Niels Lesniewski

Mitch McConnell Sees Electoral Gains From Fight Over Brett Kavanaugh
Interview with Roll Call came ahead of confirmation vote

As Brett Kavanaugh was on the verge of confirmation Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was sounding sure the Supreme Court battle will prove a benefit to Senate Republicans at the polls in November.

In an interview with Roll Call a month ahead of Election Day, the Kentucky Republican said the debate was really driving up base enthusiasm for the 2018 mid-terms.

Brett Kavanaugh to Be Rare Beneficiary of Senate Paired Voting
Votes of Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Steve Daines will be offset

When the Senate votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday, two senators will engage in a practice that’s all but died out.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the only member of the Republican Conference opposed to elevating the current D.C. Circuit Court judge to the high court, announced Friday that ordinarily she would vote “no.”

Heidi Heitkamp Will Vote No on Kavanaugh Nomination
North Dakota Democrat is in a tight re-election campaign

Updated 4:09 p.m. | Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat leading Roll Call’s list of most vulnerable senators on the ballot this fall, announced Thursday that she’ll vote against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

“The process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision, and I’ve made that decision,” the North Dakota Democrat told WDAY, the ABC affiliate in Fargo, N.D. “I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh.”

Mitch McConnell Sets Friday Vote to Thwart Filibuster of Brett Kavanaugh
Wednesday evening move sets up Friday procedural vote and possible Saturday confirmation vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell followed through late Wednesday in setting up a Friday vote to limit debate on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Under Senate rules, the key vote on McConnell’s cloture motion will take place one hour after the Senate convenes Friday. The Republicans needed to get the motion to limit debate before the end of the calendar day Wednesday to allow the Friday vote.

Senate Clears Big Aviation, Opioid Legislation Under Shadow of Brett Kavanaugh and FBI
Pending water resources deal could be last major legislative item before Election Day

The Senate’s never-ending Supreme Court drama continued to overshadow a pair of bipartisan legislative wins — with at least one more expected before Election Day.

As senators awaited a supplemental report from the FBI about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, they cleared for President Donald Trump a big bipartisan bundle of bills to combat the opioid scourge and a long-awaited reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tim Kaine Sounds Alarm About Trump’s View of ‘Collective Self-Defense’ Powers
Writes to Defense Secretary Mattis about latest legal interpretation

A Democratic senator who has long called for Congress to take a more active role in decisions to authorize U.S. military action around the world is expressing concern about the Trump administration’s view of “collective self-defense.”

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine released a letter Wednesday to Defense Secretary James Mattis indicating that there are very few limits on the scope of self-defense under interpretations of current law.

Mitch McConnell Says Senate Hallway Protesters Won’t Stop Kavanaugh Vote
Expects additional FBI background review to be done shortly

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Senate Republicans won’t be deterred from voting this Friday on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh by protesters in Senate office buildings.

“I don’t care how many members they chase, how many people they harass here in the halls,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We will not be intimated by these people.”

Senate Judiciary Members Escorted Through Protests by Police
Graham and Kennedy among those escorted near Senate subway

A number of Republican senators received police escorts Tuesday afternoon to get them past demonstrators gathered in the basement of the Russell Building near the terminus of the Senate subway.

Among them were Republican members of the Judiciary Committee Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Chuck Schumer Rebuts Kavanaugh Delay Charges
GOP can confirm Kavanaugh if it unites around nominee, minority leader says

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer used his opening remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday morning to stress the Democratic caucus lacks the votes to delay confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The New York Democrat was responding to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been pinning the fact that Kavanaugh wasn’t confirmed to the Supreme Court before the start of the term on the Democratic minority.

Jeff Flake Pledges to Consider FBI Review Before Final Kavanaugh Vote
Senate at its worst when votes happen because one side has the numbers to win, Flake says in N.H.

Sen. Jeff Flake insisted Monday he would take the supplemental reporting of the FBI under advisement before deciding what to do about the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

The Arizona Republican made the comments during a broader speech Friday at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, his latest act that could be read as an early foray into the world of 2020 presidential politics.

Cheri Bustos Joins Race for Assistant Democratic Leader
Sets up contest that could show diversity of House Democratic caucus next year

Rep. Cheri Bustos has formally announced she wants to move up in House Democratic leadership, setting up a contested race with candidates from different parts of the caucus.

The Illinois Democrat said her candidacy for assistant Democratic leader will focus on efforts to support the most vulnerable members of the House Democratic caucus, and that will include significant support for new staff.

7 Ways Congress Might Make Your Next Airline Flight a Little Less Terrible
Full FAA reauthorization is the next legislation before the Senate

The Senate is getting ready to send to President Donald Trump a bipartisan reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that might make the commercial flying experience just a little less awful.

“Relief could soon be on the way for weary airline passengers facing smaller and smaller seats,” Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said when the deal was announced.

Republicans Set 2020 Convention Date for Late August
Gathering in Charlotte will follow the DNC and Tokyo Olympics

President Donald Trump and the Republican Party will be spending part of late August in Charlotte in 2020, more than a month after their Democratic counterparts and potentially in the middle of hurricane season. 

The Republican National Convention is going to be held Aug. 24-27, 2020, in the North Carolina city, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Senate Formally Begins Consideration of Kavanaugh Nomination, Pending FBI Investigation
GOP leaders also set up consideration of FAA measure for next week

On the Senate floor Friday, and after a lengthy set of negotiations over next steps, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., began the formal process of considering the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

“We will shortly move to proceed to the Kavanaugh nomination,” McConnell said. “100 percent of the Republican Conference supports proceeding to the Kavanaugh nomination.”

Nancy Pelosi Optimistic About Taking the House, but Doesn’t Want ‘Bonanza’ From Kavanaugh Blowback
House minority leader will spend more time in D.C. awaiting opportunity to lead in 2019

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday she would rather not get an electoral boost from Senate Republicans confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court without first having an FBI investigation of sexual assault allegations against him.

“If it benefits Democrats politically, it’s a bonanza that we don’t want, that we do not want,” the California Democrat said. “What we want is integrity on the Supreme Court.”

Key Republican Senator Jeff Flake Says He Will Vote for Brett Kavanaugh
Senate Judiciary Committee voting on nomination Friday morning

Sen. Jeff Flake announced Friday he will vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The Senate Judiciary Committee is voting on the nomination Friday.

“What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence,” Flake said in a stement. “That is what binds us to the rule of law. While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well.

Jeff Flake Straddling the Fence on Kavanaugh Ahead of Friday Vote
Arizona Republican isn’t committing to supporting Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Jeff Flake, seen as a key swing vote who could either put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court or kill his chances, is not committing to voting for the nominee at a Friday morning Judiciary Committee markup.

The Arizona Republican sounded very conflicted Thursday evening following a meeting of the Senate Republican Conference after the Judiciary panel spent nearly nine hours Thursday hearing from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her at a party decades ago when they were both in high school. 

Senate Republicans to Discuss Path Forward on Kavanaugh After Thursday’s Hearing
Conference expected to discuss upcoming floor and vote schedule

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has organized a Republican Conference meeting for after the Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.

The meeting, according to an aide to the Kentucky Republican, is designed to discuss the path forward for the floor schedule and the vote schedule.

Outside Counsels Never Steal the Spotlight From Senators, Except When They Do
The use of lawyers to question witnesses at hearings is reserved for some of the most sensitive hearings

Rachel Mitchell is about to become a household name.

And if past is prologue, the investigative counsel drafted by the majority side of the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Christine Blasey Ford may become a recurring character long after the current Supreme Court debate comes to a close.