James Lankford

Senate Democrats Likely to Oppose Push to Block Health Insurance Mandate
Desire to keep contentious amendments off spending bills might prevail

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., chairs the Appropriations subcommittee where any amendment on the D.C. health insurance mandate might come up first in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican amendment to a House-passed spending package that would ban the District of Columbia from implementing an individual health insurance coverage requirement is unlikely to gain steam as the Senate prepares to take up a similar measure.

It’s not clear yet if any Senate Republicans will introduce a similar amendment when the Financial Services and Interior-Environment package reaches the Senate floor, but it would likely face fierce minority opposition in the chamber, where Democrats are defending the 2010 health care law at every opportunity.

Trump’s Trade Policies Get a Senate Slapdown
Lawmakers support congressional authority over tariff decisions

President Donald Trump trade policies aren’t feeling the love from Congress. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators delivered a bipartisan, if nonbinding, rebuke to President Donald Trump’s trade policies on the floor Wednesday, voting 88-11 to express support for congressional authority over presidential decisions to impose tariffs for national security reasons.

The motion, offered by GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, would instruct conferees on an unrelated $147 billion spending bill covering the Departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to “include language providing a role for Congress in making a determination” under a law enabling presidents to impose trade restrictions on security grounds.

Lankford: Reuniting Immigrant Families Is Complicated
Human traffickers and parents who aren’t ready to reunite with their children has made process more difficult

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said there are a number of complications for reuniting immigrant families. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As a California court deadline came and went Tuesday for the Trump administration to reunite 102 undocumented immigrant children under the age of 5 with their parents, Sen. James Lankford came to the administration’s defense after it did not fully meet the court’s demands.

Dozens of the children are still at temporary housing facilities as the Justice and Health and Human Services Departments vet those who have claimed to be the children’s parents through DNA tests, criminal background checks, and other means.

GOP Senators to Dems: You Can’t Stop Supreme Court Appointment by Fall
McConnell states next justice will be confirmed before midterms

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gives a thumbs up after the Senate invoked the “nuclear option” which will allow for a majority vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice nominee, April 6, 2017. The maneuver allowed for confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the high court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republican leaders on Wednesday quickly laid out the game plan for confirming a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, wasting no time in stating they intended to confirm a new justice before the fall elections and flatly claiming there was literally nothing Democrats could do to delay that. 

“The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent on President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy. We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor just minutes after the news of Kennedy’s retirement broke. 

Trump Doubles Down on No Due Process for Migrants
But Sen. King says ‘they have a right to establish their claim of asylum’

From left, Democratic Reps. Joe Crowley, Jan Schakowsky, actor John Cusack, Luis Gutierrez, John Lewis, Al Green, Judy Chu, and Pramila Jayapal sit at the entrance to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington in protest of the Trump administration's separating parents and children at the border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Monday doubled down on his call for undocumented immigrants who enter the United States illegally to be sent back to their native countries without any due process before an American judge.

Trump first made the claim in a Sunday tweet following his Saturday contention during remarks before the Nevada Republican Party that Democrats want to open the southern border so the violent MS-13 gang can spread “all over our country.”

Here Are the Republicans Opposing Migrant Family Separation
A growing number of GOP legislators are breaking with the Trump administration’s policy

Activists protest against the policy of separating migrant children from their families on Monday in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Legislators from both parties are raising their voices against the Trump administration policy separating undocumented migrant children from their parents when they cross the southern border.

The policy has garnered intense and unified Democratic opposition, with all 48 of the party’s senators endorsing a bill, proposed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to reverse the policy. A growing number of Republicans also have come out against the current conditions on the border, while largely avoiding placing blame directly on President Donald Trump or his administration.

Senators: Convicted Lobbyists Need to Disclose Their Record
JACK is back, a measure aimed to increase transparency

The conviction of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, center, is attracting attention anew. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators Could Use Defense Bill to Push Back on Russia
Bipartisan group files amendments seeking to counter Kremlin election interference

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is among the senators preparing amendments to the defense authorization bill that seek to push back on Russian election interference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators could find themselves debating election security this week, including how to counter potential efforts by Russia to mess with this year’s midterms.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to use the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill as a venue for amendments related to both protection and response.

Appropriations Vs. Judges: Battle for Senate Floor Time Nears
White House, senators apply pressure on summer recess

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been upfront about his wish to approve nominations and consider appropriations bills on the floor this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nominations and spending bills — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s twin top priorities this summer — are on a collision course given the scarcity of floor time.

The Kentucky Republican has made confirming conservative judges a core mission this year. He’s also told appropriators he wants the Senate to move back toward real floor debate on spending bills, including amendments, while avoiding another massive year-end pileup with another 12-bill omnibus President Donald Trump said he won’t sign.

A Plea for the Old School Senate: Senators Really, Really Want to Move Spending Bills This Time
Meeting on nomination rules changes gives way to talk of spending bills, comity

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., brought a chart of the Senate floor to the Rules Committee. (Rules and Administration Committee screenshot)

What could have been a contentious meeting about shortening Senate debate time for nominations turned into more of a bipartisan conversation among some of the most senior senators at taking another shot at moving regular spending bills.

“Let’s pick an appropriation bill, put some training wheels on it and head it to the floor. Let’s see how this works,” Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin said. “We’ve got to educate ourselves.”