independents

Trump increases China tariffs as stocks tumble amid latest trade tensions
President posts odd tweet blaming markets’ jitters on largely unknown House Democrat

A container ship sits docked at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California. President Donald Trump and China traded barbs again Friday in an escalating trade battle that has prompted global recession fears. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Capping an extraordinary day of major power muscle-flexing and more odd presidential behavior, Donald Trump on Friday answered a tariffs threat from Beijing by increasing coming import duties on $550 billion worth of Chinese-made items.

“Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of Fair and Balanced Trade that it has become a great burden to the American Taxpayer. As President, I can no longer allow this to happen! In the spirit of achieving Fair Trade, we must Balance this very....” he wrote in a tweet before adding in another: “..unfair Trading Relationship. China should not have put new Tariffs on 75 BILLION DOLLARS of United States product (politically motivated!).”

Trump vulnerability in a primary is more fiction than fact
President has solid GOP support, a huge cash advantage, and it’s already late in the process

Former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is considering a challenge to President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford is seriously considering challenging President Donald Trump in the primary, even though he called the idea “preposterous” on many levels. It’s a rare moment when you should take a politician at his word.

Even if you look past the huge hurdles of the president’s popularity among the Republican base and the humongous fundraising advantage, the anti-Trump movement is simply running out of time, and it’s arguably too late to mount a serious presidential campaign at all.

Democratic voters just want to beat Trump. Why are their leaders making it so hard?
Biden’s mix-ups aren’t great, but they’re nothing compared to Trump. The man just tried to buy Greenland

Democratic candidates should stop cudgeling each other and keep their eye on the presidential prize, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Paging all Democratic candidates, campaign staffers and activists: Do yourselves a favor before it’s too late. Repeat after me: “But that’s nothing compared to Donald Trump.” Use this simple phrase every time you feel the need to criticize another Democratic candidate, or even your own candidate (you know who you are) in the press.

Because lately, two standards for 2020 contenders have emerged in the narratives that dominate campaign coverage. First, there’s the higher, tougher, almost impossible-to-meet standard used for Democrats. And then there’s the lower, he-always-does-that-so-what-do-you-expect measurement saved for the president they’re all trying to replace. If you’re not careful, your critiques of each other’s unfitness for office will send each other’s negatives soaring before Trump even has to get started on the job.

Trump missing an opportunity to burnish his legacy with gun law
If anyone in GOP can stand up to the NRA, it's the outsider president

President Donald Trump has not been clear about what changes he would seek to gun background checks, but he has the political capital in the GOP to stand up to the NRA if he wants a new gun law to be part of his legacy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has forgotten who holds the power within the Republican Party.

There’s a perception that the National Rifle Association has an impenetrable lock on base Republican voters and thus is holding GOP members of Congress captive. But Trump is the one person who has the capital with the GOP base to oppose the NRA and get something done on guns. And the president is missing an opportunity to add a legacy item to his time in office and even help his chances of winning a second term.

Bernie Sanders labor plan would let federal workers strike
Presidential contender unveils plan ahead of Iowa AFL-CIO trip

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has unveiled a labor policy plan ahead of a visit to the Iowa AFL-CIO. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled a new labor plan Wednesday that includes a proposal to let federal employees go on strike.

“Under current law, federal employees are not guaranteed the same labor rights as workers in the private sector. While they have the ability to unionize, they are prohibited from going on strike,” a plan summary said. “Under this plan, federal workers would have the right to strike.”

Tax cuts to avoid recession would be another Trump contradiction
Trump says a recession is unlikely, but officials might slash some taxes just in case

Marine One helicopter takes off with President Donald Trump as members of the media watch on the South Lawn of the White House on July 12, 2019. White House officials are apparently planning to slash payroll taxes temporarily to avoid an economic slowdown, a contradiction to Trump’s public comments. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials, despite President Donald Trump saying a recession is unlikely, are considering slashing some federal taxes to avoid an economic slowdown, according to an official with knowledge of planning.

“As Larry Kudlow said yesterday, more tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table,” a White House official told Roll Call Monday afternoon, referring to the president’s top economic adviser.

So much Iowa, so little time
Snapshots of a state that will be a big deal politically for a while

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg talks with attendees at a campaign event in Fairfield, Iowa, on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — It is difficult for some people to accept that Iowa, a relatively small state in the middle of the country, has such an outsize role in determining the next president. But the Hawkeye State is more of a microcosm of U.S. politics and the country than it might first appear.

Iowa’s population of roughly 3 million people is tiny compared to mega-states like California, Texas and Florida, and it has a lack of racial diversity (it is about 87 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). But its voting patterns and political infrastructure make it a valuable barometer. 

Trump appointees routinely bullied State Department staffers, IG reports
Numerous employees subjected to ‘disrespectful,’ ‘hostile’ and ‘inappropriate’ treatment

Two top officials at the State Department engaged in "generally unprofessional behavior" toward staffers, the inspector general's report found. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

A long-awaited investigation by the State Department’s inspector general concluded in a report released Thursday that multiple career employees were subjected to “disrespectful,” “hostile” and “inappropriate” treatment at the hands of political appointees.

The review specifically focused on allegations of political retaliation against career employees at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which leads and coordinates U.S. policy toward the United Nations. For over a year, House and Senate Democrats have pushed for a thorough investigation into whistleblower complaints and news reports that political appointees were vetting career employees at the State Department and retaliating against those they deemed insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump and his administration’s conservative agenda.

Border emergency hits six months; ball back in Congress’ court
Lawmakers may again try to terminate Trump's declaration allowing him to shift funds for wall construction

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats appear in February at a news conference on the joint resolution to terminate Trump's emergency declaration. It is not clear whether they will try again to pass a similar measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thursday marks six months since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the southern border, a notable anniversary because it gives Congress another shot at ending it.

The flashpoint in the debate remains funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, a prominent pledge made during Trump’s 2016 presidential bid that now hangs over the 2020 campaign.

DCCC adds six more Trump districts to its 2020 target list
House Democrats are expanding their potential battlefield to 39 seats

The House Democrats’ campaign arm is targeting Virginia GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding six more districts to the list of seats it’s targeting in 2020. 

After gaining a net of 40 seats last fall, the House Democrats’ campaign arm released its initial 2020 target list in January that included 32 GOP-held seats and the open seat in North Carolina’s 9th District, which is holding a special election next month.