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Opinion: The GOP’s Big Health Care Winner — Mitch McConnell
House in flames but crisis avoided in the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains untarnished by the GOP effort to repeal the 2010 health care law, Allen writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s exactly one big winner in the Republican leadership right now: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The Kentucky Republican, long known for his sixth-sense acumen as a political and legislative strategist, completely avoided the direct and collateral damage of the GOP health care debacle of 2017.

Van Hollen Frames Trump Proposals as Dicey for GOP
DSCC chief cites health care plan, budget as politically tricky

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen says President Donald Trump’s proposals betray his supporters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Word on the Hill: Staffers Give Back
Athletes and tweetstorms

Senate staffer Annie Humphrey donates blood with the Armed Services Blood Program on Monday. (Giovanni Rodriguez/Armed Services Blood Program)

More than 70 Senate staffers donated 56 units of blood in the first-ever Senate Armed Services Blood Program blood drive.

Staff members from the Armed Services Blood Bank Center at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, hosted a four-hour drive for Senate staffers on Monday.

Appreciation | Jimmy Breslin and the Art of Describing Washington
Book by New York newspaperman is an invaluable portrayal of Capitol Hill

Jimmy Breslin found his muse in the late Massachusetts Democrat Tip O’Neill, above, whom he portrayed in his book “How the Good Guys Finally Won” as a consummate professional. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jimmy Breslin will always be remembered as a New York newspaperman. But he also made an indelible contribution to documenting the Watergate scandal and in doing so, breathed life into some of Capitol Hill’s most influential characters. 

The hard-boiled columnist, who died March 19 at the age of 88, brought the full force of his observational skills to his 1975 book “How the Good Guys Finally Won.” Breslin made a career out of focusing on big stories through the perspective of working stiffs, so it’s no surprise he latched on to two methodical House Democrats who took on President Richard Nixon, fresh off a landslide 1972 re-election victory and whose team seemed to be brushing off the Watergate break-in.

McConnell: ‘We’re Not Slowing Down’ on Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., heads to the Senate floor as he leaves the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY ERIN MERSHON and JOE WILLIAMS, CQ Roll Call

This story originally appeared on CQ.com.

Reacting to Trump Budget, Van Hollen Previews 2018 Message
DSCC chairman says budget will be ‘wake-up call’ to Trump voters

Reacting to President Donald Trump's proposed budget, DSCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen said it will likely be a wakeup call to GOP voters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Previewing a likely political argument heading into 2018, Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen says the proposed reductions in President Donald Trump’s budget would disproportionately hit more rural, Republican areas.

“I think this is going to be a wake-up call to a lot of people who supported Donald Trump that his budget is betraying them,” Van Hollen, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said at a Thursday afternoon news conference on Capitol Hill. 

Trumpcare: Big Bills in Small Towns

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., right, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conduct a news conference at the RNC where they discussed the House Republican's new healthcare plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, March 8, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the southeast Georgia town of Statesboro, J. Wayne Collingsworth is fed up.

Collingsworth and his wife Kathy have watched their health insurance premiums jump from about $1,000 per month in 2015 to $1,550 per month this year. Last year the couple, who buy their insurance through HealthCare.gov, had to switch from a Humana plan they liked to a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia plan after their original insurer stopped selling coverage in their area. Their new plan also doesn’t pay for all the medications their previous insurer covered.

Conservatives Take Shots at Independent-Minded GOP Senators
Activists worry party mavericks could upend health care repeal efforts

Maine Sen. Susan Collins has often found herself at odds with conservative groups. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Activist groups that want conservative orthodoxy on Capitol Hill have aimed their fire previously at Republicans including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his predecessor, John A. Boehner. Now they have some new targets. 

Their focus has turned to three senators who’ve shown some willingness to challenge President Donald Trump: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona.

Senators Cranky About Appropriations Process
Little appetite for another continuing resolution

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham had spoken against punting on appropriations bills last fall with a continuing resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I will never vote for a CR again.”

That was all the normally talkative Sen. Lindsey Graham cared to say when asked about the prospect of completing his State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill this year, or, as has become custom, funding that part of the government through another continuing resolution. The South Carolina Republican wants to create a new account to help countries in Eastern Europe battle Russian propaganda, something that wouldn’t happen if spending is just put on auto-pilot through a CR. 

Service Academy Grads Bond on Capitol Hill
Tim Bertocci and Jakob Johnsen founded the Service Academy Graduate Staff Association in the 114th Congress

Service Academy Graduate Staff Association co-chairmen Jakob Johnsen, left, and Tim Bertocci say group members share similar values and backgrounds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The importance of brotherhood and sisterhood is ingrained as a core value of service academy graduates, which is why two staffers decided to form an association for them. 

The Service Academy Graduate Staff Association was started last Congress by Tim Bertocci, legislative director for Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, and Jakob Johnsen, military legislative assistant for Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young.