hawkings

What Happens When Corker Lays Down His Foreign Relations Gavel?
Tennessee Republican leaves a committee far from what it used to be

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is the first senator to announce his retirement this Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Neither Peyton Manning nor Reese Witherspoon is going to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next year. Not Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton or Samuel L. Jackson, either.

The most clear-cut reason is that none of those celebrity Tennesseans is likely to end up running to become a senator, much to the disappointment of Beltway insiders starved for glitzy, if harmless, political distractions in the Trump era and already enthralled by Kid Rock’s flirtation with a Senate run in Michigan.

New High Court Term, Same No-TV and Tape-Delay Rules
Arguments will be invisible, and hard to hear, even for member of Congress with eyes on landmark redistricting case

Cameras still won’t be allowed in the U.S. Supreme Court and arguments will continue to be on a tape-delay. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court term starting next week promises to be among the most consequential in years, but it’s guaranteed to be as invisible as ever to the American citizenry.

The campaign to get cameras in the courtroom has almost totally foundered. Instead, some open-government advocates have started campaigning to simply hear oral arguments in real time  — so far, also with no success.

Which of These Bills Is Not Like the Others? The Defense Budget
Testy and balky debate, like this year, still has ended with authorization for 57 straight years

Two U.S. army Blackhawk helicopters approach for landing at an airfield in Australia during a joint U.S. and Australian training exercise in July. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images File Photo)

For the uninitiated, it might have seemed last week like the annual legislation authorizing the nation’s military was about to come off the rails. And only now does it appear to be clamoring out of some thick mud — yet another example of a Congress so challenged when it comes to discharging even its most fundamental responsibilities.

Rest assured, though: There’s truly nothing more certain in the Capitol’s life cycle than enactment of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

Schumer’s Big Gamble on the Virtue of ‘Yes’
Most Senate minority leaders are all about ‘no’ — but the Trump era isn’t like most times

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has transformed this fall’s congressional dynamic and has become the breakout senatorial star of the season. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the Senate’s governing principle can be reduced to this, “Saying no is easier than saying yes,” then it makes sense that leading the caucus so often focused on stopping stuff is much less demanding than being in charge of the group that’s always held responsible for getting things done.

Six men have personified this lesson during the past 40 years, former senators who had both responsibilities while they were floor leaders. For Democrats Robert C. Byrd, Tom Daschle and Harry Reid, as well as for Republicans Howard H. Baker Jr., Trent Lott and Bob Dole, solid arguments can be made that their stewardships were much more successful as minority leaders than as majority leaders.

Trump and GOP Lawmakers — Even More on the Rocks
‘Must pass’ agenda tests a strained unified government

President Donald Trump targeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in multiple Twitter attacks over the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Can this marriage of convenience be saved?

Will the first unified Republican government in a decade hold together in its current state of snarky detente, or will the majorities in Congress and President Donald Trump launch into a full-blown separation with the potential for policymaking divorce?

McCain’s Many Parts in Getting to ‘No’ on Health Care
Hero, then goat to his Senate GOP colleagues. But did the maverick actually bridge their gap?

Arizona Sen. John McCain speaks at a news conference Thursday on the Senate Republicans’ “skinny” repeal bill. His later vote against the measure helped defeat the legislation. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Very rare is the senator with the singular sway to play the scold, the savior, the spoiler, the sacrificial offering and the spurned playmaker for his own party — and all within a spurt of fewer than 60 hours. But that was how this week played out for John McCain.

He may have had other, similar stretches during his three decades working to hold the title of the Senate’s main maverick. But for the indefinite future, he’s not going to have another one nearly as baroque, with so many highs and lows in so short a stretch that delighted, confounded, openly infuriated but secretively satisfied fellow Republicans.

Sessions on the Cusp of Martyrdom or Oblivion
If he’s fired, will former Senate GOP colleagues draw a line against Trump?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been the target of almost daily taunting from President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When Jeff Sessions was preparing last fall to begin a third decade in the Senate, his future as a rock-ribbed conservative legislative force looked limitless, but just three seasons later, he’s been pushed to the precipice of his career.

The almost daily taunting he’s taking from President Donald Trump points toward one of two probably quick endings to his brief run as attorney general, quitting or getting canned.

How Bad Political Manners Fomented the Health Care Mess
Lawmakers feel free to misbehave when their leaders drop ‘regular order’

Republicans in Congress may be emulating President Donald Trump’s political manners. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A president whose brand is all about flouting basic political manners is getting matched in misbehavior more and more by fellow Republicans in Congress.

The first six months under President Donald Trump have been marked not only by a further coarsening of GOP rhetoric, stoked mainly by incessant infighting in backrooms, but also by increasing defiance of decades of behavioral norms — from Trump’s nominal friends and skeptics alike, when they’ve been trying to work with him and when they’ve been scrambling to maneuver despite him.

GOP Senators Take Sessions’ Side in Spat With Trump
Former colleagues provide cover to beleaguered attorney general

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under fire from President Donald Trump, but his former colleagues in the Senate have nothing but nice things to say about him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Confronted with the rare and awkward choice of siding with either a president of their party or a Cabinet member who’s a former colleague, Senate Republicans are sounding of single mind:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, until five months ago a senior GOP senator from Alabama, has done nothing to merit the upbraiding he’s been taking from President Donald Trump.

Tiptoes on the Hill Back Into War Debate
A bipartisan push for Trump to seek fresh authority to combat terrorism

Soldiers with the New York Army National Guard patrol in New York City’s Penn Station in June following a terrorist attack in London. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sixteen years on, Congress seems to be getting genuinely close to forcing itself into a fresh debate on how to prescribe the use of military force against terrorism.

Writing a new war authorization will not happen before the end of the year, meaning those deliberations would be influenced by the dynamics of the midterm election campaign. But proposals to force the issue onto the agenda have the potential to blossom into sleeper hits on this summer’s remarkably blockbuster-deprived roster of consequential legislation.