Benjamin L Cardin

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.

New bipartisan Senate group facing uphill climb in bid to end shutdown

Sen. Benjamin J. Cardin is among the senators trying to cut a deal to end the shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan Senate group has launched new talks  to end the lingering partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 and is now the longest in history, but they are well aware of the uphill climb awaiting them. 

Senators who met Monday haven’t coalesced around a single approach that can gain the approval of President Donald Trump as well as Democratic leaders in both chambers. But the group still appears to be discussing what kind of border security package can pass muster with the principal negotiators.

At union rally, Hoyer connects forcing feds to work without pay to slavery
As the shutdown continues, tensions heighten ahead of missed paychecks

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., applauds for reporters who used to attend his briefings as minority whip, during a briefing in the Capitol on January 8, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As federal employees braced for their first missed paychecks starting Friday, tension over the government shutdown reached a fever pitch, with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer equating forcing people to work without pay to slavery. 

Speaking Thursday to a rally of unionized federal employees and their supporters outside the AFL-CIO’s headquarters, the Maryland Democrat spoke of the “440,000 people that are being asked to work with no pay,” adding, “You know, back in the 1860s, they talked about working with no pay.”

Senate Democrats block debate on foreign policy legislation to put focus on shutdown
Vote demonstrated opposition to conducting other business while government remains partially closed

Vice President Mike Pence walks through Statuary Hall on his way to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office in the Capitol on Jan. 8, 2018. Pence will attend the Senate GOP lunch on Wednesday, along with President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Before President Donald Trump was set to speak to the nation Tuesday night as part of his border security push, Senate Democrats mustered the votes to signal they were not interested in other legislating until there’s legislation to reopen the federal government.

The Democrats on Tuesday blocked movement on a package of Middle East policy legislation, including assistance to Israel, seeking to send a message that they will not support the chamber taking up other business until a partial shutdown ends.

Will Democrats stop the Senate from doing other legislating until the government shutdown ends?
Chris Van Hollen leads call to block other bills until the Senate votes on House-passed appropriations bills

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is leading an effort in the Senate to do nothing until the chamber votes on House-passed funding bills to reopen the government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Will Senate Republicans be stopped from working on anything else legislatively before the partial government shutdown ends?

Whether or not the Senate debates a new package of Syria sanctions and an effort to block boycotts of Israel this week could hinge on whether Maryland’s Democratic senators can convince their colleagues to do nothing until a deal is reached on ending the shutdown.

House, Senate Democrats Identify Slate of Committee Leaders for New Congress
House Dem Caucus must still ratify, Senate is ready to go

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has his roster of ranking members for committees ready. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats have identified their incoming committee leadership for the 116th Congress, although the full caucus must still weigh in and a few key chairs will have to wait until the House speakership contest is settled. In the Senate meanwhile, the roster is finished, with some notable movement in the smaller Democratic minority. 

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee made its recommendations for most committee chairmanships in the new Congress on Tuesday evening, with a few others designated Monday. The full caucus must still approve the choices.

Bob Corker’s Quieter Foreign Policy Legacy
Retiring Foreign Relations chairman offers advice for new members

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has advice for incoming senators: become an expert, listen to colleagues and score quieter wins with an eye to the future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker prepares to yield his gavel and leave the Senate, he has advice for newly elected senators: gain expertise and actually listen to your colleagues.

“Some of these people obviously are coming in with large platforms. I mean, they’ve been significant figures prior to coming here,” the Tennessee Republican, first elected in 2006, said in a recent interview. “Still though, they’re going to be freshman senators and they’re going to be sitting at the end of the dais in most cases in whatever the committee.”

Lawmakers Want to Push Back at Saudi Arabia With or Without Trump
Question may be whether there is a veto-proof majority for legislation

Sen. Lindsey Graham expects bipartisan support for sanctions against Saudi Arabia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At least when it comes to Congress, Tuesday’s afternoon statement from President Donald Trump might not prove helpful to the cause of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi royal family.

Even some of Trump’s strongest supporters on Capitol Hill are insisting the legislative branch will act to respond to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, even though there is still no sign of it on the legislative agenda.

Democrats Spin McConnell Entitlement Comments Into Political Messaging
McConnell says Republicans cannot tackle program on their own but Democrats warn of GOP action

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., says a vote for the GOP is a vote to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, spinning Senate Majority McConnell’s comments that Republicans can’t execute that goal on their own. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats are spinning comments Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently made on overhauling entitlements to craft a political message that electing Republicans will lead to cuts in safety net programs. 

“Sen. McConnell gave the game up in his comment yesterday,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said on a press call Wednesday. “It was very clear from what he said that a vote for Republican candidates in this election is a vote to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. That’s what he said.”

Trump Signals Intent to Nix Proposed Federal Pay Increase
Congress can weigh in if it feels need to maintain agreed-upon pay hike

President Donald Trump wants to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, saying he has the authority by citing a national emergency. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signaled his intent to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, informing Congress on Thursday that federal law allowed him to do so in the event of a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

The move drew a quick response from D.C.-area members and is almost certain to draw howls from the Senate, which included a 1.9 percent pay raise in its Financial Services spending bill. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month.