leadership

David Koch leaves behind legacy of dark money political network
Allies and foes agree libertarian billionaire transformed the nation's politics

David Koch will be remembered for the political fundraising network he and his brother, Charles, built to promote conservative causes. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Republican mega-donor David Koch, who helped pioneer a network of often surreptitious organizations aimed at influencing elections and public policy, leaves behind a legacy of dark-money groups and a volatile political landscape.

Koch, one half of the Koch Brothers along with his older brother Charles, died at age 79, the billionaires’ company, Kansas-based Koch Industries, said Friday. David Koch had stepped away from business and politics in 2018 for health reasons and had previously battled cancer, though the company did not say the exact cause of death.

Background checks are still on the table for Trump, Chris Murphy says
Connecticut Democrat has doubts about a deal, calling the chances ‘less than 50/50’

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is in talks with the White House on background check legislation for gun purchases. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Chris Murphy is working with the White House to keep alive conversations about a potential deal on expanded background checks for gun purchases.

The Connecticut Democrat said Friday he is willing to work with President Donald Trump because lives are at stake, but admits that he sees the chances of passing broad gun control legislation as “less than 50-50.”

Trump pulls plug on foreign aid cuts amid blowback
Administration was seeking $4 billion in unspent foreign aid funding

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, pictured at his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing, argued this week against the funding rescissions. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump scrapped a plan to cancel more than $4 billion in unspent foreign aid, following a bipartisan uproar from Capitol Hill, lawsuit threats from stakeholders and pushback within his own Cabinet.

Transmission of the rescissions request to cut unspent funds at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development was expected sometime this week. But “POTUS decided not to move forward,” one source with knowledge of Trump's decision said Thursday.

Democrats target state elections with focus on election security
Supporting secretaries of state offices in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi in effort to expand voting rights

Democrats are supporting secretaries of state offices across the country to try to win a majority of those offices nationwide. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on Thursday launched a campaign to win secretaries of state races in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi this November by pointing to their focus on boosting election security and expanding voting rights, compared with Republican officials.

“The office of the secretary of State is more important than ever,” Alex Padilla, the secretary of state for California and president of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, told CQ Roll Call. “Every election cycle is an opportunity to elect Democratic secretaries of State, but also to ensure security and accessibility” for voters.

Democrats tried to ‘blackmail’ casino owner to let employees unionize, conservative group claims
Lawmakers say ethics accusations by Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust are baseless

Rep. Mark Pocan, D- Wisc., speaks with reporters as he leaves a House Democrats' caucus meeting in February. Pocan is one of 14 Democrats who wrote a letter to a casino mogul that a conservative ethics watchdog group says was part of an effort to coerce him to allow employees to unionize. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conservative watchdog group asked the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday to review whether 14 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican inappropriately used their office to try to coerce a Las Vegas casino mogul into allowing his employees to unionize.

In May, Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and 13 other Democrats wrote a letter to Frank Fertitta III, the CEO of the Las Vegas-based casino management company Red Rock Resorts Inc., urging him to “respect the rights of employees” at the company “to form a union and collectively bargain.”

Now background checks are back on the table as Trump veers again
POTUS makes Danish leader latest female critic he has dubbed ‘nasty’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration will push for background checks legislation that would close “loopholes.” (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued careening from one policy stance to the opposite, this time saying he has an “appetite” for background checks legislation after twice this week backing away from just that.

“We’re going to be doing background checks,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a speech to military veterans and two fundraising events in Kentucky. Notably, he said his focus would be on closing so-called “loopholes” in existing laws.

Trump wants to lift restrictions on how long it can hold migrant families
Pelosi accuses White House of ‘seeking to codify child abuse’

A border security officer searches migrants before transferring them by bus to the McAllen Border Patrol facility in Los Ebanos, Texas, in July. The Trump administration is challenging a court order that limits the time children can be detained. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration is moving to end a court settlement that limits its ability to hold migrants who cross the border into the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday, potentially allowing for indefinite detention of children with their parents.

President Donald Trump and his administration for years have chafed at the limitations resulting from the settlement, known as the Flores agreement. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday the new policy would get rid of an interpretation of Flores that has “substantially caused and continued to fuel” a migrant crisis at the southern border.

Elizabeth Warren is blasting Wells Fargo over fees, again
Latest criticism is over fees charged to allegedly closed accounts

Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is again criticizing Wells Fargo (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has another complaint about Wells Fargo.

This week, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate is taking issue with the bank allegedly charging fees on accounts that customers had believed to be closed.

House freshmen try to keep it local as presidential race steals the spotlight
Iowa Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer are taking similar approaches to their reelections

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, flips pork burgers at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES — Rep. Cindy Axne’s letter to Customs and Border Protection about African swine fever didn’t make national news. But it did prompt a “thank you” from a man with the Iowa Pork Association as Axne flipped pork burgers last week at the Iowa State Fair.

Attention to issues like that disease, which could threaten the country’s pork industry if it reached the U.S., is how first-term Democratic lawmakers like Axne are working to win reelection in 2020.

First House Republican backs renewed assault weapons ban
Rep. Peter King has broken with party leadership on gun violence prevention measures before

New York GOP Rep. Peter King said he thinks his support of a ban on assault weapons could provide political cover to Republicans and Democrats in GOP-leaning districts that haven’t supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Peter King is the first Republican in Congress to back a renewed federal ban on assault rifles.

The development reflects calls for action on Capitol Hill after gunmen armed with assault weapons killed scores of people in California, Texas and Ohio in the span of a few days.