Joe Williams

Bipartisan Immigration Bill Greeted by Big GOP Meh
Gang of Six measure shunned by White House, GOP leaders

Despite its bipartisan pedigree, an immigration bill from the Senate’s “Gang of Six” appears unlikely to advance amid backlash from congressional Republicans and the White House.

GOP lawmakers are now placing all their hopes on a coalition of four House and Senate leaders to come up with a solution to address the pending end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that covers immigrants who come to the country illegally as children.

Graham’s DACA, Military Plan at Odds With Leadership
‘We should take care of the DREAM Act kids now, not wait till March 5’

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday he believes Congress should address the program that covers immigrants brought illegally to the country as children before it expires later this year.

Speaking at an event in Washington hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the South Carolina Republican said his party was naive to think it could persuade Democrats to support increased defense spending without finding a solution to prevent the expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Top DHS Official Says She ‘Did Not Hear’ Trump’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Comment
Kirstjen Nielsen was present at White House meeting

The top official at the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday declined to say directly whether President Donald Trump used a profane slur to describe several foreign countries during a recent White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration that she attended.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee she “did not hear” whether Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” in last Thursday’s meeting with House and Senate lawmakers.

Health Care Overhaul Appears Unlikely Before Midterm Elections
Republicans could face voters without strategy on rising premiums, other issues

Republicans are at risk of facing voters this year with no cohesive strategy to fulfill their seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law or address the rising cost of health care.

Following a meeting at Camp David over the weekend between President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders, members said a major overhaul of the law is unlikely this year.

Immigration Deal Tangled Up in Spending Talks
Negotiations over DACA threaten a long-term spending deal

The program that oversees certain immigrants brought illegally to the country as children continues to complicate discussions on government spending.

Democratic senators are insisting a vote on legislation to address the pending expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program occur either before or as part of a fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Analysis: McConnell Wins In Trump-Bannon Feud
As the president’s allegiances swing, the majority leader grins

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet another reason to celebrate in 2018.

Republicans pushed through a long-sought overhaul of the tax code, and McConnell shepherded a record number of appellate court judges to the bench.

New Senators Jones and Smith to Be Sworn In Wednesday
Senate GOP majority shrinks to 51-49

The Senate will gain two new Democratic members on Wednesday, additions that will alter the balance of power in the chamber and could shake up the current committee structure.

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to be at the Capitol at noon for the swearing-in ceremony for Doug Jones of Alabama and former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

Senate GOP Leans Away From Obamacare Repeal, Toward Stabilization
Repeal of the individual mandate creates new issues to solve, members say

Senate Republicans appear unlikely to attempt a complete overhaul of the 2010 health care law next year and instead have shifted their focus toward stabilizing the insurance markets.

Members say the repeal of the penalty for not having insurance that was included in the GOP tax plan removes a crucial aspect of the law, rendering it largely unworkable.

McConnell Puts Infrastructure Ahead of Entitlements in 2018
Says candidate recruitment continues, hopes Rick Scott runs in Florida

With the tax code overhaul on its way to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking ahead to 2018, in both politics and policy.

“I think that Democrats are not going to be interested in entitlement reform, so I would not expect to see that on the agenda,” McConnell said Thursday at an event hosted by Axios.

Al Franken's Departure Date: Jan. 2

Sen. Al Franken plans to leave the Senate on Jan. 2, ending his tenure in the chamber with nearly three years left in his term and after he started 2017 being regarded as a possible presidential contender.

Last week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he would appoint the state’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to fill Franken’s seat until a 2018 special election. 

GOP Will Wait Till Next Year on Health Insurance Stabilization
Susan Collins made vote on taxes contingent on passage of bills

Key Republicans announced on Wednesday they would no longer push for legislation to stabilize the health insurance markets to hitch a ride on a short-term measure to fund the government. 

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine have been pushing the legislation, with Collins even staking her vote for the GOP tax bill in part on the measure passing before the end of 2017.

Tax Overhaul Caps What Congressional Republicans Say Is Successful Year
Members say legislative, regulatory and judicial victories overshadow health care setback

The GOP-led tax overhaul caps off a year in which, despite some high-profile setbacks, congressional Republicans scored a slew of key victories.

GOP lawmakers say the accomplishments provide ammunition against critics who questioned whether the party could effectively govern with full control of Washington, D.C., and give Republicans newfound energy going into an election year.

GOP Hoping Tax Plan Could Be Difference in 2018
Despite polling and opposition, benefits could bolster support

Republicans hope a sweeping package to overhaul the U.S. tax code will be a boon for them in the 2018 midterm elections, betting that voters will appreciate higher take home pay despite the measure’s unpopularity with the public.

The rewrite of the tax code would be one of the party’s most significant achievements of President Donald Trump’s first year in office. It would also check off a number of other major priorities for the GOP, including zeroing out the penalty for not purchasing health insurance, a central plank of the 2010 health care law, and authorizing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. All of that could give Republicans momentum going into the midterms, which usually are brutal for the party in power.

House Will Need to Revote on Tax Overhaul
Bill as written violates Senate rule

Despite House Republicans’ jubilant celebration after Tuesday’s passage of the tax overhaul, the chamber will have to vote again Wednesday because the measure as written would violate Senate rules.

The issue stems from the fast-track budgetary process known as reconciliation that the GOP is using to advance it. The process allows Republicans to pass a bill with support from a simple majority. But there are rules that govern the process, including the so-called Byrd Rule, which mandates that every provision must have a budgetary impact.

Republican Senate Starting to Block Trump Nominees
Former Rep. Scott Garrett latest to get crosswise with GOP Senate

In another example of the increased scrutiny President Donald Trump’s nominees are facing, the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday rejected the nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., to lead the Export-Import Bank, with Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota joining Democrats to vote him down.

Garrett was a vocal opponent of the bank when he was in Congress, and his nomination was in trouble from the start. But it follows a pattern of other nominees running into headwinds in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Marco Rubio, Mike Lee Support for Tax Bill in Jeopardy

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are withholding their support for the GOP tax bill in an attempt to bolster the child tax credit, a change that may be difficult amidst opposition from House Republicans.

The duo is hoping to make the credit fully refundable. The two senators, backed by top White House adviser Ivanka Trump, had previously succeeded in increasing the credit to $2,000 per child in the Senate-passed bill.

Tax Bill Set to Move at Warp Speed to Trump’s Desk
Some hurdles still remain, but Republicans feel confident they have the votes

Don’t blink, because you might miss Congress passing a historic overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

House and Senate Republicans say they are nearing completion on a sweeping bill that would dramatically reduce the corporate tax rate, lower the top individual tax rate, nearly double the standard deduction, bolster the child tax credit and remove some breaks enjoyed by many Americans.

White House Takes Aim at Polling, Media in Tax Talking Points
“‘Push polls’ misrepresent our policies”

The White House plans to take aim at polls it believes are manipulating public opinion of the GOP tax bill, according to talking points obtained by Roll Call.

The list — which largely includes broad summary points Republican leaders have long cited to support their tax legislation — also attacks the media’s coverage of what the administration appears to believe are skewed polls.

Senate, House Reach Tax Overhaul Agreement
Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch confirms

Senate and House Republicans have reached a broad agreement on a major overhaul of the U.S. tax code, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch said Wednesday.

As he was leaving for the White House, the Senate Finance Chairman confirmed the House and Senate have reached a deal on overhauling the tax code.

Pass-Through Tax Agreement Reached Between House and Senate GOP
20 percent rate enough to win over Johnson

Updated 12:52 p.m. | House and Senate Republicans have agreed to set the deduction for pass-through business income at 20 percent, two sources confirmed to Roll Call.

Members said discussions are still fluid and nothing is final until both chambers sign-off.