congressional-operations

For the GOP, a Dangerous Gamble on the All-Important Town Hall
Old-school constituent connections work best, but the anger is proving tough to withstand

Police escort California Rep. Tom McClintock through a town-hall audience in Roseville, California, last Saturday. (Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee via AP)

Consider 10 and 19 as two more figures that help illustrate the risky congressional Republican strategies of passivity, defensiveness and avoidance during the first month of the Trump administration.

Ten is the total number of GOP lawmakers who have town hall meetings scheduled next week, the longest period Congress will be back home since the inauguration.  

A Case of the Mondays: Recent Senate Session Third-Longest Since 1915
Chamber didn't adjourn from noon Monday until Wednesday at 9:07 p.m.

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If this week felt a little long, that’s because it was. When the Senate gaveled out at 9:07 p.m. on Wednesday, it adjourned a session that began Monday at noon. That made it the third-longest legislative session in Senate history since 1915. In the world of arcane Senate procedure, that means the chamber never moved off the legislative business day of Monday, leaving Capitol Hill watchers with that tired, cranky feeling they never could quite shake.

The Senate debated for those 57 hours and 7 minutes several of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, including the senators’ colleague Jeff Sessions of Alabama for attorney general, and the contentious Education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos, which ended with a history-making tiebreaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

Cybersecurity a Top Priority for the Capitol
‘There is no doubt we are a target,’ says House CAO Philip Kiko

Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa and other officials say that cybersecurity is a top priority at the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House officers, the Capitol Police, the Library of Congress and the Architect of the Capitol have all made cybersecurity a top priority for fiscal 2018, officials told a House committee at hearings through Tuesday on their Legislative Branch spending bill budget goals. 

“The increased amount of state-sponsored activity waged against the United States underscores the serious threat posed by malicious actors, constantly attempting to exploit IT vulnerabilities,” House Chief Administrative Officer Philip G. Kiko told the House Administration Committee. “There is no doubt that we are a target.”

Staffer Book List: Read About How to Do Your Job
Five books for congressional staffers

Learn about your job the old-fashioned way. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

You had to read books in school to study. Why not study for your job?

There are only so many things you can do to prepare yourself to be a congressional staffer. And reading is one of them.

CQ Roll Call Staff Survey Finds GOP Doubts on Border Wall
Aides confident of GOP’s chances for enacting contentious policy overhauls

President Donald Trump gets a standing ovation after speaking at the Republican congressional retreat in Philadelphia on Jan. 26. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At their retreat in Philadelphia last week, Republican congressional leaders painted a picture of unity with President Donald Trump. Their aides aren’t sure about that. 

Only 49 percent of the GOP staffers who responded to CQ Roll Call’s January Capitol Insiders Survey thought Congress would enact a law to construct a wall along the Mexican border, while just 44 percent see the $1 trillion infrastructure package Trump has promised becoming law.

Trump Immigration Order Aggravates Nomination Wars
Democrats might focus particularly on Jeff Sessions

Passengers from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from Jeddah are greeted by protesters as they arrive at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Sunday. The furor over President Trump’s executive order restricting travel from several Islamic countries is likely to spill over onto the Senate floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Pool)

The Senate should buckle up for a rough week.

The bipartisan concern and outrage over President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting access of immigrants from seven countries has likely ended any chance there will be smooth confirmation of additional members of the president’s national security team.

Cummings, Democrats Ask States for Evidence of Voter Fraud
‘President Trump wants a major investigation of voter fraud — well now he has one‘

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., left, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, talks with Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, before a hearing in July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eyes on Foreign Relations Panel Ahead of Rex Tillerson Vote
Chairman Bob Corker says nominee will get to Senate floor no matter what

Rex Tillerson’s nomination for secretary of State will be voted on Monday afternoon in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rex Tillerson will get to the floor (and likely be confirmed as secretary of State) whether Sen. Marco Rubio supports him or not.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker made that clear last week, telling CNN as early as last Tuesday of his intention to work through the procedural gears to get the former Exxon Mobil CEO a floor confirmation vote — even if there’s a deadlock in committee, which would most likely come about if Rubio, a Florida Republican, joined with a potentially united Democratic opposition. 

As Inauguration Crowds Depart, It’s Back to Work for the Senate
Cornyn prepared for Senate to stay as long as it takes — ‘all night, all weekend’ — to vote on Trump nominees

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, right, said he was prepared for the Senate to stay in session Friday for “as long as it takes” to confirm an assortment of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees while Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer anticipated confirming only two Cabinet nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Capitol complex will still be fortified when the Senate gets back to legislative action shortly after Donald Trump leaves the building for the first time as president.

Senators will waste little time starting to process Trump’s nominees, with national security positions expected to be the first out of the gate, though all that must wait for the Senate to have something to consent to, meaning nominations for people like retired Gen. James Mattis to be Defense secretary.

Democrats Use CBO Report to Message Against Obamacare Repeal
Number of House Democrats skipping Trump’s inauguration continues to grow

Pelosi, right, and other Democrats are using a new CBO report to message against Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats gained a useful messaging tool Tuesday in their efforts to thwart the GOP’s plan to dismantle the 2010 health care law, as the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying up to 32 million people would lose their insurance under a previous Republican proposal.

The CBO also estimated that marketplace premiums would nearly double under the GOP repeal legislation President Barack Obama vetoed last year. Republicans are using that prior budget reconciliation bill as a model for legislation they are drafting. Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said the new legislation will include some pieces of replacement policy as well.