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.

Too Long; Didn’t Read Act Aims to Cut Confusion for Entitlements Programs
Bipartisan bill would make federal agencies place instructions for applicants at top of letters and emails

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., walks down the House steps following a vote on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For Americans who qualify for aid through federal programs, navigating the process to unlock those benefits is often stressful and confusing.

A constituent of Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton received a piece of mail from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently. The letter contained instructions on how to access his benefits — but they were buried at the bottom of a six-page letter mostly filled with bureaucratic balderdash. The man nearly glossed over the instructions telling him to upload his records on the VA’s website. Had he not read the letter carefully all the way through, he would have missed the most important part of the letter and possibly seen a delay receiving his VA benefits.

Tariff Fallout Could Shape Midterm Battlegrounds
Political observers in both parties are taking stock of potential effects

President Donald J. Trump with Rick Saccone speaks to supporters at the Atlantic Aviation Hanger on March 10 in Moon Township, Pa. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The Trump administration’s controversial plan for new tariffs may seep into the debates of competitive House races — well beyond Pennsylvania steel country — that will determine in November which party controls the chamber.

Opponents of the tariffs on steel and aluminum also warn that if the administration carries through with the proposal and if other nations retaliate, the issue could spill into even more congressional districts, including in Republican-leaning farm country.

Lawmakers Seek Quick Action on Consensus School Safety Measures
‘There are things we agree on, we should pass those things’

Demonstrators cheer for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., while attending a rally on the West Front of the Capitol to call on Congress to act on gun violence prevention during a national walkout by students on March 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators from both parties expressed their desire Wednesday to quickly pass school safety legislation that has bipartisan support as students nationwide walked out of high schools and rallied on Capitol Hill to call for federal gun laws to stop school shootings.

“There are things we agree on, we should pass those things,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students dead.

Democrats Look to Dan Sena to Secure House Majority
Veteran operative is the first Latino to direct a party campaign committee

Dan Sena, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is interviewed in his Washington office on August 14, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Armed with a Nokia cellphone and a couple of semesters of graduate school, Dan Sena was ready for battle.

It was 1998, and the future executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was going to be a key cog in his party’s effort to take over a House seat in New Mexico, even though at the time his previous professional highlights included teaching tennis at a country club, washing dishes on his college campus and selling CDs at the Villa Linda Mall.

House Majority PAC Reserves $43 Million in Airtime for Fall
Democratic super PAC’s initial reservations in 33 media markets

House Majority PAC is reserving nearly $1.8 million in the Denver media market, which could be used in the race against Colorado GOP Rep. Mike Coffman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority PAC, the group that helps House Democrats, is making $43 million in TV reservations in 33 media markets for the final weeks of the 2018 campaign.

These initial reservations will be placed over the course of the month, which is the earliest the super PAC has booked time for the fall.

Gun Debate Unfolds Outside of Senate Judiciary Panel’s Confines
Grassley uses White House meeting to brief Trump

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the committee’s role in moving gun-related legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a White House meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the panel’s role in getting a consensus and moving legislation dealing with gun violence and school shootings.

But before the Iowa Republican could finish, Trump pivoted right back to negotiating provisions about age restrictions for gun purchases, a proposal championed by two senators who aren’t on the committee, Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III.

With Expectations Low, Select Budget Panel Prepares to Meet
Committee has broad mission, but few hard deadlines

Rep. Steve Womack, the new House Budget Committee chairman, is head of the select budget panel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The select committee tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process is mandated by law to meet for the first time this week. But what they plan to talk about remains a mystery.

The law establishing the committee instructs the 16 members to provide “recommendations and legislative language that will significantly reform the budget and appropriations process” before Nov. 30, with an initial meeting to be held by March 11.

Companies, Nonprofits Put Brakes on Foreign Lobbying Bills
Despite momentum to revamp foreign lobbying disclosures, opposition remains

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s indictment has revived interest in the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced an overhaul to foreign lobbying rules, while a similar, once fast-moving measure appears temporarily stalled in the House amid pressure from outside interests.

The new bill from Texas Republican John Cornyn and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein indicates that momentum to revamp foreign lobbying disclosures persists as the Russia probe has kept concerns about international influences in the spotlight. But opposition remains.

Renewable Fuel Foes and Backers to Meet Again at White House

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After failing to reach agreement Tuesday at a White House meeting of oil and corn state lawmakers as well as administration officials on possible changes to the nation’s renewable fuels program, lawmakers and President Donald Trump say they’ll try again as early as this week.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a vocal defender of the biofuels industry, said following the meeting that “no win-win” situation was presented as promised by participants such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who opposes the program in its current form.