Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) will return to Alaska to head up KUSH, a company that will work to develop and market “innovative new cannabis products” for recreational and medical marijuana markets in the U.S, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.
The Week: “A new Congress means a new distribution of offices on Capitol Hill — and it’s going to cost us. Some 60 freshmen senators and representatives have selected office space via a lottery system much like what some colleges use to assign dorm space to upperclassmen. Meanwhile, returning members of Congress jockey to move into better office space closer to meeting rooms and the House or Senate floor. The last time these moves were made, in late 2012, the moving bill totaled $1.5 million.”
“The Senate basically didn’t do squat for years. I don’t think most members of the Senate wanted it run that way.”
— Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by Politico.
“As he prepares to guide Republicans out of the wilderness of the Senate minority, Senator Mitch McConnell, the incoming majority leader, knows his real problem is not corralling mavericks in his party like Senator Ted Cruz. It is persuading other Senate Republicans conditioned to voting no that it is time to vote yes,” the New York Times reports.
Said McConnell: “One of my challenges is to try to convince some of my members that passing an appropriations bill is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
“In any election, you should vote for the candidate who will give up the most if they win.”
— Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), quoted by the Weekly Standard.
Politico: “Lobbyists can come home again. As Republicans take control of Congress, they are bringing in veteran influence peddlers to help them run the show. Nearly a dozen veteran K Streeters have been named as top staffers to GOP leaders or on key committees as lawmakers prepare to take the gavel in January.”
“Mocking the arrogance of ‘liberals from Harvard’ is a foolproof applause line for any Republican looking to rev up a conservative audience. But when the 114th Congress gavels into session in January, GOP speechwriters are going to need some new material,” the Daily Beast reports.
“That’s because many of fastest rising stars in the Republican Party, including Senators-elect Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Dan Sullivan (Ak.) and Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik, all graduated from Harvard. Along with Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Pat Toomey (Penn.), David Vitter (La.) and Mike Crapo (Wyo.), the Republican Harvard contingent will outnumber Harvard Democrats in the U.S. Senate for the first time in recent memory.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “privately apologized to GOP senators Tuesday for interrupting their holiday schedules by his surprise tactics that effectively brought the Senate into session over the weekend,” Politico reports.
“According to five senators who attended Tuesday’s caucus lunch, Cruz offered the apology in unsolicited remarks, saying that he regretted if any of his colleagues’ schedules were ruined by his maneuvering. He didn’t say if he would do something similar again, senators said.”
First Read “On Friday, we compared Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — after Warren had rallied many House Republicans (though ultimately not enough) to oppose the $1.1 trillion spending bill. But there is one BIG difference between the two: Warren’s activism hasn’t put her party at a disadvantage the way Cruz’s has. After Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) tried to re-litigate President Obama’s executive action on immigration, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took advantage of their protest, using the rare Saturday session to advance Obama’s nominees in the confirmation process.”
Gallup: “Americans’ job approval rating for Congress averaged 15% in 2014, close to the record-low yearly average of 14% found last year. The highest yearly average was measured in 2001, at 56%. Yearly averages haven’t exceeded 20% in the past five years, as well as in six of the past seven years.”
“Before she became a senator, Elizabeth Warren came to Capitol Hill and promised ‘plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor’ if she did not get meaningful reforms of Wall Street. This week, she showed what she meant,” the Boston Globe reports.
“The Massachusetts Democrat brought Congress to the brink of yet another government shutdown in her effort to kill a provision that she said would have once again put taxpayers at risk of bailing out big banks. The provision was inserted by Republicans in a huge spending bill. She appears to have lost the policy fight, but won a political battle.”
“The wrangling between the White House and Congress over a $1.1 trillion spending bill is the first test of how political forces unleashed by the midterm elections and impending 2016 campaigns will influence governing here,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The fight foreshadows two years of legislative battles defined by tensions not just between the two parties—as has been the case since the Republican takeover of the House in 2010—but within them… The open question is whether the newly energized ideological wings of each party will become an impediment to legislation—or whether they will be bypassed by lawmakers more open to compromise. That appeared to have happened Thursday, when 57 House Democrats joined 162 Republicans to form a fragile coalition to pass the spending bill.”
“No majority leader in my era would have thought to attempt to go around the committee and negotiate over the head of the committee chair. You could not get away with it.”
— Former Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR), quoted by the Washington Post, on Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) being bypassed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
“Republicans are split over whether to change the Senate’s rules to allow filibusters on executive and judicial nominations,” The Hill reports.
Said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t. If we don’t, then disregard every bit of complaint that we made, not only after they did it but also during the campaign. I’m stunned that some people want to keep it.”
“Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes. And I can say I made mistakes when I was a kid.”
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview with WHAS, when asked about his previous marijuana use.
Washington Post: “We’re hearing that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), despite threats to keep the Senate in session next week, is working to wrap things up this week with a small number of priority confirmation votes. The D’s are looking to hammer out a deal with Republicans, we’re told, that would include up to nine of the remaining nominees for district court judgeships and a handful of executive branch nominees.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Roll Call that he thinks Democrats “are ready to join him in crafting a more open, functional Senate.”
Said McConnell: “The worst experience any majority can have is that you convene and you look around and nothing’s ready to go. So what I said to the members who hoped they would be chairmen [was], ‘Let’s don’t have that problem. Be thinking now about legislation that you have, preferably that enjoys some Democratic support, because we certainly didn’t think we were going to have 60 and we don’t.'”
“It is a classic Ted Cruz moment: The Capitol this week is poised for a fight over government spending and immigration, and the Texas Republican senator has seized the moment to bash his party leaders’ strategy and rail against Washington,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Last year, Mr. Cruz led the charge in a similar battle over health-care funding that resulted in a government shutdown. This time, with his party poised to become Congress’ governing majority, he’s having a more difficult time getting other Republicans to follow his lead.”