Updated 1:28 p.m. ET, 7/30/2014
Washington (CNN) - The Senate voted on Wednesday to take up a $2.7 billion Democratic spending bill to address the southern border crisis.
Lawmakers voted 63-33 on a procedural vote to begin debate on the emergency measure prompted by the deluge of migrant youth from Central America who have entered the country illegally this year.
Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration isn’t always truthful with the American people, a top Republican senator charged Monday.
“I think the current administration has taken lying to a new level,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said bluntly as he tied the administration’s flawed explanations about the deadly incident at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya to its faulty promises about the new healthcare reform law.
“Since the terrible tragedy that took four American lives in Benghazi, we’ve had difficulty, to put it mildly, trying to get to the bottom of this,” the second-ranking Senate Republican said during a Google Hangout session he held while the Senate is on recess. “Now the goal is to talk to the Benghazi survivors – people who were actually there who could tell the truth and expose what happened and hold the people responsible accountable. This has been a cover up from the very beginning.”
Cornyn, a frequent administration critic who is running for re-election, said that same lack of accountability is resurfacing as the White House tries to explain the problems with Obamacare.
“To me, that’s the one thing I find most aggravating about what’s happening in Washington these days, particularly about this administration. Which is a lack of accountability and the willingness to mislead people or provide them just demonstrably false information and expect to be able to move on,” he said. “We’ve seen this most recently in the health care debate over ‘if you like what you have you can keep it,’ something that we can go back to 2010 and demonstrate that the Department of Health and Human Services knew was false.”
Cornyn said Republicans are trying to get to the bottom of Benghazi and the health law promises but are struggling to do so “when the administration decides to cover this up and mislead and to change the subject as they seem to be very good at doing.”
(CNN) – The bitter fight over nominations resumes Thursday as Senate Republicans appear poised to try and block two of President Obama's appointments, possibly triggering an angry backlash from Democrats.
One is the President's pick to be a judge on the highly influential U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The other is a Democratic congressman the President wants to head the federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
If Republicans succeed in blocking the two, Democrats might carry out a threat to change Senate rules over GOP objections, the so-called "nuclear option," to prevent future filibusters of presidential appointees.
Washington (CNN) - Chris Christie is known to speak his mind, but Wednesday he didn't have much to say about the politics behind the government shutdown and debt ceiling impasse.
The Republican governor of New Jersey and possible 2016 presidential contender, who made a brief appearance on Capitol Hill, was asked by CNN if he thinks congressional Republicans are helping or hurting the GOP by their actions on the budget impasse and the impending debt ceiling deadline.
Washington (CNN) - Uncertainty lingered Tuesday about what the continued fallout would be from the failure of the congressional "super committee" to forge a deficit reduction deal.
Monday's announcement about the committee's failure was followed by dip in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow fell 248 points Monday, with a minor recovery after being down more than 300 points earlier in the afternoon.
(CNN) – Two top Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they don't support extending a payroll tax cut as a way to stimulate the economy -an idea the White House is weighing– because they don't believe it helped create jobs and that money is needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who both hold GOP leadership positions, told reporters that the current high unemployment rate is proof that short-term stimulus programs, like the payroll tax reduction, don't work.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Monday that he expects Republicans to delay for a week the panel's confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
The Judiciary Committee, which held four days of hearings on Kagan's nomination before Congress went on its Fourth of July recess, is scheduled to vote on Tuesday.
"It's just the normal way of doing business," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said when asked why his party would delay the vote, which is permitted by committee rules.
Graham said he wants the extra time to review Kagan's response to written questions he submitted to her.
(CNN) – Ailing Senator Ted Kennedy, trying to help push health care reform as he recovers at his Massachusetts home from brain cancer, is talking to President Obama about the legislation.
Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley confirmed to CNN that the President and Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) have spoken twice in the last two weeks.
Coley said Kennedy is closely watching developments on Capitol Hill from his home on Cape Cod. He monitors health care reform congressional hearings on television and reads daily news clips on the issue sent to him by his office staff, Coley said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama's opposition to taxing employer-provided health benefits has slowed progress on passing a health care reform bill, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee complained Thursday.
"Basically, the president is not helping us," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, after emerging from closed talks on the bill.
Baucus' criticism came on the same day the head of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the health reform bills moving through Congress won't reduce long-term health care costs - in part because the bills don't include taxes on health benefits.
The comments by CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf provided ammunition for Republican opponents of the two Democratic-sponsored measures made public so far - one passed Wednesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and one proposed this week by House Democrats.
"I don't see any Republicans that have any interest in voting to ration care for their constituents, raise costs to their constituents, and put the federal government in charge of the best health care system in the world," said House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate negotiators have cut about $400 billion from a $1.6 trillion health reform proposal, but that still leaves them short of their targeted price goal of about $1 trillion, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, told reporters Tuesday.
"The price has come down quite markedly but we still have a lot of work to do. This is a challenging legislative set of considerations," Conrad said. "It's hard."
Conrad is one of a handful of bipartisan Finance Committee members who are meeting regularly in closed-door sessions to try to hammer out an agreement. Getting the price tag down to about $1 trillion is key to getting a bill passed, they say.