Charles E Grassley

Day 25 of the shutdown and the impasse held fast
Spending bill fails, president holds firm, House freshmen march

Freshman House members, including Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., leave the Capitol office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday after a visit to urge action on reopening the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On the 25th day of the longest government shutdown in modern history, the House failed to advance a spending measure, the president was half-stood up for lunch, and freshman House Democrats marched on the Senate. 

In an already busy day on Capitol Hill, the House failed to advance a stopgap measure to fund shuttered federal agencies through Feb. 1, as Democrats sought to pressure Republicans to end the partial shutdown. 

Barr assures senators of his independence
AG nominee says Mueller investigation isn’t a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions ‘probably did right thing’ in recusing himself

William Barr, nominee for attorney general, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | William Barr appeared to be on a path to confirmation as the next attorney general Tuesday, after he gave senators key assurances about the special counsel probe into the 2016 elections and distanced himself from some of President Donald Trump’s comments about the investigation.

During more than seven hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr avoided the kind of missteps that might cost him votes of Republicans, who have a 53-47 advantage in the chamber. But some Democrats say he did not do enough to reassure them that he would protect Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and make the results public.

John Thune’s new whip office staff learning the ropes and getting to work
Office features a mix of veteran Senate and House aides

Staffers for Sen. John Thune pose in his new whip office in the Capitol on Jan. 10. Front row, from left, David Cole, Scarlet Samp and Jason Van Beek; back row, from left, Cynthia Herrle, Geoffrey Antell, Brendon Plack and Nick Rossi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s Republican majority has a new occupant of the whip’s office, and with it come some new people for senators and their staffs to interact with when trying to get legislation to the floor.

The leader of the operation for Majority Whip John Thune will be a familiar face from the South Dakota’s previous role as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Rep. Ilhan Omar likens access to medicine in US to that in her native Somalia
Freshman congresswoman shares story of her aunt who died in Somalia for lack of insulin

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. speaks at a news conference with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Capitol to introduce a legislative package that would lower prescription drug prices in the U.S. on January 10, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar shared that her aunt died of “diabetic shock” in Somalia when she was 21 years old because she did not have access to medication, and said the fact that this sort of tragedy can happen in a country as wealthy as the United States is a “mark of shame.”

“There are people in the developing world who are dying because they don’t have access to health care or they don’t have access to medicine. My aunt was one of those people,” said Omar, whose family resettled in Minnesota as refugees after fleeing the civil war in their native Somalia.

Finance’s Grassley backs Trump on NAFTA, but not on tariffs
New Senate Finance Committee chairman reaffirms support for cheaper drugs from Canada

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, wants President Donald Trump to take a hard line with Democrats if they push to renegotiate a proposed trade pact to replace NAFTA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said he would advise President Donald Trump to take a hard line with congressional Democrats if they push to renegotiate the proposed trade pact that would replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has told reporters  that he would encourage Trump to begin a formal withdrawal from NAFTA if Democrats insist on renegotiating the pact’s replacement — the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

Lindsey Graham: Trump attorney general pick will let Mueller finish Russia probe
William P. Barr makes the rounds meeting with key senators on Wednesday

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, met with incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is confident President Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general is committed to letting the special counsel probe led by Robert S. Mueller III run its course.

William P. Barr, who previously served as attorney general during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, made the rounds Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where his meetings included visits to the outgoing and incoming chairmen of the Judiciary Committee.

House Approves Criminal Justice Overhaul, Sends to President
After years of negotiations and strong bipartisan support, measure headed to enactment

From left, Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, make a social media post before a news conference in the Capitol on the passage of the criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act, on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A sweeping criminal justice overhaul is heading to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature after the House cleared the measure.

The House passed the bill, 358-36, Thursday amid a flurry of other bills approved in a year-end rush.

Senate Sends Criminal Justice Bill to the House
Action comes after years of debate, bipartisan support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,resisted bringing the criminal justice bill to the floor initially, but he ultimately supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 87-12 to pass an amended criminal justice overhaul bill on Tuesday, sending a bipartisan measure that almost did not make it to the floor to what backers said was a clear and swift path to becoming law.

The bill, which was brought to the floor as an amendment to an unrelated measure, survived initial indifference from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a series of amendments from Republican opponents, and the addition of some other amendments before ultimately earning an overwhelming bipartisan final vote.

Marijuana States Rights Amendment Blocked, But Cory Gardner Will Be Back
Colorado GOP senator said he will be offering the legislation again

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said he will be back to try to protect states' rights with respect to marijuana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Cory Gardner failed to add language to the Senate’s criminal justice bill that would ensure the federal government respects Colorado’s marijuana legalization. But neither the Republican senator, who is running for re-election in 2020, nor the issue will be going away.

Gardner tried to line up as part of the floor debate on the criminal justice overhaul an amendment based on legislation he introduced with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

For Stripped-Down Criminal Justice Bill, Less Could Be More
Sen. Kamala Harris: It’s a ‘compromise of a compromise‘

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced her support for the bill Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill that advanced Monday evening falls short of what lawmakers and advocates had sought to do with the measure more than four years ago — but now that’s the key to enacting the most sweeping changes to prison and sentencing laws in decades.

The latest version, on the floor via an unrelated bill, is whittled down to the provisions with the broadest support, bulked up with measures demanded by law enforcement and tough-on-crime Republicans, and tweaked to get the backing of President Donald Trump.