senate

Orrin Hatch Prepares for His Senate Exit
Utah Republican has been packing for roughly a year, but his Hart office is still full of memories

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks with Roll Call in his office on Dec. 11, 2018, as he prepares to depart the U.S. Senate. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s longest serving Republican is retiring at the end of the Congress, and he’s been slowly-but-surely packing away decades of accumulation.

President Pro TemporeOrrin G. Hatch began sending boxes of belongings back to Utah about a year ago, but you wouldn’t know that from his personal office on the first floor of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Senate Narrowly Votes to Reject IRS Donor Disclosure Rule

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has been a proponent of disclosure requirements for nonprofits spending money on elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate voted 50-49 to repeal a rule that shields donors to many nonprofit groups from disclosure to IRS officials.

The dramatic vote was tied at 49-49 with 49 Democrats voting in favor and 49 Republicans against, when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, cast the deciding vote to repeal the rule. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. was absent.

House, Senate Democrats Identify Slate of Committee Leaders for New Congress
House Dem Caucus must still ratify, Senate is ready to go

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has his roster of ranking members for committees ready. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats have identified their incoming committee leadership for the 116th Congress, although the full caucus must still weigh in and a few key chairs will have to wait until the House speakership contest is settled. In the Senate meanwhile, the roster is finished, with some notable movement in the smaller Democratic minority. 

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee made its recommendations for most committee chairmanships in the new Congress on Tuesday evening, with a few others designated Monday. The full caucus must still approve the choices.

Lame-Duck Republican Sounds Off as GOP Downplays Trump Hush Payments
John Faso calls president’s campaign handling of Russia ‘height of stupidity’

Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No GOP lawmaker has been willing to say that President Donald Trump’s hush payments to a Playboy model and an adult film star rise to the level of an impeachable offense — but at least one lame-duck Republican sounded off on the president’s “reprehensible” actions and called Trump’s campaign team’s dealings with Russia the “height of stupidity.”

Rep. John Faso, who in the coming weeks will wrap up his first and only term representing New York’s 19th District, told the Daily Freeman in an interview Tuesday that while he doesn’t believe Trump broke campaign finance laws, that doesn’t entirely absolve him of morally questionable behavior.

Senators’ Yemen Vote Is Precursor to Debate on Saudi Relations
Corker eyes nonbinding resolution to condemn kingdom over Khashoggi murder

With the Senate expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution aimed at the Yemen war, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker wants to ensure any amendments offered are germane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected Wednesday to debate and vote on a resolution that would order an end to military involvement in the war in Yemen, one of several measures that lawmakers are considering to punish Saudi Arabia.

But Wednesday’s discussion may be shortened due to scant floor time and several competing high-priority legislative items that, unlike the Yemen resolution, could still become law before the year is over.

Criminal Justice Bill Could Bring Out Drama in Senate
Tom Cotton threatens Christmas showdown, throws gauntlet at colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the chamber will consider a criminal justice reform measure, but opponents might make it a rough debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is poised to vote on a bipartisan criminal justice bill as soon as this week, the culmination of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a public campaign by lawmakers, the White House and advocates to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor this year. But that does not mean the debate will be free of drama. 

McConnell announced Tuesday that the revised bill would be put on the floor agenda this month “following improvements to the legislation that [have] been secured by several members.” That ended weeks of uncertainty about whether the Senate would have a chance to vote on prison and sentencing changes that would be the first in a generation and could become a signature accomplishment right before the end of the 115th Congress.

Trump Wants New Chief of Staff Who ‘Believes in What We’re Doing’
Sarah Sanders suggests John Kelly should have hashed out gripes ‘behind closed doors’

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him during a White House briefing in October 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s top spokeswoman suggested her boss grew frustrated with outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly disagreeing with his policies — and sometimes taking disputes public.

“I think he brought a lot of structure to the White House that was needed at the time he came in,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of his second chief of staff. “That being said, I think the president is looking for somebody who believes in what we’re doing.”

Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill
Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promoting industrial hemp language in the farm bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to put himself on the farm bill conference committee was insurance that one of his policy priorities — and a key issue for his 2020 re-election campaign — would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk this year.

“At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future,” McConnell said Tuesday morning. “My provision in the farm bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight.”

3 Takeaways From Trump’s Made-For-TV Oval Office Border Brawl
“You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you,” Pelosi says

President Donald Trump argues about border security with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence sits nearby, silent, in the Oval Office on Tuesday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Vice President Mike Pence looked taken aback, barely moving and saying nothing as President Donald Trump and the top Democratic congressional leaders bickered and moved the country — with each insult and barb — closer to a partial holiday season government shutdown.

The former Indiana congressman’s statuesque performance was a contrast to the kinetic scene unfolding around him, another made-for-television moment that allowed the bombastic Republican president to pick a fight with the two Democrats perhaps most reviled by his conservative base on live cable TV.

Senate Releases 2019 Legislative Calendar
Features Include a two-week October recess

The Senate has released its 2019 calendar, which largely comports with their House counterparts. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate schedule for the rest of the year remains in flux, but the Senate calendar for 2019 is firmed out and generally lines up with the schedule outlined across the Dome by the new House Democratic majority.

After returning for a day to convene on Thursday, Jan. 3, the Senate will be back to work on Tuesday, Jan. 8, taking recess weeks that generally coincide with holidays, including two weeks around Easter Sunday.