Charles E Grassley

End of an Era on Senate Finance as Longtime Staffer Departs
Mark Prater was figure in major tax debates dating to the 1990s

Mark Prater, chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee and a veteran of major tax debates for decades, is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Prater, a fixture in GOP tax policymaking on Capitol Hill, is leaving his post as chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

“Mark has played a vital role in every major tax debate in the last quarter century,” Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch announced Tuesday in a statement, noting Prater’s work on last year’s tax code overhaul, the Bush-era tax cuts and more. He joined the Finance Committee in January 1990. Tuesday was his last day with the panel.

Trump Vows to Sign Compromise Prisons Bill
President made similar promise on immigration, then helped sink bipartisan measure

President Donald Trump addresses the press before departing for Dallas, Texas, on May 4. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Friday did little to help resolve lawmakers’ standoff over differing House and Senate prison overhaul bills, opting against using his bully pulpit to pressure either side.

Instead, Trump gave both sides leverage when he said his administration “strongly supports these efforts,” referring to each chambers’ bill. The remark was something of a shift for the president. Previously, his administration has voiced support for a measure awaiting House floor action but been cooler to a Senate version that includes proposed sentencing changes.

Criminal Justice Overhaul Efforts Appear Stuck
House and Senate Judiciary panels have taken different approaches

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he expects criminal justice legislation to hit the House floor in the next few weeks with bipartisan support. But the Senate appears to have decided on a different course. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House action on a criminal justice overhaul bill this week appears to have done little to change the political dynamic in the Senate that makes it unlikely Congress will act on the issue this year.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on Wednesday that aims to prepare federal prisoners for release so they are less likely to commit another crime. A co-author of the bill, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, said in an interview Thursday he expected the measure would hit the House floor “in the next few weeks, and we’ll have strong bipartisan support.”

Another Judicial Pick Gets Hearing Despite Home-State Concerns
Top Democrat warns Senate is ceding its advice and consent role to the White House

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa,  and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have different views about blue slips for a judicial pick. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the third time in the Trump administration, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has moved forward with a confirmation hearing for an appeals court nominee over the objections of Democratic home-state senators.

The Iowa Republican set a Wednesday confirmation hearing on Ryan Bounds to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, even though Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have declined to give their consent through the committee’s traditional process.

Judicial, CIA Nominations Highlight May Congressional Agenda
House and Senate committees working on appropriations and defense policy bills

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will likely be right back to work debating how to process judicial nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress returns this week for a work period that stretches to Memorial Day, the legislative agenda on the floors faces long odds of enactment even as broader issues surrounding the president’s judicial and executive nominees, as well as the annual Pentagon policy bill, compete for attention. 

Senators arrive in Washington on Monday evening for a three-week run highlighted by yet another batch of federal appeals court nominations.

McConnell Prepared to Confirm Judges Through New Year’s
Majority leader said he would clear judicial nominations through committee by end of 2018

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will be confirming judges through the end of December if needed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is prepared to work up until New Year’s Day to keep confirming judicial nominations.

“I can tell you that if we have to stay until December 31, we’re going to do the judges that come out of committee,” the Kentucky Republican said. “They’ll be voted on this year.”

Paul Ryan Backing Rosenstein, Despite Conservatives’ Impeachment Threat
House hard-liners threaten deputy AG while some GOP senators move to protect Russia inquiry

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies before a House Judiciary hearing on the Russia investigation on Dec. 13. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan split from more conservative elements of his conference by continuing to back Rod Rosenstein, even though some of President Donald Trump’s allies in the House have begun drafting articles of impeachment for the deputy attorney general.

The speaker’s position has not changed since January, a spokeswoman said responding to further murmurs of impeachment. Earlier this year, Ryan said Rosenstein is “doing a fine job” and there is “no reason” for Trump to fire him.

Senate Panel Sends Message By Advancing Mueller Bill
A warning to Trump even if special counsel protections don’t become law

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to provide job protection for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, but it faces major obstacles. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday to give protections to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which senators said sent a message to President Donald Trump even if it has major hurdles to ever becoming law.

Although the 14-7 vote on the measure split Republicans, the message from the committee to Trump was clear.

Senate Panel Tees Up Mueller Protection Bill Despite Headwinds
McConnell indicates measure won’t reach Senate floor

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, pictured here with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says the views of Majority Mitch McConnell are important but do not govern what happens in the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say they want to act on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III — even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially killed it by saying it won’t make it to the floor.

They then spoke to the natural follow-up question: Why bother?

Trump, Abe Split on Goal for New Trade Talks
Japanese PM wants U.S. return to TPP; Trump wants ‘one-one-one’ pact

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference on Wednesday with U.S. President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe split Wednesday evening on their goals for a new round of trade talks between the longtime allies, exposing a rift in the alliance.

Abe announced the new U.S.-Japanese trade talks during a joint press conference after the first full day of a mini-summit at Trump’s resort in Florida. But Abe broke with Trump by telling reporters he wants those talks to expand the two countries levels of trade and investment in each other’s markets, and the re-entry of the United States in a trade alliance that includes 11 Asian-Pacific countries.