Collin C Peterson

Some vulnerable Democrats stick to the middle — though not all of them
On votes, Matt Cartwright is a notable exception among Democrats in Trump districts

Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright has the highest party unity score among House Democrats from districts that backed President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thirty-one Democrats in the House face a daunting challenge next year. They must win re-election in districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. For many, the 2016 results were close. But in eight of the districts, Trump won in a romp, by more than 9 points.

It would make sense for those Democrats to stake out moderate territory to distinguish themselves from their party’s vocal liberal wing. Most of them are, with one notable exception.

On DREAM Act, 9 Democrats defect on rule vote, even as caucus shows more unity
Relatively rare for members of the majority to buck leadership in voting against a rule

Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., was one of nine Democrats voting against the rule for the DREAM Act on Tuesday, a high-water mark for the year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House votes on rules to begin debate on legislation are typically party-line tests. But when nine Democrats voted Tuesday against the rule for an immigration bill, it was a high-water mark for Democratic defections this year.

Still, Democrats are more unified on such votes than the House majority party has been in all but two years of the last decade. 

The sportsmen of Congress will name their next Top Gun
They’re looking sharp on the range, fresh off a legislative win

Rep. Collin C. Peterson loads his gun at 2004’s competition in Glenn Dale, Maryland. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican and Democratic lawmakers will hit the gun range today for a (friendly?) sharpshooting competition to determine yearlong bragging rights over who is the best at blasting objects out of the sky.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus’s annual clay shoot (formerly known as the Congressional Shootout) is a chance for lawmakers to kick back in an atmosphere of loud bangs, where gun smoke permeates the air and the scent of rotten eggs tickles the nostrils.

Democrats close but still short votes needed to pass $15 minimum wage
Proponents of bill to double existing minimum wage over five years confident they’ll get there

House Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. Scott, D-Va., is confident he can convince enough uncommitted Democrats to support his bill to incrementally increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over five years for it to pass the chamber. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Proponents of a $15 minimum wage are bullish about the prospects of the House passing a bill to incrementally double the current $7.25 federal standard over five years, despite Democrats seemingly being short the votes to do so.

“We’re working to make sure that we have consensus, but we’re going to pass that bill with enough Democratic votes to make sure that it passes out of the House,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told reporters during House Democrats’ retreat in Leesburg, Virginia, earlier this month. 

No letup in congressional fundraising after ‘green wave’ election
Retirement-watch Republicans and no-corporate-PAC Democrats both stepped up

California Rep. Josh Harder, a freshman Democrat, raised the most money of all the Democrats the NRCC is targeting in 2020. (D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The race for the White House is already dominating headlines, but new campaign finance disclosures show donors in both parties are also opening their wallets to renew the fight to control the House in 2020.

Presidential campaign years tend to boost fundraising for down-ballot candidates, and early fundraising reports show 2020 is no exception.

Here are the 8 Republicans who broke with their party on Obamacare lawsuit
Democrats sought to put GOP colleagues on record with symbolic vote

Freshman Minnesota GOP Rep. Pete Stauber broke with his party on a vote related to the Obamacare lawsuit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic congressional campaigns have already made health care an early focus of their 2020 messaging, and House Democrats bolstered that effort Wednesday with a symbolic vote that sought to once again put Republicans on record on the issue.

Eight Republicans sided with Democrats on the nonbinding resolution, which the House adopted, 240-186. The measure condemned the Trump administration’s support for invalidating the 2010 health care law in its entirety. The Department of Justice, in a new filing last week, backed a Texas judge’s decision to strike down the law. 

House Republicans dig out another procedural tool to pressure Democrats
GOP is planning to file discharge petitions on a late-term abortion bill and the Green New Deal

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is planning to file a discharge petition next week in an effort to force a vote on a bill to provide protections for newborns who survive abortions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans, boosted by some early procedural wins this Congress, are planning to try out another tool available to the minority to put pressure on Democrats — the discharge petition.

Discharge petitions can be filed by any member but are most commonly used by the minority party to highlight legislation the majority refuses to bring to the floor. If a discharge petition gets 218 signatures, the underlying measure can then be brought up for a vote over the objections of leadership.

Gun safety group hits Democrats and Republicans on background check vote
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is running digital ads in seven districts

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is running digital ads urging Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton’s constituents to contact him about his vote against expanded background checks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is running digital ads to try to hold accountable lawmakers who voted against expanding background checks in the House this week. 

The ads, obtained first by Roll Call, target five Republicans who voted against the so-called Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, as well as the two Democrats who opposed it. The legislation would require background checks for all gun sales between private individuals.

‘We are either a team or we’re not’ — Democrats struggle with Republican messaging votes
Pelosi wants Democrats to stay unified against GOP moves but moderates worry about political attacks

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants her party to stay unified on minority procedural tools that can be used to divide the majority party. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The new House Democratic majority is having its first major family disagreement as the caucus struggles to stay united against Republican messaging votes, which the minority is deploying through a procedural move known as a motion to recommit. 

Republicans in their first two months in the minority have already won two motions to recommit because of Democratic defections. Not once during the past eight years in which Republicans held the majority did Democrats win a motion to recommit. 

Party unity on congressional votes takes a dive: CQ Vote Studies
Decline more dramatic in the Senate

Of the top six Democrats who broke from their party in 2018, four are no longer in Congress, including Heidi Heitkamp, right. Senators eyeing the presidency, meanwhile, are sticking to their party like glue. Elizabeth Warren had a perfect unity score. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Democrats and Republicans reached record highs sticking together by party on congressional votes in 2017, those numbers nose-dived in 2018 as lawmakers worked across the aisle on high-profile legislation, including a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank financial law, a package dealing with the opioid crisis, spending bills and an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice laws.

CQ’s annual vote study shows that in the House the total number of party unity votes — defined as those with each party’s majority on opposing sides — fell from 76 percent of the total votes taken in the House in 2017, a record, to 59 percent in 2018. That latter figure is the lowest since 2010, the most recent year of unified Democratic control of Congress. Election years typically have fewer votes and 2018 was no exception — the total number of votes taken in the House, 498, was the lowest since 2002.