Charles E Grassley

Flake Holds Up Judicial Nominee, Won’t Say Why
‘Oh, it’s just something I’m working out’

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., boards the Senate subway after a vote on Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arizona Republican Jeff Flake halted an appeals court nominee last week and he’s not publicly saying why, a behind-the-scenes move that takes aim at one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top priorities this year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee scuttled a planned vote June 14 on the nomination of Britt Grant, a pick from Georgia for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Flake’s hold throws a wrench in what has been the Senate GOP’s smoothly operating judicial confirmation machine.

DHS: More Time Needed for Foreign Investor Visa Overhaul
EB-5 visa program gives up to 10,000 visas annually to investors who spend at least $500,000 in area of need

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration does not expect to finalize an overhaul of the EB-5 investor visa program before it expires Sept. 30, a top Homeland Security Department official told senators Tuesday.

“I don’t know, that would be hard to pull off,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna before the Senate Judiciary Committee, when asked if a proposed rule will be completed before the end of fiscal 2018. 

Fight Over Food Stamps Among Big Hurdles Facing Farm Bill
As a fall deadline looms, Congress keeps stewing and squabbling

A sprinkler irrigates farmland in Palmdale, Calif., on May 26. Lawmakers have two options as the farm bill nears expiration: reach a compromise or extend current law through an expected lame-duck session in late fall or into 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If everything goes according to plan this month, House leaders will round up the necessary Republican votes to pass the chamber’s 2018 farm bill after an unexpected defeat on the floor put the legislation on hold.

The failed May 18 vote marked the second time in five years that a farm bill ran into obstacles in the House. In the Senate, meanwhile, leaders have indicated they want to pass the bipartisan legislation by the July Fourth recess.

Inhofe, Frustrated by Defense Bill Amendments, May Favor Rules Changes
Comes amid standoff over the amendments on the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill

Sen. James M. Inhofe is talking about changing the amendment rules for next year’s defense authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Oklahoma Republican who has been filling in as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is talking about changing the rules ahead of next year’s edition of the annual exercise.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, the bill manager, is blasting the application of the Senate’s procedures allowing any one senator to effectively block the consideration of any other amendments.

Advocates: More Women Judges Would Curb Harassment in Judiciary
‘If 85 percent of the nominees are white men, it’s not going to create a lot of positive change’

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, says she asks specific questions about sexual harassment while nominees are under oath, to make sure they’re on record regarding the subject. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators can help address sexual harassment in the judicial branch by paying attention to the lack of women that President Donald Trump has appointed to be federal judges, two witnesses told the Judiciary Committee at a hearing Wednesday.

Jamie Santos, a former federal law clerk now in private practice who has compiled stories about the prevalence of harassment such as getting sexual questions at job interviews or being groped or kissed, made the comment in response to a question from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.

‘Beast’ Mode: Democrats Worry Kim Is Playing Trump
GOP is willing to give him time, but Dems see ‘unprepared’ president

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participate in a signing ceremony during a Tuesday meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Kim Jong Un peered inside as a Secret Service agent held open a door of “The Beast,” President Donald Trump’s heavily armored limousine. The surreal moment left some lawmakers speechless, with Democrats saying it showed Trump was too conciliatory toward the North Korean leader during their historic summit.

Trump and Kim wrapped their Singapore summit by signing a preliminary nuclear agreement Tuesday that is as sweeping as it is vague. It expresses the United States is “committed” to providing unspecified security assurances to the North and that Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Analysis: Deep GOP Rift on Immigration Isn’t Easy to Fix
Look a little closer, and it’s clear the debate goes far beyond Dreamers

While the debate about citizenship for Dreamers has grabbed headlines, Republicans are fighting over something even more fundamental — the future of legal immigration. Above, immigration advocates march near the White House in September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At first glance, the Republican Party’s latest bout of immigration infighting appears to orbit around one key disagreement: Should so-called Dreamers be given a path to citizenship?

Look a little closer, and it’s clear the rift goes far beyond Dreamers. What Republicans are struggling with is a fundamental dispute over the core values of the U.S. immigration system and who may benefit. And the same disagreements that have previously doomed the prospects of a deal threaten to do so again in this newest round of negotiations in the House.

GOP Slips Past Another Senate Custom, and Democrats Turn Blue
Home-state senators’ sway over judicial nominees is quickly disappearing

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have decided that the use of a “blue slip” when considering judicial nominees is a practice that needs to fade away, Hawkings writes. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The latest threat to what’s made the Senate the Senate for generations can be illustrated with a sheet of paper the color of cornflowers.

First to go was the reverence for compromise. It went out the window a decade or so ago, the start of the current era when the most conservative Democrat is reliably positioned to the left of the most liberal Republican. Then the veneration of minority-party rights got obliterated, five years ago, with a blast of “nuclear” limits on filibuster powers.

End of an Era on Senate Finance as Longtime Staffer Departs
Mark Prater was figure in major tax debates dating to the 1990s

Mark Prater, chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee and a veteran of major tax debates for decades, is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Prater, a fixture in GOP tax policymaking on Capitol Hill, is leaving his post as chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

“Mark has played a vital role in every major tax debate in the last quarter century,” Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch announced Tuesday in a statement, noting Prater’s work on last year’s tax code overhaul, the Bush-era tax cuts and more. He joined the Finance Committee in January 1990. Tuesday was his last day with the panel.

Trump Vows to Sign Compromise Prisons Bill
President made similar promise on immigration, then helped sink bipartisan measure

President Donald Trump addresses the press before departing for Dallas, Texas, on May 4. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Friday did little to help resolve lawmakers’ standoff over differing House and Senate prison overhaul bills, opting against using his bully pulpit to pressure either side.

Instead, Trump gave both sides leverage when he said his administration “strongly supports these efforts,” referring to each chambers’ bill. The remark was something of a shift for the president. Previously, his administration has voiced support for a measure awaiting House floor action but been cooler to a Senate version that includes proposed sentencing changes.