Washington (CNN) – The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate sounded upbeat Tuesday that a deal will be reached with the GOP-controlled House over a government spending bill before March 27, the day the government runs out of money.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll reach a deal before we leave here for the Easter recess,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters after a caucus with other Democratic senators. “So what remains to be seen is whether this move - and apparently away from a crisis - is truly a shift in the strategy from Republicans, or just a short break from extremism that they’ve had over the last few years.”
(CNN) - Fifteen of Chuck Hagel’s harshest Republican critics in the Senate are calling on President Obama to withdraw his nomination, arguing “it would be unprecedented for a Secretary of Defense to take office without the broad base of bipartisan support and confidence needed to serve effectively in this critical position.”
In a letter Thursday to the president, the senators didn’t raise any new substantive concerns about Hagel but reiterated long-held complaints about his stances on key issues. In particular, they said his “ambivalence about whether containment or prevention is the best approach” to dealing with a possibly nuclear-armed Iran means “the military option will have near zero credibility” if he were in charge of the Pentagon.
(CNN) - Democratic Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin is making clear he is fed up with Republicans dragging their feet on Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary, and now says he will schedule a vote soon, even over Republican opposition.
"We can't not vote because there is dissatisfaction on the part of people because that could be endless," said Levin, D-Michigan.
(CNN) - Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin postponed a panel vote that had been expected on Thursday on the nomination of former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary.
The move came after Republicans demanded more financial information from Hagel, including details about compensation for speeches he delivered since leaving Capitol Hill.
(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden is on Capitol Hill this hour to meet with Senate Democrats, and Senate aides said he was there to build support for gun legislation
The vice president was attending the Democratic Caucus meeting.
Washington (CNN) - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday confirmed Sen. John Kerry as secretary of state. The panel approved the nomination unanimously, by a voice vote.
Kerry, the longtime senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, has served on the committee for decades and has served as the panel's chairman the past four years.
(CNN) - Democrats and Republicans in the Senate overwhelmingly agreed late Thursday on language reforming filibusters, passing the measures agreed to earlier in the day by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
The two leaders proposed to their caucuses earlier a list of reforms to curb the use of filibusters and streamline other procedures in order to speed up floor action. The measures required the support of each party's caucus.
Washington (CNN) - Senate negotiations over filibuster reform could come to a head as early as Thursday, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is threatening to ram through broad reforms unless a deal is struck soon with Republicans.
Reid wants GOP Leader Mitch McConnell to accept a modified list of reforms that would curb the use of filibusters and streamline other procedures in order to speed up floor action.
Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has put off for another day a potentially ugly fight over filibuster reform, a Democratic leadership aide said Wednesday.
The issue was set to come to a head Thursday when Reid was considering forcing a major change of Senate rules – over the objections of Republicans - that would have made it harder for GOP senators to filibuster beginning debate on measures they oppose or want to amend.
Washington (CNN) - Fiscal cliff negotiations between the staffs of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be led by David Krone, who is Reid's chief of staff, and Sharon Soderstrom, who is McConnell's.
Aides think these talks, which could start Friday night and carry on through Sunday, will be mostly done over the phone or via e-mail. There is a chance of some face-to-face meetings between Krone and Soderstrom if they think those would have value.