Christopher S Murphy

No new legislative momentum after election security briefings
House has passed legislation, but there is no plan for moving a Senate bill

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks with reporters as he leaves the closed briefing on election security in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio emerged from a closed briefing on the Trump administration’s efforts to secure elections and made a renewed push for his own bipartisan deterrence legislation, even as he acknowledged there has not been momentum.

“In my view, they’re doing everything you can do,” Rubio said of the administration efforts. “Election interference is a broadly used term, and understand this is psychological warfare. It’s designed to weaken America from the inside out, to drive divisions internally so we fight with each other, to undermine our confidence in the elections and in our democracy and particularly to undermine individual candidates either because they don’t like that candidate or because they know someone else.”

High-stakes lawsuit makes health care law a 2020 issue
Court hearing comes as Democrats have been debating their next steps beyond the 2010 law

Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said if elected, he would want to first focus on ways to stabilize the health coverage law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For all their differences on “Medicare for All,” Democrats will have a chance to rally around the 2010 health care law this week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments in the high-profile Texas v. Azar lawsuit on Tuesday, which could spell the future of the health care law and become a major issue in the 2020 election cycle.

Senate panel approves health cost bill but plans changes
Sanders, Warren vote ‘no’ by proxy as they head to Democratic presidential debates

Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander takes his seat for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing this month. The panel on Wednesday approved a bill meant to lower health care costs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday approved, 20-3, legislation meant to lower health care costs, although senators suggested that more changes are likely before the floor debate next month.

Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee hopes to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote in mid-to-late July, which will likely set up a flurry of lobbying and debate among lawmakers over changes to it.

Democrats face pressure in debates on overhauling health care
But candidates will likely have little time to offer up new details about their plans

Supporters hold “Medicare for All” signs during a rally in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington on April 29 . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When 20 of the Democratic presidential candidates take the debate stage Wednesday and Thursday, one key difference that could emerge is whether candidates say they would seek another overhaul of the nation’s health insurance system.

The debate will be an opportunity for the White House aspirants to outline their health care plans — an issue that polls consistently show is a priority for Democratic voters. Most of the party’s 24 candidates have yet to release their own comprehensive plans explaining their priorities on an issue that contrasts significantly with President Donald Trump’s approach.

NDAA future uncertain amid amendment disputes

From left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., John Thune, R-S.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Todd Young, R-Ind., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday after the Senate policy lunches. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is barreling toward a procedural vote Wednesday on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, but the typically bipartisan measure could become the victim of a filibuster amid a battle over amendments.

Democrats could block cloture on the bill if they don’t receive assurances from Senate Republicans of a vote on an amendment that would stop President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval.

Democrats respond with relief to Trump calling off Iran attack
The reaction was mixed, with some renewing objections to military engagement without prior congressional approval

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., leaves the Senate Democrats' policy lunch onOct. 10, 2018. Udall and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have been leading an effort to attach an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require Congress to vote to authorize the use of force before the administration can take military action against Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic response varied Friday to President Donald Trump saying he called off an airstrike against Iran at the last minute, with some renewing their objections to military engagement with Iran without prior congressional approval and others approving of the pull back.

Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have been leading an effort to attach an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require Congress to vote to authorize the use of force before the administration could take military action against Iran.

Senators seek another way to push back on Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy
Bipartisan group announces resolution to require report on the kingdom’s human rights record

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., is helping to lead the push for more congressional oversight of foreign assistance to Saudi Arabia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators are continuing to look for creative ways to push back against the Trump administration’s foreign policy initiatives, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

The latest bipartisan effort seeks to force a floor vote to request Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress on the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, under a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act.

Senate Democrats will seek to force vote on Trump authority for Iran war
Sen. Tim Kaine quotes ’Dr. Strangelove‘ after Armed Services panel thwarts vote on the question

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., will seek a vote in relation to war with Iran during the floor debate on the defense authorization. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If some key Democrats get their way, the Senate will have to vote on the limits of President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

The vote would come as part of floor debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization. The Senate Armed Services Committee last week turned back an effort to express opposition to military action against Iran without a new authorization from Congress, except in cases of self-defense.

What’s the state of play on intern pay on Capitol Hill?
Intern compensation funding is up for discussion again

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., says he expects intern compensation funding to continue in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Securing intern compensation funding last year was a huge victory for lawmakers and advocates. Now they just have to figure out how to get the word out and expand the pie. 

As interns descend on Capitol Hill for a summer of public service, more will be paid for their work than ever before. But widespread paid internships are still in their infancy in Congress. This is the first summer that House and Senate offices have dedicated funding available to cut checks.

US could be at war by the time Congress returns from recess, Udall says
Democrats force votes on approving war with Iran, but come up short in the Senate

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is worried that the United States may be at war with Iran by the time Congress returns from recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been forcing votes on President Donald Trump’s military powers this week amid the ratcheting up of tensions with Iran, getting predictably disparate results.

In the latest test, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-led effort to move legislation designed to thwart preemptive military action against Iran.