(CNN) – Senate Democrats are upbeat about the prospects for confirming Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the next Health and Human Services secretary, several Democratic aides told CNN on Friday.
While they recognize Republicans will use the confirmation process to highlight problems about the Obamacare rollout, Democrats believe they can close the chapter on the troubled tenure of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and open a new one with Burwell.
Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain engaged in quiet negotiations over the weekend and got close to averting the so-called nuclear option over a dispute surrounding President Obama's nominees, but they failed to seal the deal, sources in both parties tell CNN.
“The door opened a crack,” according to a senior Democratic source.
Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is proposing tougher border security measures - including doubling the current 21,000-agent border patrol - as part of a deal to get more Republican support for an immigration reform bill.
Sources revealed to CNN some of the details of negotiated changes to the sweeping bill being debated in the Senate. Along with the increased border patrol agents, it would call for 700 miles of fencing along the frontier with Mexico.
Washington (CNN) - Senate negotiators have not given up hope that bipartisan compromise is possible on the issue of background checks for guns, according to sources familiar with the talks, despite not yet finding common ground on the divide over how to handle records from those checks.
Central to the talks is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, a pro-gun Republican with a 100% rating from the National Rifle Association. Coburn is on board with the idea of conducting background checks to prevent convicted felons and the mentally impaired from purchasing guns. But he is vehemently opposed to any legislation allowing the federal government to keep track of who owns guns.
(CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid formally introduced a much-anticipated gun bill Thursday, his office announced. The Senate is expected to debate the legislation when the upper chamber returns from a two-week recess.
The bill, released just over three months after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, is made up of three measures. One measure expands the background check system, while the other two deal with school safety and gun trafficking.
Washington (CNN) - Anticipating possible political backlash if forced federal spending cuts kick in as expected later this week, the Senate's No. 2 Republican said Monday that he is preparing a message he plans to hit hard: The cuts are not going to have as negative an impact as the Pentagon and others in the Obama administration are saying.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he plans to make the case to other Republicans and the public that despite warnings from the Pentagon that the mandated cuts will be devastating, the overall amount of defense spending will actually still rise.
Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama insist they're not giving up on the - currently stalled - one-on-one talks to avert the fiscal cliff, but regardless, sources in both parties now believe that with Boehner's Plan B having bombed, the next move will now start in the Senate.
A senior Democratic Senate source laid out three scenarios Democrats in the Senate are considering: either go over the cliff; push for a fall back measure, an alternative to going over the cliff; or push for a broad deal, such as the deal Obama offered Boehner last weekend, which Democrats said included $2 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts.
Washington (CNN) - In a significant development in the fiscal cliff standoff, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, a leading deficit hawk, said Wednesday he would support higher tax rates on wealthier Americans as part of a broader deal with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to avoid the crisis.
"I know we have to raise revenue," the senator from Oklahoma told MSNBC. "I don't really care which way we do it. Actually, I would rather see rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us a greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future."
Washington (CNN) - The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that he wants an outside investigation to determine whether any White House staff members engaged in inappropriate behavior in Colombia as part of the alleged prostitution scandal involving Secret Service agents and military personnel.
"I'm not going to be satisfied until we get some independent look at this," Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said.
Washington (CNN) – With government funding set to run out in 10 days, and Congress on recess, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders sparred via press release Tuesday, blaming each other for steering the government toward a possible shutdown.
The sharp tone of the releases was in contrast to hopeful signs Sunday and Monday that the two sides were on a path to head off a disruptive shutdown that could affect a wide range of government services.