Filibuster

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party
Party voices in favor of Palestinian rights, BDS are getting louder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, here at the Capitol in March, has backed several of President Donald Trump’s domestic policies, further contributing to his country’s divide with Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the surface, it looks like the U.S.-Israel relationship is having its best year ever. In May, President Donald Trump fulfilled Israel’s dream of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his administration is preparing a Middle East peace plan that will almost certainly have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blessing. Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.

But there are political undercurrents that spell trouble for what has traditionally been unquestioned U.S. support for Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party on the eve of a midterm election that could swing the balance of power in one or both chambers of Congress and perhaps profoundly and permanently change the dynamic between the longtime allies.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Brings Banking Panel to Boiling Point
Nomination of Kathy Kraninger strains previously buddy-buddy relationship

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, left, and ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, normally have a smooth working relationship that could be strained by debate over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation hearing was as politically contentious as it’s gotten in the last year and a half on what has otherwise been a very senatorial Senate Banking Committee.

The partisan fight even appeared to consume the always amiable relations between Chairman Michael D. Crapo of Idaho and ranking member Sherrod Brown of Ohio, both of whom expressed regrets at the dust-up over Kraninger’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Joint Budget Committee Will Meet on the Side to Work It Out
Members face November deadline for developing legislation and report

Co-Chairman Steve Womack and the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform will meet on the side to see if they can work out their differences. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 16 lawmakers tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process will begin meeting informally this month to determine if they can agree on bipartisan changes before the end of November, according to House Budget Chairman Steve Womack.

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has an uphill climb before it can produce the type of legislation that a majority of its Democrats and a majority of its Republicans will support — let alone the type of bill that a majority of each chamber will vote to enact.

Kavanaugh Confirmation Fight Promises to Be Intense — and Expensive
Outside advocacy groups on both sides are already coming out swinging

President Donald Trump nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy at an announcement ceremony in the White House on Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Outside advocacy groups began making hefty down payments overnight in the multimillion-dollar fight over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, but the cash is unlikely to determine the fate of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The fierce fundraising appeals and grass-roots mobilization from both sides, including advertising buys in pivotal states, show the high stakes as senators prepare to weigh the potential successor to retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Democrats Have Few Tactical Options to Fight Supreme Court Pick
Senate rules provide some delay tactics, but not many now that filibuster is unavailable

When he was Senate majority leader, Robert C. Byrd once ordered the arrest of senators to make sure there was a quorum present to conduct chamber business. If enough senators skip a session to, say, delay a confirmation vote on a Supreme Court nominee, such an option is available to the majority. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats can make as much noise as they want about President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, but they have few procedural weapons at their disposal to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on their own — although they can make life difficult along the way.

One strategy for the Senate Democrats may be to create as much time as possible between Monday night’s announcement and the Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings.

Warren Warns Nominee: ‘We Will Fight for the Soul of This Nation’
Protesters chant ‘Hell no, Kavanaugh’ late into the night outside Supreme Court

Anti-abortion protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court on Monday night as President Donald Trump announces his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Chants of “Hell no, Kavanaugh” clashed with “Roe has got to go” outside the Supreme Court on Monday night, moments after President Donald Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick.

As hundreds of protesters waving signs and megaphones gathered in front of the court, Sen. Elizabeth Warren struggled to be heard over the shouts.

Analysis: Big Flashpoints in the Judicial Confirmation Wars
Filibusters, blockades and recriminations set stage for SCOTUS skirmishes

The refusal of Senate Republicans to consider Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland was one of the biggest flashpoints in the judicial confirmation wars. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Like any long war, the one over Supreme Court nominees can be defined by its bloodiest battles.

As Congress braces for a bruising high court confirmation fight, a few recent congressional episodes have provided ammunition for both sides in the contentious process of staffing the judicial branch of government. 

Kennedy Retirement Shuffles Senate’s Legislative and Campaign Agenda
Confirmation hearings could come in August, with floor debate in the fall

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who announced his retirement Wednesday, greets President Donald Trump in the House chamber after a joint session of Congress in February 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With a two-paragraph letter, Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy sent a shock to the Senate’s agenda — and perhaps the 2018 midterm elections.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said the debate over President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Kennedy, who announced his retirement Wednesday, will likely lead the headlines heading into November.

Opinion: Where Do We Go From Here?
Wholesale change in the political environment seems far off

President Donald Trump makes remarks to the media upon arriving in the Capitol for a meeting on immigration with House Republicans on June 19. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On Monday evening, Judy Woodruff asked me and USA Today’s Susan Page on the “PBS NewsHour” how the country moves forward from its current state of division. I didn’t have a good answer.

I said what I have been saying for years: I don’t see an obvious solution.

GOP Senators to Dems: You Can’t Stop Supreme Court Appointment by Fall
McConnell states next justice will be confirmed before midterms

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gives a thumbs up after the Senate invoked the “nuclear option” which will allow for a majority vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice nominee, April 6, 2017. The maneuver allowed for confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the high court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republican leaders on Wednesday quickly laid out the game plan for confirming a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, wasting no time in stating they intended to confirm a new justice before the fall elections and flatly claiming there was literally nothing Democrats could do to delay that. 

“The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent on President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy. We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor just minutes after the news of Kennedy’s retirement broke.