Tom Cotton

Criminal Justice Bill Could Bring Out Drama in Senate
Tom Cotton threatens Christmas showdown, throws gauntlet at colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the chamber will consider a criminal justice reform measure, but opponents might make it a rough debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is poised to vote on a bipartisan criminal justice bill as soon as this week, the culmination of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a public campaign by lawmakers, the White House and advocates to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor this year. But that does not mean the debate will be free of drama. 

McConnell announced Tuesday that the revised bill would be put on the floor agenda this month “following improvements to the legislation that [have] been secured by several members.” That ended weeks of uncertainty about whether the Senate would have a chance to vote on prison and sentencing changes that would be the first in a generation and could become a signature accomplishment right before the end of the 115th Congress.

From Bush’s Lips to Our Ears: To Heck With Campaign Promises
His fateful tax deal should inspire us to do what’s right, not what’s re-electable

George H.W. Bush went from “no new taxes” to just the opposite. But his willingness to change course was proof of his unwavering strength, Murphy writes. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There are two kinds of politicians in Washington when it’s all said and done — the kind who do what they have to do to get re-elected, and the kind who do what they believe they should do because it’s the right thing.

For all of the speeches and sound bites, the campaign ads and polling, it’s really not more complicated than that. Every decision in the capital comes back to that fundamental choice.

Criminal Justice Supporters Press Case for Floor Time
Mike Pence and Jared Kushner joined Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday

Vice President Mike Pence, left, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner make their way to the Senate Republican policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence had a guest with him at Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch: White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. It was a sign the Trump administration is leaning on GOP leaders to schedule floor time for a key priority — overhauling the criminal justice system.

Kushner has been helping to lead the administration’s advocacy for a criminal justice overhaul bill that supporters are trying to cajole Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put on the floor before the end of the lame-duck session of Congress.

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.

Women Elected at Historic Levels, But No Surprise Here: White Men Dominate 116th Congress
Number of veterans down

A record number of women will be heading to Congress and there will be more minority lawmakers, but white men will still make up most of Congress. Above, supporters celebrate Jennifer Wexton's victory in Virginia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The 116th Congress is on track to be one of the most diverse in history, but the legislature will still be overwhelmingly white and male compared to the overall U.S. population. Historic numbers of women won seats in the midterm contests, but the number of veterans is likely to fall or stay flat. 

At least 96 women running for the House have won their races, shattering the previous record of 84 women in the House. Eighty-three of the women who won were Democrats.

Senators Press Supreme Court to Lift State Uranium Mining Ban
Domestic production at historic low

Republican senators contend that a case about uranium mining before the Supreme Court involves issues that are critical to national security and defense. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee contend that a case now before the Supreme Court could undermine federal policy about uranium and other assets that are critical to national security and defense.

The justices heard arguments Monday in an environmental case about a three-decades-old Virginia law that prevents mining of the largest deposit of uranium in the United States, in Pittsylvania County, in the southwest region of the state.

The Senate Already Went Nuclear. This Must Be Nuclear Plus
Mitch McConnell may have said it best: ‘You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think’

Back in 2013, then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Senate Democrats not to blow up the filibuster. “You’ll regret this,” he said. More prophetic words were never spoken, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Of all of the questions left unanswered after the Judiciary Committee hearings for Brett Kavanaugh ended last week, the hardest one to know for sure might also be the most important for the long-term health of the country — can the Senate be saved after everything that happened last week?

Can the Senate function again after Sen. Lindsey Graham looked across the hearing room at his Democratic colleagues on Thursday and yelled in rage, “Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it!”

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Microsoft Says Russians Tried to Hack Senate and Think Tanks
Operation used domain names similar to the Senate and two conservative institutions

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, is chairman of the board of directors for International Republican Institute. Microsoft said the think tank was targeted by Strontium, also referred to as “Fancy Bear,” which is associated with Russian intelligence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Microsoft announced late Monday that it thwarted a spearphishing attack against the U.S. Senate by a group affiliated with Russian intelligence.

In a statement, the tech giant said its digital crimes unit “executed a court order to disrupt and transfer control of six internet domains created by a group widely associated with the Russian government.”

Trump’s Space Force Order Would Need Congressional Action
Senate could be final stumbling block to creation of new service branch

Ohio Rep. Michael R. Turner, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, is waiting for a Pentagon report before evaluating the need for Space Force. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the Pentagon to create a new service branch dedicated to military operations in space.

“I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” Trump said at the White House, indicating that the proposed service would be completely separate from the other five existing services.