vote on a bipartisan criminal justice bill as soon as this week, the culmination of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a public campaign by lawmakers, the White House and advocates to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor this year. But that does not mean the debate will be free of drama. 

McConnell announced Tuesday that the revised bill would be put on the floor agenda this month “following improvements to the legislation that [have] been secured by several members.” That ended weeks of uncertainty about whether the Senate would have a chance to vote on prison and sentencing changes that would be the first in a generation and could become a signature accomplishment right before the end of the 115th Congress.

From Bush’s Lips to Our Ears: To Heck With Campaign Promises
His fateful tax deal should inspire us to do what’s right, not what’s re-electable

George H.W. Bush went from “no new taxes” to just the opposite. But his willingness to change course was proof of his unwavering strength, Murphy writes. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There are two kinds of politicians in Washington when it’s all said and done — the kind who do what they have to do to get re-elected, and the kind who do what they believe they should do because it’s the right thing.

For all of the speeches and sound bites, the campaign ads and polling, it’s really not more complicated than that. Every decision in the capital comes back to that fundamental choice.

Criminal Justice Supporters Press Case for Floor Time
Mike Pence and Jared Kushner joined Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday

Vice President Mike Pence, left, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner make their way to the Senate Republican policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence had a guest with him at Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch: White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. It was a sign the Trump administration is leaning on GOP leaders to schedule floor time for a key priority — overhauling the criminal justice system.

Kushner has been helping to lead the administration’s advocacy for a criminal justice overhaul bill that supporters are trying to cajole Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put on the floor before the end of the lame-duck session of Congress.

Grassley Gave McConnell Judges. Now He Wants His Criminal Justice Bill
‘I look at this in a very personal way,’ Grassley said

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has helped confirm a record number of judges. All he wants from Mitch McConnell now is a little “reciprocity.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is leaning on his track record of processing judicial nominations to get a floor vote on a bipartisan bill he spearheaded to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system.

In an unusual personal plea, the 85-year-old Iowa Republican on Thursday said he wanted “reciprocity” from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for “what I’ve done in our unified effort on judges” during President Donald Trump’s administration.

Women Elected at Historic Levels, But No Surprise Here: White Men Dominate 116th Congress
Number of veterans down

A record number of women will be heading to Congress and there will be more minority lawmakers, but white men will still make up most of Congress. Above, supporters celebrate Jennifer Wexton's victory in Virginia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The 116th Congress is on track to be one of the most diverse in history, but the legislature will still be overwhelmingly white and male compared to the overall U.S. population. Historic numbers of women won seats in the midterm contests, but the number of veterans is likely to fall or stay flat. 

At least 96 women running for the House have won their races, shattering the previous record of 84 women in the House. Eighty-three of the women who won were Democrats.

Senators Press Supreme Court to Lift State Uranium Mining Ban
Domestic production at historic low

Republican senators contend that a case about uranium mining before the Supreme Court involves issues that are critical to national security and defense. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee contend that a case now before the Supreme Court could undermine federal policy about uranium and other assets that are critical to national security and defense.

The justices heard arguments Monday in an environmental case about a three-decades-old Virginia law that prevents mining of the largest deposit of uranium in the United States, in Pittsylvania County, in the southwest region of the state.

The Senate Already Went Nuclear. This Must Be Nuclear Plus
Mitch McConnell may have said it best: ‘You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think’

Back in 2013, then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Senate Democrats not to blow up the filibuster. “You’ll regret this,” he said. More prophetic words were never spoken, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Of all of the questions left unanswered after the Judiciary Committee hearings for Brett Kavanaugh ended last week, the hardest one to know for sure might also be the most important for the long-term health of the country — can the Senate be saved after everything that happened last week?

Can the Senate function again after Sen. Lindsey Graham looked across the hearing room at his Democratic colleagues on Thursday and yelled in rage, “Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it!”