Patrick J Leahy

Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill
Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promoting industrial hemp language in the farm bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to put himself on the farm bill conference committee was insurance that one of his policy priorities — and a key issue for his 2020 re-election campaign — would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk this year.

“At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future,” McConnell said Tuesday morning. “My provision in the farm bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight.”

Shutdown Fears Abound, Despite Temporary Reprieve
Another deadline looming in appropriations standoff

Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, says Transportation-HUD measure not among the “problem child” spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional aides on both sides of the aisle say they don’t see how the appropriations impasse ends without a partial government shutdown just in time for Christmas Eve.

President Donald Trump signed a continuing resolution into law Friday that would change the expiration date of the stopgap measure enacted before the midterm elections to Dec. 21. But he wasted little time in taking aim at Democratic leaders for “playing political games” on border security funding, even as he prepares to sit down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York in the Oval Office Tuesday.

Why Trump’s Call for ‘Overwhelming Bipartisan’ Vote for Barr Seems Unlikely
Wyden: Bush 41-era AG holds ‘anti-democratic’ view that president is ‘effectively royalty’

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., flanked by other Senate Democrats, at a news conference in March. The two senators have voiced concerns about President Trump's pick, William Barr, to make his second run as attorney general. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Friday gave a full-throated endorsement to the president’s pick to fill the post, former Attorney General William Barr,  but Democratic senators and civil rights advocates are sounding alarms.

William Barr “deserves” from the Senate “overwhelming bipartisan support,” Trump said while addressing a law enforcement conference in Kansas City. “There’s no one more capable or qualified for this position,” he claimed.

Granger Selected as New Top Republican on House Appropriations
With Nita Lowey expected to chair, panel is set for historic all-female leadership duo

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is expected to be the ranking member on House Appropriations next Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Kay Granger will likely take over as the House Republicans’ lead appropriator in January after the GOP Steering Committee recommended her on Thursday.

The full House GOP Conference is expected to ratify the decision Friday. While it’s possible the conference could overrule the Steering panel recommendation, conference approval is typically a formality.

Forest Fires Add Snag to Getting Farm Bill Passed
House-passed version would change forest management policies that opponents say would ease oversight

A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through earlier this month in Magalia, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Forestry provisions have emerged as the latest snag in farm bill negotiations, sending the issue to congressional leaders for talks to break the impasse.

The forestry provisions in the House-passed version of the farm bill say the proposed changes to federal forest management policies would prevent forest fires — an issue that is now at the forefront after the deadly California fires. Opponents say the proposed changes would ease federal oversight and safeguards needed to limit logging on public lands that could destroy forests habitats and reduce protections for endangered wildlife.

Grassley Gave McConnell Judges. Now He Wants His Criminal Justice Bill
‘I look at this in a very personal way,’ Grassley said

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has helped confirm a record number of judges. All he wants from Mitch McConnell now is a little “reciprocity.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is leaning on his track record of processing judicial nominations to get a floor vote on a bipartisan bill he spearheaded to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system.

In an unusual personal plea, the 85-year-old Iowa Republican on Thursday said he wanted “reciprocity” from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for “what I’ve done in our unified effort on judges” during President Donald Trump’s administration.

Here’s the List of Senate Republican and Democratic Leaders
Status quo reigns (mostly)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., prepares to address the media after the Senate Policy lunches in the Capitol on March 20. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In Appropriations Endgame, All Roads Lead to Border Wall
Dec. 7 funding deadline fast approaching

Border Patrol vehicles stand guard along the United States-Mexico border fence in on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. The fence runs through the cities of Calexico, Calif., and Mexicali on the Mexico side. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sooner or later, President Donald Trump will have to confront the political reality that Congress is extremely unlikely to provide the $5 billion he wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

That realization has to occur in less than a month, with the House and Senate both in session for only 12 legislative days before the current stopgap funding measure expires Dec. 7.

Anti-Pork Senators Warn of Potential Return of Earmarks
Flake, McCaskill and company again call for action on legislation to formally ban practice

Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., held an event in January to demonstrate that Congress can “eat pork without spending it.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators critical of pork-barrel spending is again warning about the possible return of congressional earmarks.

The contingent of persistent critics of the earmarking process warned about talk of the return of the practice in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont.

McCarthy Bill Would Fund Border Wall, Boost Speaker Bid
Legislation not likely to move this year, but raises issue profile

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has introduced legislation to fund a border wall, something that could boost his bid to lead the House Republican Conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has introduced legislation that includes more than $23 billion for President Donald Trump’s border security agenda and numerous enforcement provisions aimed at cracking down on sanctuary cities and undocumented criminals, a proposal that could boost his bid to lead the House GOP after next month’s elections.

The California Republican introduced the bill on Friday after visiting the El Paso, Texas, sector of the southern border on Thursday.