James Lankford

Senators Prepare for Messaging and Uncertainty From Immigration Debate
‘You know it’s an election year?’

Demonstrators supporting the so-called DREAM Act will likely be back on the Capitol grounds this week, like this group from Jan. 16 in the Hart Building. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators say they are ready for what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give them this week: a return to regular order.

But that does not mean it will be easy.

Weekly Bipartisan Prayer Paying Dividends in Senate Negotiations
Lankford, Coons host the breakfast each Wednesday

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., spearheads a weekly prayer breakfast for senators. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has adopted a more bipartisan tone of late as lawmakers from both parties link up to reach compromises on sweeping spending and immigration packages.

One reason for the detente, at least two senators have said: prayer.

Eagles Super Bowl Parade Boots Heritage Retreat From Philadelphia
Dozens of conservative lawmakers attend the annual Heritage Foundation retreat

A man climbs a traffic pole as Philadelphia Eagles fans celebrate victory in Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots on Sunday in Philadelphia. The large crowd expected for a victory party this week caused the Heritage Foundation to move its retreat from Philadelphia to Washington. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

The annual Heritage Foundation retreat for conservative lawmakers this week has been moved from Philadelphia as the city expects millions of people to flood the streets Thursday for a parade to celebrate the Eagles’ 41-33 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.

Heritage officials have relocated the retreat to Washington, D.C.

Republican Retreat Heavy on Boasting, Short on Strategy
Divisions within ranks threaten progress on immigration, government spending

Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and South Dakota Sen. John Thune conduct a news conference at the media center during the House and Senate Republican retreat at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Republicans leave the Greenbrier resort on Friday buoyed by their reflections of the accomplishments of the past year. But they also depart with little consensus on how to address the long to-do list awaiting them in Washington, D.C.

Much of the public portion of the GOP retreat was spent touting the recent tax overhaul, cuts to federal regulations, a record number of judicial appointments and an optimistic economic forecast. But the silence on contentious lingering issues such as health care, government spending and immigration was deafening.

Republicans Divided on Minimum Needed for Immigration Deal
White House, conservatives pushing four pillars while others open to just two

Senate Republican Conference Chairman. John Thune, R-S.D., talks with reporters on Wednesday during the House and Senate Republican retreat at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Immigration negotiations are moving so slowly that congressional leaders haven’t even agreed on which policy areas must be addressed as part of a deal — a fissure that exists even within the Republican Party.

The White House and many House Republicans say that at a bare minimum, four pillars need to be addressed in any bill: border security, protections for “Dreamers” who will lose their legal status with the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, family-sponsored visas and the Diversity Visa lottery program.

DACA Debate the Latest to Bypass Senate Committee Process
Decline and fall of regular order has been building for years

President Donald Trump talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn after his State of the Union address Tuesday night. McConnell has said he would like to have an open debate on immigration legislation on the floor. But it would still bypass the committee process. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For an institution renowned worldwide for its historically open debate of contentious issues, the Senate has done little public deliberation under unified Republican government. The reason could be simple: the decline and fall of the committee process.

The ongoing negotiations on an immigration deal is the latest legislative package to bypass committee deliberation, but it follows a year in which so-called regular order fell by the wayside.

Republicans Prepare for Upcoming Abortion Vote
Votes not likely there in Senate, but measure could be a midterm issue

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford is among the proponents of the legislation to ban late-term abortions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are readying for a vote next week on a late-term abortion bill. And while it’s unlikely they will have the votes to pass it, abortion opponents say the measure could play a role in the 2018 midterm elections.

The bill would ban abortions after the 20-week mark, while providing exceptions for rape, incest or the endangerment of a woman. It passed the House along party lines last year and has been waiting on a Senate vote.

Frustrations With Senate Rules Near Boiling Point
Senators who negotiated shutdown end broach rule changes

Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma, left, and Roy Blunt of Missouri could be instrumental in convincing their colleagues to change Senate rules to make it easier to consider legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators are again talking up potential rule changes to make it easier for the chamber to move President Donald Trump’s nominations, as well as spending legislation. But the necessary GOP unity  — much less broad bipartisan support — may prove elusive.

Multiple senators said the question of what to do to get the Senate legislating again was one focus during the extended Friday-night vote, just before what turned out to be a three-day government shutdown.

Republican Senators Look to Get Out Front on Immigration

Dreamers protest outside of the Capitol calling for passage of the Dream Act as Congress works to find a way to end the government shutdown on Sunday evening, Jan. 21, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A coalition of Senate Republicans huddled at the White House on Monday to try to persuade the administration to publicly back a new bill to address the pending expiration of a program that covers immigrants who come to the country as children, according to lawmakers and aides.

President Donald Trump met with six Senate Republicans on Monday about the next steps in the push for an immigration overhaul bill, according to a senior White House official.

Government Shuts Down as Senate Fails to Advance Spending Measure
Last-minute negotiations come up short

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 17: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters in the Ohio Clock Corridor after the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate on Friday failed to cut off debate on a House-passed bill that would avert a government shutdown and extend funding another four weeks, setting into motion a lapse of appropriations under a unified Republican government. Lawmakers will now aim to make the shutdown short-lived, with the Senate scheduled to reconvene at noon Saturday to advance a shorter-term funding bill and send it back to the House.