Michael Macagnone

Blame game in standoff over Violence Against Women Act
Ernst says Democrats motivated by her 2020 race; Schumer calls her ‘afraid of NRA’

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said Tuesday that Democrats trying to undermine her 2020 reelection contributed to stalled talks to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Ernst had been working with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California for months on a bipartisan reauthorization bill before both sides said the negotiations fell apart earlier this month.

New census data: About 1 million same-sex households in US
Same-sex married and unmarried couples make up about 1 percent of all homes

The Census Bureau estimates about 1 million same-sex married and unmarried couples are living together nationwide, according to new figures released Tuesday.

Same-sex households make up about 1 percent of all homes, according to data released as part of the Current Population Survey and the first time such figures were included in its main results. The estimates provide a limited glimpse into the LGBTQ population in America, which has not shown up in federal surveys for much of the nation’s history.

Senate Democrats pick fight over gun provisions in VAWA
Bipartisan talks broke down over renewing law aimed at curbing domestic violence

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced the same Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill passed by the House, days after they say talks with Republicans about a compromise broke down over controversial gun provisions.  

The entire Democratic caucus has backed the bill, which has provisions restricting gun rights of certain convicts that helped spur the split with Senate Republicans. While promoting the measure during a news conference Wednesday, Democrats blamed the National Rifle Association’s sway in the chamber for the Republicans’ reluctance to back the bill.

Facebook, other social media sites pressured to protect census
Members of Congress are pushing social media companies like Facebook to protect the census from disinformation

Members of Congress are increasing pressure on social media companies to protect next year’s census from disinformation online, concerned that foreign governments and internet trolls could disrupt the 2020 enumeration.

The latest push comes in a letter the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus sent Thursday to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, asking her to speak with group members about steps to both promote the census and “combat interference and disinformation on its platform.” Russia or another country may try to push the census off course, they say, and Facebook and other companies should be prepared.

Senate talks on crafting bipartisan Violence Against Women Act break down
Iowa's Ernst to push her own bill, calls House version ‘nonstarter’

Bipartisan Senate talks over a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act fell apart this week, Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said in a floor speech Thursday.

Ernst said she’ll introduce her own version of the bill that can pass the Republican-controlled Senate and gain the support of President Donald Trump. The House, controlled by Democrats, passed a version of the bill in April.

Most Republicans on impeachment committees aren’t showing up, transcripts reveal
Freedom Caucus members have taken lead role in questioning, foreshadowing public hearings

Republicans have for weeks blasted the closed-door impeachment process, but transcripts released this week of private depositions show most GOP lawmakers on the three panels at the center of the probe have simply not shown up.

The low attendance for most committee Republicans paints a very different picture of a party that recently stormed the secure room where the depositions have been conducted, demanding to participate in the process. Republican questioning during these private interviews have been driven by a handful of President Donald Trump’s allies and GOP staff.

Shrinking congressional districts look for federal help
Some districts may have lost 30,000 or more people through 2018

Despite explosive growth in other areas of the country since 2010, about 80 congressional districts have lost significant population over the decade — leaving many looking for help from the federal government. 

Some districts may have lost 30,000 or more people through 2018, many of them in manufacturing and mining areas in the Northeast, according to Census Bureau data released last month. Most of those districts are represented by Democrats but located in states President Donald Trump won in 2016 by promising new trade deals that have since taken a back seat in Washington.

Commerce watchdog will monitor efforts to keep 2020 census secure
GAO and lawmakers have raised security concerns over Census Bureau’s IT systems

The Commerce Department’s internal watchdog will take a look at the Census Bureau’s efforts to keep the 2020 census secure, the inspector general said in a letter Thursday.

The announcement follows a trail of security concerns about Census Bureau systems for next year’s count from the Government Accountability Office and members of Congress. Next year’s census will allow an online response option for most of the country for the first time, along with traditional mail and phone response.

Survey: Young adults, minorities less likely to participate in the census
Pew survey finds blacks, adults under 30 and people with less money aren’t as likely to respond to the 2020 count

A significant portion of Americans said they may not participate in next year’s census, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Friday that has implications for the 2020 count’s cost, as well as its uses for redistricting and distribution of federal funds.

More than one in five younger adults, those making less than $30,000 and those identifying as black said they definitely will not, probably will not or might not participate in the census, according to the Pew report. Its results reflect similar outcomes to surveys conducted before and during the 2010 census, said one of the authors of the report, D’Vera Cohn.

Census Bureau seeking driver's license info, admin records
Effort will help officials comply with president‘s order to publish citizenship data on U.S. residents

The U.S. Census Bureau wants even more details on American residents, requesting states to provide driver’s license and administrative records to add to a trove of federal data being collected by the agency in its census count.

Officials plan to use the administrative information to help record people who might not otherwise respond to next year’s decennial survey, as well as to comply with President Donald Trump’s order to publish data on the citizenship of U.S. residents.

More diverse Pennsylvania and Florida districts might shape 2020 politics
Both states have grown in population, and many of their congressional districts have become more racially and ethnically diverse.

Pennsylvania and Florida, two swing states President Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016, may look substantially different next year, as new census data shows them trending away from his base.

Both states have grown in population, and many of their congressional districts have become more racially and ethnically diverse. However, that growth hasn’t been uniform and that may have implications for local politics in 2020 and beyond.

Justices debate overtaking Congress on LGBTQ protections
Justice Stephen Breyer called the role of Congress ‘the elephant in the room’ during arguments on three cases

The Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether and how far to get in front of Congress in determining whether a 55-year-old civil rights law covers discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Justice Stephen Breyer called the role of Congress “the elephant in the room” during arguments on three cases about how to apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a country that has changed drastically since its initial passage. The cases hinge on if the court decides whether discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes whether the person is attracted to the same gender or identifies as the opposite of what they were assigned at birth.

Missouri lawmaker seeks probe of GOP’s census look-alike mailings
RNC ‘district census’ fundraising solicitations raise concerns of potential confusion over 2020 count

Mailings the Republican National Committee sent to Montana and Missouri residents have riled officials there, prompting one House Democrat to call for an investigation into fundraising solicitations he says are designed to confuse people about the decennial census.

Styled as the “2019 Congressional District Census,” the mailing includes a questionnaire and letter from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel soliciting a donation of up to $1,000. But the mailings are likely to confuse residents before the start of next year’s census, argued Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri.

Diversity fuels biggest population growth in country’s suburbs
Shift could affect the political landscape locally and nationally

Increasing ethnic diversity has fueled population growth in the country’s fastest-expanding congressional districts, particularly in suburban Texas, according to census data released Thursday.

Concentrated in areas outside major cities in the South, the growth represents a trend across the nation: The suburbs are growing younger and including more minorities, potentially changing the political landscape both locally and nationally.

House Democrats look beyond funding in census preparations
Trump’s protracted fight over citizenship question has fueled partisan suspicions

Frustrated by President Donald Trump’s preparations for the 2020 census, House Democrats are increasingly looking for ways — inside the Beltway and out of it — to fill perceived gaps in reaching the nation’s hardest to count.

Trump’s protracted fight to add a citizenship question to the census has fueled suspicions among Democrats about a myriad of other agency decisions, ranging from how quickly it is spending money to how many local offices the agency will open. They fear Trump’s interference could undercount the communities they represent — particularly immigrants and minorities — when its results are used to divvy up political representation and federal funds, as well as serve as a base for business decisions and research.

Census falling further behind in hiring outreach staff
Partnership specialists are critical to reach hard-to-count populations

Census officials continue to fall behind their goals for hiring local outreach staff, a critical component in promoting the 2020 census among the hardest-to-count populations in the country, agency officials told an advisory committee.

While several aspects of the preparations, including address verification, are on or ahead of schedule, the U.S. Census Bureau said it remains more than 200 people short of its goal of hiring 1,500 local partnership staff ahead of next year’s count. The hiring problems have come as the agency ramps up for the 2020 enumeration that will be used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, how federal funds are allocated, and to structure economic surveys.

Trump closes in on background check decision, key senators say

President Donald Trump may soon announce whether he will support a yet-to-be-written Senate bill expanding background checks for commercial gun sales, a bipartisan group of senators said Wednesday.

Trump spoke for about 45 minutes by phone with the trio of members at the center of background check talks. Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., and Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., told reporters the president discussed options for securing a potential deal.

House Judiciary panel to dive into gun debate upon return
Background checks, assault weapons ban, ‘red flag’ laws and more could be on the table

The House Judiciary Committee will meet next week to jump-start legislation addressing firearm ownership, an issue that has languished before Congress for more than two decades but faces new urgency in the wake of recent mass shootings that rattled the country.

Supporters of the legislation have scrambled over the summer recess to cobble together support and advance various proposals before the political will withers after recent shootings in Gilroy, California; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas. A rampage in the West Texas community of Odessa over Labor Day weekend added to the concern. House Democrats have struggled with how far to push in the face of a GOP-controlled Senate and White House.

Trump wants to lift restrictions on how long it can hold migrant families
Pelosi accuses White House of ‘seeking to codify child abuse’

The Trump administration is moving to end a court settlement that limits its ability to hold migrants who cross the border into the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday, potentially allowing for indefinite detention of children with their parents.

President Donald Trump and his administration for years have chafed at the limitations resulting from the settlement, known as the Flores agreement. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday the new policy would get rid of an interpretation of Flores that has “substantially caused and continued to fuel” a migrant crisis at the southern border.

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

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.