Vermont Will Be Last State to Have Never Sent a Woman to Congress
Cindy Hyde-Smith’s appointment marks all-time high for women in chamber

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker, hosted a reception last week to honor Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who is now the longest-serving woman in the House, breaking the previous record set by Massachusetts Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Mississippi governor’s appointment of Cindy Hyde-Smith to the Senate next month marks a milestone: She will be the state’s first woman in Congress.

And that would leave Vermont as the lone state in the union to have never sent a female lawmaker to Washington

Cindy Hyde-Smith Gets Appointment to Mississippi Senate Seat
State’s first woman in Congress expected to seek election in November

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is the designated successor to Sen. Thad Cochran. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith will be coming to the U.S. Senate next month.

Gov. Phil Bryant formally tapped the Republican agriculture and commerce commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who is poised to go out with a win on an omnibus spending bill. Currently in his seventh term, Cochran is resigning effective April 1 for health reasons. 

Mississippi Governor Expected to Appoint Hyde-Smith to Cochran Seat
Agriculture commissioner would fill seat until November special election

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is expected to be named to resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, according to The (Jackson) Clarion Ledger.

A Republican strategist confirmed Tuesday morning to Roll Call she’s likely to get the appointment Wednesday, but cautioned that the governor’s office hadn’t directly communicated those intentions yet.

Democrats Put Farm Bill Talks on Hold
Minority party says it can’t negotiate until it sees text and other info

House Agriculture ranking Democrat Collin C. Peterson says his party is done talking about the farm bill until the majority Republicans start sharing information. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For those tracking the farm bill, the top question this week is whether the House Agriculture Committee chairman and ranking member can reopen talks that stalled last week, after Democrats balked at possible cuts to the food stamp program.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson, the top committee Democrat, said Thursday he would heed his colleagues’ request that he stop negotiations until Chairman K. Michael Conaway gives members the text of the proposed farm bill, along with Congressional Budget Office cost estimates and impact assessments.

Opinion: Putting the ‘N’ in SNAP Should Be a Farm Bill Priority
Program should be strengthened to promote nutrition among SNAP recipients

Among the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s SNAP Task Force is continuing incentives for recipients to consume fresh fruits and vegetables (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress begins its deliberations on this year’s farm bill, it’s time to pay more attention to the “N” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Launched as a pilot program by President John F. Kennedy and expanded nationwide by President Richard Nixon, the food stamps program — now SNAP — has enjoyed bipartisan support over its nearly 60-year history. From its initial goals of supporting farm incomes and ensuring low-income families did not face hunger, it has evolved into an effective anti-poverty program. That evolution continues today with a focus on nutrition.

Conservative Groups Warn Tariffs Could Cost Republicans
Trump proposal exposes rift between White House and usual allies

President Donald Trump, here at the White House on Tuesday with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, has stirred action among conservative groups, who are both privately and publicly lobbying for a reversal of his plan to levy new steel and aluminum tariffs. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

With primaries underway, conservative groups are stepping up their campaign against President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to levy new steel and aluminum tariffs — warning that it could cause political peril for Republicans.

“We’re deeply concerned. We’ve made it clear to the administration that imposing tariffs is an enormous mistake,” said Tim Phillips, who runs Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group funded in part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. “It will undercut their political chances in what’s going to be a challenging election year.”

Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Resigning From Senate in April
Longtime Republican senator cites his health as “ongoing challenge”

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran will not complete his seventh term due to health reasons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:28 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran announced Monday he will resign from the chamber effective April 1, giving way to a special election in November. 

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” the Mississippi Republican said in a statement. 

Trump Attacks Canada Over ‘Highly Restrictive’ Trade Tactics
President: Relief from coming tariffs depends on outcome of NAFTA talks

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and President Donald Trump pose for photographs at the White House in October. The United States, Canada and Mexico are currently engaged in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

The only way for coming steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian goods to be waived is if the North American Free Trade Agreement is rewritten, President Donald Trump said Monday.

The Trump administration is slated this week to implement tariffs on all steel and aluminum imported into the country above the objections of close U.S. allies, economists, national security experts and even Republican lawmakers. On Monday morning, the president went after one of those allies, criticizing America’s northern neighbor as a trade conflict between Washington and Ottawa nears.

GOP Reaction to Trump Tariffs is Fast, Furious and Negative
Republicans fret about retaliatory action, effect on agricultural trade

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, among the president’s strongest allies in the Senate, warned that imposing tariffs was akin to a tax hike. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans are calling for changes to the seldom-employed section of U.S. trade law that the Trump administration used to unilaterally impose steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The conversations are in the preliminary stages, but build upon discussions GOP members have had for weeks regarding concerns over the White House’s trade policy.

Renewable Fuel Foes and Backers to Meet Again at White House

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After failing to reach agreement Tuesday at a White House meeting of oil and corn state lawmakers as well as administration officials on possible changes to the nation’s renewable fuels program, lawmakers and President Donald Trump say they’ll try again as early as this week.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a vocal defender of the biofuels industry, said following the meeting that “no win-win” situation was presented as promised by participants such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who opposes the program in its current form.