Filibuster

Road Ahead: Congress Returns Ahead of Hurricane Florence
House and Senate still expected to hold hearings, votes despite impending storm

A "wet floor" sign stands next to bins placed to collect rain water leaking from the roof of the Hart Senate Office Building on Sept. 11, 2018. The Washington area is expected to see heavy rainfall over the next few days due to Hurricane Florence. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers are scheduled back at the Capitol on Wednesday, but they are sure to be keeping an eye on the weather — and their flight schedules.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California issued a scheduling update around lunchtime Tuesday informing members that despite the expectation of Florence making landfall as a major hurricane along the Atlantic coast, there were no plans to change the legislative schedule.

State Department Hedges on Proposed New Russia Sanctions
Trump administration “needs discretion”

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., questioned a senior State Department official Tuesday about sanctions against Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior State Department official on Tuesday urged senators to give the Trump administration considerable leeway as lawmakers contemplate new punitive sanctions against Russia.

“We need discretion with those sanctions,” testified Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on relations with Russia. “Sanctions without discretion, in my mind, is the antithesis of diplomacy.”

Democrats Pledge CRA to Kill EPA’s Clean Power Plan Replacement
Trump hopes to gut Obama-era regulations at the center of Paris climate agreement pledges

Donald Trump had made the rollback of Obama-era carbon emission regulations a central talking point at his rallies. (Justin Merriman/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 2:35 p.m. | Democrats are already promising a Congressional Review Act challenge to the Trump administration’s proposal Tuesday to replace an Obama-era regulation curbing climate-warming carbon emissions from the electric power sector.

For President Donald Trump and Capitol Hill Republicans, the draft proposal marks the culmination of a three-year battle to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a rulemaking finalized in 2015 that required states to devise plans to cut carbon emissions from existing coal-powered electricity plants and other high carbon-emitting energy sources.

Road Ahead: Appropriations on Senate Floor, Russia Talk Away From It
Senators to vote on spending for four cabinet departments

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, left, actually had better attendance last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With the Senate back to legislating, more attention will be on lawmaker attendance than it was during last week’s abbreviated session.

At the high-water mark, only 90 senators  were present for votes during the two-day workweek, with most of the absentees being members of the GOP. That led a reporter to quip to Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York that his Democrats actually had the majority.

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party
Party voices in favor of Palestinian rights, BDS are getting louder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, here at the Capitol in March, has backed several of President Donald Trump’s domestic policies, further contributing to his country’s divide with Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the surface, it looks like the U.S.-Israel relationship is having its best year ever. In May, President Donald Trump fulfilled Israel’s dream of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his administration is preparing a Middle East peace plan that will almost certainly have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blessing. Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.

But there are political undercurrents that spell trouble for what has traditionally been unquestioned U.S. support for Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party on the eve of a midterm election that could swing the balance of power in one or both chambers of Congress and perhaps profoundly and permanently change the dynamic between the longtime allies.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Brings Banking Panel to Boiling Point
Nomination of Kathy Kraninger strains previously buddy-buddy relationship

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, left, and ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, normally have a smooth working relationship that could be strained by debate over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation hearing was as politically contentious as it’s gotten in the last year and a half on what has otherwise been a very senatorial Senate Banking Committee.

The partisan fight even appeared to consume the always amiable relations between Chairman Michael D. Crapo of Idaho and ranking member Sherrod Brown of Ohio, both of whom expressed regrets at the dust-up over Kraninger’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Joint Budget Committee Will Meet on the Side to Work It Out
Members face November deadline for developing legislation and report

Co-Chairman Steve Womack and the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform will meet on the side to see if they can work out their differences. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 16 lawmakers tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process will begin meeting informally this month to determine if they can agree on bipartisan changes before the end of November, according to House Budget Chairman Steve Womack.

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has an uphill climb before it can produce the type of legislation that a majority of its Democrats and a majority of its Republicans will support — let alone the type of bill that a majority of each chamber will vote to enact.

Kavanaugh Confirmation Fight Promises to Be Intense — and Expensive
Outside advocacy groups on both sides are already coming out swinging

President Donald Trump nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy at an announcement ceremony in the White House on Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Outside advocacy groups began making hefty down payments overnight in the multimillion-dollar fight over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, but the cash is unlikely to determine the fate of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The fierce fundraising appeals and grass-roots mobilization from both sides, including advertising buys in pivotal states, show the high stakes as senators prepare to weigh the potential successor to retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Democrats Have Few Tactical Options to Fight Supreme Court Pick
Senate rules provide some delay tactics, but not many now that filibuster is unavailable

When he was Senate majority leader, Robert C. Byrd once ordered the arrest of senators to make sure there was a quorum present to conduct chamber business. If enough senators skip a session to, say, delay a confirmation vote on a Supreme Court nominee, such an option is available to the majority. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats can make as much noise as they want about President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, but they have few procedural weapons at their disposal to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on their own — although they can make life difficult along the way.

One strategy for the Senate Democrats may be to create as much time as possible between Monday night’s announcement and the Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings.

Warren Warns Nominee: ‘We Will Fight for the Soul of This Nation’
Protesters chant ‘Hell no, Kavanaugh’ late into the night outside Supreme Court

Anti-abortion protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court on Monday night as President Donald Trump announces his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Chants of “Hell no, Kavanaugh” clashed with “Roe has got to go” outside the Supreme Court on Monday night, moments after President Donald Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick.

As hundreds of protesters waving signs and megaphones gathered in front of the court, Sen. Elizabeth Warren struggled to be heard over the shouts.