Niels Lesniewski

White House flashes urgency on shutdown — but actual goal is murky
Do Trump and Pence want to ‘resolve this’ or blame Dems for missed paychecks?

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive for lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Jan. 9. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS | Though faint, a crucial missing element to ending a partial government shutdown in its 29th day, was almost visible Saturday: Senior White House officials flashed a sense of urgency to end their standoff with Democrats.

But what was less clear on a cold and damp evening in Washington was whether White House officials bucked their own views about the stalled talks because they are eager to end the stalemate or eager to blame Democrats if nearly one million furloughed federal workers don’t get paid again next Friday.

Trump expected to float DACA deal in order to reopen government
Move would follow talks with McConnell and work by Pence, Kushner

Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, have been working on crafting the president’s proposed compromise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

UPDATED 2:19 p.m. | President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday afternoon that he would sign legislation to extend protections to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and individuals with Temporary Protected Status in exchange for the $5.7 billion for border security money that he has wanted for a southern border wall, a source involved in planning the announcement confirmed.

As always, however, nothing is official until the president himself actually makes the public commitment. Trump is now scheduled to make his border security-shutdown announcement at 4 p.m., Eastern time, Saturday. 

Furloughed government contractors to Congress: ‘Pay us too’
Podcast, Episode 136

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., speaks during the National Air Traffic Controllers Association rally to “Stop the Shutdown” in front of the Capitol on Jan. 10. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Government shutdown pushing Metro off the rails to the tune of $400K every weekday
Issues could get worse if benefits are not transferred after January 21

Metro is facing $400,000 in lost revenue each business day that the government is partially shut down . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Metro, which operates trains buses and parking garages in and around Washington, D.C., is losing roughly $400,000 from its receipts for every business day that the partial government shutdown persists.

That revelation from WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld came in a letter to the Democratic senators from Maryland and Virginia who represent many users of the Metro system, including federal employees.

Elizabeth Warren wants big banks to give details of assistance to furloughed federal workers as shutdown continues
Democratic senator highlights more transparency from credit unions about help for the workers who are not being paid

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants details of what large banks are doing to help customers affected by the partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants specifics from big banks about what they are doing to help federal workers who haven’t received paychecks due to the partial government shutdown.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who is often an adversary of large financial institutions, actually praised some of them for public statements expressing support for the furloughed federal employees (and those required to report to work without pay).

Grassley wants IRS to give taxpayers a break if they messed up witholdings

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, center, thinks the IRS should give taxpayers a break if they did not withhold enough from their paychecks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee does not want taxpayers punished if they end up owing an abnormally large amount of money to the IRS this tax season because of issues with the changes in tax withholding under 2018 tax code changes.

While Sen. Charles E. Grassley praised the efforts of the IRS and the Treasury Department to advise people of the importance of updating tax withholding figures, as well as the online calculator, he said that it was clear there could be issues.

Senate effort to block Russia sanctions relief comes up short
Clear majority of senators supported attempt to maintain sanctions on three Russian firms, but not 60 of them

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., fell short of 60 votes on his Russia sanctions measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer came up just short in his effort to get legislation through the chamber blocking the Treasury Department from easing sanctions on a trio of Russian companies.

Less than 24 hours after securing 57 votes to support a motion to proceed to the joint resolution disapproving of Treasury’s move to lift sanctions on three Russian firms that have been controlled by sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the same number of senators voted to limit debate — but that was three short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and get the measure to a final passage vote.

Senate votes to start debating Russia sanctions measure, but may lack votes to finish it
Joint resolution seeks to block sanctions relief for three Russian companies

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has led the joint resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Eleven Senate Republicans split from the Trump administration Tuesday afternoon, backing an effort by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer to force a floor debate on sanctions on Russian firms.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had appeared at Tuesday’s Senate GOP lunch to make the case for letting sanctions relief for three sanctioned Russian companies to go forward.

Barr and Mueller are friends? Hearing unlikely to derail attorney general confirmation
 

Attorney general nominee William Barr (who previously served in the position under President George H.W. Bush) faced questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The nominee's position on the investigation is a top priority for several senators. Despite Barr's past criticism of the investigation, the former attorney general called Mueller a good friend who would not engage in a “witch hunt.” 

Roll Call’s senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski takes a look at how Barr’s performance at the hearing suggests his nomination will likely proceed unimpeded.

Steven Mnuchin makes case to GOP to allow easing of sanctions on Russian companies
Visited Senate Republican lunch ahead of votes on Schumer resolution

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged the Senate to ease relief on Russian companies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is making the case to Senate Republicans that they should stop an effort to block sanctions relief against three Russian companies.

But as he left Tuesday’s Senate Republican lunch, Mnuchin did not seem certain about the vote count ahead of an expected Tuesday afternoon vote on a motion to proceed to a resolution disapproving of the sanctions relief proposed for En+ Group plc, UC Rusal plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo.