What’s a Senate Blue Slip and Why Is It Losing Power?
 Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

It’s a literal blue slip of paper that for decades meant a senator could block a president’s nominee to a federal judgeship in their home state. These days, however, the Senate’s blue slip might be becoming defunct. Senior editor David Hawkings explains.

Below is a transcript of the video:

A Steady Flow of Political Royal Blood to Congress
Hill dynasties don’t last so many generations any more, but plenty of family members still try to stay in electoral business

Greg Pence, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, is seeking the Congressional seat once held by his younger brother, Vice President Mike Pence. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Saturday’s wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is creating another surge of American royal mania, and with a particular twist — besotted chatter about their offspring someday running for Congress, or even president, while remaining in the line of succession to the British throne.

It’s a fanciful notion, regardless of whether the Los Angeles actress retains dual citizenship after she passes her British citizenship test, because the Constitution prevents titled nobles from taking federal office.

Podcast: There’s (Political) Royalty in Congress, Too
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 10

Vice President Mike Pence and his brother Greg Pence, who is the GOP candidate for Indiana's 6th Congressional District. (Left photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, right photo courtesy Greg Pence for Congress)

San Antonio Not Looking for a Republican Invasion
GOP convention could produce intense anger — without a sure economic windfall — in Latino-majority city

Some folks in San Antonio weren’t too happy when the Mexican army invaded in 1836. Now city officials have decided Republicans need to find some other city to occupy during their national convention in 2020. (Jill Torrance/Getty Images file photo)

What You Need to Know About Voter Registration and Turnout This Midterm Season
Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings — Wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

Who votes, and who doesn’t, will effectively decide control of the next Congress — and turnout has recently been weak in midterm elections. In part that’s because millions who could vote never get registered. But for 2018 there is still time to register nationwide.

Registration deadlines are about a month before the election in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

How Ryan and Pelosi Are Kicking Themselves to the Curb (Sort Of)
Removing modest perks for ex-speakers is good politics but enfeebles the speakership

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul D. Ryan are of one mind when it comes to post-speaker perks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Incredible Shrinking Speakership is going to get just a little bit smaller.

The Constitution makes speakers unassailable as presiding officer in the House. Chamber rules vest the job with plenty of responsibility. And federal law places them second in the line of presidential succession.

Podcast: Of Politicians and Pastors
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 9

House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy blesses a walnut tree during a tree-planting ceremony in memory of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on April 18. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Voters Reward a Do-Something Congress. Wrong, Recent Results Show
Some midterm years are policy voids, others historic. Either way, voters tend to shake things up

Sound and fury signifying few achievements might describe what Congress has accomplished this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, the second session of the 113th Congress was widely identified as one of the most profoundly unproductive stretches at the Capitol in the run-up to a midterm election.

And yet the achievements of that divided Congress tower over the minimalist aspirations for this year held by the Republicans unilaterally in charge of the Hill. The limit on federal debt was raised in 2014, federal flood insurance premiums were rolled back, dozens of new waterway and environmental projects were authorized, a five-year farm bill was finished and, most notably, a generous deal was struck for improving veterans’ medical care.

Analysis: Missteps, Paul Ryan’s Had a Few
Reluctant speaker ceded the high ground, airbrushed history and napped on the job

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has had a few stumbles along the way. Bargaining for his job may have been the first. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

He says there are still eight months left in his speakership, but it’s probably not too soon to come up with a roster of Paul D. Ryan’s biggest hits and misses during his tenure in charge of the House. 

If the Wisconsin Republican finds his stature in congressional history diminished, decisions like these could be why:

An Intense Reporter Turned Patient Editor: Steve Komarow Remembered
Few Capitol reporters and war correspondents make no enemies; CQ Roll Call’s top editor an exception

Steve Komarow, CQ Roll Call’s senior vice president and executive editor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Steve Komarow, CQ Roll Call’s executive editor and senior vice president, accomplished something very rare in the often cutthroat worlds of Washington bureaus and foreign correspondence: Across a varied and accomplished career of four decades, his calmly confident news judgment and patiently clear-eyed managerial style produced nearly universal respect and virtually no lasting enmity.

At the Capitol and across several war zones, Komarow, who died Sunday at 61, stood out for his unruffled approach to the most dramatic developments, an equanimity in supervising high-maintenance reporters, an easy affect amid intense journalistic competition — and a cockeyed grin when confronted with the constant but mostly ephemeral melodramas of all four high-pressure newsrooms where he played pivotal roles.   

Why the Hill’s Quitters Caucus Keeps Growing
Republicans, especially, are leaving Congress midterm to get a money-making head start

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., is leaving the House to get a head start on his new career as a cable TV news analyst. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are really just three ways to give up a seat in Congress on your own timetable: retire, resign or quit. And the method with the least attractive connotations has become particularly popular in the last decade, especially among Republicans.

Those who use the term “retirement” properly are lawmakers who decline to run for re-election but complete the term for which the voters chose them before returning to civilian life, whether as money-makers or golf club denizens. Departures are best labeled “resignations” when senators or House members are forced to up and leave by particularly good, or ruinously bad, professional circumstances — elevated to higher positions in public service, most often, or politically poisoned by moral exposures or criminal failings.

How Congress’ Schedule Is Supposed to Work
Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

Podcast: Use of Force vs. Use of Power
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 8

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talks with reporters in the basement of the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators on both sides are pushing to rewrite the law authorizing military force, untouched for 16 years. Even after airstrikes on Syria the debate is likely to fade fast, White House correspondent John Bennett explains, part of a complex modern war-making power dynamic that favors presidents over Congress.

Show Notes

What’s the Nuclear Option? Dismantling This Senate Jargon
 Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

Roy Blunt: Playing the Inside Game and Scoring
Missouri’s GOP senator is proof the popular outsider play isn’t the only winning route

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., regained the chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee last week.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a political world where running against Washington has become one of the easiest paths to getting there, and where the ultimate outsider neophyte is president, Roy Blunt stands out as proof that the opposite approach sometimes still works.

Few in today’s Congress have succeeded as well, and for as long, at the inside game — where influence is cultivated and sustained by combining broad political and policy expertise along with deep interpersonal skill.