It’s not every day that conservative Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., stand shoulder to shoulder with liberals Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. But they did Wednesday, rallying behind an effort from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to combat military sexual assaults by taking the decision of whether to prosecute out of the chain of command.
Gillibrand says she has been promised she will get a vote on her bill in the form of an amendment to the defense-authorization bill, which could hit the Senate floor as soon as next week.
But succeeding is seen as unlikely. The Pentagon and Armed Services Committee leaders adamantly oppose the reform. Gillibrand is asking to only have to meet a simple majority of 51 votes, arguing her amendment is germane, but she expects that one of her opponents — likely Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — would threaten to filibuster, forcing a 60-vote requirement for passage.
“I think Lindsey Graham said he would do anything to defeat this amendment. I suspect he would feel comfortable doing it. I also think [Sen. James] Inhofe would,” Gillibrand said, after holding a press conference to highlight the issue.
Gillibrand said she is lobbying undecided members, trying to get opponents to change their mind, and asking her supporters to also reach out to colleagues one on one. “We have a lot of undecided members, and we have a lot of undecided members who are leaning with us. So although we have 46 stated supporters, I think we will have many, many more,” she said. “We will try to meet the challenge of either 51 or 60, and I’m confident we will.”
For his part, Paul said he was targeting a group of key Republicans to try to bring on board. “We need a few more Republicans. I’ve got a list of Republicans I’m talking to,” Paul said. “We need probably eight more Republicans and a few more Democrats. But I think there is a lot of momentum.”
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"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.
Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”
"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."
"Congress abandoned the Capitol Thursday for an almost two-week break without addressing how to combat Zika, even as public health officials issue dire warnings about the spread of the mosquito-driven virus with summer approaching. ... Instead of racing to fund efforts to thwart a potential health crisis, lawmakers are treating the Zika debate like regular legislation, approving Thursday the establishment of a House-Senate committee to hammer out differences in their competing bills."