Podcast: Lessons for the Opioid Epidemic from the Ebola Fight
Political Theater, Episode 11

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., attend an event in the Hart Building on Feb. 26, 2015 when Sirleaf offered thanks to Congress for authorizing funds to help fight ebola in her country. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Lawmakers Missed Opportunity to Save Trump From Trump
Legislative protection for special counsel could have forced president to refocus

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he’s received assurances that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing is “not even under consideration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans have let slip a golden opportunity to make good on their most important and counterintuitive campaign promise of 2018 — covering for President Donald Trump at every mind-numbing opportunity.

They still have half a year to change their collective minds, but for now the GOP is essentially all in on one of the most outside-the-box political strategies of all time: Betting that safe passage for their imperiled majorities requires lashing themselves to a president mired in record low approval ratings, subsumed by self-orchestrated chaos and in the crosshairs of a special counsel.

Spending Bill Unlikely to Include DACA Fix
White House, Democrats talking past one another

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, says Democrats rejected the latest White House offer. Democrats counter the White House already missed its chance on a DACA fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Prospects are dim that a short-term patch that would extend a program protecting about 690,000 “Dreamers” from deportation will be included in the upcoming fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Conversations remain ongoing between Congress and the White House on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with some aides insisting a last-minute deal is a possibility. President Donald Trump wants to end the Obama administration program, but federal judges have blocked him and Dreamers brought to the United States illegally as children are in limbo.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, Through the Years, in Photos
The first chairwoman of the House Rules Committee is dead at 88

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter is dead at 88. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call 2015 file photo)

Rep. Louise M. Slaughterdied early Friday morning at age 88. The oldest member of Congress and first chairwoman of the powerful House Rules Committee leaves behind a legacy of three decades in Congress.

She fell at her home last week and suffered a concussion, according to her office.

From Assistant to Chief, Women Heading Hill Offices
‘I don’t want people from the outside world calling and thinking I’m taking dictation in here’

Rep. Rosa DeLauro hugs fellow Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher J. Dodd during a 2010 event. In 1981, she joined a handful of congressional female chiefs of staff when Dodd hired her off the campaign trail. Also pictured, at left, former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Women have been heading up congressional offices dating back to the 1940s, but that “assistant” position looked very different from today’s chief of staff post.

The 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act created the title of administrative assistant, which evolved into chief of staff. In 1947, there were about six female administrative assistants in the Senate, according to Senate Historian Betty K. Koed.

Senate Passes Bank Deregulation Bill, House May Seek Additions
More than a dozen Democratic senators joined all Republicans

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo sponsored the measure that would ease regulations on all but the biggest banks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would be the biggest bank deregulation since 1999 and would roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

More than a dozen Democrats joined the Republicans to pass the bill, sending it to the House, where conservative Republicans may seek to attach further provisions to roll back the 2010 law. Republicans will be trying to straddle the line between the extensive reversal of bank regulation that they seek and keeping on board the Senate Democrats who will be needed to clear the measure.

Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar
Weeks in April and May could be consumed by State, CIA nominations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to clear some floor time for the nominations of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to run the CIA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whatever the Senate might have wanted to focus on in April and May will now have to compete for time with a new priority thrust upon it by President Donald Trump.

Once senators got past the initial shock of Trump’s Twitter announcement Tuesday that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they quickly moved toward paving the way to debate and confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor, as well as Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead that agency.

D.C. Lawmakers, Florida Congressman Decry Rubio Gun Proposal
Florida senator’s bill would scrap local D.C. gun laws and align them with federal baseline

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has declined to pull a bill that scraps Washington, D.C.’s local gun laws and aligns them with the less-regulatory federal baseline laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Local lawmakers in the District of Columbia have taken aim at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for proposing legislation to overturn local measures restricting gun sales in Washington that he appeared to support for his constituents back home.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton of Washington, D.C., and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida called on Rubio to “immediately” withdraw the bill he proposed in 2015 and 2017.

Humor on a Congressional Curve
Separating the ridiculous from the non-ridiculous with Alexandra Petri

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., CNN's Deirdre Walsh and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., yuk it up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Welcome back to Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Humor is sometimes the only way to deal with serious topics.

Podcast: Politics' Thin Line Between Laughing and Cringing
Political Theater, Episode 9

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., left, gets a hug from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during the Washington Press Club Foundation's Congressional Dinner. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In light of the 74th Annual Congressional Dinner, Political Theater talks to Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri about when satire works and when it doesn't.  Warning: we have politicians telling jokes.