Filibuster

Harry Reid still has a few punches left
Former Senate majority leader keeps working more than a year after pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks with CQ Roll Call about Nevada politics, the presidential horse race and how much he hates the Yankees in his office at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on July 2. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LAS VEGAS — Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid retired from Congress back at the end of 2016, but the old boxer still has a few punches left for the institution he served in for 30 years, not to mention the New York Yankees. 

The 79-year-old Nevada Democrat met with CQ Roll Call in his office off the casino floor at the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip last week to talk his health, politics and a little baseball.

Harry Reid in winter: Still grappling, and dabbling, in politics
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 81

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks with CQ Roll Call about Nevada politics, the presidential race and baseball in his office at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on July 2. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Harry Reid might have retired from the Senate in 2017 and started battling cancer a year later, but the former Senate Democratic leader doesn’t seem to be the retiring type, especially when it comes to Nevada politics.

“I’m a political junkie, to say the least,” he tells our own Niels Lesniewski in a wide-ranging interview in Las Vegas that we’ve excerpted for this edition of the Political Theater podcast.

Both parties scored political points in war powers debate
Senate debate was feisty, fierce and principled — and transparently tailored for partisan effect

An amendment offered by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., spiced up debate on the annual Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — The Senate’s debate last week on presidential war powers was substantive, serious and passionate — with the added benefit of enabling each party to score some political points.

The debate pertained to whether and how to hem in President Donald Trump’s authority to attack Iran amid heightened tensions in the Middle East that spiked this month when Iran shot down a U.S. drone and Trump pulled up just short of launching a counterattack.

Climate change gets 10 minutes in Democrats’ 2-hour debate
Climate change got little debate time, but that didn’t stop some candidates from weaving climate messaging into their answers

Chuck Todd of NBC News greets Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former housing secretary Julian Castro, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke and other candidates after the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. A field of 20 Democratic presidential candidates was split into two groups of 10 for the first debate of the 2020 election, taking place over two nights at Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Climate change is a priority for Democratic primary voters, but the issue got little debate time Wednesday night. But that did not stop some of the candidates.

Senate Democrat Elizabeth Warren came out of the gate calling out “giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere” while the rest of the country watches “climate change bear down on us.”

6 dividing lines from the first Democratic debate
10 of the Democratic presidential candidates faced off, with another 10 following tonight

Democratic presidential candidates, from left, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney take the stage during the first Democratic debate. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The first Democratic presidential debate offered the clearest picture yet of where candidates are divided — well, about half of them anyway.

The 24 candidates vying for the nomination to succeed President Donald Trump have been circling each other in the early primary states, releasing competing proposals and vying for attention. Ten of them stood side by side for the first time Wednesday night, the first of two debates this week televised on NBC.

Unorthodox Senate deal clears path for Thursday NDAA vote
Democrats had threatened to filibuster the defense bill unless the Iran amendment received a vote on Friday

From left, Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, conduct a news conference in the Capitol after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. As part of a compromise on the NDAA, McConnell said Wednesday he would allow a vote on language blocking President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders struck an unusual deal Wednesday afternoon to hold a vote on language that would block President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval, paving the way for a final vote on the massive Pentagon policy measure on Thursday.

But the vote on the Iran amendment will happen on Friday, to accommodate Senate Democrats participating in presidential debates this week, a GOP aide said. If the chamber adopts the language, which has the support of at least two Republican senators, it would then be retroactively included in the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill.

NDAA future uncertain amid amendment disputes

From left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., John Thune, R-S.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Todd Young, R-Ind., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday after the Senate policy lunches. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is barreling toward a procedural vote Wednesday on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, but the typically bipartisan measure could become the victim of a filibuster amid a battle over amendments.

Democrats could block cloture on the bill if they don’t receive assurances from Senate Republicans of a vote on an amendment that would stop President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval.

McConnell says no to delay on votes to accommodate Dem presidential hopefuls
Democrats had pushed for delay to give senators involved in presidential debates time to get back

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not want to delay votes on a defense policy bill so that Democratic senators can head to a series of presidential debates in Miami. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Tuesday that Democrats are going to have to filibuster the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill if they do not want final votes this week.

The Kentucky Republican opened the Senate with criticism of Monday afternoon’s statement by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer that defense policy bill votes, including consideration of a key amendment regarding limitations on the use of funds for war with Iran, should be delayed until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

Trump’s federal judge pace matches recent presidents — but with a big twist
Incumbent has stressed putting conservatives in legal realm’s ‘big leagues,’ expert says

At federal judicial buildings like Washington’s E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, Trump-nominated judges have given the federal judiciary a conservative bent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In what the White House, Republican senators and right-leaning organizations hailed as a major milestone, President Donald Trump last week saw his 100th judicial nominee confirmed by the Senate.

But his record of getting federal judges confirmed is largely in line with his most recent predecessors, even if he’s been more successful in elevating nominees to the influential appellate courts.

Former congressional pages: Bring back scandal-plagued program
It wasn’t always easy, but alums say the House page program deserves a second life

Former page Connie “Cricket” Kuhlman of Pennsylvania hugs Jim Oliver, a former page supervisor, in the Longworth Building office of Rep. Joe Wilson, where pages gathered to kick off their 40th-anniversary weekend on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Joint sessions. The birth of C-SPAN. Robert Byrd playing his fiddle during a filibuster. The awe they felt the first time they walked on the House floor. It all adds up to what alumni of the Capitol page program call a life-altering experience.

But many teenage political junkies won’t get that experience today, thanks to technological changes and sexual misconduct scandals. The House, which accounted for the largest share of pages, shuttered its program in August 2011.