Chuck Schumer working the phones on Iran –

He calls colleagues to explain his decision and assure them he will not be whipping opposition.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., third ranking in the Senate Democratic leadership, speaks on his cell phone following a closed-door caucus at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 to discuss how to avoid the

With liberal groups furious over his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, Sen. Chuck Schumer has been quietly reaching out to dozens of his colleagues to explain his decision and assure them he would not be whipping opposition to the deal, according to Democratic senators and aides.

After news of his decision to vote “no” on the Iran agreement first leaked Thursday night, Schumer (D-N.Y.) has spoken to 20 to 30 fellow Democrats about why he will vote with the GOP leadership against the deal, sources said. Schumer had been planning to make these calls on Friday, before his position on Iran became public, but was not able to do so because it had leaked the night before.

In these conversations, Schumer has been walking through his position on the Iran agreement, the product of lengthy negotiations between the leading world powers and the Iranian government.

Schumer, though, is not lobbying his colleagues to vote against the agreement when the Senate takes up a “resolution of disapproval” next month, several undecided senators said during interviews. The disapproval resolution is expected to win the 60 votes needed to overcome any Democratic filibuster.

The real question, however, is whether President Barack Obama can rally the 34 senators he needs to uphold a veto of the resolution. Right now, the Senate vote is too close to call, although Obama’s support for a veto override appears more solid among House Democrats, with three more coming out on Tuesday in favor of the agreement.


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Why Pick Chuck Schumer to Lead the Democrats in the Senate? – By Gabrielle Levy April 19, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EDT

The New York senator slated to replace Minority Leader Harry Reid is an outspoken politician with a “different style.”

Sen. Charles Schumer attends a press conference announcing federal funding for Super Storm Sandy recovery efforts on March 31, 2015, in New York City.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has Sen. Harry Reid’s blessing to succeed the Nevada senator in his upper chamber leadership role.

When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced his retirement, early on a Friday morning as the Senate was about to depart for a two-week recess, it was something like an earthquake striking the Capitol.

There were no cracks in the Washington Monument this time, but the six-time senator from Nevada’s announcement took Democratic leadership by surprise. Still, it didn’t take long for them to set off an earthquake of their own, skipping over Minority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and instead selecting Sen. Chuck Schumer to take Reid’s place in 2017.

While some suggested the Democratic party would be well-served by choosing a new leader more representative of the inclusive, progressive Left, others expected Durbin to put up a fight for the top job. Instead, Durbin agreed to step aside, and Reid endorsed Schumer immediately, telling The Washington Post that his “different style” will be good for the party. “I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,” he said.

Schumer and Durbin were longtime roommates, living in the real life “ Alpha House” with former Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., until Miller’s retirement last year. Aides say portrayals of enmity between Schumer and Durbin are overblown, and Durbin himself frequently denied his interest in becoming Senate minority leader, even as he took over running floor operations while Reid was recovering from injuries early this year.

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Inside Chuck Schumer’s 24-hour campaign for leader – By Manu Raju and Burgess Everett 3/27/15 7:51 PM EDT

The New York senator got emotional over Harry Reid’s retirement. Then he got to work to take his job.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24:  U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) listens during a news briefing after the weekly Democratic Policy Luncheon March 24, 2015 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats held the luncheon to discuss Democratic agenda.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Late Thursday night, the Senate was moving through an endless series of budget votes. Senators were sitting at their desks chit-chatting. Others were watching NCAA basketball in the cloak room or checking the latest news on their iPhones.

Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Sen. Harry Reid’s office, the two of them choked up and nearly in tears.

Reid dropped the bombshell news that would soon reshape Democratic politics in Washington and Nevada: He would retire at the end of the current Congress in early 2017, relinquishing his spot as Democratic leader that he’s held for the past decade. Reid made clear to Schumer that he would support the New Yorker’s campaign to succeed him — underscoring the unusually close bond and political alliance between two men with polar opposite personalities who have been through years of battle with Republicans.

After about a 15-minute chat around 8:00 p.m., Schumer and Reid composed themselves and walked back on the floor, telling no one about the news. Reid told Schumer not to begin contacting senators until the next morning. In giving Schumer a headsup, he effectively gave him hours of a head start to begin plotting a campaign to lock down support within the caucus through a marathon series of phone calls all day Friday.

The matter was extraordinarily sensitive, especially since Reid made clear he preferred Schumer over Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, who has served as the Nevadan’s No. 2 for the past decade.

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Dems push for healthcare tax break – By Bernie Becker – 12/06/14 10:32 AM EST

Senate Democrats are pushing to extend a healthcare tax break for laid-off workers into the upcoming House spending bill, arguing “this is an issue that cannot wait.”

The healthcare credit expired at the end of 2013, but was one of a just a handful of lapsed incentives that House didn’t restore for this year that it passed on Wednesday.

Because of that, eight Democratic senators – including Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) – are seeking to attach the tax break to the spending bill that Congress needs to pass this week. The current stopgap funding bill expires on Dec. 11.

In a letter to top House lawmakers, the senators noted that the credit has bipartisan support, and would hurt retirees hurt during the General Motors rescue.

“If Congress fails to act, the pensions of these retirees will not be made whole when they file their 2014 returns,” the senators wrote on Friday.

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has said he believes that the tax break could be negotiated in broader trade talks.

The other senators to sign the letter were Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).

Democrats to White House: Immigration’s your call – By MANU RAJU and SEUNG MIN KIM | 8/14/14 5:04 AM EDT

Migrants waiting for a northbound train gather their belongings as they hear a train whistle in Huehuetoca, outside Mexico City. | AP Photo

Senate Democrats are not pushing for Obama to move quickly on immigration reform. | AP Photo

Senate Democratic leaders are grappling with how far to push President Barack Obama on immigration before the crucial midterm elections.

For all the insistence that Obama take bold action — and despite a furious push from immigration activists — there’s palpable fear that Obama could cause trouble for the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats if he decides to circumvent Congress before the elections to make immigration changes through executive action. Such a move could complicate the reelection bids of Democrats in red states like Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Alaska — races that could determine whether the party will maintain its grip on the Senate.

The dynamic is leaving the Senate’s most powerful Democrats in a jam. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York all called for executive action to halt deportations, with Schumer even saying that the White House should move on the matter “in October.”

(Also on POLITICO: Historic frenemies: Hillary joins the ranks)

But now the leaders are coy. Representatives for each of the senators refused to say this week whether their bosses want the president to move before November or wait until after the elections.

“The timing of it is entirely up to him,” Durbin spokesman Ben Marter said of the president.

Democrats are trying to shift focus back to the Republican controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already told Obama he has no plans to act on immigration this year.

“If House Republicans would just do their job and pass an immigration reform bill that fixes a broken system, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation,” said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson, who declined to comment further.

(Also on POLITICO: The ‘amnesty’ card: GOP launches 2014 border war)

Added a Schumer spokesman: “The president would not be forced to even contemplate taking independent action to cope with our broken system had House Republicans not spent more than a year blocking the Senate’s already-passed bipartisan immigration reform legislation.” The spokesman also declined to weigh in further.

The White House declined to comment.

The debate reflects the balancing act that Democrats are walking on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue when it comes to immigration. Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are weighing calls from activists to do something to stem deportations but risk going too far and flipping the Senate to the GOP. That would give Republicans full control of Congress and an even more powerful platform to block immigration reform.

The GOP is already beginning to pounce on the issue, making immigration reform an issue in key Senate races.

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Money talks: Every senator probing Time Warner Cable merger took Comcast PAC cash – By Douglas Ernst Friday, April 11, 2014

Photo by: J. Scott Applewhite

Photo by: J. Scott Applewhite

• Chuck Schumer, New York: $35,000

Money talks — or at least Comcast hopes it does. The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first congressional hearing on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger Thursday, and every single member of the committee has taken money from Comcast PAC — even Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who is generally considered to be anti-Comcast.

Out of 18 committee members, 10 Democrats and eight Republicans, 17 got money from Comcast’s federal PAC, according to the database at, technology website Ars Technicareported.

Ars Technica then confirmed with Mr. Franken’s spokespeople that he did accept $5,000 in Comcast PAC cash in 2009 for his recount fund, since did not have that donation listed.

The full list of Senate Judiciary Committee members and cash they’ve accepted from Comcast PAC donations are:

Comcast PAC donations to Democrats:

• Chuck Schumer, New York: $35,000

• Patrick Leahy, Vermont, Chairman: $32,500

• Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island: $26,500

• Chris Coons, Delaware: $25,000

• Dick Durbin, Illinois: $23,000

• Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota: $22,500

• Dianne Feinstein, California: $18,500

• Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut: $11,500

• Mazie Hirono, Hawaii: $5,000

• Al Franken, Minnesota: $5,000 (2009 recount fund)

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Chuck Schumer’s Wall Street dilemma – By MANU RAJU and BEN WHITE | 3/20/14 6:28 PM EDT Updated: 3/20/14 7:54 PM EDT

Sen. Chuck Schumer swung by the 50th floor of Nasdaq’s Wall Street headquarters last month to schmooze with deep-pocketed donors who poured thousands of dollars into the New York Democrat’s campaign coffers.Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at Mar 21, 2014 2.05

During the breakfast fundraiser there was one thing left unsaid, but something virtually everyone wanted to know: whether Schumer will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee next Congress.

It’s an issue of intense interest in New York and Washington and one fraught with major implications for both Wall Street and the three-term Democrat’s political future.

(Also on POLITICO: Bernie Madoff speaks: Politics, remorse and Wall Street)

The choice will signify whether Schumer is aiming to recast his political career as Capitol Hill’s chief policymaker for his home-state industry — or is instead seeking to position himself as the next leader of a Senate Democratic Caucus that has railed against the excesses of Wall Street. And for the financial industry, it may mean having a chairman with a friendly ear — like Schumer — versus one who has gone to battle with the big banks, likely Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Schumer refuses to say what he will do, but Wall Street executives and their Washington lobbyists say the senator and his associates have privately signaled he is not interested in the Banking Committee chairmanship and would not be receptive to pressure to take the job.

According to these people, Schumer does not want to be put in a position where any action he took to crack down on the financial services industry would hurt him with his deep-pocketed New Yorkers while any signal that he was going soft on Wall Street would hurt him with the ascendant progressive wing of the party.

“He’s reluctant to do it because it impedes his path to leader,” said a senior Wall Street executive who, like several others interviewed, asked not to be identified by name in order to speak candidly about Schumer.

(Also on POLITICO: Back when the Kochs gave to Democrats …)

Both Schumer and his spokesman declined to say anything about his thinking.

“I can’t comment on that,” Schumer, 63, said.

Brown, on the other hand, is eager for the opportunity to be chairman: “I’m interested, of course.”

The chatter comes at a critical time for the financial industry.

The Senate Banking Committee is beginning to engage in a high-stakes debate over winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two giants at the center of the $10 trillion mortgage industry — and the fight is certain to spill into next Congress, as well. The outcome will impact a wide swath of the financial industry, including lenders, bond traders and mortgage insurers.

Moreover, big banks continue to face pressure — particularly from the left — over whether they remain “too big to fail” and need to be shrunk, or at least face a tougher set of standards, at a time when financial firms want to focus their lobbying on loosening up new rules put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, not fend off new reforms.

That means the next Banking chairman will have huge influence over legislation that could dramatically affect practices of financial institutions of all sizes — as well as their bottom lines — while also having the ability to use hearings to set the tone for Washington’s relationship with Wall Street.

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Back when the Kochs gave to Democrats …By BYRON TAU | 3/19/14 12:15 AM EDT

From left: Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and Chuck Schumer are pictured in this composite image. | AP Photos

Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and Chuck Schumer all received contributions.


The Koch brothers are the Democrats’ public enemy No. 1. But there was a time not too long ago that billionaires Charles and David Koch were modest Democratic Party donors.

Though the Kochs have poured untold millions into conservative and libertarian causes over the years, the political action committee for their privately held Koch Industries also has given money through the years to Democratic causes and candidates — including Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and Chuck Schumer — as part of the influence-peddling game that many corporations and wealthy donors play.

Those donations from Koch Industries Inc. Political Action Committee, or KochPAC, include nearly $200,000 to Democratic candidates and committees as recently as 2010 — including a $30,000 donation to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

(Also on POLITICO: Democratic legacies on the line in 2014)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top Democrats have made vilifying the Kochs part of a deliberate political strategy to rile up the party’s base and drive the party’s small-dollar fundraising efforts. Last week, Reid blasted the two brothers in a blistering Senate floor speech, accusing them of trying to hijack the political process with their donations and of meddling in the country’s foreign policy to protect their own interests.

But Reid’s fellow Democrats collected KochPAC money as recently as 2012.

Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas took $10,000 from KochPAC in 2012. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has taken $55,000 in Koch money since the 2000 cycle. Former Senate Democrats Max Baucus, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson took Koch cash in 2010. And Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York got $1,000 in the same year.

(Also on POLITICO: Koch group to hit Udall in Colorado)

Since 2000, KochPAC has given more than $1.4 million to Democratic candidates, leadership PACs and party committees, according to numbers compiled by Congressional Quarterly’s Moneyline.

The DSCC even asked the Kochs to donate in 2011 — inviting them to a private donor retreat on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island in exchange for a five-figure contribution. The Kochs released audio of DSCC’s then-Chairwoman Patty Murray soliciting funds from them. The DSCC later called the request a “staff error.”

Democrats note that the cash the Kochs have given to the party pales in comparison to the massive sums of money their network of nonprofits and outside groups has spent against Democratic interests and Democratic candidates. The PAC is a relatively small share of the Koch’s overall political giving — with millions being spent through nonprofit organizations like Americans for Prosperity and the Center to Protect Patient Rights.

(Also on POLITICO: Reid: Kochs delaying Ukraine aid)

KochPAC has given $10.2 million to Republican candidates since 2000. That’s in addition to the millions that the two brothers have spent on election activity. The Kochs created the 501(c)(6) nonprofit Freedom Partners, a group that raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debates across the country. That money was doled out nationwide to affiliated groups like the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Americans for Prosperity, the 60 Plus Association and American Future Fund. All told, the Center for Responsive Politics estimated that the Koch network spent more than $400 million in the 2012 election cycle. Most of those funds were spent hammering Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama over his signature health care law.

Reid’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the Kochs’ donation history to the Democratic Party. The Pryor and Landrieu campaigns also did not respond to a request for comment.

Koch Industries’ bipartisan giving record is typical for a major American corporation — where PACs often hedge their bets by giving generously to both sides and supporting local candidates of either party.

But the well has dried up for Democrats.

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Plastic guns made on 3D printers pose law enforcement challenges November 14, 2013 3:40AM ET

A longtime ban on undetectable firearms is scheduled to expire Dec. 9, making plastic guns legalPlastic gun

The single-shot handgun is the first firearm that can be made entirely with plastic components forged with a 3D printer and computer-aided design (CAD) files downloaded from the Internet.
Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images

With a law banning undetectable firearms about to expire, federal agents are focusing attention on the latest twist in high-tech weaponry: guns made entirely out of plastic on 3-D industrial printers.

The printers, which are commonly used to create plastic models and prototype, can now make guns that cannot be picked up by metal detectors.

A longtime ban on undetectable firearms is scheduled to expire Dec. 9, and two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer of New York and Bill Nelson of Florida, have called for a ban on plastic guns. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., also has introduced legislation on the issue.

“The expiration of this law, combined with advances in 3-D printing, make what was once a hypothetical threat into a terrifying reality,”  Schumer said. “We are actively exploring all options to pass legislation that will eliminate the problem.”

In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said plastic guns present a special challenge for law enforcement agencies.

The agents said that in order to comply with current law, a person manufacturing a gun must use a certain amount of metal in the finished product so that the firearm is detectable by scanners at airports, federal buildings, sporting events — any place where security screening is in place. If the law expires, someone could legally make and sell firearms that are undetectable.

A loophole in the existing law allows someone to make an illegal gun legal by simply attaching a removable metal piece to the weapon. That piece could be removed if someone wanted to sneak the weapon into a protected location.

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