Susan Collins

As Omnibus Looms, Lobbying Commences
Lawmakers are lining up to get their priority bills added to what is potentially the last major legislative vehicle of the year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have just weeks to put together a massive fiscal yer 2018 spending package that will likely carry several unrelated policy measures. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s Christmas again in Congress.

Members in both chambers return to Capitol Hill on Monday from a ten-day recess with four weeks left to put together a massive fiscal 2018 spending bill. And the package, which Congress must pass by March 23 to avoid another government shutdown, may be the last major legislative vehicle to advance this year.

Opinion: Save the RINOs, Save Yourselves
Mitt Romney would add a voice of moderation

Mitt Romney tours Gibson’s Green Acres Dairy in Ogden, Utah, on Feb. 16. Romney hopes to succeed retiring Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)


Mitt Romney is running for Senate. He found new political life by bashing President Donald Trump — who on Monday proceeded to endorse him anyway. (Even a candidate video that sideswiped Trump at least twice wasn’t enough to deter the president.)

White House Call on Immigration Plan Gets Personal, Testy
Bipartisan compromise ‘spectacularly poorly drafted,’ official says

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were among those slammed by a senior White House official over a bipartisan immigration measure they both helped craft. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House is “alarmed” by a bipartisan immigration measure offered by nearly 20 Republican and Democratic senators, a senior administration official said during a testy midday briefing.

The measure is “totally and completely unserious,” the official said during a conference call that would only be attributed to senior officials despite their sharp critiques, by name, of sitting U.S. senators. Other terms and words this official used: “dead on arrival,” “reckless,” and “spectacularly poorly drafted.”

Manchin Gets Saltier at Pence: No One Is More Bipartisan Than Me
Vulnerable West Virginia senator ‘shocked’ at VP’s speech to Republican retreat in home state

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has tried to position himself as a Democratic ally of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 2:05 p.m. | Sen. Joe Manchin apparently did not vent enough on Wednesday when he responded to Mike Pence’s speech in West Virginia in which the vice president criticized the Mountain State Democrat for voting against the Republican tax code overhaul in December.

So he did what most politicians do now when they’re frustrated: let loose on Twitter.

GOP Plans to Keep Discussing Health Care, Even if Trump Does Not

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., thinks the GOP needs to continue discussing the nation's challenges when it comes to health insurance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Health care policy isn’t set to be a major focus of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday, although some Republicans say the GOP needs to talk about the rising costs of health insurance.

Republicans on Capitol Hill say they don’t want Trump to shy away from talking about health care, despite the fact that the 2010 health care law remains mostly intact a year into the GOP-controlled Congress and Trump presidency. Some Republicans say they’d like to hear Trump encourage lawmakers to keep working to address rising premium costs.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing Around the Capitol?
Duckworth on her struggles to conceive, Snowden still mourning ‘The Bear’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds the “talking stick” of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that was handed to him by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., right, while speaking with reporters before a bipartisan meeting on immigration in Collins’ office on Tursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Manchin Might Be Without Powerful Ally in Re-Election Bid
NRA cut West Virginia Democrat off after he teamed with Toomey on background check legislation

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., talks with reporters before for a bipartisan meeting on immigration in the Dirksen Senate Office Building office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Jan. 27 10:36 | Sen. Joe Manchin III could have one less crucial donor in his re-election bid this year: the National Rifle Association.

When Manchin first ran for Senate in 2010 to fill the remainder of the term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, he ran an ad touting the gun advocacy group’s support.

At the Races: Washington Doesn’t Have to Suck
Our weekly newsletter on the latest in House and Senate races

“I won’t stop,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III said this week in announcing — just four days before the filing deadline — his decision to seek re-election to the Senate. With moves like this (from his 2010 race), it can’t suck that bad can, it? (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ file photo)

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. Subscribe here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at at with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget BowmanThis week … a three-day shutdown ended, Pennsylvania districts were thrown out the window, and Manchin spared Democrats a heart attack.

Holler Back: Manchin’s decision to seek re-election is good news for Senate Democrats, of course. But it’s also probably a relief to Democratic candidates looking to flip two of the state’s House districts. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting WV-02 (Trump +36) and WV-03 (Trump +49). Yes, you read those numbers right.

Trump Signals He Might Extend DACA Deadline
President outlines contours of administration plan set to be released soon

Protesters in the Hart Building hold a banner calling for a clean DREAM Act at a rally last November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 10:01 p.m. | President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to back a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if lawmakers approve $25 billion for his U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Besides that sum, Trump also wants lawmakers to include another $5 billion for border security in any immigration bill they send him, he told a small group of reporters at the White House. Both allotments would then be placed in a “fund” that would be tapped for the border barrier project and enhancing border security, he added.

Cornyn Lays Marker on Border Wall-for-Dreamers Tradeoffs
Majority whip says multi-year funding would be baseline for permanent DACA fix

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is a key negotiator on immigration talks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, suggested Wednesday that if Democrats want a permanent solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Republicans will want something close to a 10-year appropriation for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and security funding.

“If you want an annual appropriation, then I think you’ll get a one-year extension of the DACA status,” Cornyn said. “I think it’s not a good solution to say we’re going to provide a permanent solution for the DACA recipients and yet just do a one-year appropriation and then maybe an authorization, which may or may not get funded.”