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Republican Senator Seeks to Save Obamacare Before Dismantling It
Lamar Alexander advocating for two-step approach to repealing law

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is advocating short-term market stabilization measures for the 2010 health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander has found himself in an uncommon position for most Republicans this year: Trying to save the shaky insurance markets created by the 2010 health care law before attending to a major overhaul of the law.

The opinions of the Tennessee’s senior senator carry significant weight among his colleagues. He is a close confidant of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and also chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

19 House Races Shift Toward Democrats
List of competitive seats grows amid shifts against president’s party

New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s race for re-election has switched from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The midterm elections are still nearly a year and a half away, and the political dynamics could yet change, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that history and the current environment are merging together for a potentially great set of elections for Democrats in November 2018. 

The president’s party has lost House seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, and it’s lost an average of 33 seats in those 18 elections. Democrats need to gain 24 seats in order to take back the majority. 

Pence’s Battleground Stops, PAC Raise Eyebrows Amid Trump Scandals
VP’s office calls talk ‘ludicrous’ — but others see ‘too many coincidences’

Vice President Mike Pence leaves a meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center last Thursday. Two days later, he stopped in two presidential battleground states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, en route to his native Indiana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence has quietly spent his weekends visiting key battleground states, raising eyebrows in political circles about just what the ambitious politician is up to as scandals threaten Donald Trump’s presidency.

Last weekend provides a glaring — and fascinating — example. The former Indiana congressman and governor returned to the Hoosier State to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame. But his route back home included stops in two perennial presidential battlegrounds: Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Opinion: Mick Mulvaney’s Compassion — Not for the Needy
Republican budget funds big programs, pulls back safety net

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney not only dumped the concept of compassionate conservatism, he literally redefined what compassion should mean in today’s Washington, Patricia Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When George W. Bush ran for president in the late 1990s, he did it on a platform of “compassionate conservatism,” a smooth-edged rebranding of the conservatism that had become synonymous with callousness in the age of Newt Gingrich. Bush’s compassionate conservatism assured voters that he wasn’t going to waste their money the way he said Democrats would, but that he also wasn’t going to hurt people in the process, especially the least among us.

Bush won, but the concept of conservatism took a beating under his administration, as federal budgets ballooned and his vision of the role of government expanded at home and abroad.

Special Counsel in Russia Probe Gets Separate Funding Path
Cost of Mueller’s work not a part of the regular appropriations process

The funds for special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s Russia investigation come from the Treasury Department. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller started as special counsel to oversee the bureau’s investigation of alleged Russian efforts to impact the 2016 presidential election, but the cost of his work won’t be part of the regular appropriations process.

The funds for Mueller and his team come from a Treasury Department account for permanent, indefinite appropriations, said Lee Lofthus, the assistant attorney general for administration and a budget expert at the Justice Department.

Capitol Ink | The New Craze

By the Numbers: Trump’s First Full Fiscal Year Budget Cuts Deep and Wide
Only Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments would be spared

President Donald Trump's first full budget, released Tuesday, proposes big cuts to nearly every department and agency in fiscal 2018, even though they've been tightly constrained by budget caps for the past six years. Here's how the budget compares to estimates of what's currently enacted and to President Barack Obama's final full budget request:

Michael Flynn Gets Another Chance From Intelligence Committee
Panel seems ready to hold him in contempt of Congress

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., want to give Michael Flynn one more chance to cooperate with their probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Intelligence Committee is giving former national security adviser Michael Flynn another chance to produce documents about his interactions with Russian officials, even as the panel’s leaders are sending signals that they are unafraid to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The committee leadership has now sent a letter questioning the claim by Flynn and his lawyers that he can use the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination to avoid producing documents subpoenaed by the panel.

Rep. Lamar Smith Out of Touch With Science, Challenger Says
Aerospace engineer — a veteran — is taking on Science committee chairman

Lamar Smith chairs the House Science Space and Technology Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is getting a Democratic challenger who says Smith is out of touch with science and his constituents.

Joseph Kopser announced Tuesday that he is taking on Smith, who is running for re-election for a 17th term in Congress in the solidly Republican central Texas district. Kopser, a combat veteran who served in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star, is one of a slew of candidates in science and technology fields running for elected office as political outsiders.

Trey Gowdy’s Path to Oversight Gavel Gets Smoother
Steering Committee will pick next Oversight chairman after break

Rep. Trey Gowdy wants the chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and after Rep. Jason Chaffetz leaves Congress, he has a good chance to get it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Trey Gowdy’s bid to be the next chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee keeps getting easier as a key potential rival says he won’t run and predicted the South Carolina Republican is likely to wield the gavel, even as the deadline to make a bid draws near.

Any serious bid to challenge Gowdy will need to get under way soon, as Speaker Paul D. Ryan is giving members interested in the post until June 1 to let the House Republican Steering Committee know, according to a Ryan spokeswoman. The Steering Committee is on track to vote on the next chairman the week following the Memorial Day recess.