Filibuster

Democrats Push GOP to Delay Tax Talks After Alabama
But Republican tax conference committee is full speed ahead

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones's victory in the Senate race to replace Jeff Sessions could scramble the legislative calculus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats were quick to call on Republicans to delay their efforts to rewrite the tax code, saying Doug Jones' victory in Tuesday’s special Senate election in Alabama is a sign from voters that needs to be heeded.

“The vote on the tax bill should be postponed. The voice of Alabamians should be heard on this and Doug Jones should have a chance to weigh in,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told reporters Wednesday.

How Moore Would Change the Senate From Day One
From collegial courtesy to the page program, Hill culture would be rattled

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore and his wife Kayla leave Moore's "Drain the Swamp" rally in Midland City, Ala., on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The nature of the Senate would be challenged right away, and in several tangible ways, with the election of Roy Moore.

Even though Congress is now defined by its tribal partisanship, which long ago gave the lie to whatever senatorial claim remained to being “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Tuesday’s special election in Alabama threatens to make life in the northern half of Capitol Hill an even more unpleasant experience. Traditions and courtesies that have applied a bit of congenial gloss to the coarseness of the place would soon enough become endangered by Moore’s very presence.

A Gun Rights Vote Only the GOP Base Can Appreciate
Expansion of concealed carry permission will die in the Senate, but the NRA really wanted the vote

Majority Whip John Cornyn has some doubts that he can get a bill passed that would improve background checks for gun purchasers but doesn’t make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines. A House bill passed Wednesday would do both. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One government shutdown may be narrowly averted, but another looms right around the corner. The stain of sexual misconduct at the Capitol continues to spread, and an alleged child predator is days away from possibly joining the Senate. Middle East destabilization seems assured as Congress gets its wish to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Public support dwindles daily for a loophole-encrusted, deficit-busting tax package that would be the year’s biggest legislative achievement. The push for presidential impeachment has gone far enough to necessitate procedural pushback in the House.

A week such as this one — already chockablock with headlines touching the Hill — seemed to the Republicans who run the place like an ideal time for making a bold hiding-in-plain-sight move.

GOP Gets Ready to Own a One-Sided Shutdown Argument
Past showdowns happened in divided governments, and still Republicans got blamed. So what’s different now?

President Donald Trump, flanked by Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces the prospect of the first government shutdown when one party controlled all levers of government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Among the story lines that have made the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency genuinely unique, few can top this one for its potential consequences for responsible governance as well as good politics: A government controlled exclusively by one party may shut itself down.

Four times in the past three decades, budgetary impasses have required non-essential personnel to stay home and the activities at their agencies to be suspended. In each case, at least one chamber of Congress was controlled by a political party different from the president’s, the stalemates reflecting intractable partisan disagreements over policies and spending priorities.

Uncertainty Surrounds Avoiding Shutdown Showdown
House GOP wants to vote on stopgap funding in two steps

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., right, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are whipping votes on their approach to government funding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republican leaders are pursuing a two-step strategy to avoiding a government shutdown, but might have difficulty rounding up votes in the caucus for that approach.

Leaders want to vote on stopgap funding in two steps — one continuing resolution keeping government agencies operating through Dec. 22, and then another probably running into January, Rep. Charlie Dent said Friday.

House Likely to Vote on Stopgap Funding Through Dec. 22
Bill would buy more time for negotiations as shutdown deadline approaches

Speaker Paul D. Ryan holds his weekly on-camera news conference in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are preparing a stopgap spending bill that could fund the government through Dec. 22, according to two House GOP sources.

The House Republican Conference is expected to discuss the stopgap spending bill, or continuing resolution, during a meeting Friday morning, according to a senior House GOP aide.

GOP Senators Have Concerns Over Colleagues’ ‘Triggers’ in Tax Bill
But Tillis, Heller and Perdue say they’re not concerned enough to vote against it

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said he has some concerns over possible changes in the Republican tax overhaul bill, “but we’ll work through them.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A trio of Republican senators on Wednesday raised concerns over a proposal from their GOP colleagues to include in a pending overhaul of the U.S. tax code a provision to raise tax rates if certain economic benefits are not achieved.

But the possible inclusion of the so-called “trigger option” does not appear to be enough to lead either Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada or David Perdue of Georgia to vote no on the legislation.

An Old Saw’s New Twist: Death (of the Deficit Hawks) and Taxes
A few Republicans clinging to old party orthodoxy could doom Trump’s big win

Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said “a lot of this is a gimmick,” referring to the tax bill’s expiration dates for some of the lower rates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This apparent contradiction confronts Congress as it returns for a grueling month of legislating: The Republicans who run the Capitol, so many of whom came to Washington as avatars of fiscal responsibility, are going to spend the rest of the year working to make a worsening federal balance sheet look even worse.

December holds the potential for a productivity breakthrough, but it also threatens to end in embarrassing deadlock — which is why the clear consensus within the upper reaches of the congressional GOP is that it’s the right time to get comfortable with any feelings of hypocritical guilt.

For Murkowski, Tax Overhaul Isn’t Just Business. It’s Personal
Inclusion of ANWR drilling could put her in new Alaska league

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a conundrum with a clash between two of her key policy goals — drilling in ANWR and protecting access to health care back home. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sat at the breakfast table with her youngest son, who was in junior high school at the time. It was a big day. The chamber was set to vote on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, a priority of Alaska lawmakers for the previous three decades.

“My son looks up at me and he says, ‘Mom, I thought grandpa passed ANWR years ago,”’ the Republican senator recalled recently in her Hart Building office, referencing her father, former Sen. Frank H. Murkowski. “You have to kind of say, ‘Well, yeah, they kinda passed it, but it didn’t really pass. And so it’s back before us again and we’re going at it.’”

Grassley Prepares to Bypass Franken to Move Trump Appeals Court Nominee
Rejects policy of allowing blue slip to be used as a veto

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is announcing his interpretation of the “blue slip” policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is ready to move forward with President Donald Trump’s appellate judicial nominees, even when home-state senators have formal objections.

Grassley is going to move ahead with confirmation hearings for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to be a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Politico reported ahead of a formal announcement by the chairman.