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February 14, 2016

Posts in "Presidential Politics"

February 11, 2016

Inside the Cruz and Rubio Ambassadorial Proxy War


UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: From left, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speak to the media after the Senate voted to pass the continuing resolution. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz and Rubio on Capitol Hill. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio aren’t only taking their campaigns onward to South Carolina. While the next Republican primary commands the public’s attention, both are also running for president by mounting quiet symbolic protests at American embassies around the world.

A single senator has nearly unilateral ability to block any confirmation, whether he’s in the Capitol or on the hustings hundreds of miles away. The junior senators from Texas and Florida are using their power to place indefinite “holds” on diplomatic nominees, hoping to highlight their own foreign policies and their condemnations of President Barack Obama’s conduct of international affairs. Full story

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 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 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

January 6, 2016

Obama Preps Last Prime Time Address to Congress


Once more with feeling. Obama is preparing his last State of the Union Address. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Once more with feeling. Obama is preparing his last State of the Union Address. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Perhaps the surest prediction about the next State of the Union Address is that it’s going to be the last speech afforded that lofty title for fully two years.

The second reliable forecast is that on the night of Jan. 12, President Barack Obama will take a non-traditional approach to his final annual appearance before a joint session of Congress. Full story

December 16, 2015

The Pelosification of Chuck Schumer


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 8 - Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., raises his arms as he speaks alongside Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during the weekly Senate Democrat luncheon news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, December 8, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Schumer, left, is on his way to being the Republicans’ new bogeyman. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

For those whose lives revolve around the Capitol, the year’s final presidential debate offered two notable insights: Bashing the legislative process remains a pungent applause line, and Republicans may have found their newest liberal boogeyman.

Put another way, all the morning-after assessments of how the candidates performed in Las Vegas overlooked two standouts of particular importance to the congressional class. One of the biggest losers Tuesday night was Congress itself. And one of the biggest winners was, of all people, Charles E. Schumer. Full story

Silence Greets Pleas for War Authority


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 9: Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., (not pictured) hold a news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, outside of the Capitol to de-authorize use of Capitol office space and staff provided to the recent ex-Speaker of the House. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jones says Congress is neglecting its constitutional duty on declaring war. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Politics makes strange bedfellows” is one of the oldest adages around. These days, the prospect of another war is making for some particularly strange bedfellows in the House.

An extraordinarily bipartisan group of 35 members, hoping to benefit from the heightened attention on Congress in the session’s closing days, is pressing anew for a debate on authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State. 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

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

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

October 22, 2015

Ryan Sacrifices Job Security With Eye Toward Long Game


One and done for Ryan? (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

One and done for Ryan? (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

What’s the best job security Paul D. Ryan can hope for, even if the Republican malcontents hold their fire long enough and he becomes speaker of the House?

That would be one year. Fourteen months, at the outside. Full story

October 18, 2015

Clinton Better Bring A-Game to Benghazi Hearing


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the September 11th attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi on  Wednesday morning, January 23, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Clinton testified during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Benghazi attacks on Jan. 23, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The year’s most important congressional hearing is at hand — not only because momentum in a presidential election is in play, but also because the legislative branch’s ability to conduct serious oversight is on the line.

On both fronts, the power to shape the public’s perception Thursday rests with Hillary Rodham Clinton. And, whatever else about her behavior and ideology remains open to passionate disagreement, this much looks clear: With a single glaring exception, she has made an exceptionally effective witness during her 31 previous appearances before Congress, dating back more than two decades. Full story

October 5, 2015

Scorched Senate Tactics Limiting Cruz’s Options, Top Prize Excepted


Cruz has alienated many Senate colleagues (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz has alienated many Senate colleagues. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The questions about Ted Cruz in the Senate no longer start with whether he’s got even a couple of friends left among fellow Republicans. The answer, after a public shaming on the floor last week, sure looks like a “no.”

As to whether he’s bothered by his deepening isolation in the Capitol, that’s just as easily answered in the negative. To the contrary, he’s acting as though it’s one of the best things going for him in his presidential campaign. Full story

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