Patrick J Leahy

Senate Passes Spending Package, Rejects Trump’s Proposed Cuts
Chamber has now passed seven of the 12 annual spending bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has shepherded a largely bipartisan appropriations process, pushing forward a four-package spending measure on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion, four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package Wednesday as a continuing bipartisan effort in the chamber pushed it ahead of the House in the appropriations process.

The vote was 92-6. Republicans cast the opposing votes: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Senate Democrats Slam Trump Officials Over Family Separations
Durbin called on the Homeland Security secretary to resign

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., cites a tweet by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Hart Building on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration’s efforts to reunify hundreds of undocumented migrant children who remain separated from their parents as a result of the president’s zero-tolerance border security policy — including many whose parents have already been deported.

Officials from the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services told the Senate Judiciary Committee that their court-ordered work to reunify separated families is unfinished. 

For Once, Senate Set to Eclipse House in Appropriations Pace
But Congress has just 11 legislative days remaining with both chambers in session before Sept. 30

Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers, left, here in June 2017 with House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, says the Senate’s actions “greatly enhance” the chances of getting the spending bills passed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Optimism is building that Congress may send a handful of spending bills to the White House in September — avoiding the need for the entire federal government to operate under a stopgap during the fall and lowering the odds that a lame-duck Congress will resort to a 12-bill omnibus.

That hope is tempered, however, by the uphill climb to negotiate compromise versions of several spending bills that either have passed both chambers already or seem likely to by the end of this week. And the two chambers look to be headed for an impasse over border wall funding that could dominate the post-midterm session.

After High Hopes in Senate, a Pit Stop for Spending Package
A long list of amendments slows progress, pushing potential floor vote till next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to his office after the Senate GOP leadership press conference in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Thursday to invoke cloture on the chamber’s four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package, setting up the potential for a floor vote next week.

While House members are already leaving town for August recess, the Senate plans to stick around for part of the month

One Foot in Congress, the Other in Grad School
Staffers starting your higher education, you’re in good company

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., received his law degree from Georgetown University. Here he is addressing the law center in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As orientation kicks off for graduate school programs, staffers who are going part time and keeping their Capitol Hill jobs begin the balancing act.

Those higher knowledge-seekers are not alone. It’s common for staffers to get degrees on top of work.

Hatch Proves He Is, Um, Actually Not Dead
Senator’s team has a little fun highlighting his last few months after Google search shows his date of death

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, alive and well, arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is actually alive.

Which most of us who’ve seen him walking the halls of the Capitol over the last year already knew.

Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh’s Responses Reveal Views
Questionnaire part of confirmation process

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, right, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, conduct a photo-op in Russell Building before a meeting on July 17. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh described his volunteer work, his most important decisions and how President Donald Trump picked him in paperwork submitted as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation process.

The questionnaire is a standard part of the confirmation process, and nominees can use it to bolster their case. For instance, Kavanaugh, when asked to list his 10 most important decisions, listed nine cases in which the Supreme Court later agreed with the positions he took as a federal appeals court judge.

Democratic Staff of Most Powerful Senate Committees Have the Least Racial Diversity
But Senate Republicans have not published their own statistics

Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy appears in the Capitol last year. Three of the four Senate committees with the least diverse Democratic staffs this year are also the most powerful. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate committees with the whitest Democratic staffs are also some of the chamber’s most powerful.

Appropriations, Finance and Armed Services are three of the four least diverse panels, according to a Roll Call analysis of data released by the Senate Democrats. Just 5 percent, 6 percent and 13 percent of their respective staffs are non-Caucasian.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Another Thing to Worry About: Diversity on Their Staffs
Conference voluntarily released data on its diversity statistics for the second year

Vulnerable Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III, left, and Jon Tester have offices that are 93 percent and 92 percent white, an analysis of data released by Senate Democrats found. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic senators gearing up for competitive re-elections tend to have whiter staffs, according to a Roll Call analysis of data released by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who finds himself in a race rated Tilts Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, has a staff that is 93 percent white. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, also in a Tilts Democratic contest, was just behind him, at 92 percent.

Brett Kavanaugh Must Make His Case, Senate Democrats Say
Minority cites standards GOP used for previous nominees like Elena Kagan

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, center, walks up the Capitol's Senate steps with Vice President Mike Pence for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on July 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh made his first appearances Tuesday on Capitol Hill, several Senate Democrats said the judge had to make his case for their support.

For instance, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont is a senior member of the Judiciary Committee that will oversee Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. He pressed Republicans to use their own standard for Elena Kagan, now a Supreme Court Justice nominated by former President Barack Obama.