Bridget Bowman

Will He or Won’t He? Hatch Keeps Utah in Suspense
Senate’s most senior Republican weighs an eighth term

There’s been a question on the minds of many Utahans lately: Will Sen. Orrin G. Hatch run for an eighth term?

“While I have taken steps to run, I have yet to make a final decision,” Hatch, the most senior GOP senator, said in a statement. “I remain focused on my work in the Senate and will make any political decisions in due course.”

Governor Moves Special Election for Alabama Senate Seat
Jeff Sessions vacated seat in February to become attorney general

Republican Sen. Luther Strange will be running for election one year sooner than expected, after Alabama’s new governor moved the special election for his seat from November 2018 to December 2017.

Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement Tuesday that she moved the date up to comply with state law on special elections. Strange’s GOP predecessor, Jeff Sessions, vacated the seat in February after he was confirmed as attorney general. Then-Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange to the seat.

Udall: Congress Should Compel White House to Release Visitor Logs
New Mexico Democrat hits Trump over decision to keep records secret

One Democratic senator says Congress should require the White House to release its visitor records, after the administration announced Friday the logs would be kept secret.

The Trump administration cited security and privacy concerns in its decision to not publicly release its visitor logs. The decision, first reported by Time magazine, differs from the Obama administration, which publicly released its visitor records — though those logs were subject to redaction.

Senators Look to Move Past Nuclear Option
Bipartisanship touted when they return from recess

Senators are getting some time away from the nation’s capital for the next week and half, following a tense battle over the Supreme Court. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the so-called nuclear option last Thursday to effectively change the Senate rules and lower the threshold for ending debate on high court nominees. While the move raised questions about whether the chamber had reached a partisan point of no return, senators were hopeful they could still come together on other issues.

Don’t Expect Military Force Authorization for Syria Soon
Lawmakers want a plan from the president

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin walked into the closed-door briefing on military strikes in Syria, with a joint resolution in his hand.

“I’m going to see what part of this still applies, and I think a lot of it still does,” the Illinois Democrat said as he entered the secure briefing room in the Capitol on Friday where Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was addressing senators.

McConnell Open to Syria AUMF if Trump Says He Needs It
Senate majority leader also says strike not a signal of more to come

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would be open to looking at an authorization for the use of military force in Syria if President Donald Trump feels that additional force needs such authorization.

“I’d be interested in taking a look at an AUMF if the president feels like he needs it,” the Kentucky Republican said at a press conference Friday. “If the president can think of some AUMF that he thinks will strengthen his hand, I will take a look at it.”

McConnell Spoke to Romney About Utah Senate Bid
Orrin Hatch still says he’s planning on running for eighth term

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Friday that he has spoken with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney about running for the Senate from Utah if the state’s senior senator, Orrin G. Hatch, does not seek an eighth term.

“I’ve had some conversations with Mitt Romney. Obviously, I am an Orrin Hatch supporter. … If [Hatch] wants to run again, I’m for him,” McConnell said.

Nuclear Option Deployed in Quiet Senate Chamber
Gravity of situation tempers reactions amid historic moment

Thursday was a day for the Senate history books, but the ultimate change of the chamber’s rules for ending debate on Supreme Court justices was met with a quiet resignation.

Just after 12:30 p.m., the Senate clerk read the tally: 52 in the negative, 48 in the affirmative, overruling the presiding officer’s ruling that cloture, or ending debate, on Supreme Court justices required 60 votes.

Nunes Steps Aside From Russia Investigation
House Intelligence chief has faced criticism for his handling of the probe

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes announced Thursday that he is temporarily stepping aside from the panel’s probe into Russian interference in last fall’s election and ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials. The House Ethics Committee is investigating Nunes’ conduct.

The California Republican, a Trump supporter, has faced Democratic calls to relinquish his chairmanship over criticism that he could not lead an impartial investigation. His announcement said he would remain as chairman, but would allow GOP Reps. K. Michael Conaway of Texas, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and Tom Rooney of Florida to temporarily take control of the investigation.

Merkley Stages 15.5-Hour Anti-Gorsuch Talk-a-Thon in Senate
Merkley’s action won’t delay procedural vote on nomination, which was already set before speech

Sen. Jeff Merkley staged a nearly 15½-hour long marathon speech to protest Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, wrapping up at just before 10:15 Wednesday morning. 

The speech fell just a few minutes short of the seventh-longest Senate speech in the chamber’s history, which lasted 15 hours and 30 minutes. But Merkley’s action did not delay a procedural vote on Gorsuch, which was set before he began his speech.

McConnell Pledges Legislative Filibuster Is Here to Stay
Majority leader says there is no sentiment to change debate rules on legislation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guaranteed Tuesday that there will not be an effort to change the debate rules surrounding legislation, even as senators are hurtling towards a rule change on Supreme Court nominees.

“There’s no sentiment to change the legislative filibuster,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters at his weekly press conference. Asked if he was committing to not changing the rules to end debate on legislation while he is the GOP leader, McConnell said, “Correct.”

The Senate’s Era of Hard Feelings
Distrust, political pressure mire Supreme Court fight

There is no bipartisan compromise in sight as the Senate heads for a showdown over the Supreme Court that is likely to alter longstanding chamber norms and rules, thanks to a tense partisan environment and distrust resulting from past judicial battles.

Senate Democrats solidified enough votes Monday to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans will likely deploy the so-called nuclear option to change Senate rules by a majority vote, and lower the threshold to end debate on Supreme Court nominees from 60 to a majority, so Gorsuch can overcome the filibuster.

GOP Launches Neil Gorsuch Push Ahead of Votes Next Week
A committee vote is scheduled for Monday, with final confirmation on Friday

Republicans are heading into the final round in their effort to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

A coalition of outside groups is making their case in advertisements in key states, while other GOP supporters are appealing directly to Democratic senators to garner support for the Supreme Court nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on Monday, with a final confirmation vote expected next Friday.

Two Capitol Police Officers Fired Guns at Woman’s Vehicle, Court Documents Show
The officers feared for their safety after a woman drove her car in their direction

New details have emerged in the security incident near the Capitol on Wednesday, with court documents showing that two Capitol Police officers fired their guns at a woman’s vehicle during an attempt to arrest her. 

Mia K. Hill, also known as Taleah Michelle Everett, was arrested Wednesday and faces several charges, including assaulting a police officer and destruction of property, after she drove her vehicle in the direction of the officers and damaged Capitol Police vehicles. A federal judge ordered the 20 year-old be held without bond pending a preliminary hearing on April 4. Hill does not have a fixed address.

Burr: Too Early to Draw Conclusions on Russia-Trump Team Contact
Burr and Warner update Senate Intelligence Committee investigation

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee effectively rebuked the White House Wednesday, declining to rule out whether people associated President Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

“We would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. said, standing next to ranking member Mark Warner at a press conference. “I think Mark and I are committed to let this process go through before we form any opinions.”

Lawmakers Hope to Avert Government Shutdown
The deadline to fund the government is April 28

After weeks of partisan fighting over health care and the Supreme Court, lawmakers have less than one month to come together and avert a government shutdown.

Government funding for the 2017 fiscal year expires on April 28, five days after lawmakers return to the nation’s capital after a two-week recess. But negotiations appear to be moving forward.

The Search for Intelligent Bipartisanship on Health Care
Rank-and-file lawmakers to keep pushing the issue

By BRIDGET BOWMAN and NIELS LESNIEWSKI, CQ Roll Call 

With Republican leaders pausing their quest to overturn the 2010 health care law, rank-and-file lawmakers see an opportunity for outreach behind the scenes on the divisive issue.

Van Hollen Frames Trump Proposals as Dicey for GOP
DSCC chief cites health care plan, budget as politically tricky

Nuclear Option Looms as Supreme Court Hearings Wrap Up
Senators ready to blame opposing party for any upending of Senate rules

With Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings wrapping up, senators will soon confront whether his nomination will upend Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet said  whether he would move to change Senate rules that currently require 60 votes to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination. If eight members of the Democratic caucus do not join the 52 Republicans to move the nomination forward, McConnell could move to change the rules, lowering the threshold to a simple majority.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Stand Firm in Opposing GOP Health Care Plan
Senators in tight races are making a moral argument against the bill

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Senate Democrats up for re-election in Republican-leaning states are united in opposition to the GOP health care plan.

For them, overhauling the health care system is not just about policy. It’s a matter of right and wrong.