Bob Corker

Senators Confirm Slew of Trump Nominees in Final Hours of 115th Congress
List does not include lifetime judicial appointments; next business will be in the new Congress

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got a deal to confirm more of President Donald Trump’s nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As a practical matter, the 115th Congress is finally history.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement that the Senate will convene for a pro forma session at 11:50 a.m. Thursday, but there will be no real business until after noon arrives, when the new Congress begins, as outlined in the Constitution. 

Mitt Romney, Rand Paul Preview GOP Debate Over Donald Trump in New Congress
Paul speaks out against Romney’s criticism of the president ahead of swearing-in

Mitt Romney, left, and Rand Paul have different approaches to President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

Two Republicans with among the largest national profiles of senators in the new Congress aren’t wasting any time in drawing the contours of a debate that is sure to run over for the next two years.

Namely, the extent to which members of the Senate GOP hitch their wagons to President Donald Trump as an election cycle gets underway with a map that might be more favorable to the Democrats.

Amid Crises, Trump Slips Out of Washington to Visit Troops in Iraq
President had caught flack for opting against a warzone visit in first 23 months in office

President Trump quietly left Joint Base Andrews early Wednesday morning on Air Force One to make his first visit as commander in chief to U.S. troops deployed in a combat zone. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Amid a government shutdown and multiple crises at home, President Donald Trump slid out of the White House early Wednesday morning for a holiday season trip to visit troops in Iraq.

Trump faced bipartisan criticism for not visiting any U.S. forces deployed in combat zones since he took office in January 2017. There were rumors last week that he might travel to Iraq or Afghanistan during what had been planned as a 16-day holiday season vacation at his South Florida resort, but White Houses, for security reasons, keep such trips under wraps.

Senate, House Convene as Some Government Agencies Shut Down
Talks between White House and Senate Democrats over Trump’s border wall come up short

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the Capitol for a rare Saturday session of the Senate. With no progress made in the impasse over funding President Donald Trump’s border wall that has caused a partial government shutdown, the Senate adjourned until after Christmas three hours after convening. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate and House convened in a rare Saturday sessions after nine Cabinet-level departments and several other federal agencies ceased operations Saturday morning in the latest government shutdown of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney issued a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies late Friday directing them to implement shutdown plans for departments not funded by the spending bills for fiscal 2019 that have become law.

Congress Cashes Out as Rich Members Depart
Of the top 10 flushest lawmakers, four are packing their bags

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been Congress’ richest member for years. Now he and several other multimillionaires are headed for the exits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The combined wealth of Congress is set to plummet next year after a deluge of departures and the results of the midterm elections. Some of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill won’t be returning next year, and the body’s $2.43 billion of personal net worth will drop by $933 million. 

Of the top 10 richest members of Congress, four are packing their bags. Most are staying in the public sector. California Rep. Darrell Issa, net worth of $283 million and the perennially richest member of Congress, announced his retirement in January 2018. The inventor of the Viper car alarm was expected to leave public office but will move to the Trump administration, after being appointed to the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Lamar Alexander Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election in 2020
Tennessee Republican plans to retire from the Senate

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has announced he’s not running for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a longtime Republican senator from Tennessee who previously served as governor, will not seek re-election in 2020.

He made the announcement on Monday that he will be retiring at the end of his current term.

Senate Flexes Congress’ War Powers Authority, For First Time Ever
Resolution would end military assistance to Saudi Arabia over war in Yemen

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., was one of the sponsors of the resolution to pull U.S. support of the Saudis in Yemen. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday ordered the Pentagon to cease its military involvement on behalf of Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni civil war. It marked the first time since the 1973 passage of the War Powers Act that the Senate has ordered the executive branch to end an unauthorized military campaign.

The Senate passed, 56-41, the joint resolution, as amended, that would direct the president to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except forces engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda or associated forces, within 30 days of the joint resolution’s adoption of the joint resolution, unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization of such use of force has been enacted.

Tennessee Rep.-Elect Walks Back ‘Anti-Vaxx’ Comments
But Mark Green says ‘More research should be done’ after alleging a CDC coverup

Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., said his comments endorsing a conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism were “misconstrued.” (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., has softened his endorsement of the myth that vaccines cause autism in statements to the media, claiming his comments had been distorted.

“Recent comments I made at a town hall regarding vaccines has been misconstrued. I want to reiterate my wife and I vaccinated our children, and we believe, and advise others they should have their children vaccinated,” the 7th District Republican said.

Senate Establishes Precedent for Debating War Power Authority
Procedural vote sets ground rules for future debates over U.S. military intervention

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., was presiding over the Senate for the war powers debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has figured out how it wants to debate efforts to stop U.S. military intervention overseas.

Senators found themselves in an unprecedented, but not unexpected, parliamentary situation Wednesday afternoon, faced with language in the statute of the War Powers Resolution that gave them no direction as to the terms under which amendments could be considered.

Senators’ Yemen Vote Is Precursor to Debate on Saudi Relations
Corker eyes nonbinding resolution to condemn kingdom over Khashoggi murder

With the Senate expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution aimed at the Yemen war, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker wants to ensure any amendments offered are germane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected Wednesday to debate and vote on a resolution that would order an end to military involvement in the war in Yemen, one of several measures that lawmakers are considering to punish Saudi Arabia.

But Wednesday’s discussion may be shortened due to scant floor time and several competing high-priority legislative items that, unlike the Yemen resolution, could still become law before the year is over.