Niels Lesniewski

Chuck Schumer wants Senate to vote on Iran, after the Democratic debates
New York Democrat: All senators should be present for vote on restricting Trump actions

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants senators to vote on restricting the ability of the Trump administration to go to war with Iran, but he suggested Monday that vote should not take place until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

“One of the best ways to avoid bumbling into a war is to have a robust, open debate, and for Congress to have some say,” the Democrat from New York said on the Senate floor.

Road ahead: House and Senate seek to pass dueling border funding bills
Defense policy, election security and spending also on the agenda ahead of July Fourth

Leaders in the House and Senate want to approve spending at least $4 billion more to address the influx of migrants and their humanitarian needs at the U.S.-Mexico border before the July Fourth recess.

Bills in the two chambers differ, however, raising doubts about whether there will be a resolution on President Donald Trump’s desk this month. 

Schumer pushes for vote to make clear Trump needs congressional approval for Iran War
Democrats returning from a White House meeting on the same page about limitations of current authorizations

Returning to Capitol Hill after a meeting at the White House about the shooting down of an American drone, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer increased the pressure for a floor vote to make clear that authorization would be needed for military action against Iran.

The New York Democrat highlighted an amendment that has been filed to the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill led by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Tim Kaine, D-Va. The Senate is expected to proceed to the Pentagon legislation Monday evening.

Klobuchar, others prod Uber, Lyft on recall safety
Minnesota senator leads group of Democrats questioning ride-sharing giants

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is prodding the leadership of Uber and Lyft about the safety of their drivers using recalled vehicles.

Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and 2020 White House hopeful, is leading a letter to the ride-sharing companies and is being joined by three senior Democratic members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Marco Rubio has some advice for the Democrats on the presidential debate stage next week
In 2016, it was the Republican debate stage that was crowded with senators

As Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare to descend on his hometown of Miami for their first 2020 primary debate, Sen. Marco Rubio has a little candid advice.

“If one of your opponents attacks you, don’t repeat the same answer three times,” the Florida Republican quipped. “It doesn’t go well.”

Mitt Romney and Rand Paul speak up against ‘no budget, no pay’
Senate panel attaches proposal to government shutdown prevention measure

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Rand Paul might not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but the two former presidential candidates agree that it’s a bad idea to withhold lawmaker pay because of government shutdowns.

The senators from Utah and Kentucky spoke up against the latest “no budget, no pay” proposal — this one from Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida — as well as a similar offering from Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona during a meeting of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Blunt: Border deal slowed by provision that Dems worry may lead to deportations
Some argue inter-agency information sharing could lead to ICE deportation of family members agreeing to take in unaccompanied children

A dispute over information-sharing between agencies about potential sponsors for unaccompanied children is holding up a bipartisan deal on border-related supplemental spending ahead of a scheduled Wednesday morning markup by the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to a senior GOP panel member.

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said Tuesday that while he thinks a deal is close, there’s still a hang-up due to proposed restrictions on information-sharing between the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security departments. 

Senate Democrats prioritize defense amendments to boost election security
Schumer makes public push for McConnell to allow NDAA votes on election security

In one of the few chances they have to offer amendments this year, Senate Democrats are trying to prioritize efforts to keep Russia from further meddling in U.S. elections.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer made that clear Tuesday morning, highlighting Democrat-led efforts to amend the fiscal 2020 national defense authorization measure that is in line for floor consideration after several nomination votes.

Susan Collins casts her 7,000th consecutive Senate vote
Republican senator from Maine hit another milestone with the first floor vote Tuesday

Updated 1:39 p.m. | Neither snow nor rain nor broken ankles can stop Susan Collins from making it to work.

Tuesday brings a new milestone: The first roll call vote of the day was the 7,000th in a row for the Republican from Maine, who takes pride in having never missed a vote since arriving in the Senate back in 1997.

Senate will vote on border aid supplemental before July 4 recess
He continued to put the blame on House and Senate Democrats for the assistance not getting to President Donald Trump‘s desk

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Monday that he would be calling a standalone vote on supplemental appropriations to help deal with a massive influx of undocumented migrants at the border before the Fourth of July recess.

The Kentucky Republican, appearing in studio on “Fox & Friends,” reiterated that his conference had wanted the funding included in the recently-enacted emergency supplemental for disaster relief.

Warren and Clyburn team up on effort to cancel student loan debts for 95 percent of borrowers
Legislation to be introduced in the weeks ahead

Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be joining House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn in an aggressive effort to cancel student loan debt.

“For far too many students and families, the cost of higher education has meant daunting debt and a lifetime of student loan repayments,” Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, said.

President Trump puts Eric Ueland in charge of White House legislative affairs
Longtime Senate aide saw his own confirmation to a State Department post thwarted

President Donald Trump intends to appoint Eric Ueland, a senior White House aide with vast experience in the Senate, as the next director of legislative affairs at the White House.

A source familiar with the plan confirmed the expected announcement to CQ Roll Call, which was first reported by Axios.

Why Ken Cuccinelli is persona non grata in the Senate
Trump tapped the Senate Conservatives Fund president in acting capacity for Citizenship and Immigration Services

President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Ken Cuccinelli to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in only an acting capacity should be no surprise considering that he would appear to have no shot of Senate confirmation.

That is owed to his tenure as president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee with a long track record of working against incumbent Republican senators, challenging them from the party’s right flank.

Trump blasts Federal Reserve, U.S. Chamber over trade, interest rates
President threatens to leave business organization in what appeared to be unplanned phone interview with CNBC

President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday morning in what appeared to be an unplanned telephone interview with CNBC.

Trump again criticized the Federal Reserve Board for having raised interest rates, especially while the president said China was allowing its currency to be weakened in part to mitigate the effects of U.S. tariffs.

Senators seek another way to push back on Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy
Bipartisan group announces resolution to require report on the kingdom’s human rights record

Senators are continuing to look for creative ways to push back against the Trump administration’s foreign policy initiatives, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

The latest bipartisan effort seeks to force a floor vote to request Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress on the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, under a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act.

Sen. Blumenthal resumes crusade against sports blackouts
Connecticut Democrat wants to end local blackouts of home NFL games

A Democratic senator is renewing his crusade to eliminate sports blackouts.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants sports leagues to make live programming available through alternate means when cable distributors and satellite operators get into contract disputes with broadcasters that can lead to events being pulled off the air.

Bipartisan Senate group seeks to block Saudi arms sales as Trump administration tries to avoid congressional review
Top Democrat on Foreign Relations Menendez formally announces 22 separate disapproval measures

Bipartisanship is breaking out in the Senate to push back on yet another emergency declaration from the Trump administration.

This time, the rebuttal comes over announced arms sales, including to Saudi Arabia, under the auspices of an emergency declaration from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Republicans eager to avoid getting stuck between Trump and tariffs on Mexico
There might be enough votes to terminate a national emergency

Congressional Republicans are caught between the Koch brothers and President Donald Trump on a closer-by-the-day trade war, and are uneasily weighing their options to nullify Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexican imports. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the LIBRE Initiative sent a letter pushing congressional leaders to stand up against what they characterized as tens of billions of effective tax increases, including from Trump’s potential 5 percent tariffs on imports from Mexico (and which could grow to more than 25 percent).

Congress remembers D-Day ahead of Thursday’s 75th anniversary
Members hear from Holocaust survivor, relay stories of troops landing at Normandy

World leaders, including members of Congress, will gather Thursday overlooking the beaches of Normandy to honor the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the heroism of those who served to save the world from Nazi terror. But on Tuesday, a much smaller (though perhaps no less emotional) ceremony took place in the Capitol complex.

Organized in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, members of Congress took time to listen to Steven Joseph Fenves, a Holocaust survivor who was held in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and later the Buchenwald camp at the time of its liberation by American forces.

Road ahead: Plenty of legislating to be done around Trump impeachment chatter
Disaster relief bill and defense authorization among upcoming priorities

The increasing talk of the House launching impeachment proceedings is not yet crippling the legislative agenda that does exist, but that could change if President Donald Trump refuses to negotiate.

As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week, the first order of business will be for the House to finish the long-stalled emergency spending package for disaster relief. The Senate passed the compromise bill May 16, but the floor votes came after House members had already left town for the Memorial Day break.