Patty Murray

Opinion: Are Republicans Storming the Castle or Walking the Plank on Health Care?
Upcoming health care vote could have consequences for 2018

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, was singled out by President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s House GOP conference meeting for not yet voicing his support for the Republican health care plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are getting leaned on, hard, to vote for the GOP health care bill. First came the invitations to the White House Bowling Alley. Then the lunch dates. Still hunting for votes over the weekend, President Donald Trump flew members to Mar-a-Lago. But by Tuesday, with a floor vote looming, President Trump was naming names at the GOP caucus meeting. “Mark Meadows?” the president said, looking for the leader of the Freedom Caucus, who has still not said he’ll vote for the bill. “Stand up, Mark. … Mark, I’m going to come after you.”

The White House later said that the president was “just having fun” at the caucus meeting. But when a White House goes into full whip mode, which this White House obviously has, it’s time for the members on the sharp side of the whip to ask themselves whether they’re being asked to storm the castle or walk the plank. In other words, will their vote on health care this week help deliver a successful, necessary legislative victory, or are they being asked to support a bill that may not pass, may not work, or may cost them and their party their seats in two years’ time.

Trump Rescinds Obama-Era Guidance on Transgender Students
Move affects pending SCOTUS case on transgender bathroom use

Under the previous guidelines by the Obama administration, public schools were told to allow transgender students to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identities. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration on Wednesday withdrew Obama-era guidance directing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, a move that changes a pending Supreme Court case on the contentious social issue.

A letter from the administration to the Supreme Court on Wednesday included a memo from the Education and Justice departments formally withdrawing the guidance.

One Thing Congress Agrees On: Vaccines Work
They said lawmakers should support the use of vaccines

From left, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., at a HELP hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are stressing the need to highlight benefits of vaccines amid reports of local outbreaks of infectious diseases.

“The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them,” the lawmakers wrote in a Tuesday letter sent to their colleagues. “As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly diseases.”

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.