Richard J Durbin

Trump calls Dems ‘DO NOTHING PARTY’ after Pelosi says he ‘took a pass’ by storming out
White House official walks back president’s threat, signals shutdown-averting talks will continue

Marine One, with President Trump aboard, departs the White House earlier this week. Trump and congressional Democrats are trading barbs again after yet another contentious meeting. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump, increasingly in re-election mode, on Thursday labeled Democrats the “DO NOTHING PARTY!” a day after their leaders accused him of being unprepared for a meeting on an infrastructure plan and simply “taking a pass” on the issue.

But even as the president suggested dealmaking on major legislation is frozen until House Democrats’ probes end, a White House official signaled talks on bills that must pass to avert another full or partial government shutdown will continue.

Republicans reviewing Democrats’ latest disaster aid offer
Chair declined to provide offer details, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 7, 2019. On Wednesday Shelby said Republicans are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims, which includes money for addressing an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican negotiators are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims that would also handle a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., declined to provide details on the offer, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week.

After Iran briefings, Democrats in Congress want to know more, sooner
Republicans generally on board with Trump administration moves

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the Trump administration officials briefing lawmakers on Iran on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Intelligence briefings on U.S. relations with Iran Tuesday left Democrats in both the Senate and the House unsure of what the Trump administration’s objectives are following recent heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, briefed lawmakers on their strategic campaign to push back against what he called “Iran’s malign activity” and described the country as participating in 40 years of terrorist activity.

Americans may vote in 2020 using old, unsecured machines

Despite widespread concern about the integrity of voting machines and their cyber security, many Americans will vote in 2020 using technology that is old, outdated and vulnerable to hacking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first primary in the 2020 presidential race is a little more than 250 days away, but lawmakers and experts worry that elections will be held on voting machines that are woefully outdated and that any tampering by adversaries could lead to disputed results.

Although states want to upgrade their voting systems, they don’t have the money to do so, election officials told lawmakers last week.

Graham aims to advance border security bill in early June
Bill would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities to address a surge of migrants arriving at the southwest border

Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., prepare for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on prescription drugs on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.  Graham said he is willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to craft a limited immigration bill that would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said he is willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to craft a limited immigration bill in short order that would change asylum laws and expand detention facilities in an attempt to address the surge of migrants arriving at the southwest border.

Speaking with a sense of urgency, the South Carolina Republican said at a news conference Wednesday that he will introduce a bill later this week that would: require immigrants to apply for U.S. asylum in their home countries instead of at the border; hire more immigration judges to reduce the case backlog that already exceeds 800,000; and modify a court settlement that currently limits the amount of time migrant children can be held in detention while they await adjudication.

Still no public timeline for Jared Kushner immigration plan
Presidential son-in-law briefed Senate GOP on details Tuesday

Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, stepped out of the Vice President’s office in the Senate Reception Room for a phone call Tuesday after attending the Senate Republicans’ weekly policy lunch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When White House senior adviser Jared Kushner came to visit Senate Republicans on Tuesday to reportedly discuss an immigration overhaul he is developing, he did not have a full plan ready to go for solving what his own party says is a crisis.

Multiple Republican senators said there was no evidence that the Trump administration has set a timeline for a public rollout, but Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, did present some ideas that were new to many members of the conference.

Pentagon moves $1.5 billion more to border wall
Senate Democrats, led by Durbin, are contesting the decision

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., is the top Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:02 p.m. | The Defense Department is taking $1.5 billion from what officials there are calling lower-priority programs and redirecting it toward projects aimed at securing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Pentagon budget document.

The shift brings to $2.5 billion the amount of defense money diverted to date for the border wall project, with up to $3.6 billion more to come from military construction projects under President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration issued in January.

Schumer: Gas tax hike should be tied to 2017 tax cut rollback
Democrats seek a plan going beyond highways, tackling clean energy and making infrastructure resilient to climate change

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., arrive for a new conference in the Capitol about a continuing resolution to re-open the government on January 25, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:50 p.m. | Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants President Donald Trump to consider rolling back parts of his signature 2017 tax cuts as a condition for advancing legislation to raise the federal fuel tax, according to a person close to the New York Democrat, a demand that will complicate efforts to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill before the 2020 elections.

“Unless President Trump considers undoing some of the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy,” the person said, “Schumer won’t even consider a proposal from the president to raise the gas tax, of which the poor and working people would bear the brunt.”

Kamala Harris leads Senate push to let ‘Dreamers’ work on Capitol Hill
The proposal would amend law to include DACA beneficiaries as eligible for paid employment in Congress

Dreamers protested outside of the Capitol in January 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are introducing legislation this week to end the prohibition on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients working on Capitol Hill.

The proposal led by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez-Masto would amend current law to include DACA beneficiaries as an additional category of people eligible for paid employment in Congress.

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’
Transportation secretary also says the Trump administration has ‘learned from the past’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes as she fielded questions at a Senate Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.

Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.