Senate Republicans are preparing to push through a rules change that would cut down the amount of time it takes to confirm hundreds of President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE’s nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) teed up the resolution for an initial vote before the Senate left town, bringing the years-long fight over the pace of nominations to a head this week.
“A minority of senators have used Senate procedure to systematically prevent the president of the United States from putting a full team in place,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
The resolution, from Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight GOP senator: Best thing Trump could do to help Republicans in 2022 is talk about future It's time to make access to quality kidney care accessible and equitable for all MORE (R-Mo.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordBill requiring companies report cyber incidents moves forward in the Senate Manchin's 'red line' on abortion splits Democrats Lankford draws second GOP primary challenger in Oklahoma MORE (R-Okla.), would reduce the amount of debate time required for most nominations. Currently, nominations face up to an additional 30 hours after they’ve defeated a filibuster and shown they ultimately have the support needed to be confirmed.
Under the Blunt-Lankford resolution, that would be reduced to two hours for district judges and sub-Cabinet nominations. Supreme Court and appeals court picks, Cabinet nominations and roughly a dozen boards and commissions would be exempted from the rules change.
Though Republicans have set a record with their pace of confirming influential appeals court judges, they’ve simultaneously accused Democrats of using the Senate’s rulebook to drag out lower-level executive and judicial nominations.
“The Democrats have abused this process to no end. ... They’re forcing 30 hours of debate. Of course, and you know, what the Senate means by debate is just an empty floor. I mean, you go to the floor of the Senate, where’s the debate? I mean, it’s just sitting there, 30 hours for every nominee,” Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyState watchdog to launch review of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal Juan Williams: Trump's toxicity fuels fear of violence Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
But Republicans are expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to implement the rule as a standing order, meaning they’ll have to use the “nuclear option” if they want to muscle through the change.
McConnell hasn’t said publicly that he’s willing to force through the rules change with only a simple majority, but members of GOP leadership say they have the 51 votes needed to change the rules without Democrats.
“I think we intend to change it … and we’d still prefer to change it with Democrats joining us, and there are a few peripheral discussions going on that might lead to that, but if they don’t I think we have the votes,” said Blunt, a member of GOP leadership.
With 53 seats, Republicans could afford to lose three GOP senators and still force through the rules change without help from Democrats under the nuclear option.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (R-Maine), who is up for reelection in a state won in 2016 by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSuper PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE, said last week that she had not decided if she would support the rules change.
“I'm meeting with my staff to find out the specifics on it and it's my understanding that Sen. McConnell is still trying to reach out to the minority leader on the issue. So I want to see what the results of that are,” Collins said.
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers Democrats look for plan B on filibuster Senate will vote on John Lewis voting bill as soon as next week MORE (R-Alaska) previously told The Hill that changing the rules under the nuclear option was “on the table,” but indicated she would prefer to find a bipartisan solution.
“It’s always on the table. Is it the tool that you want to turn to? Certainly not,” she said. “That’s not the preferred alternative, but I think we know that it is one of the ways we can push this.”
Democrats have tried to negotiate a deal with McConnell, including postponing the rules change until 2021, applying it only to executive nominees or restoring the “blue slip” for circuit court picks, sources familiar with the negotiations told The Hill last week.
But a deal that would avoid the “nuclear” fight has remained elusive and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin meeting with Biden, Schumer in Delaware Progressives' optimism for large reforms dwindles Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted McConnell after he brought up the rules change resolution on Thursday afternoon.
“McConnell’s approach has always been to manipulate Senate rules when it helps him and then change Senate rules when the tables turn; this is just another step in his effort to limit the rights of the minority and cede authority to the administration,” Schumer said.
The House is slated to vote Tuesday on a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s push to deem the Affordable Care Act invalid in the courts.
The resolution is being spearheaded by freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas).
“This week, the Trump Administration decided not only to try to destroy protections for Americans living with pre-existing conditions, but to declare all-out war on the health care of hard-working families across the country,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Pelosi won't say if she'll run for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement upon the vote’s announcement.
“The American people deserve to see exactly where their representatives stand on the Trump Administration’s vicious campaign to take away their health care," she continued.
The vote comes in the wake of the Department of Justice recently siding with a district court’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
Democrats have seized on the decision, predicting it could have swift political backlash for GOP lawmakers who were squeezed during the midterms about if they supported Trump’s health care tactics.
"The Trump position ties a two-year anchor around the neck of every Republican for the next two years. Yet again, they will be forced to defend the indefensible. It's a stark reminder of the difference between our two parties," Schumer said from the Senate floor last week.
Top House and Senate Democrats, including Allred, are expected to gather in front of the Supreme Court to talk about the court fight ahead the House’s vote.
The House is likely to take up a resolution breaking with the White House over its support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, paving the way for Trump's second veto.
The resolution is set to go through the House Rules Committee on Monday evening, paving the way for floor action as soon as this week.
The Senate-passed measure would require Trump to remove any troops in or "affecting" Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al Qaeda. The White House has pledged the president will veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
It will be the second time the House has voted on a Yemen resolution this year.
The first, which passed the chamber in February, also included language condemning anti-Semitism. But the addition pigeonholed the House resolution in the Senate, where the parliamentarian ruled it was no longer "privileged" — a mechanism that allowed supporters to force a vote on it and pass it with a simple majority. Senators instead passed their own resolution on U.S. involvement in the years-long Yemen civil war.
The Senate still needs to wrap up work on a disaster aid package meant to respond to a spate of recent storms, hurricanes and wildfires.
Senators will take a procedural vote on the legislation on Monday evening, where it will need 60 votes to end debate amid a standoff over help for Puerto Rico.
The Senate GOP bill includes $13.45 billion in disaster relief, including $600 million for food stamp aid in Puerto Rico.
But Democrats are warning that isn’t enough and that they will block the Senate GOP disaster aid as it's currently written. Though Republicans control the chamber, they’ll still need help from Democrats to defeat a filibuster and get the disaster aid bill to a final vote.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced an amendment to the GOP disaster bill to include a handful of additional provisions, including requiring the Department of Housing and Urban Development to release block-grant funding and money to help Puerto Rico repair damaged water systems.
A senior Senate Democratic aide said there were three options that would allow the disaster aid bill to get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate: pass the House-passed emergency supplemental, amend the GOP proposal to include priorities from Democrats, or pass a shell bill to allow for the House and Senate to kick the issue to a conference committee.
But Republicans are betting that it will be politically damaging enough to vote against disaster relief money that enough Democrats will support the Senate bill. They also warn that there’s no guarantee the White House will support additional money for Puerto Rico after Trump criticized the island territory during a closed-door lunch with GOP senators last week.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case MORE (R-S.C.) said Trump argued that Puerto Rico had gotten more money compared with states like Texas and Florida and his point was “how much money can you absorb?”
“Are we spending the money wisely? I have nothing against helping the people in Puerto Rico. I just want to make sure we’re not just throwing money into the system,” Graham added. “It’s got to pass the smell test.”
A bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides funding and grants for a variety of programs that tackle domestic abuse, will be considered on the floor. VAWA previously expired after Congress failed to pass an extension in a massive funding bill earlier this year.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2019 is being led by Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List MORE (D-Calif.). In addition to reauthorizing the law, it offers expanded protections for transgender people, including access to shelters, and measures that could make it harder for convicted abusers to purchase firearms, sparking controversy.
The National Rifle Association has pushed back against the bill due to provisions aimed at preventing people who have committed domestic abuse from obtaining firearms.
The measure is expected to pass with minimal Republican support. It’s unlikely the House-passed version will see movement in the upper chamber, where Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDemocrat Mike Franken launches challenge to Grassley in Iowa Trump heads to Iowa as 2024 chatter grows Photos of the Week: Manchin, California oil spill and a podium dog MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel Feinstein Ban on new offshore drilling must stay in the Build Back Better Act Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California MORE (D-Calif.) are working on drafting their own bill.
House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — US cracks down on tools for foreign hacking House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure MORE (R-La.) is slated to introduce a discharge petition on Tuesday aimed at forcing a floor vote on a bill requiring medical care protections for infants born during an abortion.
Scalise has been leading the efforts on the bill alongside Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerHouse Democrats scramble to save housing as Biden eyes cuts Conservative women's group endorses Sarah Huckabee Sanders for Arkansas governor FOSTA is model for reforming Section 230 MORE (R-Mo.).
The Louisiana Republican said the move — which would allow them to effectively bypass Democratic leadership’s control of the floor — will put members across the aisle on the record on a critical issue.
"So, you know, for all the Democrats who ran saying they were pro-life, this is going to be the true test. There are a lot of people a lot of the country that are interested in this," he told reporters last week. "This is an issue that has gotten a lot more attention and as it gets more attention people are shocked that a baby that can be killed after it's born alive, outside the womb, including many pro-choice people who don't support that procedure."
Both Scalise and Wagner said they expect bipartisan support on the measure. Senate Democrats blocked similar legislation earlier this year that would have penalized doctors who fail to "exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion."