Stephanie Akin

How The GOP’s Health Care Law Went Down
A play-by-play of one of the most momentous days in Trump’s presidency

It was a nail-biter of a day with a photo finish.

The Republican Party’s seven-year effort to repeal the 2010 health care law ended with a thud Friday when the GOP decided not to even subject its do-or-die alternative to a vote.

The Supreme Court Confirmation Battle That Began 30 Years Ago
Three senators on Judiciary panel weathered watershed 1987 fight

In one of the more striking moments from the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley offered this advice:

Don’t answer every question.

Massive Eisenhower Memorial Could Break Ground as Early as September
Congressional support among the last barriers after 20-year dispute

Construction could begin as early as September on a proposed memorial for President Dwight D. Eisenhower that has been mired in controversy for almost 20 years. 

That’s according to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission and the chairman of the House committee that oversees the funding for the project.

Think Modern-Day Politics Are a Revival of the Nixon Era? Check It Out
Newly released 1970s Congressional Records document familiar themes

The president feuds with the media. Congress investigates secret intelligence operations. And tensions simmer between the United States and Iran. 

Welcome to the 1970s.

The Democrat Who Hugged the President
Trump and Sen. Joe Manchin share an interlocked fate

Most Democrats fled after President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress last week. But Sen. Joe Manchin III instead approached him — and leaned in for a hug.

The gesture only lasted a few seconds. But it speaks volumes about the symbiotic relationship that has emerged between the West Virginia Democrat and the Republican president in recent months.

Last of Trump Nominees With Russian Ties Set to Sail Through Confirmation
Vote on Commerce secretary-designee Wilbur Ross comes amid new questions

Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross was a top shareholder in a Cypriot bank with deep Russian ties when he met with the principal Russian investor. 

That meeting lasted only an hour, according to a cursory account Ross provided to the Senate. What he discussed during the encounter and the identity of the investor are among a number of unanswered questions about Ross’ potential connections to influential Russian figures as he awaits a vote on his confirmation Monday.

With No Vote in Congress, D.C. Residents Find Power in Cash
District voters are supporting Jason Chaffetz’s challenger in Utah

It was only the second political contribution Sarah Carr had made in her life. A $100 gift to an obscure politician from a distant state whose values hardly align with her own.

But Carr, a 41-year-old marine scientist who lives on Capitol Hill, had a clear goal: she wanted to support anyone who might oust Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

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.