Paul Slams McCain for Criticizing Trump

Sen. Rand Paul blasted Sen. John McCain over his criticism of President Trump, saying the nation is “lucky” the Arizona senator is not president considering his foreign policy views, ABC News reports.

Said Paul: “Everything that he says about the president is colored by his own personal dispute he has got running with President Trump [over foreign policy], and it should be taken with a grain of salt because John McCain is the guy that has advocated for war everywhere. He would bankrupt the nation.”

He added: “Actually we’re very lucky John McCain is not in charge because I think we would be in perpetual war.”

Suddenly a Dimmed Zeal for Investigations

“The Republicans’ ardor for investigations and oversight, on display throughout the Obama administration, has cooled off considerably with Donald Trump in the White House,” the AP reports.

“Each day seems to bring a new headache or near-crisis from Trump, the latest being the departure of his national security adviser under questionable circumstances involving Russia. Yet if there is a line too far, at which point Republicans will feel duty-bound to call for an independent investigation of their president or his administration, Trump hasn’t crossed it yet.”

Puzder’s Nomination In Jeopardy

Four Republican senators have told their leadership they are withholding support for Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s choice for labor secretary, “setting off an intense effort by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and business groups to bring at least two back into the fold so that the nomination does not fail,” CNN reports.

The four, sources say, are Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

Franken Says GOP Senators Are Concerned About Trump

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) told Bill Maher that his Republican Senate colleagues privately express “great concern” about President Trump’s temperament.

Said Franken: “Well, there’s a range in what they’ll say, and some will say that he’s not right mentally. And some are harsher.”

He added: “No, no. That’s not fair. That was cheap. There are some who I guess don’t talk to me.”

Capitol Hill Flooded with Phone Calls

“There’s been an unprecedented number of calls flooding the Senate switchboard — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office says it estimates around 1.5 million calls per day — in response to just about anything President Donald Trump has done since he took office, from his refugee ban to his pick for education secretary Betsy DeVos,” BuzzFeed reports.

“But on the receiving end of those phone calls are senators complaining that their actual constituents can’t get through.”

Here’s a cool site to help people place calls to lawmakers: 5 Calls.

Strange Appointed to Senate Seat Vacated by Sessions

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) named state Attorney General Luther Strange (R) to the U.S. Senate seat left empty by Jeff Sessions, the AP reports.

“In elevating Strange to the U.S. Senate, Bentley also will have the authority to appoint a state attorney general to fulfill the remainder of Strange’s term. The appointment comes two months after Strange asked an Alabama House committee to pause an impeachment probe of Bentley, who was accused last year of having an affair with a onetime top political adviser.”

Little Getting Done In Congress

Playbook: “Democrats are under intense pressure from their base to oppose Trump, his policies and nominees — a Politico/Morning Consult poll showed this week that more than half of Democrats want Democratic lawmakers to stand up against Republicans. Only time will tell if that calculation proves politically fruitful. But if Democrats continue to delay nominations, they will also slow the GOP agenda.”

“Republicans will have to keep government funding by April 28, lift the debt ceiling by the spring or summer and pass a supplemental spending bill that will include billions for the Pentagon and Trump’s border wall. Those three items could be incredibly time consuming. On the House side, there will be delays as well. House Republicans will be especially eager to load up spending bills with policy provisions advancing their agenda — they tried, but mostly failed, to do that during the Obama presidency. Put quite simply, don’t get your hopes up. The prospects for quick action on Obamacare, tax reform and infrastructure look bleak.”

Graham Says Silencing of Warren Was ‘Long Overdue’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) supported the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on the Senate floor last night, CNN reports.

Said Graham: “The bottom line is, it was long overdue with her. I mean, she is clearly running for the nomination in 2020.”

He added: “The Democratic Party is being pushed really hard by the most extreme voices in their community, and they just don’t know how to handle it. If they empower her, then I think the Democratic Party is gonna lose way with the vast majority of the American people.”

McConnell Gave Warren a Megaphone

James Hohmann: “Sanctioning Warren also gives her underlying message a much bigger platform: She was speaking to a nearly empty chamber against a nominee who, no matter what, is going to get confirmed later today. Very few people paid attention to similar floor speeches against Betsy DeVos the night before. Now millions of people will read the letter that King wrote.”

“Rachel Maddow interrupted her MSNBC show for a live telephone interview with Warren. ‘I’ve been red-carded on Sen. Sessions,’ she lamented. The senator then went into another room in the Capitol and read King’s letter aloud on Facebook Live. By morning, it had more than 5.2 million views.”

“McConnell has a well-earned reputation as one of the savviest political operators of the post-war era, so it’s hard to imagine he didn’t know how his move would play. To channel Marco Rubio, we should dispense with the fiction that McConnell doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. So you cannot just dismiss it as a fit of pique. Perhaps he is strategically trying to elevate Warren. Maybe he thinks that life will be harder for the 10 Democrats up for reelection next year in states Trump carried if Warren, not Chuck Schumer, is the face of their caucus.”

Senate Democrats Echo Warren on the Floor

“Elizabeth Warren’s fellow Democrats are taking to the Senate floor to read the same letter criticizing attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions that got Warren formally chastised by the GOP — but drawing no similar objections so far as they push back against her rare rebuke,” Politico reports.

“At least four Democrats have uttered the same passage on the Senate floor from Coretta Scott King’s 1986 statement against Sessions’ federal judge nomination that got Warren punished: Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.”

9 Democrats Say They’ll Allow Vote for Gorsuch

“In the past week or so, nine Senate Democrats have stated that Judge Neil Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate — implying that they would not vote to support a filibuster to block his nomination,” National Review reports.

The nine: Richard Blumenthal, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Dick Durbin, Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Joe Donnelly and Jeanne Shaheen.

“There are 48 Democratic senators (or Democrats and independents who align with the Democrats). If nine oppose a filibuster, there will be only 39 senators in support, and the filibuster effort will fail.”

“Of course, any one of these senators could pull a Cory Booker and suddenly forget all past statements on a given issue or nominee and completely reverse himself in an effort to win over the support of the Democratic party’s furious grassroots.”

McConnell Wakes Up the Left

First Read: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a shrewd tactician… But we’re not sure if his decision to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for reading Coretta Scott King’s letter opposing Jeff Sessions from back in the 1980s was a smart play.”

“If the goal was to keep people from reading/hearing that letter, well, that backfired…. If the goal was to keep Warren from repeating her message, well, that didn’t work… And if the goal was to help Sessions with his Democratic colleagues, well, that didn’t go over well, either.”

Rick Klein: “Sessions will still be confirmed as attorney general on Wednesday, and Warren will be allowed to speak on the Senate floor again after that happens. The lasting impact of this week in the Senate, however, may be massive.”

“For starters, lamentations of fierce partisanship resulted in the formal rebuke and silencing of a liberal hero – and with no apparent larger reason. (Senators have said worse of each other, and Republicans have the ultimate silencing weapon – the majority.) More broadly, the organizing energy that began outside of Washington now has outlet inside of it. Between Betsy DeVos, Sessions, and now Andrew Puzder, the Trump Cabinet has woken up the left without even actually doing anything.”