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.
Washington (CNN) - The outcome of a key Senate vote Tuesday on whether to begin debate on legislation that includes a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy remains too close to call.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, needs 60 votes to bring the bill to the floor, and Republicans are threatening a filibuster that would prevent the 59-member Democratic caucus from doing so.
The Republicans appear united against the measure, including some GOP senators who favor lifting the Pentagon's requirement that gays and lesbians keep their sexuality a secret.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The populist wave that swept Capitol Hill last week against controversial bonuses paid to AIG executives stalled Monday after the White House and several key senators raised concerns about legislation to heavily tax the bonus payments.
"In light of concerns raised by President Obama and Senate Republicans we need additional time to discuss next steps," Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said late Monday.
In response to the criticism, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max
Baucus, D-Montana, who angrily denounced the AIG bonuses last week, said he's been talking to White House officials and to other senators about changing the bill he introduced just Friday.
"I want to hear what senators have to say. A lot are weighing in now with different ideas," Baucus said. "Some are tax. Some are regulatory. But they're still all addressing bonuses."
Baucus said he does not know when his bill - which appeared to be on a fast track last week - will be considered by the Senate.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama said on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" that, "You don't want to be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals."
Democratic sources told CNN that statement was a subtle public warning that was privately delivered to Senate Democrats in a much more direct way.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Ten Republican senators met in Sen. Mel Martinez's office Tuesday morning to discuss a broader stimulus measure than their leadership is proposing - but a narrower one than Democrats are considering.
CNN was the only news organization outside the meeting.
Afterwards, Martinez told CNN the details are still being debated and finalized, but they are looking at a ballpark figure of $500 billion, including the cost of tax cuts, infrastructure and military spending, and provisions to address the housing crisis.
Martinez and Sen. Lindsey Graham said they plan to present their ideas to fellow Republicans at their weekly policy lunch today.
The eclectic group of Republicans, spanning the ideological spectrum from the most conservative to the most moderate GOP senators, assembled over concerns their leadership's approach - to focus exclusively on the housing crisis and tax cuts - is enough to jumpstart the economy.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins told CNN the group believes a "realistic alternative" to the Democratic proposal is needed. "The worst thing we can do is just say no," she said. Sen. John McCain said they are trying to come up with a better package to create jobs.
The group of senators included John McCain, Mel Martinez, Saxby Chambliss, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, George Voinovich, Tom Coburn, John Thune, Johnny Isakson, and Lindsey Graham.