Arkansas

Senators Go Their Own Way on Stopgap Funding
‘We can’t pass the House bill,’ GOP chairmen say

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says his colleagues are preparing to fully revamp the temporary spending bill. “The House bill is not going to pass over here,” he said this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators are preparing to completely rework the temporary spending bill needed to keep much of government open past Dec. 22.

The legislation will be stripped of the House-passed Defense appropriations bill and a partisan measure reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which many expected. But its length will also likely change, and it may or may not carry new topline spending levels for appropriators to construct a final fiscal 2018 omnibus package.

No-Alias: Smith & Jones Will Alter the Senate in ’18
Two newest Democrats will join as powerful a minority as possible, whether they skew left or to the center

The Senate will be a very different place after the arrival of two new Democratic senators: Doug Jones, the winner of Tuesday’s stunning upset in Alabama, and Tina Smith, who was tapped on Wednesday to fill the pending vacancy in Minnesota. (CQ Roll Call file photos)

Turns out, the Senate is going to be quite a different place next year even without Roy Moore — and that’s not only because senators named Smith and Jones will be serving together for the first time in 86 years.

The chamber will have its closest partisan split in a decade, and the narrowest divide in favor of the Republicans since the spring of 2001. The roster of women will expand to a record 22, and for the first time a pair of women will comprise the Senate delegations of four states. The Deep South will be represented by a Democrat for the first time in four years.

A Huge Congressional Settlement Involving Sexual Harassment — And Hardly Anyone Knew
Lawmakers on Helsinki Commission blindsided by report of $220K payout

Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings has denied allegations of sexual misconduct that led to a $220,000 payment to a former congressional staffer. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The $220,000 paid to former staffer Winsome Packer in 2014 is by far the largest known settlement involving Congress and accusations of sexual harassment in recent years.

But few, if any, of the lawmakers who served on the congressional commission where Packer worked seem to have been informed about it until the sum was reported by Roll Call on Friday.  

White House Won't Discuss Tillerson's Future Beyond Year's End
Trump 'seems to take step after step to undercut diplomacy,' Sen. Kaine says

Then-Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson arrives for his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing earlier this year. The panel could soon be holding another such hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House that routinely labels as fake any news it does not like is studiously withholding such phraseology when it comes to media reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a short-timer. 

White House officials have developed plans to replace the long-embattled Tillerson, who fell out of favor with the president months ago, with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, according to The New York Times. Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton would move into Pompeo’s position, the news outlet reported, citing senior administration officials.

At the Races: ‘I Want to Spend More Time With Family’
With holiday recesses, come congressional retirement announcements

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., points at Michigan Rep. John Conyers, Jr., during a 1999 press conference. Conyers is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, and is now hospitalized for stress. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Thursday for him to resign. Despite relinquishing his ranking member post on the Judiciary Committee, the longest-serving lawmaker hasn’t said he’ll step aside. The 13th District is a Solid Democratic race, but Conyers barely made the ballot in 2014 after failing to file the necessary signatures. Local reports suggest the 88-year-old dean of the House will announce in January he won’t seek re-election. If he does try to run again, expect to see a primary here. (Scott. J. Farrell/CQ)

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This week … two more lawmakers announced their retirements, red-state Democrats took a stand on taxes, an Indiana super PAC jumped into the Alabama Senate race and liberals started attacking Democrat Dan Lipinski.

Report: State’s Tillerson Could Be Replaced by CIA’s Pompeo
Sen. Tom Cotton would move to CIA under reported White House plan

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11:44 a.m.| President Donald Trump’s White House has developed plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, according to The New York Times.

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton would move into Pompeo’s position, the news outlet said citing senior administration officials.

Senate Republicans Move on Trump’s Appeals Court Picks
Chamber confirms Gregory Katsas to D.C. Circuit in 50-48 vote

Gregory Katsas was confirmed Tuesday to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans are pressing forward this week on putting President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks on the bench, with a floor vote Tuesday for the pivotal circuit court in Washington and an upcoming confirmation hearing for a judge that Minnesota Democrat Al Franken has tried to block.

The Senate voted, 50-48, to confirm Gregory Katsas to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which often has the last word on appeals of presidential actions and issues decisions that have a national impact on environmental, energy and regulatory policies.

Opinion: Sexual Harassment From John Tower to Donald Trump — and Beyond
America has belatedly reached a moment of reckoning about sexual harassment

Sen. Al Franken should stay in the Senate and give Minnesota voters a chance to offer their own verdict in 2020 on accusations of sexual harassment made against him, Walter Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In early 1989, with the inauguration of George Bush, John Tower’s failed confirmation fight for secretary of Defense riveted Washington.

A diminutive former four-term Texas Republican senator who had served as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Tower seemed, on paper, as a noncontroversial choice.

Analysis: New Senate Tax Bill Solves Some Issues, Raises Others
‘This is largely a partisan exercise,’ McConnell tells CEOs

If there were any doubts that Republicans were bent on advancing the tax bill with only GOP support, those were squashed on Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen here with Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The latest version of the Senate bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code solves some problems for Republican leadership, but potentially creates a host of others.

The updated chairman’s mark would direct more tax relief to lower- and middle-class Americans through several new provisions, including a proposed reduction in the tax rates for the current seven income brackets. But those cuts would now be temporary and expire in 2026. At the same time, the proposal would make the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent permanent.

While Trump’s Away, Congress Legislates?
President’s absence eases tax bill work, some Republicans say

Some Republican members say progress on a tax bill is more likely with President Donald Trump, here with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, away in Asia. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump spent the first four days of his Asia swing focused on countering North Korea and bolstering trade relationships — and some Republican members who are eager to pass a tax bill are just fine with that.

The way they see it, Trump being nearly 7,000 miles away for most of the next two weeks will allow them to make more progress on their tax legislation than if he were in Washington. That’s because Trump is often hunkered down in the White House watching cable news reports about their efforts, his phone at the ready to fire off a tweet that could substantially delay or completely derail their work.