Vermont

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.

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.”

Flashback Friday: Garland Heads to the Senate
One year later, a different nominee is up for confirmation

Garland, right, made his first visit with senators, including Reid, left, one year ago today. Republicans never granted the Supreme Court nominee a hearing. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2016, Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick G. Garland made his first visit to the Senate. But the luck of the Irish wasn’t enough to move his nomination forward. One year later, a different judge is facing a confirmation hearing.

Garland, the chief judge for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, made his way to the Senate one year ago today, the day after President Barack Obama nominated him to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

White House Border Wall Request Sets Up Clash With Democrats
Trump seeks $1.5B in 2017 supplemental, followed by $2.6B in 2018 budget request

A barrier at the border of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego. The crosses represent migrants who died trying to cross into the United States. The Trump administration wants $1.5 billion this fiscal year from Congress to start building the president's promised massive border barrier. (Photo © Tomas Castelazo/www.tomascastelazo.com/Wikimedia Commons)

The White House is asking Congress -- not Mexico -- for $4.1 billion to begin constructing President Donald Trump’s promised massive wall along America’s border with its southern neighbor. But the request threatens to shutter the entire federal government.

The administration wants $2.6 billion for wall-related tasks as part of its budget blueprint for fiscal 2018, and $1.5 billion it could get and spending on the controversial project even sooner via an emergency spending package for the current fiscal year.

Trump Will Need Democratic Cooperation to Replace US Attorneys
Judiciary Committee process, plus scarce floor time, could leave career lawyers in charge

Preet Bharara is one of 46 former U.S. attorneys whose posts the Trump administration now has to fill. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Under normal circumstances, senators might act quickly to advance and confirm a president’s nominees to be U.S. attorneys across the country.

But with President Donald Trump in office, nothing is proving to be ordinary.

Democrats Warn of Showdown Over Trump’s Border Wall
Senate Democratic leaders say there’s no plan for construction or getting Mexico to pay for it

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is warning of a funding standoff over building President Donald Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are warning Republicans of a shutdown showdown if President Donald Trump insists on including funding for a wall along the Mexican border in April’s government funding bill.

“We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration,” the Senate Democratic leadership team, along with Appropriations ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, wrote in a letter to be circulated Monday.

Senators Cranky About Appropriations Process
Little appetite for another continuing resolution

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had spoken against punting on appropriations bills last fall with a continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I will never vote for a CR again.”

That was all the normally talkative Sen. Lindsey Graham cared to say when asked about the prospect of completing his State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill this year, or, as has become custom, funding that part of the government through another continuing resolution. The South Carolina Republican wants to create a new account to help countries in Eastern Europe battle Russian propaganda, something that wouldn’t happen if spending is just put on auto-pilot through a CR. 

White House Mum on Debt Ceiling, Flirts With Dem Drug Bill
‘We’re not aware’ of any federal inquiry targeting Trump, Spicer says

The entrance to the West Wing of the White House on a recent evening. On Thursday, Sean Spicer created some debt-ceiling drama. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday held the new administration’s cards close when asked whether President Donald Trump favors raising the federal debt ceiling, and again said he is unaware of any federal probe focused on the president. 

Spicer would not say whether Trump and his budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, will push to raise the debt ceiling later this year. He said only that the administration will “work with Congress” when the time comes to address the federal borrowing limit.

Word on the Hill: Celebrate the New Year Again
Nebraska school gets a coin

From left, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, current Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and Arizona Sen. John McCain attended last year's Norwuz celebration on the Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A celebration of “Nowruz,” the Iranian new year, which also marks the beginning of spring, will be hosted today on Capitol Hill by the Organization of Iranian American Communities.

This year, Nowruz falls on March 21, but the group is getting started early with a Persian dinner and pastries for guests.

Cummings to Meet with Trump on Drug Prices
Comes after non-meeting Cummings said he didn't know why Trump would "make up" a story about him

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., will meet with President Donald Trump to discuss prescription drug prices after initially saying the president made up a story about him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a canceled meeting left both pointing the finger at each other, President Donald Trump will meet with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on Wednesday to discuss prescription drug prices.

The Maryland Democrat will be joined by fellow Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont and Dr. Redonda G. Miller, the president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.