South Dakota

Senate Republicans Ready to Limp Into Border Wall Fight
With Democratic votes needed, wall funding may not meet what Trump and House GOP want

From left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, conduct a news conference in the Capitol on Wednesday after the policy lunches. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans say they are willing to join their House counterparts in a postelection fight over border wall funding but recognize that their chamber will be more constrained by the need for Democratic votes.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan predicted Monday that there would be a “big fight” in December on appropriating more money for President Donald Trump’s desired wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The Wisconsin Republican wouldn’t foreshadow how that fight would play out, but he didn’t rule out a partial government shutdown as a potential outcome.

Ditch Columbus Day? Some Places Already Have
Sen. Mike Rounds’ state celebrates indigenous people instead, and has since 1990

The statue of Christopher Columbus is framed by wreaths left over from the Columbus Day celebration in front of Union Station in Washington in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s still a federal holiday. But more and more places are moving to replace Columbus Day.

South Dakota did it first, in the 1990s. “It’s about reconciliation. It’s about trying to bring people from different cultures, different backgrounds, different races together,” said Republican Sen. Mike Rounds.

Senate Clears Big Aviation, Opioid Legislation Under Shadow of Brett Kavanaugh and FBI
Pending water resources deal could be last major legislative item before Election Day

A reauthorization of the FAA will be among the final pieces of big-ticket legislation to pass before Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate’s never-ending Supreme Court drama continued to overshadow a pair of bipartisan legislative wins — with at least one more expected before Election Day.

As senators awaited a supplemental report from the FBI about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, they cleared for President Donald Trump a big bipartisan bundle of bills to combat the opioid scourge and a long-awaited reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

All Eyes on Senate For Signs of What’s Next On Kavanaugh
Republicans pressing for Friday Judiciary Committee vote

Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

Senate Republicans want to press forward with a vote on Friday on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, after a marathon Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring emotional testimony from the nominee and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

Soon after the Judiciary Committee wrapped up for the day, key swing voters huddled with GOP leaders to discuss the way forward: Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and one Democrat, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. 

Judiciary Committee Scheduled to Vote Friday on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Nomination
Would be less than 24 hours after hearing testimony from judge, accuser Christine Blasey Ford

A Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh could come on Friday morning. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

If the schedule holds, it means senators serving on the committee will be voting less than 24 hours after hearing testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who was the first woman to come forward with a sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh.

GOP Mum on ‘Sex Crimes Prosecutor’ for Kavanaugh Hearing
Outside counsel remained an enigma just days before she will question Supreme Court nominee and accuser

Protesters on Capitol Hill show their support for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As an extraordinary Senate hearing closes in, Republicans are keeping mum on who will question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who accuses him of sexual assault.

And they cranked up the pressure by scheduling a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday, less than 24 hours after the pair will testify.

Senate Republicans Eye Monday or Tuesday Floor Vote on Kavanaugh
Schedule assumes Judiciary Committee hearing, markup does not alter GOP plans

Protesters opposing the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court march to Sen. Susan Collins’s office on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republican leaders want to schedule a floor vote for Monday or Tuesday on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court “unless something derailed it along the way,” according to Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota. 

Thune told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that if all goes according to plan, Republicans could get the procedural gears turning over the weekend. That assumes Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee featuring Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault, does not alter the current trajectory that Senate GOP leaders have set. 

FAA Passage Likely, But Timing Unclear in Senate as Deadline Looms
The current Federal Aviation Administration authorization ends on Sunday

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told CQ that weekend work is possible if Senate can't get to FAA bill by Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even after lawmakers in both chambers took a major step toward a long-term Federal Aviation Administration authorization over the weekend, the path to enactment before a Sunday deadline remains uncertain as several other important votes jockey for floor time in the Senate.

The House is scheduled to vote this week on the five-year bill, which members of the House and Senate from both parties agreed to early Saturday morning, but the Senate schedule is less certain.

Road Ahead: McConnell and Kavanaugh Set the Tone for the Week
Funding, authorization deadlines must work around Supreme Court chaos

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., exits the senators-only elevator as he arrives in the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The dissonance in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech opening the Senate floor Monday set the tone for the week on Capitol Hill.

On the one hand, Republicans and Democrats will be at each other’s throats over how they’re handling the growing number of sexual assault allegations directed at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On the other hand, they need to reach out for each other’s hands to ensure they get deals to fund the government past the end of the Sept. 30 fiscal year and meet other important deadlines. 

Former Hill Staffers Who Were Victims of Sexual Harassment Call for Leaders to Act
Differences still being worked out between House bill passed bill in February and Senate version passed in May

Seven former Capitol Hill staffers penned a letter Thursday urging action on sexual harassment policies in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Seven former congressional staffers who experienced sexual harassment or assault while working on Capitol Hill sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Thursday urging them to enact changes to harassment and discrimination policies. 

“We write to remind you, and every member of the 115th Congress, not only of the pain we suffered, but also of the shame and humiliation that current staffers must bear when they too are victimized by harmful and discriminatory actions from a member of Congress, a supervisor, or a colleague,” wrote the seven women.