Patrick J Leahy

With Trump’s Wall Off the Table, Obamacare Takes Center Stage in Shutdown Showdown
Funding for subsidies leads remaining issues

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, right, Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, center, and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin leave the Democratic Senate policy luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It appears President Donald Trump will settle for enhanced funding for border security instead of his signature wall.

Talks about averting a government shutdown progressed Tuesday after funding for building the wall between the U.S. and Mexico fell off the negotiating table, but lawmakers still had to work through a thicket of issues — including health care funding and family planning. They have until midnight Friday to reach a deal before government funding runs out.

Tense Senate Confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court
Colorado jurist will restore conservative tilt as Scalia replacement

Neil Gorsuch is the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 1:41 p.m. | The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court justice on Friday on a mostly party-line vote, 54-45. Democrats Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana joined all Republicans present in voting to confirm. Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia did not vote.

Gorsuch was supported by the fewest number of senators since Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed in 1991 on a 52-48 vote. 

Senate Moves Closer to Supreme Court Showdown on Gorsuch
Graham: ‘If we have to, we will change the rule and it looks like we’re going to have to.’

Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana, left, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina listen to Minnesota Sen. Al Franken make a statement during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Monday on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:22 p.m. | Long-held Senate rules that require consensus for Supreme Court nominees appear doomed, after enough Democrats announced they would block Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation and force Republicans to alter filibuster rules if they want to put President Donald Trump’s pick on the high court.

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 along party lines Monday, as expected, to favorably advance Gorsuch’s nomination to the Senate floor, but not before key Democrats said they would oppose the 49-year-old federal appeals court judge from Colorado.

It's Official: Filibuster of Neil Gorsuch Starts Nuclear Option Clock
Enough Democrats announce opposition to limiting debate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is prepared to change Senate rules so that Republicans can do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, starting this week with Neil Gorsuch’s nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans will have to use the “nuclear option” to get Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The procedural maneuvering that will likely culminate in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moving to change the chamber’s rules is necessary because 41 members of the Democratic caucus have announced opposition to limiting debate on the Gorsuch nomination. That means they would support a filibuster and the need for 60 votes to get Gorsuch through to confirmation.

Word on the Hill: What to Do This Weekend
A birthday wish from the floor

Cherry blossoms on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Happy Friday! 

There are a few ways this weekend to celebrate the new month and the beginning of spring, and the end of what felt like a very long winter.

Lawmakers Hope to Avert Government Shutdown
The deadline to fund the government is April 28

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said there is “no desire” for a continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After weeks of partisan fighting over health care and the Supreme Court, lawmakers have less than one month to come together and avert a government shutdown.

Government funding for the 2017 fiscal year expires on April 28, five days after lawmakers return to the nation’s capital after a two-week recess. But negotiations appear to be moving forward.

The Supreme Court Confirmation Battle That Began 30 Years Ago
Three senators on Judiciary panel weathered watershed 1987 fight

Judge Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, is sworn before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing in September 1987. (John Duricka/AP File Photo)

In one of the more striking moments from the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley offered this advice:

Don’t answer every question.

Gorsuch Avoids Missteps at Supreme Court Hearing
“I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party”

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building, March 21, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch spent 11 hours Tuesday abstaining from giving personal opinions on controversial issues and reassuring critics that he isn’t beholden to President Donald Trump, generally avoiding the kind of major slip that could trip up his confirmation.

Gorsuch adopted a solemn tone at times and tried to add dashes of levity at others, as he fielded gentle Republican questions and fended off Democratic queries on abortion rights, campaign finance and his previous decisions on administrative law and workers rights.

Leahy Presses Gorsuch on ‘Muslim Ban’
 

Gorsuch: I Would Have ‘No Difficulty’ Ruling Against Trump
Tells Grassley it was a ‘softball’ question

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch fist-bumps his nephew Jack on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called it an easy question Tuesday when asked if he would have any trouble ruling against President Donald Trump, who nominated him to the high court.

“That’s a softball, Mr. Chairman,” Gorsuch responded to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. “I have no difficulty ruling for or against any party, other than what the law and the facts in a particular case require.”