17.11.2022
Pelosi, first woman speaker, to depart Dem leadership in seismic shift

Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful speakers in modern U.S. history, will cede the helm of House Democratic leadership after 20 years and take on an unfamiliar role: Rank-and-file member.

Since she reclaimed the top gavel in 2018, the first woman speaker — whose legislative prowess has powered her party’s agenda under four presidents — planned to give it up after this term. Yet her decision became more complicated, she has said, by the brutal assault of her husband Paul last month.

“I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said to a packed chamber that remained pin-drop silent as members took in her decision.

Then Democrats’ better-than-expected midterm election prompted personal pleas for her to stay from the president and Senate majority leader.

But in a floor speech attended by nearly every member of her Democratic caucus, including plenty of teary allies, Pelosi declared it was time for a “new generation” of leaders. Clad in stark white, the color of suffragists and her hue of choice for critical moments, the California Democrat delivered her farewell speech within a chamber where she has been a part of Washington’s biggest moments for decades.

Recalling her first visit to the Capitol at age six, she name-checked her biggest political inspirations, from Abraham Lincoln to civil rights leader John Lewis, as she touted her “fundamental mission to hold strong to our most treasured democratic ideals.”

She alluded to policy achievements she notched with three presidents while leading the caucus, conspicuously omitting Donald Trump.

Afterward, she received one of a half-dozen standing ovations from her caucus.

Pelosi will retain her House seat, at least for now, as she steers the caucus through tough legislative battles like government funding in the final two months of Democratic power. She is also expected to stay on for at least some of the 118th Congress to maximize pressure on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who will need to corral an extremely narrow majority starting in January.

The decision paves the way for the House’s biggest leadership shakeup in either party since the Republican revolution of 1994. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the current caucus chair, will seek the role of minority leader for the next Congress after months of steadily building support across the caucus.

He is not expected to face a challenger, after POLITICO reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) decided to forgo a leadership bid as he instead turns his focus to a potential Senate run.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), who was crying as she left Pelosi’s speech, said in between sobs she was “joyful and sad.”

The plans of Pelosi’s two long-time deputies, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), also became clear immediately after Pelosi’s speech.

Clyburn, who remains close to the Biden administration, will seek a top elected position — assistant to the minority leader — and Hoyer will not seek a leadership position, but will also remain in Congress as a rank-and-file member, according to multiple people familiar with the decision.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) will seek the No. 2 position below Jeffries, minority whip, while Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), will seek the No. 3 position, which will now be caucus chair, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions. Clyburn’s position will fall outside of that seniority structure.

For most of the last two years, there was little question among Democrats that Pelosi would leave her leadership position after the November elections. She had promised her caucus in 2018 that she would only seek two more terms as leader, part of a bargain she made with her defectors to lock down votes for speaker after the caucus reclaimed the majority.

But some Democrats began questioning in recent days whether she had changed her mind, first after her husband, Paul Pelosi, was attacked in their home last month. After the party’s better-than-expected midterm performances, others began privately — or publicly — telling her to stay, arguing she was their best tactical weapon against a potential Speaker McCarthy.

Regardless, many Democrats have expected that Pelosi would stay in Congress, at least in the short term.

If Pelosi did leave Congress immediately, it would leave a vacancy until her district can hold a special election — a key absence that could give McCarthy more breathing room in his fight to claim the speakership when the full House votes on Jan. 3. His margin of error for that vote, assuming that all Democrats vote for a member of their party, will be between two and five seats.

Whenever Pelosi gives up her seat, Gov. Gavin Newsom would need to call a special election within 14 days. Voters would weigh in about four months later at the earliest.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) predicted the caucus would still rely on Pelosi’s wisdom even as a rank and file member.

“She’s always going to be a mentor to us. To me, she stands there just like John Lewis,” he said, getting emotional. “Every time we saw John Lewis and there was a seat next to him, we sat down and we asked him and we listened and we learned and we grew from there. I think Nancy Pelosi is going to be that person for us every minute every day.”

Nicholas Wu, Katherine Tully-McManus and Jeremy White contributed to this report.

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  • 11 часов, 12 минут назад 08.12.2022Congress
    News The Buckshee

    As bipartisan negotiations on a sprawling year-end package to fund the government remain mired in gridlock, Democrats have a new negotiation plan: publicly releasing their own partisan proposal on Monday.

    Democratic appropriators want that plan, which they’ve been drafting behind the scenes while bipartisan negotiations flounder, to come up for a vote in the House and Senate next week, according to a Senate Democratic aide, despite its certain failure in the upper chamber.

    Both sides are refusing to budge in talks over government funding, with almost no progress made since last week. Senate Democrats have made Republicans a total of four offers on overall government funding levels, including one as recently as Wednesday afternoon, according to the aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly.

    The Democratic funding plan from Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) will come just days before federal cash expires on Dec. 16. It’s a near-certainty that Congress will have to pass a short-term spending patch to continue negotiations up until Christmas or possibly later. The Democratic aide said the majority party will not support a stopgap spending bill until early next year, which Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell threatened on Tuesday.

    “When will we get to yes? Might be right before Christmas. Might be right after Christmas,” Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican appropriator in the upper chamber, said on Wednesday.

    The deal on overall spending levels “is not going to happen today,” Shelby added. He did suggest, however, that once those figures were locked in lawmakers could move quickly to negotiate the finer points of a massive funding package.

    The majority party is demanding $26 billion more in domestic spending than Republicans are willing to give — just a fraction of what could be a $1.7 trillion funding bill for the current fiscal year. Republicans argue that Democrats achieved that spending through their party-line climate, tax, health and Covid bills — while Democrats argue that shouldn’t be related to the government funding bill and additional spending is necessary.

    For example, Democrats argue that more non-defense funding is needed to implement the semiconductor subsidy and research bill passed by Congress earlier this year. Funding for legislation wouldn’t be addressed by Democrats’ party-line bills, aides say.

    Republicans argue that Democrats are seeking unnecessary domestic spending hikes, including a 12 percent increase to the appropriations bill that funds the IRS. A Senate Republican aide on Tuesday said that’s a non-starter, given the $80 billion infusion that the IRS received from Democrats’ party-line tax, climate and health care package earlier this year.

    Both sides have largely settled on an $858 billion total for overall defense funding, in line with a bipartisan compromise on annual defense policy legislation.

    Without a deal, congressional leaders have warned that federal agencies could be saddled with stagnant budgets for the better part of 2023, an outcome that Pentagon leaders have said would be devastating for military readiness and U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

    Nancy Vu contributed to this report.

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  • 21 час, 12 минут назад 07.12.2022Congress
    Senate conservatives plot their second act after taking on McConnell

    The Senate GOP’s upstarts aren’t done yet.

    About a half-dozen Republican senators, most of whom publicly opposed Mitch McConnell as their leader last month, are getting more organized in a bid to exert their leverage in the chamber. They’re pushing their colleagues for a formal legislative agenda and to extract more concessions from Democrats, according to multiple senators and aides.

    These GOP senators have been quietly meeting on a regular basis to strategize future battles worth picking within McConnell’s ranks, and they’re set to call a special conference meeting next week to start a broader debate within the Republican conference.

    It’s not the same sort of rebellion Kevin McCarthy is facing in the House as he tries to claim the speakership. But it’s a clear sign that the restive group of Senate Republicans isn’t going away just because their leadership fight with McConnell is over.

    “Democrats have done a pretty good job of picking issues that motivate their base and that have wider support among the public,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voted against McConnell last month. “We need to be doing the same thing. I think a lot of people in the Republican Party don’t see us doing it as emphatically as Democrats.”

    Senate conservatives have met off and on for years on certain issues, always remaining less organized than the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus — itself hardly a monolith. Now these Republicans are flirting with a more formalized and confrontational approach at a high-stakes hour, as must-pass legislation bears down on Capitol Hill.

    One member of the group, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), said some use a retro moniker that reflects its morning meeting time: “Somebody’s called it the Breakfast Club.”

    “It’s mostly folks that are concerned about a broken process here that has no participation and no transparency. And it’s politically fraught, because it hasn’t been working for us with our performance in recent elections,” Braun said.

    Republicans are set to be in the Senate minority for another two years, limiting their sway over its business. But with the legislative filibuster intact and individual senators still empowered to influence the chamber schedule, conservatives motivated enough to stick together could wield significant sway. They can object to time agreements that would speed up floor debate, demand amendment votes and pressure leaders for concessions, as they did recently in pushing to scrap Covid vaccine mandates for service members.

    The group’s next move is a Wednesday press conference pressing Republicans to reject a leadership-negotiated spending bill this month, though Graham breaks from other conservatives in backing that measure. Their threats to slow down must-pass legislation recall the Senate’s loose “Tea Party Caucus” a decade ago, though it’s far from clear whether a handful of upper-chamber Republicans can match the impact of the House’s growing right flank.

    “We’re getting together more frequently,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “We feel like there are some things that conservatives want throughout the country.”

    In addition to Graham, Paul and Braun, Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida are all involved. Asked about who is in the group, Paul deadpanned: “That’s top secret. I would have to take some blood from you if I were to acknowledge that.”

    Senate Republicans already spent hours upon hours holed up together battling over why they’d fallen short in a once-promising mid-term election. The disarray translated into a McConnell challenge from Rick Scott, which McConnell won handily. McConnell also did not commit to changing his leadership style after winning.

    That there was a challenge at all remains notable, however: It’s the only time McConnell has faced opposition as Senate GOP leader. And there’s been some tension since, with conservatives claiming they were denied use of a portion of the Capitol for press conferences — an area normally used only by congressional leaders.

    “These two years coming up are going to be a telling tale for the Republican Party. … We don’t need any more strains than what we’ve had,” said Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who is not affiliated with the group. “We need a game plan.”

    Several Republicans in the crew played down any animus toward McConnell, although they conceded it’s not likely the GOP leader wants to continue conversations about internal strategy.

    McConnell “might be” mad about the group’s efforts, Johnson acknowledged. “I don’t care.”

    “We hope to make an impact. We may have already had our first impact” on negotiations to peel back military vaccine mandates, he added. “We’ll take our little wins.”

    To advance their cause, Johnson and others are relying on conference rules that allow any five GOP senators to call a special conference meeting. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a McConnell ally, said he discovered the underused provision during the leadership drama last month.

    “There was some frustration about … communication and consultation. And trying to be more unified and thus more effective,” Cornyn said. “There’s actually a process by which a group of senators can raise an issue and call a meeting of the conference to discuss it. We do that rarely, but people are eager to have those kind of discussions.”

    Of course, Senate Republicans already have lunch together thrice a week, but not everyone necessarily has time to get their point across at those sitdowns.

    The schism among them has been growing for years, but accelerated during the current Congress, when the 50-50 Senate has been surprisingly productive: Bipartisan legislation has passed on infrastructure, gun safety, marriage equality and microchip production, all clearing a GOP filibuster.

    But often that means a minority of Republicans are supplying the deciding votes to get past the 60-vote threshold. And that dynamic is leading to a frustrated right flank.

    Cruz said he asked GOP leaders this during last month’s brouhaha: “Is there anything you’re willing to fight for? Is there anything you’re willing to use levers of power to fight and win victories?”

    “Millions of Americans are frustrated that for the last two years, Senate Republicans over and over again facilitated the Democrat agenda,” Cruz said. “There are a number of us who are meeting regularly and focused on how collectively we infuse backbone in Senate Republicans.”

    Of course, next year’s House GOP takeover will salve some of those wounds. Several of the conservative senators said they want to coordinate better with the House — after scuttling this month’s massive holiday spending package first, of course.

    These senators want to punt the government funding fight into 2023, increasing the GOP’s leverage but also raising the risk of a potential shutdown fight next year. Cruz said he’s determined to preserve opportunities for Republicans to insist on legislative demands — reminiscent of his and Lee’s 2013 fight to get the GOP House to defund Obamacare, a clash that eventually led to a government shutdown.

    And Johnson vowed that even from the minority, Senate Republicans would be able to dictate a more aggressive approach across the Capitol.

    “You have the majority in the House. Start putting pressure on our House colleagues to go through a budget process, you’ve gotta increase the debt ceiling, attach to that fiscal controls,” Johnson said. “Use that budget to drive your appropriation process to start sending over appropriation bills.”

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  • 1 день, 11 часов назад 07.12.2022Congress
    McCarthy or bust? House GOP stuck in ‘burning building’ over speaker’s gavel

    Like many big families and the cast of “Seinfeld,” House Republicans are airing their grievances this holiday season.

    Simmering frustrations over the slow-burning conservative campaign to derail Kevin McCarthy‘s speakership bid boiled over during a closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Tuesday, with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and other allies of the minority leader standing up to advocate on his behalf, according to three people in the room.

    The pro-McCarthy camp is privately at odds over how potent a threat they will face on Jan. 3, when the full House meets to elect a speaker — and when dissenters are vowing to deny the California Republican the votes he’ll need.

    That’s in part because McCarthy dissenters have adopted a slow-drip strategy, gradually dropping signals of new opposition throughout the GOP leader’s monthlong courtship of his critics. Some McCarthy backers see the tactics of his conservative skeptics as little more than hot air, predicting that all complaints will fade after a show of force on Jan. 3. But behind closed doors, other allies are starting to doubt that McCarthy can survive the gauntlet needed to win the gavel.

    It all adds up to a very un-merry GOP conference wracked by anger and worry about a 2024 backlash against their internal squabbles.

    “This conference cannot handcuff itself to a burning building before we gavel in the 118th Congress,” said Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), the head of the more moderate Republican Governance Group.

    “We had a conference vote where [McCarthy] won by 85 percent,” said first-term Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), a conservative who supports the minority leader. “I’d like to see the members who won by 85 percent in their district — do they think they should have another vote?”

    McCarthy allies are debating which of the five Republicans who’ve so far threatened to oppose him may be persuadable, while working to uncover the names of any alternative speaker candidate or candidates whom committed “no” votes like Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Bob Good (R-Va.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) may promote as a viable choice.

    In another sign of growing tensions between the camps, Good stood during Tuesday’s meeting to counter the lawmakers speaking in the Californian’s favor, arguing that they received more time to talk than the one-minute time limit to speak that’s set by internal party rules. One Republican familiar said Greene had two members yield their time to her.

    “If you’re going to have a time limit, abide by it,” Norman said on his way out of the Tuesday meeting, remarking in an interview that his blood pressure was up.

    Opinions vary among GOP lawmakers about how the speakership vote will play out, with some betting on centrist Republicans’ willingness to put forward a more moderate option and others speculating about how many ballots they’ll need to ultimately decide the speakership.

    While some members have privately floated retiring centrist Rep. Fred Upton as one option, the Michigan Republican will be nowhere near the Capitol for that vote on Jan 3. Instead, Upton and his wife will be on a ski trip. “I’ll be at 12,000 feet,” he said.

    A growing number of members believe the House’s leader will not be elected on the first day of voting, let alone on the first ballot.

    “My sense is, it’ll be multiple ballots — may take a number of days,” said one House Republican who offered a prediction on condition of anonymity, remarking that McCarthy critics want a “pelt” but that they have “no real backup plan.”

    Interviews with this year’s crop of McCarthy opponents confirmed one thing that his allies are seeking to leverage in their favor: Unlike the 2015 conservative rebellion that ended with former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), there’s no single, agreed-upon Plan B leader.

    “To my knowledge, there’s not one alternative candidate,” said Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), a House Freedom Caucus member who hasn’t tipped his hand on his McCarthy vote, adding that their discussions “have always been about changing the culture of Washington, D.C.”

    Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) added that “a lot of people in the conference” could emerge as a speaker candidate.

    One critical reason that no alternative name is out in the open: McCarthy critics know that the first aspiring challenger to go public will be pummeled by the Californian’s supporters. Some rank-and-file members say Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) is trying to take those arrows right now; the Arizonan overwhelmingly lost to McCarthy in the conference’s internal election last month but on Tuesday launched an official bid against McCarthy anyway.

    The majority of McCarthy detractors hail from the Freedom Caucus, as was the case in the 2015. But this year’s iteration of the group, which is most powerful when it moves in sync, is hardly on the same page. Some of its members argue that, because they’re split over electing McCarthy speaker, they should refocus their attention as a unit on demands over spending bills and other legislative priorities.

    Meanwhile, critics of the Freedom Caucus lament that its anti-McCarthy members are simply moving the goal posts to extract maximum concessions from the GOP leader, while having no intention of definitively knifing McCarthy.

    And one of those concessions — a compromise reached last month over the conference’s ability to depose a speaker — may be getting relitigated.

    Even after the conference backed an amendment from Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) that required the support of a majority of House Republicans to seek to boot the speaker, McCarthy critics say they don’t think the matter is closed.

    “Nothing is closed,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said. “That’s the point.”

    Centrists have already warned McCarthy’s Freedom Caucus opponents that if they tank him, a backup speaker may get elected who they’ll like even less. Making good on that threat might require some House Democrats to vote present on Jan. 3, thus decreasing the total number of votes needed to win the speakership.

    But it’s not clear if any Democrats would be willing to work with the GOP to help McCarthy out of a tight spot. And McCarthy has already publicly said he would not seek or accept votes from Democrats.

    Conservatives view centrists’ talk of a compromise candidate if McCarthy can’t clinch 218 votes as unserious.

    “I want them to name which moderate Democrats that they’re willing to team up with … I think that’s rhetoric that I find not credible,” Perry said in an interview. “But if they’re willing to put some granularity to that, some context to it, I think that would be an important conversation to have.”

    Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), the most outspoken of the pro-McCarthy centrists, vowed they would “go full bore” if McCarthy’s bid gets scuttled over multiple rounds of balloting.

    Anti-McCarthy conservatives “don’t have an alternative name, bottom line,” Bacon said. “There’s a large majority of us that are not willing to get rolled. … We’re not going to play nice guy on this.”

    Moderates in both parties have been in touch about break-glass back-up plans if McCarthy fails to get 218 votes, as first reported by POLITICO — a fact that’s sparked accusations from Freedom Caucus-aligned Republicans.

    One notable participant in those discussions is Frank Luntz, the veteran GOP pollster and close friend of McCarthy. Luntz has asked questions about Democrats voting present in the upcoming speaker vote during private talks with House members, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the exchanges.

    Luntz attended a retreat with members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus last month in Longboat Key, Fla., where he discussed the topic. And while it’s not clear if the GOP leader had given Luntz his blessing to discuss the matter, their close relationship means some in McCarthy’s conference will tie the pollster broaching the subject to the Californian.

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  • 1 день, 13 часов назад 06.12.2022Congress
    News The Buckshee

    Police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and some of their family members pointedly declined to shake the hands of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy as they accepted Congressional Gold Medals on Tuesday.

    Officers shook hands with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as they accepted the medals, but quickly moved past the House and Senate Republican leaders — despite McConnell outstretching his hand. All senior congressional leaders were participating in the event to honor U.S. Capitol Police officers, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police and others who responded during the riot.

    “May this medal — the highest honor that Congress can bestow — serve as a token of our nation’s deepest gratitude and respect: not as full but as a token,” Pelosi said prior to awarding the medals at a ceremony that took place in the Capitol Rotunda.

    Among those who walked past the congressional leaders were the family of Brian Sicknick, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who died in the days following the attack and later lay in honor in the Capitol.

    In ceremony remarks after the snub, McConnell and McCarthy both thanked the officers for their heroics during that day.

    “To all the law enforcement officers who keep this country safe: thank you,” McCarthy said. “Too many people take that for granted, but days like today force us to realize how much we owe the thin blue line.”

    Police officers have criticized McCarthy’s response following the attack, including former D.C. officer Michael Fanone, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and a heart attack in the riot and secretly recorded a meeting with the House Republican leader. Some House Republicans have downplayed the seriousness of the attack, and McCarthy has personally minimized former President Donald Trump’s role in stoking the mob.

    McConnell has called the Jan. 6 attack a “violent insurrection,” but also joined McCarthy and other Republicans in voting against the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot. The GOP Senate leader also voted against convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial over the former president’s role in Jan. 6.

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  • 1 день, 15 часов назад 06.12.2022Congress
    Lawmakers labor to break impasses stalling massive spending bill

    Top lawmakers are still grasping for the deal they need to tee up a sprawling year-end spending package as potential pitfalls for the bill pile up, nearly guaranteeing that Congress will be working until Christmas or later to fund the government.

    Democrats and Republicans leading the negotiations are still tens of billions of dollars apart on a total amount for domestic programs, preventing lawmakers from cementing an agreement on the overall funding levels necessary to smooth out the finer points. Without a deal, congressional leaders have warned that federal agencies could be saddled with stagnant budgets for the better part of 2023, an outcome that Pentagon leaders have said would be devastating for military readiness and U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

    Federal cash expires on Dec. 16, meaning lawmakers will almost certainly need to pass a stopgap spending patch that buys them an extra week or more to finalize any funding package for the current fiscal year. The bill could top $1.7 trillion, in line with President Joe Biden’s budget request, and include a swath of other policy provisions — such as a bipartisan update to presidential certification law crafted in response to the Capitol riot — as members look to pack in their priorities before the next Congress starts.

    At the moment, Democrats are asking for about $25 billion overall more than GOP lawmakers are willing to give. Republicans have deemed that money unnecessary, arguing that Democrats largely achieved their domestic funding goals through party-line climate, tax, health and Covid aid bills.

    And the current spending impasse is significant enough to see a spillover effect in talks on a must-pass defense policy bill, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell throwing cold water on Democratic interest in adding energy permitting or marijuana banking provisions to that measure.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was noncommittal when asked if the two parties could reach an agreement on the spending package by next week: “We certainly hope so,” he said in a brief interview, “but I don’t know.”

    “It’s absurd that we can’t get there on toplines,” Hoyer added, noting that a one-year stopgap spending patch is still on the table.

    Settling for a so-called continuing resolution that would keep the government funded at current levels for the rest of the fiscal year, however, is hardly the note that the Senate’s two top appropriators — Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, the chair, and ranking Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama — want to strike as they retire from Congress.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that “negotiations continue” on the government funding package, adding that “both sides must remain at the table and continue working.”

    Should top Democrats attempt to add Sen. Joe Manchin‘s (D-W.Va.) energy-permitting language to either the defense policy bill or the spending legislation, they’re likely to encounter resistance from their own left flank as well as from McConnell’s party.

    Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that the group is starting to survey its members on the Manchin-backed permitting language and found that “a lot of people might not be willing to support the rule” on the House floor if it were added to either bill.

    Democrats and Republicans have pointedly disagreed over how to categorize the increasingly expensive issue of veterans health funding; the majority party wants to move it out of domestic spending and into its own separate category so that it doesn’t eat up other priorities.

    “We’re about to run out of runway here, though I still think there’s a great chance we’ll get this done,” retiring Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a senior Republican appropriator, said on Monday night.

    “Even in the Senate, where things happen in a hurry,” Blunt said, warning that an agreement on overall funding totals needs to be reached soon to keep lawmakers on a reasonable track to finish before the end of the year. “Reading and doing all the things you have to do together before you’re happy to take that bill to the floor just takes time.”

    Sarah Ferris and Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

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  • 1 день, 21 час назад 06.12.2022Congress
    GOP senators tune out House conservatives’ impeachment calls

    House conservatives want their party to go big on impeachment next year. Across the Capitol, Senate Republicans on their would-be jury are not ready to convict.

    While House GOP leaders feel intense pressure from their Donald Trump-aligned base and colleagues to impeach President Joe Biden or a top member of his Cabinet, many of the party’s senators want nothing to do with it. In fact, some Republican senators are openly signaling that even if impeachment managed to squeak through the House, it would quickly die in their chamber — and not just at the hands of the Democratic majority.

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close ally of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said he “hadn’t really given any thought” to impeaching Biden or a Cabinet official like Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, whom Kevin McCarthy singled out last month as a primary target of future House investigations. Cornyn said he hasn’t seen any actions that meet the bar for an impeachable offense: “Not really, no.”

    And Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the only GOP senator to twice convict former President Trump, put it more bluntly: “Someone has to commit a high crime or misdemeanor for that to be a valid inquiry. I haven’t seen any accusation of that nature whatsoever. There are a lot of things I disagree with … but that doesn’t rise to impeachment.”

    Cooling their counterparts’ impeachment fever is just one of many tricky tasks facing the Senate GOP over the next two years in its relationship with an incoming House majority where pro-Trump conservatives often shout the loudest. While those House Republicans look to ding Biden’s administration after six years trapped in the minority, the party’s senators are picking battles more carefully.

    A big reason behind the different strategies: House Republicans will hold the party’s biggest megaphone on Capitol Hill heading into 2024, with some of their own GOP centrists already feeling heartburn — and hearing Democratic warnings — that pursuing impeachment will backfire in the next election.

    Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell’s No. 2, subtly urged House Republicans to focus on specific investigative targets that could help the party put pressure on Democrats. He added that the border was a “debacle” and that Mayorkas should be called in for “oversight,” but underscored that what specific actions should spin out of such investigations was not yet clear.

    “I think there is a legitimate need for oversight … but, I mean, I think it needs to be focused on some specific areas,” Thune said. When asked about the possibility of impeaching Biden himself, Thune repeated that they should outline certain investigative targets and “see if we can’t pressure the Democrats into working with us on a few things.”

    It’s an ongoing pattern for Republican Senate leaders, who have mostly tried to avoid the pitfalls of Trump-related probes. While House GOP leadership has leaned hard into publicly pushing back on the Democratic-run panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, their Senate counterparts have largely sidestepped tangling with the select committee.

    Meanwhile, McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign or face possible impeachment during a trip to the border last month. The Californian first opened the door to impeaching the Homeland Security secretary earlier this year, and his most recent remarks dovetail with his efforts to lock down support from conservatives who have threatened to oppose his speakership bid.

    Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who lost to McCarthy for the conference’s speakership nomination last month, has introduced a resolution to impeach Mayorkas that’s supported by several of the minority leader’s most vocal critics.

    Spokespeople for McConnell, who teed off on the administration’s border policy from the floor Monday, didn’t respond to a question about impeaching Mayorkas. The GOP leader also quashed calls to impeach Biden last year that were sparked by a widely criticized Afghanistan withdrawal.

    Because Senate Republicans will be stuck in the minority for at least the next two years, they can’t do much to contribute to House GOP investigations. And for some GOP senators, questions about their counterparts’ impeachment dreams elicit responses that put a new spin on M.C. Hammer’s 1990 hit: They can’t, and won’t, touch this.

    Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump last year, said with a laugh that she was “not going to get into the machinations of the House.”

    “That’s not something I’ve heard discussed over here,” Collins said about impeaching Biden or Mayorkas.

    And Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, brushed off questions about if he supports a Biden or Mayorkas impeachment: “I can’t do anything about what the House does.”

    It was always a long shot that the Senate would convict in any impeachment trial next Congress, given it would require 67 votes in favor. No presidents have been found guilty and the one Cabinet official who was the subject of an impeachment trial was acquitted. But House Republicans’ roughly five-seat margin next year means that dreams of even passing an impeachment of Biden or his top lieutenants through their own chamber might have already died on the vine.

    Still, the staunchest pro-impeachment House Republicans aren’t deterred by the reality that their efforts would ultimately fail across the Capitol — or even alienate some in their own party. They see it as their business to take on the Biden administration, and winning the majority means business is about to pick up.

    “I would say back to them: ‘Then why enforce any laws? Why do anything?’ I think we always have to hold people accountable. We have to do our job in the House, regardless of what is going to happen in the Senate,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has pushed impeaching Biden since he took office.

    And Greene’s camp does have some Senate Republicans in its corner when it comes to impeaching Mayorkas. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was an impeachment manager against former President Bill Clinton, sent a letter to Mayorkas arguing that his actions, if not corrected, could provide “grounds for impeachment.”

    In addition, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) accused Mayorkas of having “misled” him and members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and being “unresponsive.” He added in a brief interview that “I think an impeachment there is probably warranted” and could be used to get information from the agency.

    But asked about the prospect of impeaching Biden, Hawley, who has disavowed any interest in a run of his own in two years, pointed to the 2024 election as the better venue.

    “You know, I’m not a fan of the president. … But impeaching a president is a very, very, very high bar,” he said. “The American people, pretty soon here, are going to have a chance to weigh in again.”

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