ron-wyden-2

McConnell Says No Shutdowns as September Agenda Takes Shape (Video)

McConnell says there won't be any shutdowns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats are warning a new shutdown showdown looms in September, even as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated there wouldn't be any government shutdowns on his watch.  

"Let me say it again: no more government shutdowns," the Kentucky Republican said, when asked how he intended to adhere to his pledge made numerous times. "We have divided government. ... At some point we'll negotiate the way forward."  

Senators Call for More From Feds on Medical Marijuana Research

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It's high time to look closer at medical marijuana research, eight Democratic senators wrote in a letter sent Monday to several departments in the federal government.  

Acknowledging that 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use and an additional 15 states allow cannabadiol  all without federal involvement  the senators argue that the federal government has an "opportunity and a responsibility to craft a sensible research and public health strategy that allows us to generate meaningful data and conclusions." The letter, sent to heads of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, also applauds a recent decision by the Obama administration to streamline the medical marijuana research approval process.  

Wyden Rips Plan to Attach 'Surveillance' Cybersecurity Bill to Defense Bill (Video)

Wyden says the cybersecurity bill is really about surveillance. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The move to attach bipartisan cybersecurity legislation to an annual defense bill has prompted another debate over surveillance.  

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who was the only vote against the bipartisan cybersecurity information sharing overhaul at the Intelligence Committee level, wants changes to protect privacy.  

After Rand Paul's Objections, Patriot Act Lurches Toward Expiration (Updated)

Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn't get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated May 23, 2 a.m. | The Senate failed to advance even a one-day extension of the Patriot Act surveillance authorities early Saturday, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leading bipartisan objections to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an extraordinary sequence.  

The end result is that the Senate will reconvene for legislative business at 4 p.m. on May 31, staring down a midnight deadline to reauthorize the programs in question, including some far less contentious than the bulk data collection that's gotten most of the attention. "This week, I stood on the floor for roughly 11 hours in defense of the Fourth Amendment and successfully blocked the renewal of the Patriot Act. We should never give up our rights for a false sense of security," Paul said in a statement. "This is only the beginning — the first step of many. I will continue to do all I can until this illegal government spying program is put to an end, once and for all."  

Stabenow: Opponents 'Have to Deal With' Currency Amendment on Trade

Stabenow is insisting on a simple majority vote on the currency amendment she cosponsored with Portman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Whenever the Senate's able to vote to limit debate on the pending trade legislation, senators will still have to tackle a tough amendment about currency manipulation.  

And the supporters of the amendment, led by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., about the inclusion of enforceable currency provisions in trade agreements, have no reason to make their proposal easier to defeat by agreeing to a 60-vote super majority threshold.  

Tough Talk on Trade Between Wyden and Reid

Wyden said Reid has been blunt with him over their trade policy legislation disagreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden did not sound surprised by Minority Leader Harry Reid's call Tuesday for him to slow down progress on Trade Promotion Authority legislation that was being marked up Wednesday afternoon.  

"Sen. Reid and I have talked often about this, and he's already a straight-shooter. You know, he and I have been working together for over three decades," the Oregon Democrat said of his colleague from Nevada. "Nancy and I are just very fond of Senator Reid and Landra."  

Wyden Knows His Challenge on Trade: Fellow Democrats

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

"Trade has never been for the faint-hearted," Sen. Ron Wyden said Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing a bipartisan agreement on legislation to promote trade deals.  

The Oregon Democrat is in the unenviable position of being his party's leading voice on Capitol Hill in support of revived fast-track Trade Promotion Authority for President Barack Obama, a position that puts him squarely in line with the White House and most Republicans, but at odds with key parts of the Democratic coalition.  

Tax Extenders Vote a Bipartisan Affair

Wyden was one of a bipartisan group opposing the tax extenders package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The final vote on the $41.6 billion tax extenders package was, like the cromnibus last week, a very bipartisan affair.  

Handing out mostly corporate tax breaks and adding to the debt to do it has proven to be a popular thing for Congress. Democrats including President Barack Obama spent the better part of 2013 trying to get Republicans to agree to more revenue as part of a budget deal, but are now signing on to deficit expansion for the sake of tax breaks that will expire, again, in two weeks.  

Reid Doubts Senate Will Vote on Inversions in September

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he doesn’t expect the Senate to vote on legislation revamping corporate inversions this month.  

“I kind of doubt it,” Reid said when asked if there would be a vote in September. When asked why not, Reid only chuckled as he walked into the chamber after his weekly Tuesday press conference.