Richard C Shelby

Bipartisan Praise, and Questions, About Thad Cochran
Omnibus spending measure, future awaits veteran Mississippi Republican

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has bipartisan support and respect, but also faces questions about how much longer he will be in office, even as he begins the task of moving an omnibus spending bill wrapping up the current fiscal year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An omnibus bill wrapping up fiscal 2018 spending could serve as a victory lap for Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who continues to battle questions over his health and stamina in the role.

Rumors have swirled quietly for months about the 80-year-old Mississippi Republican’s future. Those whispers became louder last year after Cochran took a prolonged absence from the Senate due to health issues.

Maryland Democrats Blast FBI HQ Plan
Cardin, Hoyer concerned about effort to put new FBI building at current location

Maryland lawmakers are criticizing the GSA and FBI plan to rebuild the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on its current site. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s proposal to keep the FBI headquarters adjacent to the president’s hotel complex in downtown D.C., has raised the ire of Maryland lawmakers.

“Throughout the Bush and Obama Administrations, the FBI and GSA repeatedly told Congress that the FBI needs a new, fully consolidated headquarters, going so far as to stress the need for selecting a new site because the existing location does not allow the FBI to consolidate the almost 11,000 headquarters employees into one facility,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement

Return of the Earmark? If Trump Gets His Way, Yes
President tells lawmakers they could help get things done

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., center, says conversations about earmarks are under way among lawmakers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress should consider reviving geographically directed spending known as earmarks, President Donald Trump unexpectedly told a group of Republicans and Democrats at Tuesday’s White House meeting on immigration policy.

“You know our system lends itself to not getting things done. And I hear so much about earmarks, the old earmark system, how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks but of course they had other problems with earmarks,” Trump said. “But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks,” he added to a boom of laughter in the room and a few strong yells of “yeah!” and “no!” from individual lawmakers.

Podcast: Congress' Spending Quagmire
CQ Budget, Episode 43

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., speaks with reporters in the Senate subway after the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Budget Tracker Extra Podcast is now CQ Budget. New look but same great show. CQ's budget and appropriations reporter Ryan McCrimmon explains the obstacles faced by lawmakers to lifting the spending caps and agreeing to a long-term budget deal.

Show Notes:

Immigration Deal Tangled Up in Spending Talks
Negotiations over DACA threaten a long-term spending deal

Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby anticipates another continuing resolution may be necessary before a spending deal can be reached. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The program that oversees certain immigrants brought illegally to the country as children continues to complicate discussions on government spending.

Democratic senators are insisting a vote on legislation to address the pending expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program occur either before or as part of a fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Three VPs, Football Boasts and a Relief Baseball Pitcher: Not Your Normal Swearing-In Day
With Democrats Smith and Jones, GOP Senate edge now down to 51-49

Sen. Tina Smith, center, walks with fellow Minnesota Democrats, former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, from the Senate floor to the Old Senate Chamber for her ceremonial swearing-in. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The start of the second session of a Congress lacks most of the pageantry of the first, but Wednesday’s arrival of two new senators prompted some pomp and circumstance, including the rare sight of three vice presidents on the Senate floor at the same time.

Democratic Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota took the oath of office from Vice President Mike Pence shortly after noon, each escorted down the chamber’s aisle by a former vice president.

Doug Jones Now Faces the Red-State Democrat’s Dilemma
He joins a small cadre of Senate Democrats representing GOP states

Sen.-elect Doug Jones of Alabama, center, is set be sworn in Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Doug Jones will enter the Senate on Wednesday as the Democrat who did the impossible — he won his seat in Republican-dominated Alabama. He will now join a small cadre of red-state Democrats who have to navigate an increasingly divisive political environment.

Jones said he was elected because he emphasized finding common ground and working across the aisle. He will now have to prove it — especially if he has any hope of keeping his seat in 2020.

No Definite Sexual Harassment Settlements in Senate, Data Shows
Data from 1997 to 2017 reveals one case of sex discrimination

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., released information on settlements involving Senate offices Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:38 a.m. | The Senate appears to have kept a clean slate over the last two decades with regard to sexual harassment settlements, newly released data shows.

The Office of Compliance paid nearly $600,000 from its taxpayer-funded Awards and Settlement Fund to senator-led office employees for 13 settlements — but none of those were filed as sexual harassment cases, according to OOC data made public Thursday by the Senate Rules and Appropriations committees.

Senate Republicans Withholding OOC Settlements Data
Info could include settlements for cases with sexual harassment allegations

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., has not publicly released Senate office settlements data his Appropriations Committee received from the Office of Compliance. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Republican chairmen of the Senate Rules and Appropriations Committees are not releasing data from the Congressional Office of Compliance that give a statistical breakdown of workplace settlements involving Senate offices dating back two decades.

These settlements could include — but would not be limited to — cases involving claims of sexual harassment or discrimination, a flashpoint issue on Capitol Hill over the last two months.

Lankford, Rules Panel, Kick Off Latest Nominations Debate
Hearing likely to prelude 2018 fights

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is pushing a proposal to change the rules for handling nominations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It is unusual for a sitting senator to be the sole witness before a committee, and it is even more unusual for a senator to face questions in such a setting.

But such was the experience Tuesday afternoon when Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Lankford appeared in the Rules and Administration Committee hearing room with a dire warning.