Niels Lesniewski

The Strange Day of Senate Farewells
Franken, Strange speeches were very different scenes

Thursday became departure day in the Senate, with back-to-back farewell speeches oddly linked due to the recent wave of allegations about sexual harassment.

Staffers and visitors, along with members of the media, filled the Senate chamber Thursday morning for Sen. Al Franken’s announcement that he would in fact resign his seat in the aftermath of an ever-increasing number of sexual harassment allegations.

Schumer Told Franken Wednesday Morning That He Needed to Go
Calls by Senate Democrats for Franken to resign came after new allegations

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer knew it was time for Minnesota Democrat Al Franken to leave the Senate even before the public calls for his resignation Wednesday.

The New York Democrat told Franken in a phone call that he needed to resign after Wednesday morning’s publication of further allegations of sexual misconduct by the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Cascade of Senate Democrats Call on Franken to Resign
Messages for Franken’s departure appear coordinated

Nearly simultaneously, a series of Senate Democratic women issued calls for Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign Wednesday morning including Patty Murray, a trusted lieutenant to Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and rising star Kamala Harris.

They were followed quickly by several Senate Democratic men and the head of the national Democratic Party.

Bannon a ‘Specialist’ in Picking Loser Senate Candidates, McConnell Says
Majority Leader said he expects Hatch decision soon

Updated 10:58 a.m. | Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he did not expect to lose any campaigns in 2018 because of fringe candidates who might have the backing of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon.

“We’re not going to lose any nominations to the kind of candidates that guy you were talking about endorsed,” McConnell said. “What he’s a specialist in is nominating people who lose.”

In Utah Trip, Trump Looks to Boost Hatch
President pushing senior-most GOP senator to seek re-election

After President Donald Trump signed proclamations Monday drastically diminishing the scale of national monuments in Utah, he handed off the pen to a senator who still seems a most unlikely ally.

“I’ve served under many presidents — seven to be exact — but none is like the man we have in the White House today. When you talk, this president listens,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch said Monday in introducing Trump at Utah’s state Capitol in Salt Lake City.

Victorious McConnell Praises GOP Team Effort on Taxes
The leader says he does not expect a tough conference

Updated at 2:28 a.m. | This time, just about everything went according to plan for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican, who months ago came up just short of passing a bill through his chamber to roll back the 2010 health care law, got 51 Republicans behind the sweeping tax overhaul that passed in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

GOP Still Seeking Tax Overhaul Magic Numbers
Final bill may feature more ‘stimulus’ in the early years

After sending senators home earlier than expected Thursday, Republican negotiators were going to work through the night trying to thread the needle to get 50 or more votes for their tax code rewrite.

Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden was giving a lengthy speech criticizing the Republican tax plan after Thurday night’s final Senate vote, but the Oregon Democrat was really serving as the soundtrack over an animated gathering of Republican senators and senior aides.

Collins: Republican Leaders Expected to Back ‘Pay-Go’ Waiver
Maine Republican also raised concerns over SALT deduction

Sen. Susan Collins said Republican leaders have assured her that automatic cuts to entitlement programs that would be triggered if the GOP tax overhaul becomes law would be stopped.

The reductions, which could amount to $25 billion in cuts to Medicare, would occur under the 2010 statutory pay-as-you-go law unless Congress approves a waiver.

Removing Moore a Complicated Question, Collins Says
But first, ‘We have to seat him’

Sen. Susan Collins said the question of expelling Roy Moore from the Senate is a complicated one.

The Republican from Maine noted she supported Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama primary.

Tax Overhaul's Arctic Drilling Byrd Problems Resolved
Murkowski says Republicans drafted fixes to technical concerns

Updated 7:45 p.m. | Most of the focus has been on taxes, but the portion of the Senate reconciliation bill that would open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge needed to be revised, too.

Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the fixes that are being worked out for Byrd violations in her portion of the bill would be added to a substitute to be offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Pro-Trump Group Pressures Lankford on Tax Cuts
Running TV and radio ads across Oklahoma

A pro-Trump outside group is taking to the airwaves in Oklahoma, pushing to make sure that GOP Sen. James Lankford votes in favor of the Senate’s tax overhaul.

Lankford has been among the Republican senators working on a so-called “trigger” option that could provide a backstop, rolling back some of the tax cuts in the event economic growth targets and thus the accompanying revenue are not met.

Trump Tax Taunts Don’t Trouble Red-State Democrats
McCaskill outspoken in criticism of Senate GOP measure

Moderate Senate Democrats — many of them on the ballot in 2018 — came together with a unified message Tuesday morning, just before President Donald Trump arrived at the Capitol to meet with the Republican Conference.

Sen. Tim Kaine was perhaps the most direct. The Virginia Democrat said at the news conference that the GOP should make a run at a bipartisan product before bringing to the floor a tax reconciliation bill that would only require a simple majority to pass.

Looming Spending Deadline Leads to Tax Consideration Crunch
Senate must turn attention to government shutdown threat by early next week

If the tax reconciliation bill somehow doesn’t make it to the Senate floor this week, it may have to wait until much closer to Christmas.

Pushing the measure back just a week would not seem to be an option because of December’s other deadline crush: the expiration of the current continuing resolution funding the government through Dec. 8.

Thanksgiving Ads Served as Prelude to Senate Tax Debate
Outside spending pushed Republicans in all directions

If all goes according to plan for Senate Republicans, they will pass a sweeping tax overhaul through the chamber before leaving for the weekend.

But as they and President Donald Trump learned during the Senate’s health care reconciliation exercise, getting to 50 votes can be difficult.

Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey Dies at 79
Longtime New York Democrat had frontotemporal dementia

Former Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, a longtime Democratic congressman from New York, died Wednesday. He was 79.

He had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, or FTD, his family announced in June amid the debate over repealing the 2010 health care law.

Rand Paul Battled Pneumonia, Senator’s Wife Says
Kelley Paul said senator diagnosed upon return to Kentucky after voting in D.C.

Sen. Rand Paul has not had a good night’s sleep since being attacked outside his Kentucky home earlier this month.

That’s according to the Republican senator’s wife, Kelley Paul, who published an opinion piece outlining the serious medical predicament facing her husband.

Poll: Minority of Republicans Want Moore Out of Alabama Senate Race
Survey shows doubts about well-documented allegations

Just 30 percent of Republicans responding to a new national poll think former judge Roy Moore should end his bid for the Senate in Alabama.

That is despite detailed allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

Hatch Still Says He Plans to Seek Re-Election
Utah Republican cites remaining time as chairman of Finance Committee

As he prepares to bring the first tax code re-write since 1986 to the Senate floor, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah is saying his Senate service might not be nearing its end.

In a report published Tuesday, Hatch told the Wall Street Journal he does intend to seek another term.

White House Unlikely to Trash Roy Moore
Senior RNC and pro-Trump PAC adviser says voters in Alabama should decide

The White House isn’t likely to try to push Republican Roy Moore out of the Alabama Senate race.

That is according to a senior adviser to America First Policies, an outside spending group pushing for President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

Rand Paul, Still Ailing, Offers Thanksgiving Wishes
Kentucky Republican makes brief remarks in video statement

Sen. Rand Paul said in a video message released Friday that “he’s getting better” after a still-mysterious attack by a neighbor.

“Hey, everybody. Thanks for your concern, your prayers, and your thoughts, all of the get well cards,” Paul said in the video. “It’s been a rough couple weeks, but I’m starting to get better.”