Niels Lesniewski

McConnell to Senate: Don’t Book Nonrefundable Travel for August Recess
Kentucky Republican has a lengthy summer legislative agenda

Senators and staffers should enjoy the Memorial Day recess, because it might be a long summer on Capitol Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is far from waving off the idea that he might truncate the August recess, and doing the math on the amount of floor time needed for his current legislative agenda seems to point to one thing: extra work weeks.

Trump Administration Tries to Reassure Key Senators About ZTE Enforcement
Cornyn said administration is making clear national security and trade are in separate buckets

The Trump administration is trying to reassure Senate Republicans that it won’t go light on sanctions enforcement against Chinese communications equipment firm ZTE.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross huddled with a group of key GOP senators Wednesday evening.

Memorial Day Means a Gas Price Event at Congressional Exxon
Schumer-led effort calls on Trump to push OPEC, oil executives to slash prices

With Memorial Day weekend and summer driving season approaching, it was time once again for lawmakers to descend on a familiar Capitol Hill landmark.

This time, it was Senate Democrats making the pilgrimage to the Exxon station at the corner of Second Street and Massachusetts Avenue Northeast to decry policies behind rising gas prices.

Bipartisan Breakout Gives Vulnerable Senators Wins Ahead of Recess
VA and banking bills headline measures heading to President Donald Trump

Some of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents will be scoring big legislative victories just in time for the Memorial Day parades.

The most timely outbreak of bipartisanship will come with passage, expected Wednesday afternoon, of a bill designed to improve health care access and options for veterans, known as the VA MISSION Act.

Blunt Wants Senate to Pass Anti-Harassment Legislation This Week
Plans to outline bipartisan agreement with Klobuchar by the end of Tuesday

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt hopes to pass a bill this week addressing harassment on Capitol Hill.

“Let’s see what the members said at lunch, but it would be great if we could get this done before the Memorial Day break,” Blunt said, telling reporters he needed to consult with his Democratic counterpart on the measure, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Corker and Hatch Won’t Be Moving Down Under
Senate GOP chairmen opt not to be considered for ambassador to Australia

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker will not be leaving the chamber to become ambassador to Australia, and neither will Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch.

An aide to Corker confirmed a report that the Tennessee Republican had been under consideration for the post.

Democrats Pitch Voting Rights, Ethics Overhaul With Focus on Trump
Latest 2018 campaign theme reminiscent of 2006

Congressional Democrats have returned to a playbook that might look familiar to anyone around Capitol Hill back in 2006.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer are seeking to overhaul a number of laws and root out government corruption.

Senate Confirms Gina Haspel to Lead CIA
Bipartisan vote does not follow partisan script

After a number of Democratic senators announced they would support President Donald Trump’s choice of Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to run the agency, she was easily confirmed Thursday afternoon.

In what has become a bit of a regular routine, Senate leaders reached an agreement to expedite votes on a key national security nominee and prevent any threat of a weekend session.

John McCain’s Advice for the Next Immigration Battle
Memoir coming out next week, just as House members try to force floor debate

It’s fitting that Sen. John McCain’s memoir, likely his last, will arrive just as a bipartisan contingent of House lawmakers is seeking to work around Republican leaders’ objections to moving an immigration bill.

McCain, a longtime supporter of overhauling immigration laws, has some advice for newer colleagues searching for the path to legislative victory, even when their own leadership may not be on board.

Senate Democrats Claim Small Victory on Net Neutrality
Will be taking the debate to the ballot box

Senate Democrats won’t be scoring many legislative victories this year. So Wednesday’s win on a joint resolution that would upend the effort by the Federal Communications Commission to reverse Obama-era regulations on net neutrality was cause for mild celebration.

“A key question for anyone on the campaign trail in 2018 now will be: Do you support net neutrality?” Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts said at a news conference with House and Senate Democratic leaders on the effort to block the Trump administration from rolling back the regulations.

Democrats Focus on 2018 at Ideas Summit, With Eye to 2020
Warren announces new donations to back state legislative efforts

Many of the Senate Democrats at Tuesday’s Center for American Progress Ideas Conference are 2020 presidential contenders and brought to the progressive policy gathering a wide array of political positions, not to mention approaches to their presentations.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who closed the event, focused not so much on individual ideas presented on the stage, but on the nuts-and-bolts importance of winning elections at the state and local level.

Votes Roll in for Haspel After Expressing Regret Over Enhanced Interrogation
Latest comments seem to be enough to get support from Mark Warner

President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the CIA is making it even more clear that the program sanctioning harsh interrogations during the George W. Bush administration should not have taken place.

Gina Haspel, the current acting director of the agency, expanded upon her testimony in a letter dated Monday to Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

Harry Reid Treated for Pancreatic Cancer, According to Reports
Condition caught early, says person close to the former majority leader

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid underwent surgery Monday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The generally grave cancer diagnosis was made early, according to multiple media reports citing sources close to the Nevada Democrat.

Schumer, Trump Align on Jerusalem Policy While Sparring Over Iran deal
Senator praises president on embassy move

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is praising President Donald Trump for following through on designating the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem.

“In a long overdue move, we have moved our embassy to Jerusalem. Every nation should have the right to choose its capital,” the Democrat from New York said in a statement. “I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”

Donnelly Becomes Second Democrat to Support Gina Haspel to Lead the CIA
Indiana senator provides an insurance vote for the Trump nominee

The Senate appears to be moving full speed ahead on confirming Gina Haspel as director of the CIA.

The Intelligence Committee is expected to vote to advance her nomination to the floor during a closed business meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning, and a Saturday morning announcement by Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly further reduced the suspense.

GOP Senators Express Willingness to Skip August Recess, Bundle Spending Bills
16 senators involved include vulnerable incumbent Dean Heller

A group of 16 Republican senators has announced a willingness to work through August if that’s what it takes to complete spending bills and confirm more of President Donald Trump’s nominees.

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who has led the effort, hinted Tuesday that a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky would be forthcoming.

Trump Generally Sticks to Hammering Donnelly at Indiana Rally
Could be template for what Senate GOP wants to see from the president

Senate GOP leaders might be smiling after President Donald Trump’s rally Thursday evening.

The raucous event in Elkhart, Indiana, saw Trump deliver one of his typical campaign trail stem-winders, with plenty of reminders about the midterm elections and the importance to the president of replacing Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November.

McCain Argues Americans Should 'Give a Damn' About the CIA Torturing Terrorists
Opposition to Gina Haspel's confirmation no surprise when you read his book

That Sen. John McCainwants his colleagues to reject President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the CIA should be no surprise — just consider the extent to which his new memoir lays out his deeply held beliefs arguing  against the agency’s use of torture.

The debate over torture techniques in interrogations conducted under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency during the George W. Bush administration features prominently in the forthcoming book by the Republican from Arizona.

McCain: Senate Should Reject Gina Haspel Over Torture Involvement
Arizona Republican made statement following Wednesday’s hearing

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain wants the Senate to reject the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Arizona Republican, who has been home in Arizona battling brain cancer and related ailments, said in a statement he was not satisfied by Haspel’s responses regarding her involvement in the agency “enhanced interrogation” effort during the George W. Bush administration.

Manchin’s Backing Likely Ends Haspel Suspense
But there may still be ads encouraging other 2018 Democrats to get behind the CIA nominee

Sen. Joe Manchin III on Wednesday probably ended suspense about whether Gina Haspel will win confirmation as the CIA’s next director.

The West Virginia Democrat formally announced his support for Haspel’s confirmation before all of his colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee finished the classified part of Wednesday’s hearing with the nominee.