House freshmen try to keep it local as presidential race steals the spotlight
Iowa Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer are taking similar approaches to their reelections

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, flips pork burgers at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES — Rep. Cindy Axne’s letter to Customs and Border Protection about African swine fever didn’t make national news. But it did prompt a “thank you” from a man with the Iowa Pork Association as Axne flipped pork burgers last week at the Iowa State Fair.

Attention to issues like that disease, which could threaten the country’s pork industry if it reached the U.S., is how first-term Democratic lawmakers like Axne are working to win reelection in 2020.

Congress has college affordability in its grasp. They should vote for ISAs
Income share agreements reduce risk for students while incentivizing schools

Income sharing agreements protect students from paying for educational experiences that don’t create value for them in the labor market, Price writes. (Courtesy iStock)

OPINION — Each year, our higher education system confers roughly two million bachelor’s degrees. Unfortunately, it also produces one million student loan defaults. This isn’t simply “two steps forward, one step back.” This is a system-wide failure that, while creating immeasurable value for some, is financially crippling many others along the way. We need college to generate more value for more students.

Some on Capitol Hill are vying for free college. While aspirational, such calls are unlikely to succeed in today’s political environment, and don’t address the broken business model of traditional higher education in the first place. Instead, Congress needs to address not just how much students pay for college, but also “how” they pay. Income share agreements, or ISAs, are an option worth considering.

Oversight blasts DOJ for siding with Trump in subpoena fight
The filing pushes back on a strategy to stymie congressional probes by limiting what can be sought from the executive branch

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is seen on a monitor as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., talks with an aide during a committee meeting on July 12, 2019. A new Oversight filing in D.C. court pushes back on a Trump administration strategy to stymie congressional investigations by limiting the scope of what they can seek from the White House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Oversight and Reform Committee criticized the Justice Department for proposing “astounding and novel” limits on congressional investigations Tuesday as a means to win a lawsuit over a subpoena for eight years of President Donald Trump’s financial records.

Oversight’s filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit pushes back on a Trump administration strategy to stymie congressional investigations by limiting the scope of what they can seek from the executive branch.

Payroll tax cuts off the table? Not so fast, says Trump in another whiplash reversal
No immediate move likely on taxes, as president also distances himself from gun background checks

President Donald Trump concludes a campaign rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | In yet another whiplash policy reversal, President Donald Trump directly contradicted his staff Tuesday by saying payroll tax cuts are on the table as he looks to stave off an election-year recession.

A White House official on Monday afternoon, responding to a Washington Post report that the White House was eyeing a payroll tax cut amid recession fears, dismissed the idea this way: “More tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time.”

Ways and Means chairman cites ‘credible allegations’ of misconduct in presidential tax audit
Allegation cited in filing in battle between House Democrats and Treasury over access to returns

President Donald Trump is opposing an attempt by the House Ways and Means Committee to get access to his tax returns. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The House Ways and Means Committee said it had received “credible allegations” from a federal employee of potentially “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS’ mandatory audit of presidential tax returns.

References to the unexplained allegations were in a letter included in a Tuesday filing by the committee in its federal lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The filing consisted of arguments in support of the committee’s motion for the court to grant it summary judgment in its lawsuit seeking six years of tax returns from President Trump and from eight of his businesses.

White House mulls slimmed-down foreign aid cuts package
Pompeo said to urge Trump not to use budgetary end-run

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly urged President Donald Trump to back away from a plan to rescind more than $4 billion in foreign aid previously approved by Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Trump administration plan to do an end-run around Congress and cancel more than $4 billion in previously approved foreign aid funds could be scaled back, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged President Donald Trump to back away from the idea in a phone call Monday night.

Details of the conversation between Pompeo, Trump and acting White House budget chief Russell Vought were shared by several individuals close to the foreign aid sector. A senior administration official declined to comment, other than to say it was a private conversation.

Joe Biden rebounds, Kamala Harris drops in new poll
After support ballooned in June, California Sen. Harris dropped back down to just 5 percent in August

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake on Friday August 9, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Former Vice President Joe Biden rebounded in the latest 2020 Democratic presidential primary poll conducted by CNN and SSRS, after his numbers appeared to be sagging earlier this summer.

Nearly one in three Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters said they back Biden among the field of candidates fighting for the party nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

Why can the Trump administration make changes to the Endangered Species Act?
Trump’s alterations to rules have drawn ire of some members of Congress and environmental groups

The Trump administration's proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act could make it easier to delist endangered species, and weaken protections for those listed as threatened. Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call

The landmark Endangered Species Act suffered a major hit last week when the Trump administration said it would roll back key provisions.

Trying to conceal tax returns, Trump sees political coordination in subpoenas
President accuses New York officials of working with House Democrats to damage him

President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the release of his state tax returns. (Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool file photo)

President Donald Trump says New York Attorney General Letitia James is “closely coordinating with House Democrats in a joint effort to obtain and expose” the president’s tax returns and financial information.

The allegation came in a filing Monday in federal district court in Washington as Trump amended the July 23 lawsuit he brought to block James and Michael R. Schmidt, commissioner of New York state’s Department of Taxation and Finance, from providing the president’s state tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.

They wear tiaras and sashes. But don’t call it a beauty pageant
Senate staffer hopes for luck at Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival

Molly Eastman was selected to represent Washington, D.C., at Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. (Courtesy Molly Eastman)

Molly Eastman is not competing in a beauty pageant. “That would very much be the American take on something like this,” she laughed over the phone from the Hart Senate Office Building. 

Eastman is representing Washington, D.C., this weekend in Ireland’s Rose of Tralee International Festival. Don’t get too caught up in the polished tiaras and evening gowns — “It’s basically a big celebration of Irish heritage,” the staffer for Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told me.  

North Carolina to start voting in a new election — under the shadow of the last one
Democrats hope last fall’s Republican ballot fraud scandal motivates the base in 9th District redo

James E. Nance, center, and Chris Council, right, listen to North Carolina Democrat Dan McCready speak at his campaign office in Elizabethtown, N.C., on Aug. 10. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. — Chris Council, a 53-year-old African American landscaper, is fired up about Democrat Dan McCready’s campaign for Congress.

“I’m not a betting man, but he’s going to win this race,” Council said after attending a McCready event in this 3,500-person town, the county seat of Bladen County, North Carolina.

Do Democrats need a backup plan?
If Biden’s stumbles continue, a certain former first lady might be well-positioned to step in

Former first lady Michelle Obama has disavowed any interest in running for president, but she may have a better chance of defeating Donald Trump than any of the Democrats currently running, Rothenberg writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — With many surveys showing multiple Democratic hopefuls leading President Donald Trump in hypothetical 2020 ballot tests, Democrats should feel confident they can deny the incumbent president a second term. But many don’t.

In spite of the huge field, the Democratic race is muddled because of questions about Joe Biden’s campaign skills, the progressive agendas of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the difficulty in finding a nominee who can appeal to a variety of constituencies, from the party’s base to suburban swing voters to possibly even working-class white women.

Watch: Tlaib and Omar speak after scrapped Israel trip

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib was denied entry into Israel over her support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Planned Parenthood exits Title X program over gag rule
It left the program over a new rule prohibiting clinics receiving Title X funds from discussing abortions with patients

The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri. The nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services will exit the federal family planning program over the Trump administration’s “domestic gag rule.” (Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

The nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services, including abortions, will exit the federal family planning program over the Trump administration’s “domestic gag rule,” which prohibits clinics receiving Title X funds from discussing abortions with patients.

Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Federation of America acting president and CEO, told reporters Monday that its clinics receiving Title X grants would begin submitting notices of withdrawal. The Department of Health and Human Services is requiring clinics to submit compliance plans by the end of the day.

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.