House and Senate in Session; Partial Government Shutdown Remains in Effect
Both the House and Senate were in session this week as the partial government shutdown remains in effect. Senate Democrats continued to block action on a Middle East policy bill, but a privileged motion offered by Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) to disapprove the Trump administration’s decision to lift certain Russia sanctions moved forward with bipartisan support. Senate Republicans are attending the conference’s retreat today at Nationals Park.
House Democrats continue to bring up and pass spending bills to reopen the government that to date have failed to move the needle in the Senate, where Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has said he will not bring up any spending bills that the President will veto because they do not include $5 billion to build a border wall.
Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) wrote to President Trump this week suggesting that due to security concerns generated by the shutdown, the State of the Union address scheduled for January 29 be postponed or delivered in writing. Today, the President responded with a letter to Pelosi cancelling a congressional trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan and suggesting that time would be better spent in Washington.
Senate Judiciary Committee Convenes
The Senate Judiciary Committee convened for this first time this Congress under the new leadership of Chairman Graham (R-SC) to hold confirmation hearings for William Barr, the President’s nominee to succeed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. See below for more details on the hearings. The Environment and Public Works Committee also held a confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler, who the President nominated to replace former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Wheeler has been leading the EPA in an acting capacity since former Pruitt resigned.