Today's Senate Roadblock Is Tomorrow's Safeguard

Daschle, left, and Lott worked together well for years and think it's not so far-fetched to overcome the current partisan atmosphere. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate has a reputation for being a slow-moving and conservative institution, but its recent political history is one of volatility: Since 1980, the party holding the majority has changed nine times and even had a 50-50 tie.  

That might be one reason senators tend to tread carefully in considering changes to how the chamber votes, because today's procedural roadblock can become tomorrow's minority safeguard.  

Abortion Vote a Prelude to Senate's Shutdown Watch

Graham is the lead Senate sponsor of the 20-week abortion ban. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate will start its week debating abortion, but it's far from certain Tuesday's symbolic vote will diffuse the tension over Planned Parenthood funding enough to avert a government shutdown.  

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is following through on a promise made to social conservatives to line up a vote on a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, a measure that's spearheaded in the Senate by presidential candidate Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.  

McConnell Faces More Calls for 'Nuclear Option' in Senate

Smith and other House Republicans are pressuring McConnell to change Senate rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated ill-fated efforts to break filibusters of legislation to reject or impose conditions on the Iran deal have had an unusual side effect.  

House Republicans, sick of being blamed for the gridlock in Congress and tired of passing bills that never get to President Barack Obama's desk, have begun to direct their ire onto an unusual target: the Kentucky Republican.  

John McCain Entertains 'Nuclear Option' to Reject Iran Deal (Video)

McCain isn't ruling out the nuclear option. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain said Friday he would be willing to look at using the "nuclear option" to advance legislation against the Iran deal.  

"I think it would set a dangerous precedent, but frankly ... I'm in favor of exploring it. The seriousness of the impact of this agreement I think ... argues for us to look at any possible option that we can," the Arizona Republican said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. "I'm not sure I want to change the rules of the Senate because we won't always be in the majority."  

Democrats Block Iran Deal Disapproval (Updated)

Coons will vote against cloture. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 5:27 p.m. | The Senate debate on the Iran deal will continue through next week, after a cloture vote failed 58-42 Thursday.  

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, one of the reluctant supporters of the international nuclear agreement who Republicans had hoped would break on the cloture vote on a disapproval measure and support limiting debate, told CQ Roll Call just prior to the vote he would not do so.  

Reid Dismisses 'Longshot' Prospects for Iran Deal Filibuster

Reid is increasingly bullish about protecting the Iran deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told reporters gathered in Las Vegas that filibustering a bill to disapprove of the nuclear deal with Iran would be a "longshot."  

Still, the Nevada Democrat has far from given up hope on rounding up not only the 34 votes needed to sustain a veto from President Barack Obama, but the 41 needed to thwart the GOP-led Senate from getting the disapproval legislation through the chamber at all.  

Cruz Ready for Next Debt Limit Debate

Cruz recalled the last fight over the nation's debt ceiling. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Remember what happened the last time Congress acted to raise the debt limit?  

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, certainly does.  

Cruz, Lee Promise Highway Bill Traffic Jam Over Ex-Im Bank

Cruz and Lee are ready to gum up the works. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If senators want to revive the Export-Import Bank as part of the upcoming highway bill debate, they're going to have to do it the hard way.  

That was one key takeaway from GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah at a news conference with other conservative lawmakers and members of outside groups that oppose the government-credit agency.  

Senate's Defense Endgame Expected Thursday

Republicans McConnell and Cornyn are setting up a defense appropriations showdown Thursday with Democrats.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is setting up to make the case that Democrats are flip-flopping on national security.  

With the debate time on the defense authorization bill set to expire late Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican indicated in opening the day's session that votes are likely to be rolled into Thursday. And as soon as the authorization is off the floor, it will be in order to consider his motion to limit debate to take up the Defense Department's appropriations measure.  

As Many #StandWithRand, Edward Snowden Sits Alone

Rand Paul launched an attempt to filibuster an extension of NSA surveillance powers Wednesday, but doesn't back clemency for Edward Snowden, the contractor who exposed the scope of the programs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If time heals all wounds, then Edward Snowden needs more time to get right in Washington.  

Snowden is exiled in Russia, having been charged with espionage and no sign that President Barack Obama will grant him clemency.