Stephanie Akin

Congress Is Broken, and Staff Members Know Why
Survey reveals dissatisfaction with key performance measures

Members of Congress will return in September to a glut of complex and technically challenging tasks, including tax policy, the debt ceiling, and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But they won’t have the staff expertise, time or outside resources to do the job.

Millennials and Gen Xers Eclipse Boomers in the Voting Booth — but Will It Matter?
But population shift has yet to impact elections, researchers say

American politics are on the cusp of a revolution. And it has nothing to do with President Donald Trump.

That’s because younger generations — who are generally more liberal and reluctant to identify with either political party — are overtaking their older counterparts for the first time since the baby boomers began to dominate every aspect of American life in the last half of the 20th century, researchers say.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Is Out
Trump announces that he has named Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as successor

By STEPHANIE AKIN and JOHN T. BENNETTUpdated at 7:20 p.m. President Donald Trump has named Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly as his new White House chief of staff, replacing an embattled Reince Priebus.

Trump’s announcement came after a week of turmoil in the White House that had prompted fervent speculation Priebus would be the next to go. But Priebus’s job has been in question almost since the beginning when he was given the almost impossible goal of uniting disparate ideological factions within the Trump administration and serving as a bridge to establishment Republicans.  

Collins, Murkowski Set the Stage for McCain’s Dramatic Vote
Female senators came under withering criticism, threats in run-up to health care vote

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine withstood withering criticism — including a rhetorical challenge to a duel and a threat from the White House — to set the stage for the dramatic last-minute health care vote early Friday morning. 

In the end, though, it was Arizona Sen. John McCain — returning to Washington during treatment for brain cancer diagnosis — who got the spotlight.

The Investigations Trump Can’t Stop
Presidential pardons offer no protection from state prosecutions

President Donald Trump might be able to pardon everyone he wants — possibly even himself. But that would not end his legal troubles.

Trump already fired FBI Director James B. Comey amid an investigation into allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia. He has attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, raising questions about whether he intends to try to remove Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to head the Russia probe.

Analysis: Moving Past Obamacare May Include Embracing Some of Its Conservative Roots
Parts of 2010 health care law based on Republican ideas

Missteps, miscalculations and mistakes have almost defined efforts to repeal Obamacare. 

Some political theorists and economists — including conservatives — suggest that one of the biggest mistakes may be the reluctance by Republicans to acknowledge that significant parts of the Affordable Care Act were based on conservative principles.

Congress Still Grappling With Cybersecurity Concerns
Experts say networks on Capitol Hill lag in basic protections

Lawmakers and their staffs have been aware for years that their internet communications could be prime targets for both foreign and domestic spies.

But after last year’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee by Russian operatives, many are reassessing security protocols that once seemed sufficient — even overbearing — and finding them lacking.

What Voters Can Learn From Tax Returns
Tax returns and annual financial disclosures contain different information

Candidates and members of Congress are required by law to file personal financial disclosures that are designed to shed a light on their potential conflicts of interest.

These documents show a lawmakers' assets and liabilities, reported in broad ranges. Tax returns, in contrast, provide snapshots of their annual net income, are subject to audit and require taxpayers to report specific amounts.

In Tax Return Secrecy, Congress Unites
What some lawmakers said when we asked for copies of their returns

No matter what their political affiliation, members of Congress have this in common: They don’t like releasing their tax returns. Only 37 of the 532 members of the House and Senate responded when Roll Call asked for copies of their tax returns over several weeks, starting in April. Most of them declined to release their tax returns.

Here are some of their responses.

Lawmakers Want Trump’s Tax Returns, but Won’t Release Their Own
Only a handful willing to release documents to Roll Call

Rep. Ben Ray Luján — like many in Congress — wants President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

Transparency, the New Mexico Democrat said recently in a Facebook post, “is a cornerstone of democracy.”

Scalise, Shot at Baseball Practice, Known as Behind-the-Scenes Mover
Republican Whip has been credited with moving signature bills, working with Trump

On the Hill, Rep. Steve Scalise works behind the scenes to convince other Republicans to line up behind his Party’s agenda.

But on the baseball field during the annual Congressional game, he plays up the middle: He’s the second baseman.

Trump Is Not a Liar, White House Spokeswoman Says
Administration punches back at Comey’s assertion

By STEPHANIE AKIN and JOHN T. BENNETTUpdated 1:51 p.m. The White House wasted no time in hitting back at former FBI Director James B. Comey’s assertion Thursday that President Donald Trump lied to the American people.

“No. I can definitely say the president is not a liar,” Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “And, I think it’s, frankly, insulting that that question would be asked.”

Trump Mum on Comey, but Donald Jr. Chimes In
First son is tweeting responses to Comey hearing

President Donald Trump has yet to offer a reaction to explosive testimony from former FBI director James B. Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. But his son has now chimed in, using an expletive to describe Comey’s account.

“Flynn stuff is BS,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote, referring to Comey’s allegation that the president tried to coerce him, during a one-on-one meeting, to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump Twitter Feed Still Mum on Comey Testimony
Anticipate live-Tweet attack yet to materialize

There’s only one thing more highly anticipated in Washington than what former FBI Director James Comey will say Thursday during his first public appearance since President Trump fired him.

It’s what — and if — the president will tweet.

Foster Youth Rub Shoulders With Lawmakers, Bring Change
More than 100 come to the Hill for annual congressional shadow day

Michael Rogalski spent five years living in foster care. Rep. Karen Bass has been trying to improve the system longer than he has been alive.

So when Rogalski, 27, arrived at Bass’s office Wednesday morning — among more than 100 former foster youth to shadow members of Congress that day — he told her he just wanted to watch and learn.

Looming Questions, Few Answers, About Who Will Replace Comey
Ouster of FBI director prompts flurry of speculation about replacement

The ouster of FBI Director James B. Comey prompted a flurry of speculation Wednesday about who could be named as his replacement.

Projections for potential candidates included Trump confidantes, Capitol Hill insiders and career investigators. But there were no clear answers about who might fill the post.

King Suggests Senate Hire Comey to Lead Russia Probe
‘This issue is just going to dog them for years,’ Maine independent senator says

Maine independent Sen. Angus King said Wednesday morning that he had a new job in mind for fired FBI Director James Comey: Leading an independent investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with people connected to the Trump administration. 

Timeline: Comey’s Journey from Clinton Investigation to Unemployment
President Donald Trump fires FBI director

Former FBI Director James B. Comey is a central figure in the investigations into scandals surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign and the Trump administration, a role that has heightened since he was abruptly fired in May.

His unusual choice to announce, just a week and a half before Election Day, that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server is widely believed to have impacted the course of the election.

New Calls for Public Access to Secret Congressional Reports
Privacy policy at Congressional Research Service full of holes, critics say

The secrecy surrounding Congress’ in-house think tank came under fire again Wednesday, with transparency advocates on and off the Hill renewing calls for free public access to its in-depth policy briefs. 

Rep. Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican, and Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, reintroduced a bill the same day that would require all the reports produced by the Congressional Research Service to be published on a government website.

Spending Plan Includes Reassurance for Legal Pot
Prohibition on interfering with state laws extended to September

Businesses selling marijuana in states where it is legal just got some reassurance from Congress that they don’t have to worry about a federal crackdown anytime soon.

The spending bill that will keep the government open until September includes the extension of a policy that prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal money to interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws.