James Lankford

In prelude to nuclear option, Senate rejects speeding up confirmation of nominees
McConnell now expected to move forward with only Republican support

President Donald Trump alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate inched closer Tuesday to Republicans using the “nuclear option” to slash the time for debate on the vast majority of judicial and executive nominations.

Senators blocked, 51-48, an effort by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up a resolution that would have set a new standing order. The support of 60 senators would have been needed to advance the debate.

McConnell moves toward ‘nuclear option’ for confirmation of Trump nominees
The move allows the Senate to approve Trump’s nominees more quickly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, has moved to get a rules change proposal on the floor to aid confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set up debate next week to make it easier for Republicans to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominees.

The Kentucky Republican came to the floor Thursday afternoon to complain about the difficulty Republicans have faced confirming a variety of Trump nominees and announced that, “the Senate is going to do something about it.”

Road Ahead: Michael Cohen returns amid disapproval, gun votes
Senate will also continue work on key presidential nominations, as House takes up gun legislation

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, leaves the Monocle restaurant on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Three days of congressional testimony by President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney round out what could be a crazy week on Capitol Hill — even by recent standards.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate will have their chance to grill Michael Cohen this week. The former Trump fixer is scheduled to talk to the Senate Intelligence panel Tuesday behind closed doors for a deposition-style interview, ahead of long-awaited public testimony Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Senate panel spars over judges, advances GOP effort to cut nomination debate time
Party-line vote in committee could set up a contentious floor debate

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., led the advancement of the proposal to effectively change the rules for debating presidential nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee took a predictably partisan turn Wednesday when the panel voted along party lines to advance a resolution that would slash debate time for most presidential nominees.

Ranking member Amy Klobuchar led the opposition to the proposal, arguing that two hours for post-cloture debate was not enough, especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Senate Rules panel could advance plan to cut debate time on Trump nominees next week
Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and James Lankford introduced the newest version on Wednesday

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt is expected to bring up the rules change plan next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans are moving ahead with an effort to effectively change the rules, reducing the amount of debate time allowed on many lower-level nominations by President Donald Trump.

The resolution, which has been championed by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., was being reintroduced Wednesday. It’s expected to be marked up by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee next week, according to a person familiar with the scheduling.

Lawmakers want to boost Pentagon input on tariffs
A proposal gives the Pentagon a lead role on deciding whether tariffs are needed to protect national security

Vice chair Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., left, and chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., talk before the start of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on "Worldwide Threats" on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the trade war with China drags on, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is pushing to give the Defense Department the lead role in analyzing whether tariffs are needed to protect national security.

The draft legislation, released Wednesday in both the House and Senate, marks a significant revision of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which gave the Commerce Department the authority to analyze the tariffs and ultimately make a recommendation to the president on whether to invoke national security.

Could Democratic presidential hopefuls help lessen the Senate logjam?
Republicans hope rules change push appeals to folks who would need cooperative chamber

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is leading the effort to change the Senate's rules for debate time on many presidential nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With the shutdown over, Senate Republicans may restart efforts to change rules and reduce the time it takes to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominees — and they’re hoping Democratic presidential hopefuls will help them make it happen. 

When the Senate GOP huddled for its annual issues conference this month at Nationals Park, the nomination backlog was on the agenda. Sen. James Lankford — the leading advocate for restoring an agreement in place during the 113th Congress that reduced debate time after a filibuster was broken for many lower-level nominees — briefed his colleagues on the status of his discussions.

Cindy Hyde-Smith to lead Senate Legislative Branch spending panel
Mississippi Republican takes over from Montana’s Steve Daines

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., will chair the Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee for the new Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will take the gavel of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee for the new Congress. The Mississippi Republican is a relative newcomer to the panel, which she joined in April of last year, taking the slot left open by her predecessor Thad Cochran’s resignation.

The subcommittee’s previous chairman, Montana’s Steve Daines, received a waiver to join the Senate Finance Committee, becoming among the first senators to serve on Appropriations and Finance since 1944. (Oklahoma’s James Lankford was given a similar waiver.)

On Appropriations, Daines, Lankford will not have their cake, eat it too
After being added to Finance Committee, cardinals get clipped

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala.: not a fan of cake, eating it, too. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Appropriations Committee is about to get two new subcommittee chairmen after the top Republicans on the Financial Services and Legislative branch panels got approval to serve rare double duty on the Appropriations and Finance panels.

“There will be some changes,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said Tuesday when asked whether Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and James Lankford, R-Okla., would continue in their previous roles. “When they went to Finance they lost their seniority. They knew that.”

Daines, Lankford to serve on both Appropriations and Finance
Last senator to serve on both panels was Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1944

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., will serve on both the Appropriations and Finance committees in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma will become the first senators since Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1944 to serve simultaneously on the Appropriations and Finance committees, according to panel historical records reviewed by Roll Call.

The two Republicans received waivers from Senate GOP conference rules that limit senators to service on just one of the four so-called Super A committees — Appropriations, Finance, Armed Services and Foreign Relations.