Robin Opsahl

Democrats Will Make Fairer Districts, Democrats Say
But historically, gerrymandering isn’t just a Republican issue

Democrats say there’s one easy way to create more equitable and fair districts throughout the country: Elect more Democrats.

“More Democrats in office will give us fairer lines,” Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said in an interview before the Supreme Court kicked back two cases on partisan gerrymandering to the lower courts on procedural grounds. 

Women Hit 25th Anniversary Playing in Congressional Baseball Game
But that does not mean more women are participating in the historic baseball game

It’s been 25 years since women first participated in the Congressional Baseball Game, but that doesn’t mean more women are playing.

California Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán is one of only three women signed up to play in this year’s game. But only she and Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love will be on the field. (Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, also a California Democrat, is sidelined with a broken hand.)

Former Rep. Tim Murphy Honorably Discharged After Scandal, Outcome of Review Unknown
Pennsylvania Republican left Navy amid reports of an extramarital affair

After reports of an extramarital affair torpedoed former Rep. Tim Murphy’s congressional career, the Navy launched its own review of his conduct.

Murphy, a commander in the Navy Reserves, was honorably discharged. That officially happened on Sept. 11, 2017, according to the Navy.

Senators Fight Over How to Use Canceled Recess Weeks
Republicans point to judicial nominations and appropriations, Democrats say health care

Senate Democrats and Republicans are facing off for the best way to use their three extra weeks in the “swamp.”

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the chamber would remain in session for three weeks in August, both parties put in their two cents on how to best use the extra time. Democrats say focus on health care, while Republicans want to approve more of President Donald Trump’s nominees.

What Lawmakers Do When They Leave After Harassment Allegations
Six have left so far this Congress

Six members of Congress have left office in the past few months after allegations ranging from firing female staffers who rejected sexual advances to pressuring a lover to get an abortion.

While their resignations mean they no longer have a vote in Congress, that doesn’t mean their careers are over. Former lawmakers are moving forward by flying under the radar, grabbing the sides of a lectern or sticking with politics.

Poll: Americans Want New Democratic Leadership
New survey finds desire for fresh faces in top Democratic spots, support for Russia probe

More Americans want new Democrats in power next Congress, a recent poll found.

More than twice as many respondents to this week’s Economist/YouGov poll said they would prefer another Democrat lead the party in the House than current leader Nancy Pelosi. Fifteen percent backed Pelosi compared to 32 percent who chose “some other Demorat.” A further 29 percent were not sure and 25 percent said they didn’t care. 

Many 2020 Map Makers Will Be Decided This Cycle
Experts say 2018 midterms are still important for upcoming redistricting

Updated 5/25/18 7:00 p.m. | More than three-fifths of governors deciding new district lines in the 2020 cycle will be elected this year, a new study by the National Conference of State Legislatures found.

One-third of state senators country-wide and all Alabama lawmakers will elected during the 2018 midterms will still be in office during the next redistricting cycle, the state government policy research group found. While redistricting seems a long way away, experts say the governorship and state races mean parties should be focusing on this year’s midterms.

Foster Youth Come to Capitol Hill, Share Experiences in the System
Foster Youth Shadow Day is in its seventh year in Washington

Rep. Karen Bass had a busy day ahead of her in the House on Wednesday: a morning meeting with House Democrats, pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a few points during his Foreign Affairs hearing, and introducing a speaker on the House floor.

While the day wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the California Democrat, it was for Megan Simon, a 26-year-old former foster child shadowing the lawmaker for the day.

Poll: Half of Country Not Happy With Ryan but Don’t Recognize Possible Successors
Respondents divided on whether Democrats will win back Congress

A new poll found most Americans don’t like what Congress has been doing the past few years, even if they don’t know the major players in office.

Over 59 percent of respondents to this week’s Economist/YouGov poll said they disapproved of Congress’ performance, placing the blame on both parties.

Smokey Robinson Tells Senate Committee to Update Music Copyright Laws
Motown musician said Music Modernization Act would help older musicians

Smokey Robinson asked the Senate Judiciary committee Tuesday to help older, struggling musicians by updating copyright laws.

“I know a lot of musicians and producers and writers who have fallen on hard times and we could really use that money,” the singer said. “It’s not just about music, it’s about lives.”

Former NATO, DHS Officials Launch Election Interference Commission
Independent group aims to stop Russian and other meddlers in future elections

The United States, NATO and the European Union launched a commission to prevent election interference Friday.

Former NATO chief and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff announced the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity in Washington at a press conference.

Ohio Passes Bipartisan Redistricting Ballot Initiative to Curb Gerrymandering
The new redistricting rules ban partisan gerrymandering through the state consitution.

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot proposal Tuesday to reform the state’s redistricting process by requiring bipartisan cooperation in making new maps.

After polls closed, three-quarters of votes counted backed the ballot initiative. The measure asked voters if they wanted to amend the state constitution to require bipartisanship while drawing new congressional districts.

All the Voter ID Laws in May Primary States, Explained
Primary season ramps up, state requirement vary to cast ballot

More states in recent years enacted voter ID laws requiring people to provide some form of proof that they are who they say they are before casting a ballot. Courts across the nation continue to judge, while Republicans say these laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud and Democrats argue the laws create barriers to voting and disenfranchise minority voters.

Either way, if you plan to vote this May, here’s what you need to bring:

Hulk, Drs. Oz and Doom Headline Trump Fitness Council Appointees
Members show connection to president through support or celebrity ties

President Donald Trump is bringing in big league players to his fitness council.

The president announced his intent to appoint several former major league football and baseball players, former Olympians and celebrities to the President’s Council on Sport, Fitness and Nutrition on Friday.

Farenthold Says He Won’t Pay for His Replacement Special Election
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for Farenthold to pay $84,000 to elect someone new

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold said he will not pay for the special election to fill his seat.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for Farenthold to pay for his own election last week. The Texas Republican left Congress over revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The former lawmaker should use the $84,000 he’s not returning to taxpayers to fund the election for the Corpus Christi seat, Abbott said.

4 of Congress’ Recent Anti-Abortion Actions, After Iowa Passes Measure
A look at Hill action after Iowa legislation passes both state chambers

The Iowa state legislature this week passed a bill banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, one of the stricter regulations in the U.S. should the governor sign the bill into law.Dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” the legislation aims to block abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which would essentially ban the procedure for most cases after a month and a half.More lawmakers across the United States started introducing anti-abortion legislation following President Donald Trump’s election. Nineteen states instated 63 restrictions in total to abortion procedures in 2017, the highest number of state laws on the issue since 2013, according to sexual and reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute.States have successfully put more roadblocks in front of abortion, but federal lawmakers have not had such luck. Here are some recent attempts by Congress to limit abortions:

The Senate rejected a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in January after the bill passed the House in 2017.The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, failed to overcome a Democrat filibuster“To those who believe in this issue, we will be back for another day,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chief sponsor of the bill, said in advance of the vote according to the New York Times.

In Face of May Day Protests, Here’s Where Senators Stand on Labor
See where senators stand on immigration reform, minimum wage and right-to-work

Protesters took to the streets this week for May Day demonstrations calling  for better working conditions, higher pay and more compensation.May Day protests usually take place in progressive cities and states and focus on low income workers, immigrants and minimum wage jobs. The politicians representing those places and people don’t always share activist views on labor. Here are what senators from a few states with major protests think about activists’ demands:

Raising the minimum wage:“You can bet Democrats in Congress are going to fight to make $15 minimum wage a reality in this nation, from one end of the country to the other,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the steps of the Capitol last week, according to Vox.Immigrant workers:“I support further securing our borders; prohibiting hiring of undocumented immigrants by requiring job applicants to present a secure Social Security card,” the New York Democrat told the League of Women Voters in 2010. He also supports “requiring undocumented immigrants to register with the government, pay taxes, and earn legal [status or face deportation.]” Right-to-work laws:“We’re offering the middle class and those struggling to get there a better deal by taking on companies that undermine unions and underpay their workers, and beginning to unwind a rigged system that undermines every worker’s freedom to negotiate with their employer,” Schumer told the Washington Post on fighting Right-to-Work laws.

Keep Hands Off Local Laws, DC Politicians Tell Congress
Budget riders for Washington include stopping legalized recreational marijuana, abortion funding

District of Columbia politicians want Congress to stop trying to take control of local laws.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference Wednesday to speak out against legislative policy riders in this year’s Washington budget.

What is a House Chaplain and What do They Do?
Background of the job and what’s up with Rev. Patrick Conroy, explained

Speaker Paul Ryan’s move against Rev. Patrick Conroy caused political ripples as many speculated he requested the Reverend’s retirement because of a prayer he gave before the tax code.

Conroy, Congress’s Jesuit Priest, is the first Chaplain to leave his 2-year elected position mid-term in decades.

Here Are the 7 Congressmen Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since #MeToo
Rep. Patrick Meehan is most recent resignation from Congress over sexual misconduct allegations

Rep. Pat Meehan announced his resignation from Congress Friday following reports that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with a former aide.

Meehan had previously announced he would not run for re-election. He cited sparing his staff from an Ethics investigation as the cause for the early exit.