Washington (CNN) - Senate Democratic leaders are increasingly optimistic they will get enough Republican votes Thursday to overcome a GOP-led filibuster against beginning debate on gun legislation.
With confidence the hurdle can be cleared, Democrats are planning for another two full weeks or longer of debate on the measure before completing action, a Democratic leadership aide told CNN.
Washington (CNN) – When President Barack Obama attended the first of four meetings on Capitol Hill this week, it was clear that many of the Senate Democrats he lunched with wanted to bend his ear.
"There were quite a bit of questions, he stayed for a long time," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said about the meeting that was scheduled for 60 minutes but went for about 90. "Sen. (Majority Leader Harry) Reid gave him ample opportunity to leave and he decided to stay and answer more questions."
Washington (CNN) – In an effort to pressure the Obama administration to answer a lingering question related to the Benghazi attack, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, is reconsidering his pledge not to filibuster the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary, according to his spokesman Brian Rogers.
McCain wants to know if the president ever personally contacted anyone in the Libyan government during the Benghazi attack to seek assistance for the Americans in the compound. McCain, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, have been trying to get the answer for months, said Rogers, and they reiterated their request in a letter to the president on Monday.
Washington (CNN) - A razor close vote is expected in the Senate Thursday on a Republican amendment to bypass the Obama administration's objections and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Senate aides from both parties told CNN. Democratic aides, however, expressed some optimism the provision would be defeated.
President Obama lobbied wavering Democrats by phone to shore up Democratic support for his position, a senior Democratic source told CNN. It could be embarrassing for the White House if a large number of Democrats voted to overturn the administration's Keystone policy, which has been hotly debated as gas prices continue to rise during this election year. Several Democrats, including moderates up for re-election and those from oil producing states, support the Keystone pipeline but are torn whether to split with the president.
Washington (CNN) – Bipartisan talks to end the budget crisis, which stalled last week, appeared to grind to a near standstill Monday, raising concerns on both sides of the political aisle that large parts of the government could shut down when the current spending measure expires at the end of next week.
"Republicans refuse to negotiate on a final number," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor. "The infighting between the tea party and the rest of the Republican Party – including the Republican leadership in Congress – is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table."
Washington (CNN) - The Senate easily passed a spending bill Thursday to keep the government funded for three more weeks as lawmakers and the White House work to bridge their deep divide on a larger spending package that will run through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The vote was 87 to 13. Four Democrats and nine Republicans voted against it.
Washington (CNN) - In a potential setback for Democrats' hopes of maintaining majority control of the Senate, first term Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, a surprising winner in the swing state five years ago, announced Wednesday he won't seek re-election.
He is the third member of the Democratic caucus to announce he won't run in 2012. Democrats already faced the formidable task of defending 23 seats - many in purple states – compared to just ten, relatively safer, seats for Republicans.
(CNN)–On the same day Senate Republicans will vote whether to voluntarily give up earmarks in the next Congress, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said she wants the full Senate to vote on a binding moratorium that would include Democrats too.
"The arguments against this, every single one of them, I just don't think pass the smell test," she said about senators who oppose a ban and want to retain the ability to direct spending to home state projects.
Washington (CNN) – Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who supports making permanent all the Bush-era tax cuts, signaled Thursday he's open to considering compromises with the White House to temporarily extend them instead.
"I'm willing to listen to what the President has in mind for protecting Americans from tax increases," McConnell said.
(CNN) - Conservative Republican senators, led by Jim DeMint of South Carolina, are warning all other senators they will block any attempts to slip controversial legislation through the Senate in the final hours before the upcoming recess, unless they sign off on it first.
"What happens is at the end of a session, crap gets out of here that nobody knows what's in it and we're not going to do it anymore," Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn told CNN.
At issue are last minute requests from senators from both parties to get legislation cleared by unanimous consent, an often-used time saving parliamentary procedure that allows measures to pass without a recorded vote. As a recess approaches, it's common for dozens of measures to pass by UC, as the procedure is known on Capitol Hill.