Kansas

Senate Confirms Two Trump Nominees, But Democrats Delay CIA Director
Defense and Homeland Security nominees move right away

Rep. Mike Pompeo is the nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate moved quickly to confirm two of President Donald Trump’s key national security nominees, but there’s bad blood about Democratic objections to a third.

The confirmation of retired Gens. James Mattis to be Defense secretary and John Kelly to be Homeland Security secretary came immediately, but the Senate only voted to turn to the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the CIA Director, setting up a final vote late Monday.

Senate to Vote on at Least Two Cabinet Nominees Friday
Democrats are calling for more time to vet controversial nominees

Schumer said Democrats want more time to vet nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected to vote on at least two of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees after he is sworn in on Friday. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Thursday that he expected votes on retired Gens. John Kelly to be the next Homeland Security secretary and James Mattis to lead the Defense Department. Schumer also said debate will begin on Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be the CIA director, with a vote possible on Friday or early next week.

Confirmation Speculation Swirls in the Senate
Leaders are negotiating whether Cabinet picks can be swiftly confirmed Friday

Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis could be one of the nominees confirmed on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators’ focus on President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees continued Wednesday afternoon, with some attention turning toward which nominees might be confirmed on Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-NY., are currently in negotiations over which nominees could be swiftly confirmed. Democrats will need to cooperate to either confirm nominees by unanimous consent or agree to limiting time for their consideration. 

House Freshmen to Watch
115th Congress provides a platform for ambitious new members

Kihuen, left, comes to Congress with a record of success in Nevada, and the blessing of former Sen. Harry Reid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not all freshmen are created equal.

While there is always a learning curve for new members of the House, some of the newly elected come to the institution with an enhanced profile. This could be because they are former statewide officeholders, or perhaps scored a big one for the team by knocking off a longtime incumbent. Maybe they are natural leaders or their ambitions are such that they are already looking at other federal offices. 

House GOP Working Groups Sort Through Key Tax Issues
Ideas expected soon that could be included in tax legislation

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., is pushing for tax measures to help small producers of oil and gas (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady is trying to avoid potential hurdles on the House GOP’s tax overhaul with the help of about five informal working groups of Republican tax writers, who are weighing whether to retain or reshape a number of items important to businesses and investors.

Brady, R-Texas, said he wants the working groups to deliver ideas soon that could be included in tax legislation. They are sorting through issues related to retirement savings, financial products, energy, education and pass-through businesses, such as S corporations and partnerships, whose owners pay individual tax rates on profits.

No Sophomore Slump for Marco Rubio
Senator appears to be carving out his own role in Trump’s Washington

With his vote, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio could decide the fate of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For a guy who didn’t want to be in the Senate anymore last year, Florida’s Marco Rubio is certainly making a tall glass of lemonade out of the lemons he got running for president in 2016. With a single hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Rubio went from being the Republican Most Likely to Miss a Vote, a distinction he earned on his way to losing the GOP nomination, to being the Republican Most Likely to Hold Donald Trump’s Feet to the Fire. It’s a role that holds both risks and immense power. That, for Rubio, could be more important than anything.

The hearing, of course, was to consider the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be Trump’s secretary of State. Although Sen. Jeff Sessions’ hearing to be attorney general was expected to have the most fireworks of the week, the Tillerson hearing went off-track as soon as Rubio began grilling the former Exxon Mobil CEO about the reams of accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin of widespread corruption and human rights abuses. 

House GOP Group Launches Digital Campaign for Health Care Plan
American Action Network will target 28 House districts

American Action Network is running digital ads about the House Republicans’ health care law replacement efforts in Ohio’s 4th District, held by former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An outside group affiliated with House GOP leadership is ramping up its advertising campaign for a Republican alternative to the 2010 health care law, running $400,000 in digital ads across 28 congressional districts. 

American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit advocacy organization, is launching its first digital campaign of the year Friday, when the House is expected to vote on the budget resolution that would begin the process of repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

Clicking Through Confirmation Hearing Roulette
Senators seek reassurances from the adults in the Cabinet

There are high hopes for Defense Secretary-designee James Mattis from lawmakers nervous about the president-elect and other Cabinet picks, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Back in the days when remote controls for changing channels were a brag-to-the-neighbors luxury accessory, Mad magazine developed a series of comic features called Television Roulette. They recreated what the dialogue supposedly might sound like if you clicked fast on a Sunday night from, say, Steve Allen to a Drano commercial to Ed Sullivan.

Modern video feeds and the clustering of three Trump Cabinet hearings on Thursday morning allowed you to play a similar game that could be called Confirmation Roulette. At times it went like this:

NRCC Names First Female Head of Recruitment
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik will help find 2018 candidates

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik will be the NRCC’s vice chairwoman for recruitment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers has named New York Rep. Elise Stefanik the committee’s vice chairwoman for recruitment for the 2018 election cycle. 

Stefanik is the first woman to lead recruitment efforts for the party, a significant appointment given that the GOP trails Democrats in the number of women in Congress. Democrats have 62 female members in the House, while Republicans have just 21.

Lights Out at CIA Director Confirmation Hearing
Pepco says issue was internal to Senate office buildings

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, center, waits to be introduced by fellow Kansans Sen. Pat Roberts, left, and former Sen. Bob Dole during a power outage at his Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:20 p.m. | Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner had just brought up Russian hacking and the 2016 election during a high-profile Senate Intelligence Committee hearing when the lights went out.

If the scene Thursday morning in the Hart Senate Office Building didn’t exactly stoke paranoia, it at least elicited some chuckles during an otherwise dead-serious confirmation hearing for Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the next director of the CIA.