Illinois

Confidence Abounds Among Pelosi Supporters and Opponents — But One Side Will Lose
Anti-Pelosi contingent claims they have numbers to block Pelosi from becoming speaker

Nancy Pelosi is confident she will be the next speaker. Her opponents are confident they can block that. Someone is going to lose. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two big questions surround the contingent of House Democrats opposing Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker: Are they bluffing when they say there are enough members prepared to vote against the California Democrat on the floor? And if they’re not, will that opposition hold until the Jan. 3 vote?

Leaders of the contingent, including Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Filemon Vela of Texas and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, have all said they’re confident that when the 116th Congress begins on the third day of January, there will be more than enough Democrats ready to vote against Pelosi on the floor — not “present” or abstaining from voting — to prevent her from claiming the speaker’s gavel.

Democrats Look for New DCCC Chair to Protect Majority
For the first time, competitive race will decide next head of campaign arm

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., is one of four candidates competing to lead the DCCC next cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the first time, House Democrats are competing in an open race to lead the party’s campaign arm next cycle. And the new leader’s responsibilities will include something no predecessor has faced in a decade: protecting their chamber majority.

The race to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is currently a four-way contest between Reps. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, and Denny Heck and Suzan DelBene of Washington. The DCCC chairmanship was an appointed position until 2016, after Democratic losses led to demands for changes at the committee. Current DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján is running for assistant Democratic leader.

Eager for Lame Duck Win, Trump Backs Prison Reform Bill
Members of both parties, Jared Kushner negotiated plan for months

President Donald Trump has thrown his weight behind a measure to reform the prison system that has bipartisan support. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Eager for a legislative win in the lame duck session, President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed legislation that would alter prison and sentencing policies as he tries to show he can push bipartisan bills through Congress.

Trump had been reluctant for months about whether to endorse the bill, which would include criminal justice changes backed by members of both parties in the House and Senate. His son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, has been working with members of both parties to craft the measure and scored a big win with the presidential endorsement.

Here’s the List of Senate Republican and Democratic Leaders
Status quo reigns (mostly)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., prepares to address the media after the Senate Policy lunches in the Capitol on March 20. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Father Drops Off His Son for Congress’ Freshman Orientation
Andy Levin, who will succeed his father in the House, was one of dozens of new members in Washington to learn the ropes

Members-elect from left, Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., Colin Allred, D-Texas, and Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., arrive for New Member Orientation at the Courtyard Marriott in Southeast Washington on Nov. 13. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Retiring Rep. Sander M. Levin drove away from the Courtyard Marriott in Southeast Washington, leaving his son on the curb in front of the hotel.

It was a true first day of school moment for Michigan Rep.-elect Andy Levin, who will be succeeding his father. As the Democrat made his way into the lobby around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, the official orientation for new members of Congress was just getting started.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger ‘Disgusted’ By Trump Mocking Unseated Republicans
‘Some of them lost because people, frankly, were voting against the president,’ GOP congressman says

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said some Republicans suffered losses on Election Day because of backlash to the president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump the day after Election Day read off a list of defeated Republicans whose losses he attributed to not embracing his endorsement on the campaign trail, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger watched in disgust.

“I wish the president had shown some more grace in that and said ‘Thank you for your service,’ instead of ‘It’s because you didn’t back me,’” the 16th District congressman said in an interview with CNN Tuesday. “I was very disgusted when I heard that.” 

Most House Democrats Will Be in Majority for First Time Ever
In contrast, most House Republicans have never been in the minority

New York Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Grace Meng have never served in the majority, with both first elected in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most House Democrats in the next Congress will be new to the majority and an overwhelming majority of Republicans will be new to the minority — a dynamic that could create a steep learning curve for members as they grapple with party strategy and messaging changes under the new power structure.

Even more significant is that a majority of leadership candidates for both parties have not served in a Democrat-led House.

With Divided Congress, Health Care Action Hightails It to the States
Medicaid expansion was the biggest winner in last week’s elections

As health care debates raged over the last few years, Congress was smack dab in the middle. After Tuesday’s elections, most of the action moves to the states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Newly-elected leaders in the states will be in a stronger position than those in Washington to steer significant shifts in health care policy over the next couple of years as a divided Congress struggles with gridlock.

State Medicaid work requirements, prescription drug prices, insurance exchanges and short-term health plans are among the areas with the potential for substantial change. Some states with new Democratic leaders may also withdraw from a multistate lawsuit aimed at killing the 2010 health care law or look for ways to curb Trump administration policies.

Steaks and Scotch Can Restore Sanity, According to One Hill Staffer
An invitation to the Bipartisan Dinner Group is mysterious and vague

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., right, is the inspiration behind the Bipartisan Dinner Group for staffers. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Michael Hardaway was in an elevator with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy when he was just a young Senate staffer. He seized the opportunity to ask the liberal giant for advice on navigating D.C.

“Sen. Kennedy told me that members in the old days were able to pass bills and get things done because of friendships formed after hours, when members often gathered for steaks and scotch,” said Hardaway, now communications director for New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

14 Democrats Push Back on Raising Caucus Threshold for Speaker Race
Caucus threshold should remain simple majority; members should unite behind winner, they say

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to run for speaker again. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A group of 14 Democrats who support Nancy Pelosi for speaker are pushing back on a proposal from some of their anti-Pelosi colleagues to raise the caucus threshold for nominating a speaker candidate. 

House Democratic Caucus rules make all of their elected leadership positions subject to a simple-majority vote. Then, under House rules, the speaker nominee chosen by the caucus needs to win votes from a majority of the entire chamber — 218, if everyone is present and voting.