Kansas

Podcast: Two Senators on How They Got a Bipartisan Farm Bill
CQ on Congress, Episode 111

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., center, and ranking member Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., prepare for a podcast with CQ editor Shawn Zeller in Hart Building on July 12, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

"I'm all for principles, but I'm not an ideologue," says Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas in explaining why he wrote a farm bill that doesn't add new work requirements to the food stamps program. He and the Agriculture panel's ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, explain their bipartisan approach as they prepare for a fight with the House conservatives pushing the food stamp changes.

 

Mitch McConnell Casts 11,000th Vote
Kentucky Republican was first elected in 1984

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cast his 11,000th vote as a senator on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Maybe because it was the final vote of the Senate’s week, there was not much fanfare when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky came to the floor Thursday afternoon to cast his 11,000th vote.

The real tributes came earlier in 2018, when he surpassed Bob Dole of Kansas to become the longest-serving Republican leader in the chamber’s history.

Trump Shifts Tone on NATO, But Says He Could Pull Out Without Congress
Trump says he convinced allies to up spending, but NATO secretary-general stops short of agreeing with that

President Donald Trump, here at the Capitol last month, changed his tone about NATO as he was leaving a summit in Belgium. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump was in damage control mode Thursday morning, declaring a tense NATO summit a success even while saying he could withdraw the United States from the alliance without the consent of Congress.

The U.S. commander in chief spent Wednesday and Thursday morning lambasting other NATO members — especially Germany — and turned the annual alliance meeting into a spectacle of ill will amid whispers, including from some GOP lawmakers, that he was working to undermine it. But by midday Thursday in Brussels, Belgium, he was taking credit for allegedly securing pledges from the other leaders to pay more into NATO’s coffers.

Republicans Back From Russia Have Advice for Trump Before Putin Summit
President needs to be prepared and perhaps not alone

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., led a congressional delegation to Russia recently, and he and his colleagues have some serious concerns about how the Russians will approach the upcoming summit with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican senators who recently returned from Moscow have some advice for President Donald Trump ahead of his meeting Monday in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Be prepared, be careful and try not to be alone.

“He better know the right Russian psyche,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby. “All he’s got to do is start with Stalin and come on up and see what’s changed.”

The Dizzying Life of Midcycle Newbies
For arrivals in the middle of a Congress, it can be tough to hit the ground running

Conor Lamb waits for Speaker Paul D. Ryan to arrive for a mock swearing-in ceremony in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In April, just a few days after being sworn in following his stunning special election win in Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb strode into the Capitol, hand clutching a coffee cup, as he made his way to the House floor for a vote. But before he could make it inside, a guard abruptly stopped him. Beverages in the chamber, she explained, are strictly forbidden. “You can go through the cloakroom,” she helpfully suggested. Lamb gave a blank stare. “It’s around the corner,” she said, pointing down the hall.

The first few days and weeks for new lawmakers can prove a disorienting adjustment, especially for winners of special elections.

Missouri ‘Deserves Better’ Than McCaskill, Pence Says in Kansas City
VP applies pressure on Democratic senator over coming high court vote

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was the target of Vice President Mike Pence when he made a stop in her home state on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vice President Mike Pence told an audience in Missouri the state “deserves better” than Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, whom he pressured to vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“The Democratic Party has gone farther to the left than ever before. And you only need to look at Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill to see that,” he said during remarks in Kansas City. “Every single Democrat in Congress voted against President Trump’s tax cuts. When it came time to cut your taxes, Sen. Claire McCaskill voted no.”

After Moscow Trip, Ron Johnson Says Election Meddling Overblown
Other GOP members of delegation to Russia have harsher rhetoric

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., downplayed the role of Russia in meddling in the 2016 election, a position at odds with fellow GOP senators and the intelligence committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One of the Republican senators back from a trip to Moscow is suggesting that Congress went too far in punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“I’ve been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” Sen. Ron Johnson said in an interview with the Washington Examiner published over the weekend. “We’ve blown it way out of proportion.”

Senate Republicans Meet Lavrov in Moscow Ahead of Trump-Putin Summit
Delegation led by Appropriations chairman Shelby

Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, shown here at a news conference at the United Nations in January, that the U.S. and Russia might be competitors, “but we don’t necessarily have to be adversaries.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday that he hoped for an improvement in relations between the United States and the Russian Federation.

“We have a strained relationship, but we could have a better relationship between he U.S. and Russia, because there’s some common interests around the world that we hopefully can work together on,” Shelby said, according to video from the meeting in Moscow. “We can be competitors. We are competitors, but we don’t necessarily need to be adversaries.”

Senate and House to Negotiate on Farm Bill After Recess
Senators overwhelmingly passed their farm bill Thursday

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow were united in keeping the chamber’s farm bill a bipartisan one. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate passed its farm bill Thursday by a vote of 86-11, after rejecting a proposal that would have reduced food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults.

The vote clears the path for a Senate-House conference committee after Congress returns from the weeklong Fourth of July recess. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow remained united in keeping the bill bipartisan by working to prevent contentious provisions from being added to it.

At the Races: Checkmate for the King of Queens
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Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. —Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman