April 19, 2015

Columns

The What Ifs of the 2016 GOP Presidential Race

If Jeb Bush doesn’t win any of the first four GOP contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — does that eliminate him from the Republican race? Or does he have the staying power to survive those losses?

The Young and the Restless of 2016

Once upon a time, presidential candidates were expected to have more than passing experience in government, as well as the maturity and wisdom that sometimes come with age. But that has changed, apparently.

Four Reasons Republicans Seem Reticent in Menendez Case

It’s the first federal bribery indictment of a sitting senator in almost a quarter century, and the defendant is among the most combative and combustible Democrats in the Capitol. So why have Republicans spent the better part of the past two weeks with their hands over their mouths?

Elder Members Aren’t the Only Ones to Retire

The usual way to identify potential House retirements is to pick out the oldest members of each caucus. But that strategy misses an entire crop of potential exits, since the most senior members aren’t the only ones to call it quits.

Wyden Looks Safe, but Democratic Rift Is Real

Liberal groups have targeted Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden for defeat in next year’s elections unless he sides with them on upcoming trade deals. But any talk about the four-term Democrat’s vulnerability is premature until there is a challenger.

Why the 'Doc Fix' Deal Has Senate in Something of a Fix

The odds have crested the 50-50 threshold for what would surely become one of the year’s biggest legislative achievements — an overhaul of how doctors and other Medicare providers get paid. And the usual encrusted ideological positioning, at both ends of the political spectrum, is no longer the biggest obstacle.


Can Ex-Members Sustain Success as Mayors?

It’s not only the season’s most consequential political event, but also a rare local election with a big rooting interest on the Hill. Voters in the nation’s third-biggest city are deciding next week if they still want to be led by a onetime member of congressional leadership.

The Yucca 'Albatross'

The consequence of a congressional stalemate is clearly visible in the nearly 75,000 metric tons of spent radioactive fuel piling up in pools of water and steel casks that rest in the shadows of the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Voting Marathon: More Test Marketing Than Attack Ads

Senators readying their patience, their reading material and even their bladders for the annual ritual known as the “vote-a-rama” may rightfully be getting ready to ask, “Will it be worth it?”

A History of Curiosities, Clout for Wisconsin Delegation

The death last week of Robert W. Kastenmeier, who evolved in the House from a prominent peace crusader into a premier intellectual property protector, is the freshest reminder of an odd truth about the modern Congress.

The Fearsome Foursome: Bush, Paul, Walker, Rubio

A veritable bevy of Republican presidential hopefuls have already hired staff, wooed deep-pocketed contributors and made speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire, proving what we already know: The 2016 nomination preseason is well underway.

Why the GOP Will Likely Attack the Potemkin White House

If budget resolutions are aspirational, sketching the big picture Congress envisions for government, then spending bills are the polar opposite: Blueprints that lawmakers micromanage down to the smallest line item.

Republican Budget Is Governance Test

The annual budget resolution has several purposes. In theory, it’s a mission statement on the proper role of government and a mirror on priorities for the coming decade. At a more practical level, it decides the limit on lawmaker-driven spending for the coming year and smoothes the path toward ambitious changes in federal policy.

What the 'Big Ten' Tells Republicans They Need in 2016

We won’t know the 2016 Republican presidential nominee for more than a year, but we already know the 10 states — the electoral “Big Ten” — that will select the next occupant of the White House.

Lessons for This Year in Voting Patterns of Last Year

Given that old adage, “You can’t tell where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been,” casting a close eye over last year’s congressional voting patterns is in order.

Cotton Balls Up Diplomatic Protocol With Letter | Procedural Politics

Senator Tom Cotton’s “open letter” to the leaders of Iran on negotiations over its nuclear program ran into a buzzsaw of criticism from the president, vice president, our negotiating partners and members of Congress from both parties. The main criticism: Senators should not thrust themselves directly into the middle of ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and other countries.

Republican Opposition to Lynch Might Make History

The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.

Pat Toomey Is a Strong Candidate. Will That Be Enough in 2016?

Yes, I know Pennsylvania Democrats don’t have a 2016 Senate candidate who excites the entire party yet. I also know the election is 20 months away — plenty of time for them to rally around a nominee.

Lott-Daschle Reform Bars Bill-Blocking Actions | Procedural Politics

House Republicans painted themselves and the Senate into a corner by making Department of Homeland Security funding after Feb. 27 contingent on rolling back President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration actions. Surely, they were fantasizing a corner with a hidden trap door and safe room.

GOP Aim: Make Menendez's Troubles About Reid

Republicans may not realistically smell another Senate seat about to become available, but they’re moving quickly on the very real scent of political blood. And their nose for scandal has them salivating at more than the fate of Sen. Robert Menendez, who may be only weeks from facing federal corruption charges.

The Maryland Democrat Who Wants to Stay Where He Is

One of these House members is not like the others. One of these members doesn’t hope to belong — in the Senate.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases Ahead, but Not on TV

It’s arguably the most important single hour of federal policymaking this year, and it’s happening Wednesday morning inside a government building on Capitol Hill. But except for clusters of reporters and attorneys, joined by a few dozen citizens who’ve waited hours in a long queue for a glimpse, the event will remain invisible forever.

Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton Face Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016

While the economy is a decisive topic in many presidential elections, national security looks increasingly likely to become a top issue in next year’s contest. And if that happens, it could dramatically affect both the direction of the race for the Republican nomination and the party’s prospects in November.

Mikulski Legacy Is Beyond Longevity

The most obvious distinction Barbara A. Mikulski will take into retirement is that she’s spent more time in Congress than any other woman, and that’s a record worthy of significant recognition. But, especially at a Capitol so deeply mired in dysfunction and partisanship, the meaning of her service is deeper than mere longevity.

What Is All the Fuss About Campaign Coordination? | A Question of Ethics

Q. Some friends of mine who are lawyers were recently discussing a political corruption prosecution that they seemed to think was a big deal. I believe it involved some sort of campaign finance violations by the campaign manager of someone who ran for Congress a few years back. As a non-lawyer, it wasn’t clear to me what all the fuss was about. After all, people get prosecuted for political corruption all of the time. Are you aware of the case I’m describing, and, if so, what makes it such a big deal?

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