Lisa Murkowski

Informal Nature of Border Wall Request Roils Spending Debate
Trump still hasn’t submitted “budget amendment” on $5 billion demand

President Donald Trump still hasn’t put details of his $5 billion request for border wall funding on paper in any official capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has held up the entire spending wrap-up for fiscal 2019. Yet Trump still hasn’t put the details of that request on paper in any official capacity, a departure from precedent that is in keeping with this president’s unconventional style.

The fact Congress hasn’t gotten a formal letter to change the border ask seems technical. But it has set a stage for debate where no one’s arguing on the same terms. And this has arguably let lawmakers and the White House escape a broader debate on the substance by simultaneously referring to an outdated budget request or a dollar figure that doesn’t exist formally on paper.

Racial Concerns Fuel Opposition to Judicial Nominee
Thomas Farr under scrutiny for issues traced back to North Carolina politics

Sens. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., right, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., support the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, but Farr’s work in the Tar Heel State on voting issues has attracted opposition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

To grasp how the long partisan war over the Senate’s judicial confirmation process shapes the nation’s legal landscape, look no further than this week’s floor vote on Thomas Farr to sit on a federal district court in North Carolina.

If confirmed — something that appears uncertain in a narrowly divided Senate — Farr would fill the oldest judicial vacancy in the country in a part of North Carolina with a significant black population. The Eastern District of North Carolina seat has been open for nearly 13 years — and three presidents — because of the Tar Heel State’s contentious politics and the way senators have used traditions to block nominees.

Photos of the Week: Lame Duck, New Member Orientation and Official Class Photos
The week of Nov. 12 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Rep.-elect Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., arrives for New Member Orientation at the Courtyard Marriott in Southeast D.C., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterms have come and gone and it’s back to the Hill for members new and old. The lame duck sessions in the House and Senate gaveled in Tuesday while new member orientation kicked off its first week.

The chambers, along with orientation, recess next week for the Thanksgiving holiday and will start up sessions again the week of Nov. 26.

After Momentous Election, Senators Largely Settle for Leadership Status Quo
Republicans add woman to leadership slate for first time since 2010

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were re-elected to their respective posts for the 116th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the aftermath of a momentous midterm election, senators in both parties are largely sticking with the status quo when it comes to their own elected leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York were re-elected to their posts by acclamation, along with the entire slate of nine other Democratic leaders.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Keeps Even Partisan Split
Senate may consider nominee to fill out roster amid leadership shuffle

The Senate may consider President Donald Trump's nominee to fill out the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission even as the agency deals with a leadership shuffle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kevin McIntyre, who stepped down this week as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will remain a member and preserve the panel’s 2-2 partisan split while the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacant fifth seat.

Trump designated Neil Chatterjee to return to the role of chairman after McIntyre asked to be relieved due to health concerns.

Mounting Urgency, Bills Drive Environmental Lobbying Surge
Nature Conservancy: ‘Our science shows that we have a limited time to make big changes’

Sen. Lisa Murkowski supports a public lands package before the end of the year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Environmental groups that focus on land conservation ramped up spending in 2018 to back major public land bills that moved out of committee in October and September.

The increases show heightened bipartisan attention on two public lands initiatives pending on the House and Senate floors, including bills to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund program, and to use fees for mining and drilling for energy resources on federal lands to attack the Interior Department’s $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the nation’s national parks.

It Turns Out Democrats Are Really Bad at Getting Mad
They’re doing their best scorched-earth impression of Mitch McConnell. It isn’t working

Fight fire with fire, says Hillary Clinton. Civility can wait. But Democrats do a pretty weak impression of Mitch McConnell, Shapiro writes. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

OPINION — Anger in politics is like the porridge in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” — it has to be just right.

Too little anger breeds a sense of complacency and decreases the urgency of voting. Too much anger produces self-defeating rhetoric that repels the very undecided voters that you are struggling to attract.

Senate Dems Want Republicans to Take a Position on ‘Junk’
Baldwin hopes to force a vote to overturn Trump administration rule on short-term health care plans

Sen. Tammy Baldwin is leading the charge to reverse the Trump administration’s rule on short-term health insurance plans — or at least to get Republicans on the record. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are planning to force a vote this week on a resolution that would overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term health insurance plans.

Critics call them “junk” plans, since they’re not required to comply with all the regulations of the 2010 health care law.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski Could Face Reprisal from Alaska GOP
Alaska Republican was only member of her party to vote against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talks with the media in the Capitol after voting “no” on a cloture vote that advanced the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a final vote on October 5, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski could face severe consequences from her state party for her decision to reject new associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation vote over the weekend.

The Alaska Republican was the only GOP senator to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which passed 50-48 mostly along party lines. (Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted with Republicans.)

Photos of the Week: Kavanaugh Protests and Tension on High as Senators Cast Historic Vote
The week of Oct. 1 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Ben Bergquam, left, who supports Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, argues on Thursday with protesters opposed to the nomination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

All eyes were on the Senate last week. Results of the FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were considered late Wednesday and Thursday by senators. And by Friday, a majority of them were ready to vote

Protests against the nominee erupted across the Capitol throughout the week as activists made their opinions known, both for and against.