Susan Collins

FDA nominee to face questions on issues from vaping to salmon
It might be hard for Stephen Hahn to win over Democrats because of a pending White House vaping decision

Stephen Hahn, President Donald Trump’s choice to head the Food and Drug Administration, faces a confirmation hearing on Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (Courtesy The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

When President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration appears for the first time before a Senate panel on Wednesday, he’ll likely face tough questions about some policy issues that he may not have thought much about previously.

While the nominee, Stephen Hahn, is a highly regarded cancer doctor who has helped lead a research hospital with a budget nearly the size of the FDA’s, the confirmation hearing will be a reminder of the breadth of the agency’s work.

States in the East with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Pennsylvania remains a presidential battleground, while Collins bid in Maine will be closely watched

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, but she has a strong personal brand that will help her if she seeks another term as expected in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

Democrats protest, but Senate confirms Steven Menashi to federal appeals court
Nominee for Second Circuit described as ‘bottom crawler’ by Democratic leader

Steven J. Menashi was confirmed to the federal bench on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The man Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer described as a “bottom crawler” was confirmed Thursday to a lifetime appointment on the federal appeals court based in his home state of New York.

Schumer and other Democrats have opposed many of President Donald Trump’s nominees to be federal judges that have been called up for votes by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But the opposition to Steven J. Menashi has been more voracious than for most.

Moneyball, meet politics: Could VAR settle arguments about candidate strength?
Vote Above Replacement puts Klobuchar atop presidential field, Collins way above other senators

Maine Republican Susan Collins, center, outranks the entire Senate on Inside Elections’ Vote Above Replacement statistic, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, ranks highest among Democratic presidential contenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the era of data and metrics and models in political analysis, at least one question still remains: How do we quantify the strength of individual candidates?

Arguing over whether a candidate or incumbent is good or bad is an age-old tradition in the political media and among party operatives. Typically, candidate strength is measured by fundraising or the margin of a win or loss. But that can fail to account for the particular election cycle or the possibility that any candidate running on a particular party’s line in a particular year or state would do just as well.

Playing Chutes and Ladders with impeachment
Plenty of risks ahead for over-zealous Democrats and skittish Republicans

As the House Intelligence panel, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff, prepares to open impeachment hearings, there are plenty of risks ahead for over-zealous Democrats and skittish Republicans, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — “With the president impeached — in effect, indicted — by the House, the frenzied trial for his conviction or his acquittal under the Articles of Impeachment began on March 5. … It was a trial to rank with all the great trials in history — Charles I before the High Court of Justice, Louis XVI before the French Convention, and Warren Hastings before the House of Lords.”

That overwrought description of the 1868 Senate impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson comes from John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage,” which won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize.

Trump judicial pick blows off Democrats’ questions on Ukraine
An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but still advances

Steven J. Menashi during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on  September 11, 2019. He refused to answer questions on Ukraine, but his nomination was advanced to the Senate floor anyway.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to say whether he played a role in White House events now at the heart of the accelerating House impeachment probe — and Republicans haven’t let that halt his move through the confirmation process.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to advance the nomination of Steven Menashi, who works in the White House counsel’s office. President Donald Trump picked him for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit based in New York.

Senate Republicans kill Democratic move on Trump health policy
Democrats decried letting states approve so-called ‘junk plans’

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., sees the vote on the health insurance guidance as a referendum on support for people with pre-existing conditions. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate rejected a Democratic resolution to nullify a Trump administration health care policy that supporters billed as a referendum on support for pre-existing condition protections.

The 43-52 vote on Wednesday blocked a disapproval resolution that would have reversed a 2018 guidance expanding changes states could make to their insurance markets through waivers. Democrats forced the vote via the Congressional Review Act even though no states have sought to make the types of changes the administration is encouraging.

Senate Majority PAC announces new senior staff
Democratic super PAC raised and spent more than $164 million in 2018 cycle

J.B. Poersch is the president of Senate Majority PAC. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic super PAC focused on Senate races is announcing a new round of senior staff hires, according to an announcement shared first with CQ Roll Call. All of the new staffers are women with experience in competitive races. 

Senate Majority PAC is a major spender in Senate races and its president, J.B. Poersch, said the group is looking to expand the Senate map in 2020. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates eight GOP-held Senate seats as competitive, and Democrats need a net gain of four seats to flip the Senate (or three if they win the White House, since the vice president casts the chamber’s tie-breaking vote).

Vulnerable GOP senators back Graham impeachment resolution
Condemnation of Democrats’ process signals strategy for 2020 hopefuls as probe continues

Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution condemning the House’s impeachment probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators who could be vulnerable in next year’s elections, including some who have declined to say whether it would be appropriate for a president to use U.S. aid to get political favors from a foreign leader, have signed on to a measure condemning the House impeachment process.

Their support for a resolution introduced in the Senate on Thursday by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shows the GOP is rallying behind criticism of Democrats’ tactics as a way to blunt questions about President Donald Trump’s behavior.

Democrats and Republicans criticize Trump after he calls impeachment a ‘lynching’
‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ Democratic Rep. Rush asks president

President Donald Trump makes remarks during the inaugural meeting of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council with Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Joe Grogan, left, and council Executive Director Scott Turner in the Cabinet Room at the White House in April. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Conjuring memories of racially motivated murders and drawing an immediate bipartisan backlash, President Donald Trump on Tuesday described House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “lynching.”

Trump made the statement in a morning tweet that began with a warning that “if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights.”