Charles E Grassley

Senate rejects Trump’s emergency declaration on border
President has promised to veto the joint resolution

A fence marking the U.S.-Mexico border is seen at sunset on July 22, 2018, in Nogales, Arizona. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

On this day in the Senate, no man a king, not even President Donald Trump.

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration that would have allowed him to redirect up to $6.7 billion from other Cabinet departments toward constructing his long-promised wall on the southwestern border.

Enzi moving ahead with ‘realistic’ budget resolution
Senate Budget chairman says he wants to avoid gimmicks

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi aims to write a “realistic” budget, not a gimmicky one. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Budget Committee plans to mark up a fiscal 2020 budget resolution the last week of March, setting out spending and revenue targets for the next five years.

Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, who skipped the exercise last year, said he intends to break from past practice and write a “realistic” budget which, for example, would not envision balancing or wiping out deficits.

At least senators showed up to vote in 2018: CQ Vote Studies
Senate had highest highest election-year participation rate since 2006

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., cast just 47 percent of eligible votes in the House in 2018 as she made a run for governor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Leaders of Congress are adept at scheduling votes when members will be available to cast them — avoiding weekends, keeping to short work days and making sure members get days off.

That helps avoid voting participation low points, such as 1970 — when lawmakers cast votes only 79 percent of the time and fewer than a quarter had a 90 percent showing or higher.

Key Senate votes in 2018: CQ Vote Studies
Kavanaugh, Yemen votes were flashpoints

The bitter and divisive confirmation process for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, shown here at this year’s State of the Union, reached a fever pitch when the full Senate voted on his appointment.(Doug Mills/Pool file photo)

The oldest of CQ’s annual studies, Key Votes is a selection of the major votes for both House and Senate for the past year. Editors choose the single vote on each issue that best presents a member’s stance or that determined the year’s legislative outcome. Charts of how each member voted on this list can be found at CQ.com.

Motion to invoke cloture to concur in the House amendment to the bill that would reauthorize for six years, through 2023, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs electronic surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects. Agreed to 60-38 (R 41-8; D 18-29; I 1-1) on Jan. 16, 2018.

Party unity on congressional votes takes a dive: CQ Vote Studies
Decline more dramatic in the Senate

Of the top six Democrats who broke from their party in 2018, four are no longer in Congress, including Heidi Heitkamp, right. Senators eyeing the presidency, meanwhile, are sticking to their party like glue. Elizabeth Warren had a perfect unity score. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Democrats and Republicans reached record highs sticking together by party on congressional votes in 2017, those numbers nose-dived in 2018 as lawmakers worked across the aisle on high-profile legislation, including a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank financial law, a package dealing with the opioid crisis, spending bills and an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice laws.

CQ’s annual vote study shows that in the House the total number of party unity votes — defined as those with each party’s majority on opposing sides — fell from 76 percent of the total votes taken in the House in 2017, a record, to 59 percent in 2018. That latter figure is the lowest since 2010, the most recent year of unified Democratic control of Congress. Election years typically have fewer votes and 2018 was no exception — the total number of votes taken in the House, 498, was the lowest since 2002.

Senator compares drugmakers to Gollum from Lord of the Rings
As several industry executives testify, lawmakers turn up the heat

Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., talk before a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on Tuesday titled “Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Seven drug industry executives appearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday blamed a large part of the drug price problem on the way health insurance is designed, even though lawmakers warned the industry to focus on its own actions rather than those of other companies.

“We’ve all seen the finger pointing,” said Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa. “Like most Americans, I’m sick and tired of the blame game.”

Eli Lilly chief executive escapes drug prices hearing
Diabetes advocates want to hear from CEO of U.S.-based company behind insulin price hikes

A woman hands an insulin pen to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., during a 2017 town hall meeting on his health care legislation. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images file photo)

The chief executives of seven pharmaceutical companies will have to answer for the steep cost of medicines before a panel of senators on Tuesday.

The tableau of corporate heads raising their right hands to deliver sworn testimony about a growing public health crisis could recall scrutiny of the tobacco industry in Congress in the 1990s.

Expect a ‘prolonged fight’ over spending caps
Deal might not be reached until it’s too late to get next year’s spending bills done in time

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky., leaves a House Democrats' caucus meeting in the Capitol in January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers return to Washington this week looking for quick movement on another two-year budget deal to waive austere spending caps and lay the foundation for an orderly fiscal 2020 appropriations process.

There’s little reason to believe a “caps deal” can be achieved quickly, however. In fact an agreement may not be reached until late in the year, some observers say, when it’s too late to get next year’s spending bills done in time for the start of the new budget year Oct. 1.

Pentagon harbors culture of revenge against whistleblowers
‘Your chances of avoiding professional suicide are akin to winning the lottery,’ one advocate says

Defense Department whistleblowers save taxpayers money and make the military stronger. But they often face retaliation, an IG report shows. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After an Army master sergeant witnessed sexual harassment and other misconduct in the ranks in 2014 and reported it to internal Defense Department authorities, the soldier’s supervisors retaliated. They suspended the whistleblower’s security clearance, issued a derogatory performance evaluation and put a written reprimand in the soldier’s file, among other reprisals.

Although the Pentagon inspector general’s office proved last year that the Army master sergeant was wrongly punished and the underlying allegations were true, the officials who retaliated had yet to face consequences. And it is not yet clear whether the damage they did to the soldier’s record has been fixed.

Lawmakers are bracing for a Commerce Dept. report on car import tariffs
The department has sent Trump its report on whether or not to impose new duties on imported vehicles

U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump studies a Commerce Department report on the impact of car imports, lawmakers and industry groups are bracing for yet another hit on trade.

On Sunday, the Commerce Department sent Trump its long-awaited report on whether or not to impose new duties on imported vehicles under a national security rationale. The report’s contents have not been released to the public or apparently to members of Congress.