Stephanie Akin

Pro-Pot Lawmakers to Join Forces, Launch Cannabis Caucus
Move comes amid uncertainty for state marijuana laws under Trump

Lawmakers looking to draw attention to pet issues have formed groups in favor of everything from auto care to zoos. Now, there’s a caucus for cannabis. 

Rep. Earl Bluemenauer said the move — to be announced at a press conference Thursday — is a sign of how mainstream the drive for marijuana legalization has become.

The Other ‘Steve’ in the White House
Stephen Miller’s influence goes beyond his years, experience

He hasn’t been parodied on “Saturday Night Live” or pictured on the cover of Time magazine. But Stephen Miller, a 31-year-old former congressional aide, has rapidly emerged as one of the more influential figures in President Donald Trump’s White House. 

Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser, works alongside his higher-profile counterpart Steve Bannon, the former head of the far-right Breitbart News. The president has affectionately dubbed the duo “my two Steves.” Some in the media have termed the pair the Breitbart wing of the White House.

House to Take First Step to Overturn D.C. Assisted Suicide Law
Local groups plan to protest latest salvo against home rule

A House committee will take the first official step Monday evening to overturn a new Washington, D.C., assisted suicide law, raising concerns locally that a Republican-controlled Congress will be emboldened to interfere with city government under President Donald Trump.

Actually overturning the so-called Death With Dignity Act would require an improbable series of events. After the vote on the disapproval resolution at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the measure would have to pass floor votes in both the House and the Senate president before Feb. 17. That’s according to a timeline set out by the city’s Home Rule Act.

GOP Staffers Are Waiting to Hear, ‘You’re Hired’
With Trump in office, the hiring spree is about to begin

As the point person for Hill staffers looking for jobs in the Trump administration, Rep. Chris Collins is suddenly very popular among his colleagues.

The New York Republican said that every time he walks onto the House floor, he leaves with a handful of manila envelopes stuffed with application materials. His office started a spreadsheet in November of every job seeker who contacted him.

Anti-Abortion Marchers Describe New Optimism in Era of Trump
Pence, Conway, tell March for Life crowd that Trump will support their cause

For most of her life, Gina Garvey has trekked to the Washington mall to join abortion opponents in the annual March for Life.

On Friday, the crowd was similar to so many others she had seen: people hoisting signs that denounced Planned Parenthood and declared that life is beautiful; nuns and priests in habits; school groups in colorful knit hats; so many people that at times it was difficult to move.

Crisis Averted but Future Is Still Unclear for House Watchdog
Republicans promise bipartisan review of Office of Congressional Ethics

House Republicans might have ditched a plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. But the future of Congress’ only outside ethics review board is far from guaranteed.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, has been under fire from both parties since it was created eight years ago. Now the House GOP majority is promising to revisit a potential overhaul before the end of this session, possibly as early as August.

Donald Trump and the Russian Connection
Members of president-elect’s inner circle with alleged ties to Russia

Donald Trump’s inner circle is studded with links to Russia — from a potential secretary of State who received a medal from Vladimir Putin to a campaign adviser who worked for Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians.

Those connections, combined with Trump’s own expressions of admiration for Putin, have fueled speculation that a Trump administration would forge an unprecedented alliance with the Russian government. Some critics have warned that the president-elect’s stance toward Russia could be swayed in part by the business interests of his advisers.

Questions Loom for House’s Top Inquisitor
Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz faces a crossroads on Trump

As one of Congress’ chief inquisitors, Jason Chaffetz shot to national prominence using the same playbook that has worked for both parties — he relentlessly investigated the opposition. 

His targets were often officials in President Barack Obama’s administration and Hillary Clinton. For Clinton, had she won the November election, there was no end in sight — Chaffetz said he had years of material lined up.L

Pot Advocates Protest Jeff Sessions’ AG Nomination
D.C. group says Alabama senator could roll back progress on legalization

A small group of marijuana advocates protested Sen. Jeff Sessions’ potential confirmation as attorney general at the Capitol on Monday, saying it could roll back years of state-based progress toward legalization.

“We have a slogan, ‘Smoke Sessions,’” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of the DCMJ advocacy group. “We don’t want him.”

Can Congressional Republicans and Trump Stay Friends?
Trump and the Hill GOP make nice, but who knows how long it will last

House Republicans about to unanimously nominate Speaker Paul D. Ryan for another term as their standard-bearer recently got a not-so-subtle signal of who’d really united their party:

Red “Make America Great Again” hats were waiting on every seat.

Trump Cabinet Picks Incite Liberal Backlash
Democrats, civil liberties groups sound alarm on choices of top advisers

President-elect Donald Trump’s picks for three key Cabinet positions incited a chorus of denunciations from Democrats and liberal groups Friday.

After announcing former Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon would be a top adviser earlier this week, Friday’s selections further confounded conjectures that Trump would return to his moderate roots as he assembled his Cabinet.

Sessions Pick Could Blow Smoke at Marijuana Legalization Efforts
Trump’s AG nominee said in April, ‘Good people don't smoke marijuana‘

Jeff Sessions’ selection as attorney general, announced Friday, could be a setback to the burgeoning movement to legalize marijuana.

The Alabama Republican, who declared at an April Senate hearing that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” is one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of legalization.

Youngest Son of Rep. John Conyers Missing in Houston
Reports: FBI, Secret Service, private search group working to find missing 21-year-old

The youngest son of Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. was reported missing Wednesday night in Houston, hours after he failed to show up at a scheduled meeting with his girlfriend, according to the congressman’s staff and media reports.

Carl Conyers, 21, a student at the University of Houston, was last seen by a roommate on Tuesday, Fox News and Houston’s CBS affiliate KHOU 11 News reported Thursday.

Trump Won the Election. Now Comes the Hard Part
Convincing Congress to support scattershot policies may prove difficult

Now that Donald Trump has proved the Washington establishment wrong by winning the presidential election, his next hurdle will be getting the Congress he railed against to go along with the often scattershot policy proposals that buoyed his victory.

The Republicans who will control both chambers of Congress after Tuesday night’s sweep share party loyalty with the president-elect, an advantage that will almost certainly mean swift action on Trump’s promised conservative Supreme Court nominee. But the clarity ends there.

Nevada Judge Dismisses Trump Claim Over Early Voting
Few problems have been reported at the polls, despite weeks of competing forecasts of voter intimidation, fraud

A Nevada judge on Tuesday denied a request from the Donald Trump campaign to set aside ballots it contested, concluding the first of what could be a raft of legal challenges concerning problems at the polls.

With conservative and liberal groups launching extensive efforts to monitor the election, there were scattered reports and complaints about voter irregularities throughout the day Tuesday, though none appeared to support Trump's claim that the election was "rigged."

House Members Have Mixed Record on Higher Office
Thirteen House members and the delegate from Puerto Rico made bids for bigger things

Thirteen House members — and one non-voting delegate from Puerto Rico — gave up their posts to run for statewide office this year, with varying success.

Three of those races, the Maryland, Indiana and Louisiana Senate campaigns, pitted colleagues in the House against each other. While the majority were vying for Senate seats, Democrats John Carney, of Delaware and Pedro Pierluisi, or Puerto Rico, made bids for governor. Here is a round-up of their positions as polls opened on Tuesday.

Trump Notches Slight Lead in Three Tiny Towns that Voted First
Clinton wins two New Hampshire towns with midnight voting, but Trump pulls ahead in third

Election Day was over almost as soon as it started in three tiny New Hampshire towns that voted around midnight Tuesday, with Republican nominee Donald Trump claiming a very early lead.

The towns, each with populations fewer than 100, were the first in the country to finish tallying their votes, thanks to a state law that allows small towns to open polls at the strike of midnight and close them as soon as everyone has voted. Clinton won in two of them, but Trump pulled ahead in the third, giving him a total of 32 votes to Clinton's 25. according to news reports.

Marijuana Legalization Could Get a Boost in a Democratic Senate
Advocates hope for better reception to sweeping pot bill, now stalled

The momentum toward marijuana legalization — already accelerated this year by a raft of state ballot measures — could get an even bigger boost if Democrats win control of the Senate.

That’s partly because the controlling party will choose the chairman of the committee that determines whether a sweeping marijuana proposal advances or dies.

Elise Stefanik's Cautious Dance With Trump
House's youngest woman and other GOP candidates walking political tightrope

Elise Stefanik appears to be coasting through her re-election bid in New York's 21st District and toward a bright future in the Republican Party.

But that’s not what reporters who chased the freshman congresswoman after a recent debate in upstate New York wanted to talk about. They wanted to ask her why she still supports Donald Trump.

Congress and a Tax Overhaul: Lots of Talk, Little Action
Donald Trump's tax return controversy could prompt action — or not

Is 2017 the year when a tax overhaul finally happens?

Don’t bet on it.