IMGR

To Trump, Flynn Merely Under ‘Tremendous Pressure,’ But Cohen is a ‘Rat’
‘Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn,’ POTUS tweets

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, speaks during a rally for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Sept. 16, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning issued a prebuttal to anything Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser and campaign aide, might reveal when he is sentenced by a federal judge later in the day.

The retired Army three-star general last year pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle. Flynn once egged on Trump rally crowds in chants of “lock her up,” referring to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Illness Will Make Rep. Walter Jones Miss the Rest of This Session
Jones to return in January to serve out his final term in office

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones  has been granted a leave of absence for the duration of the congressional term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones’ unspecified illness will cause him to miss votes for the remainder of the 115th Congress.

Jones’ House colleagues granted the leave of absence on December 11 by unanimous consent, according to the Congressional Record.

House GOP Makes Another Push for Year-End Tax Cuts
Price tag, end-of-year shutdown maneuvers might complicate movement

House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wants to give it another try on a year-end tax cut package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will try again this week to pass a year-end package of tax cuts after revamping the measure a second time to win broader political support.

The latest version of the bill restores an extension of two expired tax breaks: one for a biodiesel tax credit and another for a railroad track maintenance credit. The biodiesel credit, which would be extended and then phased out by 2024, was a particular priority for Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the likely chairman next year of the Senate Finance Committee.

Happy New Year, Republicans! It’s Downhill From Here
Get ready for another no good, very bad year, complete with a looming constitutional crisis

If you think 2018 was bad, just wait for 2019. Above, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, walks past the annual Christmas sign in the basement of the Capitol on  Dec. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — 2018 will go in the books as a bad one for most Republicans. They picked up two seats in the Senate, but lost 40 in the House. Their numbers among women in the House shrank from 23 to 13, and President Donald Trump can’t give away his chief of staff job.

Ask anyone who’s been there: The only thing worse than losing the majority in Congress is every day after that, when chairing committees and holding press conferences is replaced by packing boxes and saying goodbye to staff.

Charities Feeling Flush Despite Tax Law Change
Small gifts are down, but big donors have more than made up for it

Charities argued against doubling the standard deduction, but so far the change hasn’t slowed down giving. Above, President Donald Trump, flanked by Republican lawmakers, celebrates the 2017 tax law. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Year-end holiday giving is make-or-break time for America’s charitable sector. Donors who give now may feel compelled by the spirit of the season, but many of them also know that they can soon write off their gifts on their taxes and recoup a portion of their money.

But that latter incentive affects fewer people this year, thanks to a provision in the 2017 tax law that roughly doubled the standard deduction. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office projects that 31 million fewer households will itemize their taxes next year, eliminating their tax incentive to give to charity.

An Office Swap Lands Ayanna Pressley in Shirley Chisholm’s Former Spot
Thanks to fellow Rep.-elect Katie Hill, Democrat will get her dream office

Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley swapped offices to get a space once occupied by Shirley Chisholm. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ayanna Pressley had her heart set on a Capitol Hill office previously occupied by her “shero,” Shirley Chisholm. A fellow incoming freshman Democrat helped her dream come true.

At the high-stakes office lottery for newly elected members of Congress last month, Pressley called on an iconic former lawmaker’s good vibes, announcing as she approached the number-filled box that if Chisholm were still alive, she would be celebrating her 94th birthday. Chisholm was the first black woman ever elected to serve in the House.

Cindy Hyde-Smith Sworn in for Second Time This Year
Appointed Mississippi Republican won special election in November

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber after the real swear in on the Senate floor on December 17, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was sworn into office for the second time in 2018, the result of having won a special election runoff for the seat she had been appointed to earlier this year.

On Monday afternoon, as the Senate started its workweek, Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin G. Hatch administered the oath of office to the Mississippi Republican. In March, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to replace Republican Thad Cochran, who resigned. She took the oath of office on April 9 and immediately went about the business of running in November’s special election to fill out the remainder of Cochran’s term. 

Ethics Office Report Released on Lame Duck Rod Blum
House Ethics jurisdiction will expire when Iowa Republican leaves Congress

Outgoing Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, is the subject of an ethics inquery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on allegations against Iowa Republican Rod Blum Monday, while the House Ethics Committee announced that it is continuing its own inquiry, but likely not for long.

The House Ethics panel began the inquiry into Blum in July when it received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics and extended the inquiry in early September. In February, the Associated Press reported that Blum violated House ethics rules by failing to disclose his ownership role in a new company and that his top federal staffer was featured in a false testimonial promoting the company’s services.

Rep. Steve Scalise and Roommates Pitch Cooking Show on Twitter
Louisiana Republican will lose his sous chef come January

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks during the press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A set of four Republican roommates channeled Julia Child over the weekend with a butter-slathered cooking video.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana shares a house in Washington with lawmaking colleagues Kevin Brady, Erik Paulsen and John Shimkus. Together they cooked up a cajun feast of blackened redfish, jambalaya and gumbo, with mashed sweet potato casserole on the side.

Who Might Run for Alexander’s Tennessee Senate Seat in 2020?
All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam and Rep.-elect Mark Green

Outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, seen here at a rally with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, is a likely candidate for the open Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement on Monday that he won’t seek a fourth term opens up a 2020 Senate seat in a state President Donald Trump carried by 26 points in 2016.

All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who could clear the field and would likely be a successor in the same Republican mold as Alexander.