Mike Rounds

Trump Call to Curb August Recess Picks Up Steam
Republican senators seem eager to keep Democrats off campaign trail

President Donald Trump leaves the Senate Republican policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump did most of the talking Tuesday during a lunch-hour meeting with Senate Republicans, but lawmakers said he did not prod them to cancel their August recess. He did not have to. 

That’s because the idea appears to be gaining steam for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the large number of Democratic incumbents running for re-election could find themselves off the campaign trail and in Washington at a prime time for campaigning.

Trump Opens Door for Ronny Jackson Exit
Military physician under fire on multiple fronts, from qualifications to misconduct

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, leaves the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Tuesday after a meeting with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:55 p.m. | President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his Veterans Affairs nominee, Ronny Jackson amid allegations of drinking on the job and creating a hostile work environment even as he opened the door for his White House doctor to withdraw his nomination.

“I’ll always stand behind him,” the president said.

Allegations of Excessive Drinking and Hostile Work Environment Delay VA Nominee’s Hearing
Jackson gave Trump clean bill of health in January

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, leaves the Dirksen Senate Office Building after a meeting with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will delay confirmation hearings for Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, after allegations rose from his past.

An aide with ranking Democrat Jon Tester confirmed to Roll Call that hearings were delayed after Chairman Johnny Isakson told the Washington Post and CNN.

Fact-Checking Trump’s Immigration Tweets
President sharpened attacks on Democrats over the weekend

President Donald Trump said over the weekend that DACA was “dead” because Democrats “didn’t care or act,” but there have been several efforts by members of both parties to solve the current crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a series of tweets over the weekend and Monday morning, President Donald Trump made claims about immigration policy; border security; the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program; and the debate in Congress. Roll Call fact-checked some of Trump’s assertions, many of which are not true.

Trump first announced his intention to end DACA last September, and ordered the Homeland Security Department to begin winding the program down in early March. But two federal judges have blocked his efforts, leaving the program largely intact and keeping about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” in limbo.

Photos of the Week: Snow and the Threat of a Veto
The omnibus cleared both chambers and awaits Trump’s signature

Snow falls Wednesday. The Office of Personnel Management closed federal offices throughout Washington, but Congress remained open. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week of March 19 neared its close as Washington waited. Veto or signature. Funding or shutdown.

Remember? It snowed this week. 

When Allies Attack: Friction Between Democrats, Immigration Advocates
Hard feelings about groups pressuring minority party

Demonstrators with United We Dream and others rally in the atrium of the Hart Building in January to call on Congress to pass the so-called DREAM Act to protect young immigrants from deportation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Friction lingers between Senate Democrats and progressive advocacy groups after the chamber failed to advance a bipartisan bill in February to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. 

Tensions came to a breaking point in the weeks before the Senate voted on several immigration-related proposals aimed at extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, aides say. The rift was a long time in the making, as some Democratic lawmakers questioned the strategy that pro-immigration and progressive groups used to drive action over the past six months.

Mike Pence Breaks Another Tie Senate Vote
With veep help, Senate confirms Vought for deputy OMB director slot

Vice President Mike Pence broke another tie Senate vote on Wednesday, his ninth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators voted to confirm Russell Vought as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote Wednesday with the chamber deadlocked at 49-49. It was the ninth time Pence has broken a tie since he took office last January. 

GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Mike Rounds of South Dakota were absent, necessitating Pence’s drive down Pennsylvania Avenue as the Senate split along party lines on the vote.

‘Dreamers’ in Limbo After Senate Rejects Immigration Plans
It remains unclear when Congress will take up DACA legislation again

Immigration rights advocates demonstrate in favor of “Dreamers” at a protest in Washington on Dec. 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate squandered three opportunities on Thursday to advance legislation that would protect so-called Dreamers from deportation and enhance border security measures.

Lawmakers could not muster the 60 votes needed on any of the three proposals, all of which would have offered a path to citizenship for at least 1.8 million Dreamers in return for some degree of border security. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to support a last-ditch bipartisan deal announced Wednesday, but even that was not enough.

Four Up, Four Down on Senate Immigration Proposals
Bipartisan, Democratic, Republican amendments all blocked

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Senate minority leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., were not able to convince enough senators on the other side of their respective aisles to advance any of the immigration proposals. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted down all four immigration proposals in front of it on Thursday, failing to cut off debate on each one of them and leaving the chamber at a loss on how to proceed, eventually, on the high-profile issue.

First up was a motion to cut off debate on a proposal from Arizona Republican John McCain and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons to provide conditional permanent residence to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program if they meet certain qualifications, and would authorize $110 million annually, for fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2022, for grants for border security activities in states with international or maritime borders.

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.