conservatives

Senators to Watch as Trump Era Begins
Rank-and-file senators likely to be key players in 115th Congress

Georgia Sen. David Perdue, left, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III are both senators to watch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans may have full control in Washington, but the Senate remains the Senate, which means it’s the place where rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans retain the most clout and potential for influence. Here are the key senators from outside of the top echelons of the leadership structures to watch as the 115th Congress gets underway.

The moderate from Maine will be the first person to watch on any contentious votes, particularly on budget reconciliation votes that aim to repeal parts of the 2010 health care law. She has, for instance, been among the small number of Republicans opposing efforts to tie the GOP health care plans to stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Mixed Bag of Republicans Vote Against Obamacare Repeal Vehicle
GOP defectors cite deficit, lack of replacement

Dent voted against the budget resolution because of concerns about the GOP rushing to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans on Friday passed a bare-bones fiscal 2017 budget resolution with few intraparty defections, as most GOP members saw the unbalanced and long-delayed spending plan as a necessary means to an end of repealing the 2010 health care law.

The nine Republicans who voted against the measure raised concerns about either the budget not balancing, a key priority for fiscal conservatives, or the aggressive timeline of repealing the Affordable Care Act, given that the GOP has yet to present a replacement plan. The final vote was 227-198. 

House GOP Group Launches Digital Campaign for Health Care Plan
American Action Network will target 28 House districts

American Action Network is running digital ads about the House Republicans’ health care law replacement efforts in Ohio’s 4th District, held by former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An outside group affiliated with House GOP leadership is ramping up its advertising campaign for a Republican alternative to the 2010 health care law, running $400,000 in digital ads across 28 congressional districts. 

American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit advocacy organization, is launching its first digital campaign of the year Friday, when the House is expected to vote on the budget resolution that would begin the process of repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

The Convoluted Process for Dismantling Obamacare
Budget reconciliaton, explained

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

In the early hours of Jan. 12, the Senate took the first step in the convoluted process of dismantling and replacing the 2010 health care law. To overcome the potential filibuster power of Senate Democrats, GOP lawmakers are relying on budget reconciliation, the same procedural mechanism their counterparts across the aisle used seven years ago to implement parts of the health care overhaul.

The budget reconciliation process is filled with procedural complications — and in this case, political uncertainty — as GOP leaders and President-elect Donald Trump have signaled various ideas about the timing of changes.

Freshmen Backed by Freedom Caucus Aren’t Committing to Joining
Caucus leaders expect some non-freshmen to help replenish their ranks

The political arm of the House Freedom Caucus backed Indiana Republican Jim Banks, but he has not yet decided to join the caucus if invited. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Freedom Caucus is currently down seven members from the 114th Congress — and possibly two more.

South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney is awaiting confirmation as President-elect Donald Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Ryan Says Obamacare Repeal, Replacement Will Happen ‘Concurrently’
Uncertainty over timeline for a replace plan bedevils House GOP

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says pieces of a health care law replacement plan could be included in the current budget reconciliation measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday that Republicans will offer a replacement plan for the 2010 health care law at the same time they repeal it, amid signs the legislative process for a repeal was encountering obstacles. 

“It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently,” the Wisconsin Republican said. 

AG Pick Sessions Defends Record at Contentious Hearing
Alabama Republican argues he’s strong on civil rights

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, is sworn in on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:42 p.m. | Sen. Jeff Sessions made his case to be attorney general Tuesday, in a confirmation hearing punctuated by racially charged protesters and warnings from Democrats that minorities fear he wouldn’t protect their rights as the Justice Department leader.

The Alabama Republican decried accusations of racial insensitivity that sunk his 1986 nomination to be a federal judge as “damnably false,” and appealed to his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to study his record of 20 years working beside them in the Senate.

For 20, a New Year’s Boost in House Legislative Sway
How the winners of top committee assignments made their own luck

Keep an eye peeled for these House members with plum new committee assignments, from left to right, first row: Pete Aguilar, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Katherine M. Clark, Ryan A. Costello, Carlos Curbelo; second row: Suzan DelBene, Debbie Dingell, Brian Higgins, John Moolenaar, Grace Meng; third row: Dan Newhouse, Scott Peters, Mark Pocan, Raul Ruiz, David Schweikert; fourth row: Terri A. Sewell, Scott Taylor, Tim Walberg, Jackie Walorski and Mimi Walters. (Bill Clark, Meredith Dake-O’Connor and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos. Scott Taylor courtesy Scott Taylor for U.S. Congress)

Specialization seasoned with seniority is the surest recipe for a meaningful legislative career in the House, which is more than big enough to swallow all the dilettantes and short-timers without a trace. It’s finding a substantive niche, then fitting in over the long haul, that proves perennially frustrating for many members. 

But the goal of becoming a successful and substantive lawmaker just got a whole lot easier for a score of them.

Democrats to Grill Sessions on Race, Civil Rights
NAACP cites prosecution of three black voting rights advocates

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley meets with fellow committee member and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in his Capitol Hill office on Nov. 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats will turn the tables this week on Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, a former federal prosecutor who often doggedly questioned executive branch nominees during his 20 years on the Judiciary Committee.

Don’t expect them to go easy on their colleague as the Alabama Republican's two days of confirmation hearings start Tuesday.

Intelligence Officials Say Putin Ordered Campaign to Help Trump
Activities demonstrated a ’significant escalation in directness’

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. prepares to testify before the Senate Armed Services hearing on cyberthreats on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election to undermine confidence in American democracy, smear Hillary Clinton and, eventually, to help lift Donald Trump to victory, according to a declassified report from U.S. intelligence agencies.

The document, based on information and analysis from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, spells out the U.S. spy agencies’ conclusions on what they say was Russia’s wide-ranging venture to interfere in the American vote.