Patty Murray

Puzder Is First Trump Nominee Spiked by GOP
Votes just weren’t there for fast-food tycoon

Andrew Puzder, left was the first of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees to not get enough Republican votes for confirmation. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The withdrawal of Andrew Puzder’s nomination to be Labor secretary represents a milestone in the nascent Trump administration: the first time congressional Republicans played a significant part in spiking a Donald Trump Cabinet pick. 

The nomination of the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, had been plagued by scandal, including revelations he had employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and failed to pay taxes on her, as well as the fallout from a 1987 divorce that brought up allegations of domestic violence against him.

Puzder Backs Out of Labor Secretary Nomination
Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. head lacked confirmation votes

Andrew Puzder leaves a November meeting with Donald Trump in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump later nominated Puzder to head the Labor Department though recent reports indicate that Puzder is expected to withdraw his nomination. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor secretary, backed out of the confirmation process Wednesday.

In a statement released by the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, Puzder said he decided to withdraw his nomination after “careful consideration and discussions with [his] family.”

Photos of the Week: Pence Casts Historic Vote, Gorsuch to the Hill and Warren Reads King
The week of Feb. 6 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Protesters gather in Upper Senate Park at the Capitol on Monday to call on senators to reject Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

By BILL CLARK and TOM WILLIAMS CQ Roll Call

A busy week in the Capitol was marked by several historic moments, including the first time a vice president has cast a tiebreaker vote on a cabinet nomination. The Senate, in protest of several of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, was in session for more than two days. The late night session made headlines when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced as she read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Alan Simpson Is No Longer the Tallest Senator, and He’s OK With That
Newest senator, Alabama’s ‘Big Luther’ Strange, is 6 feet 9 inches tall

Former Sen. Alan Simpson, seen above speaking to Washington Sen. Patty Murray in 2011, has lost his record as tallest U.S. senator to Alabama’s Luther Strange. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. Alan Simpson was surprised to hear that he’d lost his title as the tallest senator in modern history. 

“What son of a bitch did that?” he asked when reached by phone Thursday afternoon.

Democrats Make All Night Push, But Won’t Derail DeVos’ Nomination
The president's nominee for Education secretary will get a vote midday Tuesday

Betsy DeVos. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Betsy DeVos is expected to be narrowly confirmed as Education secretary on Tuesday after a contentious process in which Democrats sought the one more vote they need to sink her nomination. A final vote is expected at midday.

While DeVos was expected to squeak by in the Senate, Democrats continued their last-minute push to find a Republican who would join Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in breaking ranks with their party to vote against the confirmation.

Nomination Fights Challenge Alexander-Murray Relationship
HELP Committee leaders have forged a productive way of doing things

From left, Washington Sen. Patty Murray Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi arrive to hear secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos testify during her confirmation hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee met last week, the proceedings got a little, well, tense.

“I am not going to change the rules of the game,” HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said 30 minutes into the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos to be the next Education secretary.

Perry, Mnuchin Round Out Senate Hearings Before Inauguration
Democrats will try to keep the focus on health care

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Energy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump’s nominees to run the Energy and Treasury departments are the last to face Senate committees before the incoming president is sworn in on Friday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is acknowledging the Senate may only confirm a few nominees right away. 

The Senate is on track to confirm just three of Trump’s Cabinet nominees on Jan. 20, McConnell told USA Today on Wednesday. He blamed Democrats for slowing down the process, though Democrats say they need more time to properly vet Trump’s nominees.

Senate Democrats Want More Time to Question Trump’s Education Nominee
Committee members limited to five minutes of questioning

Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., plans to hold one round of questions during Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos’ scheduled hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are seeking to extend the five minutes they will be allowed to question President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Education secretary Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearing next week, arguing her nomination raises a slew of issues that need more time to be examined.

While the confirmation hearings for some of Trump’s Cabinet picks have stretched for many hours, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said he would stick to the committee’s standard of holding one round of questions during DeVos’ scheduled hearing at 5 p.m. on Jan. 17. After opening statements by Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray of Washington, the 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats on the committee will be limited to five minutes of questioning, he said.

Republicans Not So Sure About Trump's Call for Drug “Bidding”

Rep. Charlie Dent , R-Pa., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Sept. 7, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans are downplaying or dismissing President-elect Donald Trump’s call Wednesday for the government to start “bidding” for prescription drugs.

Addressing the high price of prescription drugs is a popular bipartisan issue, but Republicans tend to favor an approach that would stimulate competition that could help bring prices down. Under the Medicare drug program, price negotiation does occur between drug companies and the insurers who administer the coverage, but the federal government is forbidden from leveraging the bargaining power of Medicare as a whole.

Press Secretaries Group Seeking to Welcome Senate Newcomers
Bipartisan organization gearing up for February trip to New York

The Senate Press Secretaries Association has existed for more than 40 years. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Senators need to work across the aisle if they want to get much done.

The same can be said for their staff members, even the communications shops that alternate between partisan blasts and collaborating on news conferences, hearings and releases about bipartisan legislation.