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Senate Republicans Steamroll Judicial Process
‘Advice’ dwindles in the GOP’s rush for judges

(iStock)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans hardly could have done more last year to help President Donald Trump reshape the nation’s federal courts with conservative appointees.

They put Justice Neil Gorsuch in a Supreme Court seat, one they blocked Barack Obama from filling during his last year in the White House. Then they approved a dozen Trump picks for the influential appeals courts that have the final say on the vast majority of the nation’s legal disputes — a record number for a president’s first year in office.

House Lawmakers Ready to Carve Some Pork
Optimistic chatter around earmarks draws cheers, cringes

Alaska Rep. Don Young still defends the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” The bridge “should have been built,” he said at a Rules subcommittee hearing Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. House of Representatives appears ready to welcome back earmarks with open, bipartisan arms.

During a Rules subcommittee hearing Wednesday, lawmakers sounded optimistic that Congress will wrestle back a portion of its spending authority from the executive branch — though there was some discord over when and how earmarks should return.

Omaha Man Pleads Guilty to Plotting to Kill Joni Ernst
Suspect believed Iowa Republican was connected to ISIS

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was the target of a potential plot on her life last July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An Omaha man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to threatening the life of Sen. Joni Ernst, who he believed was in cahoots with Islamic State terrorists.

Robert W. Simet, 64, told employees at a motorcycle shop near the Nebraska-Iowa border last July that he might kill the Iowa Republican at a speech she was scheduled to deliver there, according to court documents obtained by The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Analysis: It’s a Blue House Wave, but Not Yet a Senate One
Rural, Trump-friendly states make for a formidable map for Democrats

Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are among the Democrats’ many vulnerable incumbents this cycle, which complicates the party’s efforts to retake the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

“The odds are greater than half we will take back the Senate.” — Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Monday night 

Democrats ought to temper their optimism about the fight for the Senate this year.

Poll: More Adults Without Health Insurance After Record Low
1.3 percent uptick in 2017

People rally in favor of single-payer healthcare for all Californians as the US Senate prepares to vote on the Senate GOP health care bill, outside the office of California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, June 27, 2017 in South Gate, California. Rendon announced last week that Senate Bill SB 562 - the high-profile effort to establish a single-payer healthcare system in California - would be shelved, saying it was "incomplete." (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

The percentage of adults without health insurance coverage rose 1.3 percent in 2017, from a record low during the previous year, a new Gallup poll shows. Last year’s rise marked the largest single-year increase since Gallup began tracking the statistic in 2008.

The uninsured rate rose to 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to 10.9 percent in 2016, according to the survey. That translates to an additional 3.2 million Americans who became uninsured last year.

Soto Takes Heat for Telling Puerto Rican Evacuees to Say They’re Staying
Evacuees should say they’re staying in Florida to access Medicare or Medicaid, South Florida Democrat says

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., made waves over the weekend for comments to Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Florida Democrat caught heat over the weekend for telling a group of newly arrived hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to say they intend to stay in the state so that they can access health care benefits.

If the evacuees do not check that box on a federal form for Medicare and Medicaid, they will be ineligible to be recipients of those programs.

Joe Arpaio Senate Candidacy ‘Won't Last Long,’ Flake Says
Former sheriff fires back, saying Flake didn’t have the ‘guts’ to run again

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has been critical of his own party for nominating controversial conservative candidates for high office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake on Wednesday dismissed Joe Arpaio’s bid for his Arizona Senate seat in 2018, laughing off the controversial former sheriff as a fringe candidate whose campaign will quickly fizzle.

“You’d better write about it and talk about it fast because it won’t last long,” Flake said in an interview with CNN.

Whiplashed Planners Fear GOP Swerve on Infrastructure
After close call on public-private financing tool, all eyes on 2018

Private activity bonds, or PABs, are fueling a multibillion-dollar expansion of Los Angeles International Airport. (Courtesy LAXDevelopment.org)

Los Angeles has gained national notice for a series of ambitious projects affecting all facets of southern California’s transportation network, from the city’s light rail system to Los Angeles International Airport.

Many of the projects — a multibillion dollar expansion of the airport, work on roads leading to and from the busy ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and a new light rail line, among others — were or will be financed with a tool called private activity bonds.

Budget Chairman Race: Three Candidates, Few Differences
Republican Steering Committee meets Tuesday to recommend Diane Black’s replacement

From left, Reps. Rob Woodall of Georgia, Bill Johnson of Ohio, and Steve Womack of Arkansas are vying to be the next House Budget chairman. The Republican Steering Committee will meet Tuesday to make its recommendation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos)

Three Republican congressman elected in 2010 who want Congress to overhaul mandatory spending programs and believe they have the consensus-building skills to make it happen are all competing to be the next House Budget chairman. 

The three-way race between Reps. Rob Woodall of Georgia, Steve Womack of Arkansas and Bill Johnson of Ohio has largely been conducted behind the scenes as the candidates have reached out to colleagues on the Republican Steering Committee.

Trump Adds ’Sloppy Steve’ Bannon to Nickname Repertoire Amid Feud
POTUS’ bullying pattern off to alliterative 2018 start

From left, Dan Scavino, Stephen Bannon, Hope Hicks, and Kellyanne Conway, aides to President Donald J. Trump, are seen on the West Front of the Capitol after Trumps was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, January 20, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At some point before 11 p.m. on a Thursday in early January 2018, President Donald Trump pulled out his phone and started typing.

He hurled a lexical spear across the internet at his former chief political strategist Steve Bannon, adding another barb to his ever-growing repertoire of schoolyard nicknames.