How Congress’ Schedule Is Supposed to Work
Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

The House gaveled out of session for the week on Wednesday after just two and a half days of work. While Capitol Hill sees some weeks that are more frenetic and productive than others, the chambers typically follow a more predictable schedule for their weeks. Senior editor David Hawkings explains....
Podcast: Use of Force vs. Use of Power
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 8

Senators on both sides are pushing to rewrite the law authorizing military force, untouched for 16 years. Even after airstrikes on Syria the debate is likely to fade fast, White House correspondent John Bennett explains, part of a complex modern war-making power dynamic that favors presidents over Congress.

Show Notes

What’s the Nuclear Option? Dismantling This Senate Jargon
 Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the Senate to drop a third nuclear bomb on the chamber’s procedure — completely eliminating the filibuster and allowing all legislation to pass with just a simple majority. Senate leaders have already gotten rid of the filibuster on executive and Supreme Court nominees, so why has the chamber avoided this final nuke on legislation? Senior editor David Hawkings explains....
Roy Blunt: Playing the Inside Game and Scoring
Missouri’s GOP senator is proof the popular outsider play isn’t the only winning route

In a political world where running against Washington has become one of the easiest paths to getting there, and where the ultimate outsider neophyte is president, Roy Blunt stands out as proof that the opposite approach sometimes still works.

Few in today’s Congress have succeeded as well, and for as long, at the inside game — where influence is cultivated and sustained by combining broad political and policy expertise along with deep interpersonal skill.

Ryan: Liberated Deficit Hawk or Lame Duck Whose Quack Won’t Be Heard?
Keeping his options open might mean reviving his personas of Trump critic and fiscal doomsayer

Paul D. Ryan is the first speaker of the House to depart on his own timetable in more than three decades. So what’s he going to do with the time he’s given himself for trying to massage his wounded legacy?

His most obvious option is working to revive a pair of well-remembered but recently abandoned roles — earnest fiscal doomsayer in a time of coursing red ink, and steward of seriousness and stability in a Republican Party that’s in the thrall of President Donald Trump.

Joseph Crowley, 56 Years Young and Ready to Succeed the Old Guard
Current leadership at least two decades older than New York Democrat

When the inevitable generational change starts in the top ranks of the House Democrats, Joseph Crowley is planning to be first in line.

Seven months can be more than several lifetimes in politics, of course, and an almost infinite number of internecine machinations will play out before the election — maneuvering not only within the current caucus but also among the candidates who are its most viable prospective new members.

Republicans Need Another Legislative Success to Avoid Midterm Woes
Realistic expectations a plus in politically polarized environment

Last week was all about the Republican Congress finishing a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad assignment that is nonetheless essential to the nation’s sustenance, exemplifies minimal governing competence, and may even be genuinely rewarding for the people elected to set policy.

It will be good for only half a year, and it was born of dozens of compromises for each side to crow and cry about, but the Capitol has produced a solidly bipartisan agreement on the full measure of federal spending.

Blue and Purple States Set to Lose Clout Under Trump Census Move
Allocation of congressional seats would be affected for a decade

Assertions of bald political skullduggery on one side, and protecting voting rights on the other, are obscuring a core consequence of the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question on the next census.

Posing such a query will likely reshuffle the allocation of congressional seats for the coming decade.

Republican Lawmakers Missed Opportunity to Save Trump From Trump
Legislative protection for special counsel could have forced president to refocus

Congressional Republicans have let slip a golden opportunity to make good on their most important and counterintuitive campaign promise of 2018 — covering for President Donald Trump at every mind-numbing opportunity.

They still have half a year to change their collective minds, but for now the GOP is essentially all in on one of the most outside-the-box political strategies of all time: Betting that safe passage for their imperiled majorities requires lashing themselves to a president mired in record low approval ratings, subsumed by self-orchestrated chaos and in the crosshairs of a special counsel.

How Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Pushed to the Center
Of the 10 running in Trump states, four stand apart for siding with the president

If you’re wearing a blue uniform but your game is in a stadium where most of the crowd usually roots for the reds, try accessorizing with as much purple as possible.

That bit of fashion advice is one cheeky way of describing the politically pragmatic behavior of most, but not all, of the 10 Democratic senators hoping to hold their seats this fall in states that went for President Donald J. Trump.

Wealth of Congress: Richer Than Ever, but Mostly at the Very Top
Collectively, their gains have outpaced the market, net worth is five times U.S. median

The people’s representatives just keep getting richer, and doing so faster than the people represented.

The cumulative net worth of senators and House members jumped by one-fifth in the two years before the start of this Congress, outperforming the typical American’s improved fortunes as well as the solid performance of investment markets during that time.

A Guide to Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress
Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

Roll Call has completed its analysis of Congress’ wealth, and the results are clear: Congress is getting richer. Senior editor David Hawkings walks you through the findings of the Wealth of the 115th Congress.

Podcast: A Map Puts Pennsylvania on Political Center Stage
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 4

The state’s Democratic congressional roster could grow by half a dozen, a huge boost for the party’s bid to take back the House this fall, thanks to new district lines drawn by the state’s highest court. Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman explains the party’s boosted targets for opportunity now that one of the nation’s most partisan gerrymandered maps has been re-colored in purple.

Show Notes:

When the Deal Precedes the Bid, Time to Change the Rules?
With bipartisan agreement that the budget system is broken, the Hill sets in motion a serious overhaul debate

The latest unfeasible budget proposal is so two days ago. But a rewrite of the unsalvageable budget process may be unavoidable three seasons from now.

What the White House delivered to the Capitol on Monday were among the least consequential documents of the year. That’s because their fine-print aspirations of fiscal restraint were entirely theoretical. They had been rendered meaningless three days before by the newest law on the books, which makes real the promise of at least $300 billion extra in acceptable appropriations during the next several months.

If There’s a Deal, Then What’s Up With Trump’s Budget Request?
 

On Monday, President Donald Trump will roll out his budget request for fiscal year 2019, which begins on Oct. 1, 2018. Senior editor David Hawkings explains what that means for Congress and how it relates to the two-year budget deal struck by Senate leaders earlier this month....
Podcast: ​In Search of the Ideal Political Map
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 3

Courts are weighing in as never before on whether gerrymandering can be too political. If red and blue can no longer constitutionally dominate the mapmakers’ work, what are they to do? As Roll Call election analyst Nathan Gonzales explains, it’s very difficult to draw districts that are at once competitive, compact and fair to minority voters. And the 2018 primaries are about to get started.

 Show Notes:

Trump Faces the Audience That Matters More: Hill Republicans
State of the Union may be forgotten, but GOP lawmakers will remember his bid for party loyalty in crucial coming months

Fresh off one speech designed to conjure an implausible degree of unity in the country, President Donald Trump will deliver another address designed to sustain his implausible degree of unity with Republicans on the Hill.

Tuesday’s State of the Union was all about persuading his national television audience, only two-fifths of which approves of his first year in office, to come around to the view of a “new American moment” in which a burst of economic vigor and the promise of tax cuts should be enough to sustain satisfaction past the next election.