independents

Senators to Watch as Trump Era Begins
Rank-and-file senators likely to be key players in 115th Congress

Georgia Sen. David Perdue, left, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III are both senators to watch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans may have full control in Washington, but the Senate remains the Senate, which means it’s the place where rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans retain the most clout and potential for influence. Here are the key senators from outside of the top echelons of the leadership structures to watch as the 115th Congress gets underway.

The moderate from Maine will be the first person to watch on any contentious votes, particularly on budget reconciliation votes that aim to repeal parts of the 2010 health care law. She has, for instance, been among the small number of Republicans opposing efforts to tie the GOP health care plans to stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Zinke, DeVos Kick Off Week of Senate Hearings
Senate is also voting on a bill relating to the GAO

Betsy DeVos, nominee for Education secretary, has her confirmation hearing Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Preparations for the incoming administration will likely dominate the Senate this week with hearings each day leading up to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday. Two of his nominees are facing Senate committees Tuesday. 

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold its confirmation hearing at 2:15 p.m. for Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke to be the next Interior secretary.

Crisis Averted but Future Is Still Unclear for House Watchdog
Republicans promise bipartisan review of Office of Congressional Ethics

Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano, who chaired the committee that recommended the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics, says he would welcome looking at potential revisions to the office. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans might have ditched a plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. But the future of Congress’ only outside ethics review board is far from guaranteed.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, has been under fire from both parties since it was created eight years ago. Now the House GOP majority is promising to revisit a potential overhaul before the end of this session, possibly as early as August.

Senate Panel to Probe Links Between Russia, Political Campaigns
Burr and Warner statement says committee will ‘follow the intelligence wherever it leads’

Vice chairman Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., left, and chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., confer before Tuesday’s hearing on Russian intelligence activities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into Russian intelligence operations against the United States will investigate any possible links between Russia and American political campaigns, the panel said Friday.

The bipartisan investigation will also include a review of the American intelligence agencies’ assessment of what they say was Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including cyberattacks and other so-called active measures.

Democratic Senate Incumbents Could Withstand Rust Belt Shift
An early look at the re-election prospects of 4 senators from Trump states

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown will be up for re-election in 2018 in Ohio, where Republicans Donald Trump and Sen. Rob Portman won handily last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, Paul Maslin could sense that former Sen. Russ Feingold was in trouble, as the Wisconsin Democrat tried to win back his Senate seat from Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson.

“I could feel Johnson found a message groove and Russ was doing sort of a victory lap,” said Maslin, a Democratic consultant in the Badger State, who was doing work for the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Schumer Says He’ll Oppose Sessions’ Nomination
Democrats unlikely to be able to block nomination, however

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said he couldn't support Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general because “I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Thursday that he will oppose Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination to be the next attorney general.

“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration,” the New York Democrat said in a statement.

Trump Veers From Gloater in Chief to Martyr-Elect
But president-elect shows little appreciation for responsibilities

It is “foolish patriotism” to expect President-elect Donald Trump to change his tune once he enters the Oval Office, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ever since the election, I have been one of those Donald Trump skeptics, desperately clinging to the fantasy of the Harry Truman Effect. Somehow I hoped that, once again, the fates that watch over our democracy would take a man of seemingly ordinary clay — like Truman or Jerry Ford — and mold him into a larger, more presidential, figure.

There were moments at the beginning of Trump’s first press conference in nearly six months when, if you really squinted, you might see tentative signs of such a miraculous transformation.

Booker, Lewis Challenge Sessions’ Commitment to Civil Rights
Say AG nominee has no track record of championing cause

From left, Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, Georgia Rep. John Lewis and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker attend the second day of Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Three black lawmakers forcefully testified against Sen. Jeff Sessions becoming attorney general on Wednesday, closing out a confirmation hearing in which Democrats aired concerns about the Alabama Republican’s civil rights record.

Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, expressed concern with Sessions’ commitment to enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed in the wake of a violent law enforcement reaction against Lewis and others marching from Selma to Montgomery. Lewis participated in that Alabama march known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Is Jeff Flake the GOP Senator Most Vulnerable in a Primary?
Republicans are worried the Arizona senator’s penchant for criticizing Trump has landed him in trouble with GOP voters

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters about immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Flake has vocally criticized his party’s freshly elected president, raised little money, and backed a moderate approach to an immigration overhaul. 

In other words, the first-term senator from Arizona has all but begged a Donald Trump-like Republican to run against him. Now, his friends and allies fear that’s exactly what will happen — with no guarantee that the incumbent lawmaker will win. 

House Republicans Entrust Majority to Rogers at NRCC
New York native begins fourth cycle at committee, but first as executive director

John Rogers was part of the National Republican Congressional Committee team that limited the party’s losses in the House to a net of just six seats in last year’s election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Midterm elections are supposed to be trouble for the president’s party, but House Republicans are confident that if they have a problem, John Rogers can solve it.

Rogers was born in Amsterdam, New York, a small-town about a half-hour west of Albany, but Republican friends know him best for once identifying an unlikely takeover opportunity three hours south in New York City.