Deb Fischer

Tension High at Senate Finance Committee Tax Markup
Timing, lack of notice are big sticking points

With the Senate Finance Committee markup of tax legislation proceeding under something less than regular order, tensions are high between Republicans and Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Day Three of the Senate Finance Committee tax markup began under a cloud of partisan discord after top Republicans dropped a new version of their tax plan late Tuesday night, making broad changes that Democrats were not consulted on in advance.

The tax writing panel on Wednesday was debating the revised GOP tax plan that would now roll back a central part of the 2010 health care law and make the most significant individual tax benefits in the plan expire after eight years.

Congress Generous, Again, With US Funds for Israel’s Defense
Package for Israeli antimissile systems at near record levels, even as transparency questions swirl

The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed a successful flight test of the Arrow 3 interceptor missile. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Congress is poised to provide Israel with another $705 million for that country’s missile defenses — nearly five times the Trump administration’s request and the second largest annual installment of such aid to date.

The House plans to vote this week to approve a fiscal 2018 national defense policy conference report that would, among its many provisions, authorize the aid to Israel for several antimissile systems. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president. And whenever Congress completes work on a defense appropriations bill, lawmakers are highly likely to provide all of that money — and maybe more.

Senators to Grill ABA on Rare Thumbs-Down for Grasz
Judiciary Committee members have questions about ”not qualified” rating

Steve Grasz, nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A controversial appeals court nominee from Nebraska, who received a rare unanimous “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, has revived concerns about whether the legal organization is biased. 

The organization has long conducted nonpartisan reviews of federal judicial nominees and rated them for the Senate Judiciary Committee. The vast majority of the time the group finds a nominee “qualified” or “well-qualified,” and has done so even with the numerous controversial judge picks President Donald Trump has made.

Trump, ‘Game of Thrones’ Represented at Tillis’ Halloween Dog Party
North Carolina Republican organized dogs in costume on Capitol Hill

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., lead the Halloween dog parade to the Hart atrium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., hosted a Halloween party for the books. The main attraction: dogs in costumes. 

The party started outside Tillis’ office on the first floor of the Dirksen Senate Office Building but got too big, so the senator led the group to the Hart Atrium. About 50 dogs showed off their costumes at the event.

Senate Rules Chairman Is Cool to Campaign Ad Bill
‘A lot of that is being investigated,’ Sen. Richard C. Shelby says

Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby is not yet ready to back the bipartisan legislation on online campaign ads. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Richard C. Shelby gave a cool reception Thursday to a bipartisan draft bill disclosed the same day that would require large online platforms to collect and disclose data about the buyers of political advertising.

“We will look at everything; right now, a lot of that is being investigated,” the Alabama Republican said about a proposal from Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and co-sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Asked whether he would be open to backing the bill in the future or other legislation to deal with the issue, Shelby said, “Not yet.”

Pro-Trump Great America Alliance Endorses in Three Senate Primaries
Rosendale, Morrisey and Blackburn received the group’s backing

Great American Alliance endorsed Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s bid for Senate on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Great America Alliance, an issue advocacy organization supporting President Donald Trump, on Wednesday made its first three Senate endorsements for the 2018 midterms.

Great America Alliance is backing Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. All three Republicans are seeking the GOP nod for Senate in their states.

Take Five: Don Bacon
Nebraska Republican recalls singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ to his wife from Bahrain

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon uncovered unprofessional relationships between senior and junior married people in the Air Force. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Rep. Don Bacon, 54, a Nebraska Republican, talks about moral courage in the Air Force, interning on Capitol Hill and an infamous practical joke from college.

Q: What has surprised you so far about Congress that you didn’t expect?

Senate Diluted Tough Oversight of Israeli Antimissile Program

Sen. Deb Fischer, seen here, and Joe Donnelly sponsored a provision that removed a key oversight element in the Senate defense authorization bill of the Arrow 3 antimissile program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators quietly deleted from a defense bill last month a strict provision tying continued U.S. funding of a costly Israeli antimissile system to completion of two flight tests.

The retreat from tough oversight came at the request of the Israeli government, sources said.

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer Gets Democratic Challenger
Jane Raybould hit Fischer for her vote to confirm Betsy DeVos

Democrat Jane Raybould cited her experience in running a business and local government in announcing her challenge to Nebraska Republican Sen. Deb Fischer. (Jane Raybould for U.S. Senate via Facebook)

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer received a Democratic challenger as Lincoln City Council member Jane Raybould announced she would challenge the Republican incumbent.

Raybould criticized Fischer on both health care and for her vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

GOP Senators Should ‘Demand’ New Health Care Vote, Trump Says
President shifts stance on next step for second time in 24 hours

President Donald Trump, seen here with Republican senators at a White House meeting in June, is demanding they try again on health care. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump spent a grey and sometimes rainy Saturday at the White House on a Twitter binge, firing off a late-afternoon tweet instructing Republican senators to demand another vote on a measure that would repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

In the morning, the president threatened lawmakers’ health insurance and attacked members of his own party, saying they “look like fools” because they cannot pass major bills.