Farm Bill

Organizing the Senate Can Sometimes Get Messy
No-fuss committee changes haven’t always been the norm

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer meets with Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota in the Capitol on Jan. 3. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate’s leaders reached a deal to adjust committee membership without much fanfare this month, but such comity has not always been a sure thing.

Last month’s election of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones that set the Republican majority at 51-49 meant that the two parties would need to make relatively straightforward changes, providing for the GOP to hold one-seat majorities on committees either by reducing the total number of Republicans where there was a surplus, or adding an extra Democrat.

Maple Syrup Keeps Welch’s Colleagues and Constituents Happy
Vermont Democrat brings his own to breakfast

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., brings maple syrup back to work in D.C. from a farm next to his Vermont home. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Peter Welch knows how to make friends in Congress.

“If I give somebody maple syrup here, you’ve got a friend for life,” he said.

Senate Leaders Announce New Committee Rosters
Ratio change gives GOP a one-seat advantage at all committtees

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., received his committee assignments on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The full Senate is set to ratify revised committee rosters and ratios before adjourning Tuesday evening.

The changes add a Democrat to the Finance and Judiciary Committees, because each needed new Democrats to provide an across-the-board one-seat advantage for the GOP with their diminished majority.

Trump Heads Down to the Farm (Bureau)
Address to convention will be first by a U.S. president since George H.W. Bush

President Donald Trump will address the American Farm Bureau Federation national convention on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention on Monday — the first president to attend since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The president will discuss key points of an administration report the White House says is designed to boost the rural economy.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, shown here in 2013, are throwing their weight behind legislation to promote evidence-based policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

History Shows You Can’t Bank on Tax Bill Projections
CBO figures are no crystal ball

President Ronald Reagan signs the 1986 Tax Reform Act. (AP file photo)

A Tax Conference Committee Meeting Mostly For Show
Parameters are clear for final Republican push on tax bill

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady makes his way to a meeting in the speaker’s office in the Capitol on Dec. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nothing against the members of the House and Senate attending Wednesday’s inaugural meeting of the conference committee finalizing the tax code overhaul, but it’s mostly for show and unlikely to be must-see television.

That’s because, with the arguable exception of the farm bill, open meetings of conference committees are not where the deals get done, despite the talking points from top negotiators.

Clovis Latest Casualty of Russia Probe, Withdraws Nomination
Trump adviser identified as communicating with Papadopoulos

Sam Clovis, seen here high-fiving then-candidate Donald Trump in Iowa last year, has withdrawn his nomination to a top post at the Agriculture Department. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Sam Clovis, the nominee for the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post, has withdrawn from consideration after being identified as one of the Trump campaign officials with whom former campaign aide George Papadopoulos communicated about his Russian contacts.

“We respect Mr. Clovis’s decision to withdraw his nomination,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Opinion: The Women in Washington Staying for the Fight
Collins, Feinstein and Pelosi want to keep fighting for their causes

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is among the women in Congress planning to stick around and keep fighting for their causes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bob Corker’s leaving the Senate, and who can blame him? At a certain point, life’s just too short to get called “Liddle Bob” on Twitter by anyone, especially by the president of the United States.

But even as Corker announced that he’d retire at the end of his term, two of the Tennessee Republican’s female colleagues decided last week they’re not going anywhere, at least not if they can help it. Both women said while they had considered leaving Washington, the job in the Capitol was too important to walk away from.

Two Senators, Two Parties, One River, Similar Message
Agricultural issues sprinkle talking points of both McConnell and Donnelly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and Sen. Joe Donnelly, sounded similar messages on agriculture policy Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BOONVILLE, Ind. — On opposite sides of the Ohio River on Thursday, a Republican leader under attack from President Donald Trump and a Democratic senator facing a potentially difficult re-election bid sounded a similar, agriculture-heavy message to core constituencies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellspeaking at a farm bureau breakfast in his home state of Kentucky — trumpeted the future abolishment of an Obama-era rule despised by many in the industry and provided assurances that farmers would be taken care of in an upcoming reauthorization of legislation that governs many agriculture programs.