Iowa

Criminal Justice Bill Could Bring Out Drama in Senate
Tom Cotton threatens Christmas showdown, throws gauntlet at colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the chamber will consider a criminal justice reform measure, but opponents might make it a rough debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is poised to vote on a bipartisan criminal justice bill as soon as this week, the culmination of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a public campaign by lawmakers, the White House and advocates to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor this year. But that does not mean the debate will be free of drama. 

McConnell announced Tuesday that the revised bill would be put on the floor agenda this month “following improvements to the legislation that [have] been secured by several members.” That ended weeks of uncertainty about whether the Senate would have a chance to vote on prison and sentencing changes that would be the first in a generation and could become a signature accomplishment right before the end of the 115th Congress.

Kevin Brady Drops Extenders, Adds Health Care Tax Rollbacks
House Ways and Means chairman deleted almost $30 billion in tax provisions

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is eyeing two possible lame-duck tax vehicles. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady has refashioned his year-end tax package to try to maximize GOP votes for a stand-alone bill, while dropping provisions the Senate could still pick up and pass this year, possibly as part of a huge wrap-up spending bill.

Brady, R-Texas, deleted $29.9 billion worth of tax provisions, collectively known as “extenders” because they are continually revived for a year or two at a time, that faced GOP opposition in the House. That includes one revenue-raiser disliked by the coal mining industry, which would extend the current tax they pay to support disabled miners with black lung disease; the tax would otherwise be slashed substantially next year.

Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column
From Trump to Beto to the Red Sox, it has been, well, another year

President Donald Trump provided much fodder for Stu Rothenberg's annual end of the year winners and losers column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Well, it’s time for another of my end-of-the-year winners and losers columns. I’ve titled it “Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column” just so you don’t miss the point.

As I have often done in the past, I’ll offer up a category with some nominees. Then I’ll give you my winner. If you disagree, please send your complaints to Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections or Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. Just don’t send them to me.

Final Farm Bill Would Make Hemp Legal, Other Details Revealed
Lying in state of George H.W. Bush disrupts bill release schedule

Corn grows on a farm on July 13, 2018 near Amana, Iowa. Farmers in Iowa and the rest of the country, who are already faced with decade-low profits, are bracing for the impact a trade war with China may have on their bottom line going forward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The top House Agriculture Democrat says a final farm bill agreement rejects controversial House provisions to tie food stamp benefits to expanded work requirements, greenlights hemp cultivation and tweaks programs important to farmers and ranchers.

The death of former President George H.W. Bush and his lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda disrupted congressional schedules this week, including the release of a final farm bill. Lawmakers have spent weeks negotiating to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation.  

Grassley Urges McConnell to Take Up Criminal Justice Bill
Judges can wait, Judiciary chairman says

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with staff before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee markup hearing in the Dirksen Building on Nov. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley again implored Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get a criminal overhaul through the Senate before the end of the year.

It should be OK if fewer of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations get confirmed as a result, Grassley said, especially with the GOP holding the Senate.

Odds Stacked Against House Members Considering 2020 White House Bids
As many as 6 House Democrats could launch campaigns to challenge Trump

Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, second from left, and Eric Swalwell of California, to his left, could find themselves running against each other for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Also pictured, Rep. Grace Meng and former Rep. Steve Israel, both of New York. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As high-profile Democratic senators and governors steel themselves for a race to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020, at least six sitting House Democrats are rumored to be weighing runs.

They include Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, Dies at 94
Last World War II veteran to serve as POTUS dies seven months after wife Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush at the 1992 Republican National Convention.  (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president and self-effacing patriarch of one of America’s premier political families, which has included two occupants of the White House, a senator and a governor, died Friday, at age 94.

As president, Bush led an international coalition to victory in the first Persian Gulf war in 1990-91, only to lose his bid for re-election the following year to Democrat Bill Clinton primarily because of a prolonged recession and Bush’s perceived inability to cure it.

Rep.-Elect Ben Cline Wins Raucous Office Lottery
Incoming Congress does the floss, impersonates Oprah at biennial tradition

Rep.-elect Ben Cline, R-Va., is seen after drawing number 1 during the new member room lottery draw for office space in Rayburn Building on November 30, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It got raucous in the Rayburn Building on Friday as Virginia Republican Ben Cline pulled the lucky number during a lottery for incoming members of Congress. The reward was a coveted one: first choice of office space. 

Packed with 85 freshmen, plus their staff and press, the room erupted when Cline pulled the top number, giving him his pick of available office suites. He flashed a big smile as he turned around to face the crowd.

Can You Run for Congress and President? Depends Where
Politicians being considered for president in 2020 face diverging state laws on current positions

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, is receiving 2020 presidential attention but will also be up for re-election for his Senate seat. California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris is also finding her name in 2020 presidency conversations but her Senate term doesn’t expire until 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed a law this month clarifying that a candidate for one of the state’s U.S. Senate or House seats can also run in presidential primaries.

Locals nicknamed it Cory’s Law, a cheeky acknowledgment that Sen. Cory Booker is up for re-election in 2020 and is also expected to launch a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Cohen Among Select Few Charged With Lying to Congress
House Democrats poised to use ex-Trump lawyer’s plea as basis to target others

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating the criminal statute, Section 1001 of Title 18, by lying to Congress via a letter to Senate and House Intelligence committees and during testimony before the Senate panel last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress in violation of a law known for ensnaring celebrities, sports figures and other defendants in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe — but this time in a way that could reverberate in congressional investigations next year.

Those convicted or who pleaded guilty to violating the criminal statute, Section 1001 of Title 18, include television personality Martha Stewart, politicians such as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and, in the Russia probe, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.