David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: Trump’s Next Budget Battle Begins Soon

The whiteboard is back! Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings looks past the current battle to fund the government to sketch out President Donald Trump’s next budget task – funding the government for fiscal 2018. His ambitions are big, find out how likely they are to get accomplished.

Podcast: Trump's About-Face in His First 100 Days
The Big Story, Episode 51

The first 100 days of an administration have been used as a benchmark to gauge the progress made by a sitting president. Donald Trump’s first 100 days are punctuated by successes such as confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee and self-inflicted wounds such as the travel ban, says CQ Roll Call’s White House correspondent John T. Bennett. But what is most striking about Trump thus far, adds Bennett, is the difference between candidate Trump and President Trump.

Podcast: Troubled Climate for Trump’s First Earth Day
The Big Story, Episode 50

President Donald Trump is moving on several fronts to deregulate environmental protection, prompting some states to intervene. But deep EPA budget cuts will get tamed by Congress, and the U.S. might stay with the Paris climate accord; even business leaders and conservative voters worry the anti-green push has gone too far, CQ Roll Call’s Mike Magner and Jeremy Dillon explain.

How Trump and Hill GOP Could Fill the Looming Legislative Void
Bipartisan deal to ease spending curbs would give Congress ways to seem productive

Forget the fake news folderol about another shutdown showdown at the end of next week, because just over the horizon looms the year’s really big fiscal morass. 

It’s highly likely that the first order of business when Congress comes back, keeping the bureaucracy humming for just five months, will prove to be the policymaking equivalent of an empty net goal.

Ep. 49: Trump’s Ethics Give Democrats a Midterm Weapon
The Big Story

President Donald Trump has a blasé approach to the long list of complaints about his ethical conflicts and quandaries, and his GOP base hardly seems to mind, CQ Roll Call’s lobbying reporter Kate Ackley says. But all the questionable behavior by the president, his senior aides and his family are already giving Democrats on the Hill plenty of talking points for the midterm campaign.

Why McConnell Vowed to Preserve Minority’s Big Remaining Power
After going ‘nuclear’ for Gorsuch, legislative filibuster not endangered

Thursday’s showdown at the Capitol has been heralded by such melodramatic rhetoric — a miasma of transparent flip-flopping and brazen hypocrisy sullying virtually every senior senator, from both parties — that two genuinely meaningful consequences of the moment may be hard to appreciate.

The first is more obvious: The views of the political minority will never again matter when filling the confirmation-required government job with by far the biggest and longest-lasting impact on the lives of Americans.

How Devin Nunes Got Where He Is Today
Networking, not expertise, got him the Intel gavel so many now want to take away

Any search for a single Republican capable of undermining not only his party’s efforts to project a modicum of independence from President Donald Trump, but also the House’s institutional standing in the world of global affairs oversight, would not normally focus on an alfalfa and dairy farmer turned congressman from California.

But such is the uniquely unsettled nature of Washington this spring that the open casting call for the most newly pilloried person at the Capitol this year is over after just 10 weeks, the role awarded by virtually unanimous consent to Devin Gerald Nunes.

Ep. 47: How the Senate Risks Losing Its Essence Over Gorsuch
The Big Story
The Republican majority is preparing to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmations if that’s what it takes to assure Neil Gorsuch is confirmed, says CQ's legal affairs writer Todd Ruger. But he and CQ Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings say using the so-called nuclear option could change centuries of precedent that make the Senate a place where bipartisanship still matters.  ...
Decoder: Five Takeaways From the Gorsuch Hearings
 

Having completed two long days of grilling before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch leaves us with much to think about. CQ Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings has five key takeaways from the hearings....
GOP Gets a Second Shot at Governance Test
But as shutdown showdown looms, no signs of change in party factionalization

The tax overhaul can wait, and it’s going to have to.

For the Republican government that so phenomenally flopped its first big attempt at policymaking, a much more basic test of governance looms in the next month — and another failure seems hardly a politically acceptable option.

Eight Is Enough: Trump’s Tough Search for Gorsuch Democrats
‘Deep red five’ and others targeted to vote to break coming SCOTUS filibuster

Donald Trump’s first quest for a Hard Eight began long before Neil Gorsuch’s two days as a Senate witness made it as easy as it’s ever going to be for the president to win his first big judicial bet. 

That’s still not going to be that easy.

Yesterday’s US Attorneys May Be Tomorrow’s Congressional Candidates
Abrupt ouster by Trump administration provides incentive

President Donald Trump’s abrupt ouster of almost half the country’s U.S. attorneys has done more than create yet another tempest for his nascent administration. It’s also created a new and potentially potent Democratic political class.

Campaign consultants in both parties have long identified prosecutors — especially those confirmed by the Senate to act as the chief federal law enforcement officers in the nation’s 93 judicial districts — as top-flight congressional recruiting opportunities. But, for reasons that aren’t all that obvious, the Republicans have propelled many more crime busters onto Capitol Hill than the Democrats in recent years.

Ep. 45: Inside the GOP’s Uphill Health Bill Battle
The Big Story

CQ Roll Call’s health editor Rebecca Adams breaks down why the Republican replacement for Obamacare is being attacked on all sides. And senior editor David Hawkings talks about the political consequences of the GOP’s current predicament.

What You Likely Won’t Hear from Gorsuch in Senate Hearings — and Why

The three-day confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will begin Monday, March 20. Senior editor David Hawkings says the process may offer very little in the way of insight into Gorsuch’s legal philosophy because of an unsuccessful confirmation in the 80s. Watch the video for more analysis....
High Risk for Trump’s Asking Congress to Probe His Tapping Claim
Intelligence panels’ bipartisan approach might lead to answers president won’t like

In the long and storied history of congressional investigations, there’s no record of lawmakers acting at the president’s behest to get to the bottom of his own extraordinarily explosive but totally unsubstantiated allegations.

But that is going to be the case in the already amply unprecedented era of President Donald Trump. The result could not only change the very nature of legislative branch oversight, but also alter the turbulent course of this nascent administration.

Nine Requests Trump Made of Congress and How Likely They Are to Get Done
 

Following President Donald Trump’s primetime address to a joint session of Congress, Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings gives his take on the long list of Trump’s asks of Congress — and notes previous presidents have had to shorten such lists....
How a Tenet of GOP Orthodoxy Slipped Away
Trump saying nothing about cutting entitlements, and Ryan saying nothing about that

Nothing President Donald Trump said in his first speech to Congress, and nothing visible on this year’s budget battle horizon, will change the grim realities of the long-range federal fiscal forecast.

Trump continues to sound like he’s out to refashion the Republicans as populist protectors of elderly Americans and their expansive government safety net, and GOP leaders on the Hill newly sound like they aren’t going to do anything to stand in his way. That represents a fundamental retreat from three decades of party orthodoxy, which could revive the sort of ballooning annual deficits long derided by Republicans as the enemy of national economic stability.

Ep. 43: The Problems Facing Trump's Big Government Agenda
The Big Story

Show Notes:

““

Nevada’s Hill Sway Sinks While Other Small States Surge
New Roll Call Clout Index reveals big disconnects between population and Capitol influence

Harry Reid may have masterminded one of 2016’s biggest statewide Democratic sweeps as he headed toward retirement, but the Nevada congressional delegation he left behind has lost much of its legislative leverage as a result. 

In fact, only two delegations have less collective influence at the Capitol this year than the six lawmakers from the Silver State, the newest Roll Call Clout Index reveals.

Tennessee, Texas Stand Out for Strengthened Hill Sway
In Roll Call’s Clout Index for this Congress, California delegation’s longtime hold on top spot is threatened

No state in this decade has seen a more meaningful boost than Tennessee in institutionalized congressional influence.

Only eight states, all with much bigger delegations because they’re much more populous, have more overt sway at the Capitol this year. That is one of several notable findings from the new Roll Call Clout Index, which the newspaper uses to take a quantifiable measurement of every state’s potential for power at the start of each new Congress.