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February 8, 2016

Posts in "2016"

February 8, 2016

Cruz and Rubio Differ in Style, Not So Much on Votes


CruzAfter-02.jpg

The metaphor of the ideological “lane” has become the dominant way to describe the dynamics of the Republican presidential race.

Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary is supposed to reveal if Ted Cruz has claimed a prime position on the “insurgent” side of the road and whether Marco Rubio has pushed to the front of the “establishment” lane.

But the best empirical evidence from their senatorial records reveal that, while their styles of conservatism are undeniably different, they have nonetheless ended up taking the same positions on policy substance far more often than not. The votes they’ve cast suggest they’re close enough to touch across the white stripes symbolically dividing the GOP. Full story

February 3, 2016

Bypassing the Senate, Cummings Has One More Career Fork Ahead


UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 22: Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., attends a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Longworth Building featuring testimony by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, October 22, 2015. The 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cummings stays put in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The final career decision Elijah E. Cummings will probably ever make comes as welcome news for both Democrats who could become the next president — and not very comforting news for any of the Republicans who might get the job instead.

When Cummings announced Tuesday that he would seek to remain as a Baltimore congressman, he ended (at nearly the last possible moment) almost a year of public pondering about running instead for Maryland’s open Senate seat.

Full story

February 2, 2016

What One House GOP Retirement May Say About the Future


UNITED STATES - MARCH 3:  Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., speaks during the House Republicans' news conference on the repeal of the1099 requirement on Thursday, March 3, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Is Ribble’s retirement the canary in the calming for Republicans? (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

At first glance, the Reid Ribble retirement doesn’t appear headline-worthy. Yes, he is now among 16 House Republicans, half from tea party takeover class of 2010, to announce a voluntary departure at year’s end. But, no, that retirement roster is hardly extraordinary, and it’s little surprise that a decent number of those insurgent outsiders have concluded they’ve made their mark and can move on.

Just below the surface, though, Ribble’s decision to abandon the congressional seat for northeastern Wisconsin looks like a canary in the coal mine’s warning about the future of the GOP.
Full story

January 28, 2016

Who’ll Be First in Congress to Endorse Trump?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 27: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., gets off the Senate subway as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sessions has been effusive in his praise for Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Of all Donald Trump’s curious unblemished records, this one will almost surely end pretty soon: At last one member of Congress will endorse him for president.

As good a bet as any is that this signal move will come from Jeff Sessions, the junior Republican senator from Alabama.

Full story

January 27, 2016

Blizzard Whiteout Buries Issue of Red Ink


CBO Director Keith Hall won't be testifying this week, as planned, about the rising budget deficit. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CBO Director Keith Hall won’t be testifying this week, as planned, about the rising budget deficit. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One of the blizzard’s most important, if unintended, effects was keeping the federal budget deficit buried as a 2016 campaign issue.

The return of a rising tide of red ink has been almost entirely overlooked by both parties’ candidates in the presidential race and the relatively few competitive contests for Congress. There was a chance that would change this week, when the head of the Congressional Budget Office was supposed to describe his very sobering assessment of the fiscal future in appearances before both congressional budget committees. Instead, after the snowstorm, his Tuesday testimony in the Senate and then Wednesday’s in the House were postponed indefinitely.

Full story

January 14, 2016

Haley Prompts Ryan to Take Sides in the Fight for GOP’s Soul


UNITED STATES - September 2: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during a luncheon on her "Lessons from the New South," at the National Press Club in Washington, Wednesday, September 2, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

UNITED STATES – September 2: South Carolina Gov. Nikki R.  Haley’s State of the Union address drew praise from Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The passions of the Republican civil war that surfaced because of Gov. Nikki R. Haley’s comments Tuesday night have been trumped by something that for Congress might be even more important:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who won the House gavel last fall as the consensus choice of both the combative insurgent conservatives and the cooler-headed establishment mainstream, left no doubt which side he stands with now.

Full story

January 12, 2016

Members Cast as Foils, if Not Spoilers, in Obama’s Final SOTU


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12 - President Barack Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

“Please don’t get in the way” is one way of synthesizing Tuesday night’s message to Congress from President Barack Obama.

On many of the big things that matter most, he asserted, he’s positioned to leave the country in much better shape than how he found it and how his would-be Republican successors describe it — tacitly urging the Hill’s GOP to resist legislative gamesmanship that while playing into presidential politics might crimp the hopeful trajectory of his final year. Full story

Nikki Haley Can Look to Past Responses for Do’s and Don’ts


UNITED STATES - September 2: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during a luncheon on her "Lessons from the New South," at the National Press Club in Washington, Wednesday, September 2, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Why in the world would any story about this year’s State of the Union ritual start with a reminiscence about Bill Clinton from three decades ago?

Because love him or loathe him, the shared judgment of the political class is he changed a whole lot of standards for how Washington operates. And one of the first ways he did so was way back in 1985, transforming how the opposition party presents its rebuttal to the president’s address. Full story

January 3, 2016

Could Brokered Convention Yield a Ryan Nomination?


UNITED STATES - AUGUST 30: GOP Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney after Romney's speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan, seen here with Romney, right, at the 2012 GOP convention, already has experience on a national ticket. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

During the brief lull in campaign news over the holidays, and with forecasts for the new year popping up on all fronts, folks obsessed with politics could be forgiven for all their idle scenario spinning.

A wave of predictions about at least one brokered convention is a quadrennial flash in the pan. Talk about the Republicans deadlocking in Cleveland come July started more than a month ago. And in recent days, the same climactic plot twist has been envisioned by politically smart people at three successive holiday social gatherings:

Full story

December 15, 2015

Spending Deal a Likely Capstone for a Prominent House Chairman


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 10: House Appropriations chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rogers has shepherded a host of omnibus packages since becoming the House’s top appropriator. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House’s man of the decade on big budget bills, Harold Rogers, may be in his final days in such a catbird seat.

The Kentuckian has been the top Republican engineer on four consecutive omnibus packages during his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee. Now he’s on the cusp of completing his fifth, belatedly setting spending levels for a fiscal year with 10 weeks already in the rearview mirror. Full story

December 9, 2015

Kasich Labors to Make ’90s Hill Win Work for Him Now


7-1-99.BUDGET AND CBO REPORT -- Pete V. Domenici, R-N. M., and John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, during a press conference on the budget and the CBO report..CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY PHOTO BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM

Kasich, right, with his Senate counterpart, Pete V. Domenici, left, helped forge a historic budget agreement in the 1990s. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 2016 presidential field started with a pair of former congressional power players, one from each party, with singular lawmaking achievements on their record.

Jim Webb, who engineered a big GI Bill of Rights expansion as a Virginia senator almost a decade ago, has now slipped off to Democratic oblivion. It’s not clear how much longer John Kasich, the Republican with an even bigger legislative accomplishment under his belt, will survive in a contest where standing out as the outsider has become the most rewarding approach. Full story

December 2, 2015

Schooling Time for New Crop of Hill Education Leaders


When Kline retires at the end of next year, it will mark a passing of the guard for congressional education leaders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Kline retires at the end of next year, it will mark a passing of the guard for congressional education leaders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the more remarkable aspects of the bipartisan agreement on a replacement for the No Child Left Behind law, which the House is on course to embrace this week, is the team of authors’ relatively modest level of collective devotion to education policy.

This is especially true on the south half of Capitol Hill, which is on the backside of a changing of the guard for House members who make improving our schools one of their big interests. Full story

November 18, 2015

Sanders Pursues Next Job With Interest in Post He Has Now


UNITED STATES - JULY 22: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., prepares to speak to federal contract workers during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2015, to push for a raise to the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Sanders has used his Senate seat to push issues important to him — and his presidential campaign.  (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Unlike most of his Republican analogues, Bernard Sanders is overtly trying to harness his senatorial work this fall to the service of his presidential campaign.

The evidence goes beyond his presence on the Senate floor, though on that front he stands out. Of the five senators trying to win the White House, the Vermont independent running as a Democrat has missed the fewest votes: Just 14 this year, as of Tuesday, for a 95 percent attendance rate. Three of his colleagues running for the GOP nomination have missed 75 or more roll calls. (The exception is Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who’s only skipped five more ballots than Sanders.)

Merely showing up for work is hardly a predictor of success, of course. (Barack Obama made only 62 percent of the Senate votes the year before winning the presidency.) But it’s part of what helps Sanders to ward-off the sort of the criticism that has dogged Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, who’s missed the most votes by far, and Ted Cruz of Texas, whose campaign has emphasized his disdain for the Senate’s ways under the management by his own party.

In contrast, Sanders is using the power of Senate incumbency to advance causes that highlight themes of his national campaign — that the Washington game is rigged to benefit the moneyed heavyweights at the expense of the little guy, and he’s the candidate to turn that balance of power on its head. Full story

November 5, 2015

What the 2016 Calendar Says About Congress


Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree on at least one thing: a long August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree on at least one thing: a long August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Decades of waiting on the arrival of the annual congressional calendar and then poring over the details affords Hill long-timers a nuanced appreciation of the myriad political calculations and logistical limitations that go in to setting the Capitol’s timetable for an entire year.

Inside the stretches of legislating followed by the bursts of recess, the schedules for 2016 announced this week by the Republican top brass in the House and Senate offer some quirky rhythms and unexpected sequences that give insight into the hectic election year ahead. Here are five messages delivered by the new diary. Full story

October 27, 2015

Marco Rubio’s Long Senate Goodbye


One and done. Rubio is not running for re-election, opting to pursue the presidency instead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One and done. Rubio is not running for re-election, opting to pursue the presidency instead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most lawmakers approach life in Congress as they would a functional marriage: The decision to go down the road is taken with great care, the thrill of the new is soon supplanted by hard work and sacrifice in pursuit of lasting gratification — and it’s painful whenever things don’t work out, for whatever reason.

Marco Rubio has decided his congressional career is more akin to a nascent relationship, where “love it or leave it” is an appropriate default setting. Full story

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