Senate to vote on 'Fast and Furious' amendment

The first signs of an agreement on amendments over the pending appropriations "minibus" appeared Tuesday afternoon when Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) announced the Senate would hold a vote on an amendment that would ban the Justice Department for spending further funds on the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking program or any program that resembles it. 

The upper chamber will also vote on a proposal from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would prevent Trade Adjustment Assistance from going towards firms.


McCain seeks to limit trade adjustment assistance

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday afternoon offered an amendment to a Senate spending bill that would remove Trade Adjustment Assistance for firms. He was targeting a program that allows grants of up to $75,000 to companies affected by international trade so they can hire consultants to become more competitive.

But McCain said it has been documented that these consultants, or "TAACs," grossly overcharge companies.

"These TAACs have been known to charge exorbitant overhead rates of 60 percent of grant funding, the the Government Accountability Office has questioned the program's effectiveness and administrative costs," he said.


Durbin wants to ban tobacco from major league baseball games

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) took to the floor on Tuesday to urge Major League Baseball (MLB) and the player's association to ban all use of chewing tobacco on the field during games. 

“I am calling on MLB and the player's association to be a part of a positive change on behalf of their fans and set an example by banning tobacco … from all aspects of the game of baseball,” said Durbin.

The Democratic whip's comments come one day ahead of the league's World Series, in St. Louis, Mo.


Republicans look to defund Obama’s ocean policy

Senate Republicans this week are hoping to defund the Obama administrations effort to set new guidelines for how coastal regions and oceans are used in the United States.

Two Republican senators have introduced amendments to H.R. 2112, an appropriations bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. Both amendments — from Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and David Vitter (R-La.) — would prevent funds in the bill from being used to implement Obamas 2010 executive order on ocean use.


Reid promises to move Defense authorization bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday, pledged to move a contentious Defense authorization bill through the Senate after several senior Republicans criticized him for blocking a vote on the bill. 

The Republicans said Reid is blocking a vote because of provisions in the bill meant to ensure that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba are not brought to the United States for trial. The Obama administration opposes those provisions, which would make it more difficult to bring detainees to the Untied States.

Reid on Tuesday said the Republicans are right in calling for a vote on the bill. 

{mosads}“My colleagues are right about the Defense Authorization Act,” Reid said, following a GOP floor discussion meant to highlight the fight. “We need to do this, we have always done it and we are going to do this. [N]obody is saying we are not going to do the Defense authorizations bill. We are going to do it.”

But Reid also sought to cast some blame on the GOP, which he has repeatedly criticized for obstruction in the Senate.


McCain lobs another blow at Obama for taxpayer-funded bus tour

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for the second day in a row on Tuesday, accused President Obama of campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime during his swing through states critical to his 2012 reelection campaign.

“In 2008 when I ran for president I didn’t need a bus to be paid for and built by the government and the taxpayer of the United States,” said McCain. “[T]he president is now on the taxpayer’s money campaigning for three days in North Carolina."