Andy Barr

Democrats prepare to duel McConnell over year-end wish list
Amid push for legislation benefiting Kentucky constituents, Dems seek their own concessions

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing several initiatives to benefit his constituents, including renewal of tax breaks for bourbon distillers, aid for retired coal miners and appropriations to bolster Kentucky’s hemp industry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As former Sen. Wendell Ford often said, with small variations: “Kentucky is beautiful women, fast horses, bourbon whiskey, cigarettes and coal. I represent Kentucky, and that’s what I represent.”

The colorful Ford, a Democrat who died in 2015, had little else in common with Mitch McConnell, the stoic Kentucky Republican who served as the junior senator from the Bluegrass State alongside Ford for 15 years until the latter’s 1999 retirement. But the Senate majority leader is clearly taking a few pages from Ford’s playbook in the year-end legislative scramble as he heads into a potentially difficult reelection campaign in 2020.

Maxine Waters said Freeman was on her side. Andy Barr said so too
CQ Roll Call called the CEO of the Kentucky business

Barr prevailed as he and Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters sparred over the views of a business in his district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Financial Services Committee has been mired in debate for two days over China and reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, an agency that supports U.S. exporters by helping finance deals with foreign buyers.

This past summer, Republicans said they had a deal with Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., to include provisions in the reauthorization bill that would restrict its ability to finance transactions with Chinese state-owned enterprises. But labor-backed Democrats, led by Rep. Denny Heck of Washington, balked, saying it would unduly restrict big exporters like Boeing Co.

Hemp industry growth hints at potential field of dreams
“Maybe, just maybe, hemp could be a really big deal sometime in the future,” McConnell says

An attendee stops at the Hemp Magazine booth at the Southern Hemp Expo in Franklin, Tenn., on Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Mitch McConnell saw a potential replacement for tobacco in 2014, as the federal program to buy out tobacco farmers was ending. McConnell got provisions into a farm bill allowing states to license and monitor hemp production. The Kentucky Republican, now as majority leader, followed through in 2018, using another farm bill to take hemp off the controlled substances list.

Kentucky in 2019 is one of the leading hemp producers. Vote Hemp, an industry advocacy organization, says the state has licensed an estimated 60,000 acres for production. That’s still a fraction of the 58 million acres of tobacco the Agriculture Department forecast Kentucky would harvest in 2019, but it’s almost 12 percent of the Vote Hemp’s estimate of the U.S. acreage licensed to hemp.

Key takeaways from the latest House and Senate fundraising reports
Reports provide new clues in competitive races

Democrat Mark Kelly once again outraised Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally according to recent fundraising reports. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it comes to the battle for Congress, fundraising reports can provide clues about who’s in trouble and who’s mounting a strong campaign.

It’s still early in the 2020 cycle, but an analysis of reports for this year’s third quarter in House and Senate races that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates as competitive sheds new light on where donors in both parties are directing their money. The reports were due by midnight Tuesday.

Fundraising update: Some House freshmen raising more than embattled senators
Democrats continuing to tap large groups of small donors

Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw raised more money during the third quarter than two of his party’s most embattled senators. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than a year out from the 2020 elections, new disclosures show House members continue to set the pace for congressional fundraising, with several freshmen raising nearly as much as or more than some of the most vulnerable GOP senators and their Democratic challengers.

That’s especially true of House Democratic freshmen, some of whom are continuing a trend started last year when, as candidates, they raised more in the quarters leading up to Election Day than Senate candidates.

How a handful of vulnerable incumbents got bills signed into law
Bipartisanship is key, according to Democrats who got bills through the Senate

From left, Democrats Tom O’Halleran, Antonio Delgado and Lucy McBath are in the DCCC’s Frontline program for vulnerable members. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

House Democrats frequently complain about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocking bills they’ve passed, but 30 of the 56 measures that have been signed into law so far this Congress have been theirs.

Some of those bills include bipartisan, bicameral spending agreements needed to keep the government operational or extensions of critical government programs, while others represent policy needs members have identified. 

California board diversity mandate spreads to other states, Washington

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., has expressed reservations about requiring diversity on corporate boards via federal legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., — California’s mandate that boards of directors overseeing public companies include women is catching fire as states including Illinois, New York and New Jersey, as well as lawmakers in Washington, consider similar rules to promote diversity, government officials told CQ Roll Call.

But efforts to establish requirements for other underrepresented groups such as African Americans and Latinos or Latinas, however, are encountering opposition from business groups and skeptics who say the measures either aren’t needed or aren’t inclusive enough.

Lawmakers hint at regulatory models for Facebook cryptocurrency
Libra: ‘Which is it, fish or fowl?’

“This looks exactly like an exchange-traded fund,” said Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House members suggested Wednesday that Facebook Inc.‘s proposed cryptocurrency could be deemed an exchange-traded fund, a currency or a commodity, all of which could require some degree of regulatory oversight.

“What we’re struggling with is: What are you?” said Democratic Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter summing up a four-hour House Financial Services Committee grilling of a company executive about the proposed cryptocurrency known as Libra.

Trump admits he was a liability in 2018
New book states president deliberately hindered Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen’s reelection

President Donald Trump might have more of a nuanced self-awareness of his political standing than he advertises, according to a behind-the-scenes moment captured by Tim Alberta for his new book "American Carnage." (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump still won’t publicly admit he was a significant factor in Republicans’ loss of the House in 2018. But a behind-the-scenes moment captured in a new book suggests he is more politically self-aware than he leads on.

We know that Trump doesn’t admit mistakes or commit sins. It’s not in his personality or good for his brand to acknowledge any weakness. But, according to Politico’s Tim Alberta, the president endorsed a vulnerable member of Congress in an intentional effort to weaken his candidacy.

Letters in Amy McGrath campaign launch video were postmarked the same day
Three-minute video announcing challenge to McConnell was titled ‘The Letter’ about her own unanswered plea

The campaign launch video for Amy McGrath included four Kentuckians writing letters to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Screenshot)

Kentucky Senate candidate Amy McGrath’s three-minute campaign launch  video retells her personal story of getting no answer to letters to members of Congress, then features four Kentuckians writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for help with personal crises.

The video implies that McConnell never responded, but it appears the letters were sent Tuesday, the same day that McGrath announced her bid for the Democratic nomination to challenge him.