Niels Lesniewski

Rand Paul Says Trump Open to His Health Care Ideas
Not so sure about Senate GOP leadership

Sen. Rand Paul came away from a meeting on Tuesday with President Donald Trump thinking that the administration would be willing to move the health care reconciliation package in his direction.

Paul has called for more of a straight repeal of the 2010 health care law, rather than the partial repeal and replace represented by the measure crafted by Senate GOP leaders.

The Senate at a Deliberative Crossroads
Health care debacle challenges unique traditions, process

The release of the Senate Republicans’ draft health care measure, coming on the heels of the demise of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, provoked a spasm of hard feelings in the chamber and questions about whether senators could restore its now-quaint reputation as the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. 

“This is not the role model in my world, but I also understand that when the Democrats say, ‘We’re not going to vote for anything,’ that limits the options,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican. “But, I would love to see a Senate that functions, in which all hundred senators have the opportunity to present ideas, amendments and take votes.”

Health Care Politics Serve as Senate Bill Text Prelude
Wednesday’s campaign fodder a preview of Thursday’s discussion draft

Senate procedural wonks huddled Wednesday with the parliamentarian’s office, making their case for whether Republican legislation to rework the health insurance system complies with the chamber’s rules, even as Washington braced for the release of the draft GOP measure. 

Over the next week, though, the debate will play out on both the procedural and political fields.

Russia and Iran Sanctions Effort Hits Constitutional Snag
House will not take up Senate bill as written

BY NIELS LESNIEWSKI and LINDSEY McPHERSON, CQ ROLL CALL

What may be a small procedural obstacle has some senior Democrats crying foul over the House’s plans for new sanctions against Iran and Russia.

McConnell Expects Health Care Draft By Thursday
Trump calls for bill with ‘heart’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed he expects to have a “discussion draft” of legislation to roll back the 2010 health care law available Thursday.

McConnell said the public will “have plenty of time” to review the discussion draft. While he didn’t specify how long the GOP will give for the public to review the language, under the reconciliation rules it appears there will be about a week.

Senate Democrats Can’t Slow GOP Health Care Bill Once It’s Written
But minority party will try to slow down proceedings until then

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer had a warning for his Republican colleagues on Monday.

“If Republicans won’t relent and debate their health care bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate,” the New York Democrat said.

Democrats Plot Senate Slowdown Over Obamacare Repeal
Schumer, Murray among Democrats planning to highlight GOP process

Senate Democrats have decided to muddle the chamber’s work in a bid to highlight the closed-door nature of Republicans’ health care negotiations.

When the Democrats take the floor Monday evening for a series of speeches against the GOP’s efforts to roll back the 2010 health care law, they will also begin objecting to a variety of unanimous consent requests that generally govern more routine Senate floor business.

Isakson’s Senate Barbecue Serves as Congressional Baseball Appetizer
Ninth annual bipartisan Georgia feast

What goes better with baseball than barbecue?

By luck of the calendar — and the timing of a Nationals road trip — Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game coincides with the Senate’s tradition of a bipartisan summer barbecue.

Graham ‘All In’ on Trump’s New Afghanistan Strategy
Graham and McCain among lawmakers briefed on way forward on Wednesday

Sen. Lindsey Graham is elated about President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy.  

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster briefed Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and Graham Wednesday on the new plan for the fight in Afghanistan.

Long Bipartisan History of Congressional Baseball
Current series dates to 1962, with backing from Roll Call

The history of bipartisan congressional baseball dates back more than 100 years, though the game hasn’t always been played.

The current iteration of the game for charity goes back to 1962, when it was revived by Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts with the backing of Sid Yudain and the then-young Roll Call newspaper.

196 Democratic Lawmakers, Including Pelosi, Sue President Trump
Lawsuit claims claim violation of constitution’s ‘emoluments clause’

Nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have filed a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump has violated the Constitution’s “foreign emoluments clause” by retaining interest in his business empire.

Thirty members of the Senate Democratic caucus are among the signatories to the legal effort, along with 166 House members. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and House Judiciary Ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr., are the leaders of the effort.

Media Swarm Accompanies Sessions Testimony
Intelligence hearing came amid dispute about access for TV cameras

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions finished testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, members of the committee faced swarms of television cameras and boom microphones outside the front and rear of the hearing room.

Some senators left quickly, but others faced the barrage of media. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, for instance, held court in an extended interview that featured correspondents from both CNN and NBC.

Sessions to Testify in Public Hearing on Tuesday
Attorney general follows explosive Comey testimony before Intelligence panel

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify Tuesday in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee for its ongoing probe into Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential election.

The public hearing was announced Monday by Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr and Vice Chairman Mark Warner.

What’s Next? Be Patient, Mueller’s Russia Probe Could Last a Year or More
 

Former FBI Director James B. Comey’s testimony before a Senate panel delivered one bombshell accusation after another. But the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election by special counsel Robert Mueller will follow a methodical, lengthy path of investigation. Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski has more on what to expect next....
FCC Responds to Senate Query on Reporter Incident
Official response does not satisfy critics

The Federal Communications Commission has responded to a Senate query about an altercation between a CQ Roll Call reporter and the agency’s security, but lawmakers are not satisfied with the explanation.

Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire had questions about an incident in which reporter John M. Donnelly reported being pinned by a security officer when trying to question Commissioner Michael O’Rielly at the conclusion of an open meeting.

A Tale of Becket, McCain and Preet
Comey testimony provides a few moments of drama, bewilderment

The venue for Thursday’s much-anticipated testimony of James B. Comey left minimal space for disruptions or outbursts, with invited guests and members of the media occupying much of the hearing room.

But the theater of the former FBI director’s appearance did not disappoint. Comey was testifying publicly for the first time about the circumstances of his firing by President Donald Trump.

Comey Will Tell Congress Trump Asked Him to Drop Flynn Probe
Said requests were problematic, given FBI independence

Former FBI Director James B. Comey will testify that he believed President Donald Trump asked him to drop a probe of potential obstruction of justice by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls,” Comey will testify Thursday, according to a prepared statement. “Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.”

The Levin Legacy: Next-Gen Congressional Oversight
Retired Michigan Democrat’s center trains staffers on effective oversight

More than 100 congressional staffers have now completed boot camps designed to boost the investigative skills of House and Senate staff, thanks in part to the retirement work of former Sen. Carl Levin.

The Michigan Democrat had a particular interest in oversight, wielding the gavel of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations through hearings on topics from the 2008 financial crisis, to oil and gas speculation, to “dirty bomb” vulnerabilities, and issues within the United Nations Development Program.

Senate Might Roll the Dice on Health Care
Leaders ponder putting measure on floor absent majority support

Senate Republicans might decide to be riverboat gamblers, putting a health care reconciliation bill on the floor whether or not they have the needed votes.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said entering a regular Monday leadership meeting that it was the intent to hold a vote on the floor whether or not it was assured of passage.

Comey Set to Testify Next Week After Being Fired By Trump
Ex-FBI director was reportedly pressured by president to drop Flynn inquiry

All eyes will be on a Senate hearing room next Thursday when James B. Comey makes his much-anticipated return to the witness table.

The former FBI director, who was fired by President Donald Trump in a surprise announcement last month, is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, in both open and classified settings.