Republican Lawmakers Missed Opportunity to Save Trump From Trump
Legislative protection for special counsel could have forced president to refocus

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he’s received assurances that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing is “not even under consideration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans have let slip a golden opportunity to make good on their most important and counterintuitive campaign promise of 2018 — covering for President Donald Trump at every mind-numbing opportunity.

They still have half a year to change their collective minds, but for now the GOP is essentially all in on one of the most outside-the-box political strategies of all time: Betting that safe passage for their imperiled majorities requires lashing themselves to a president mired in record low approval ratings, subsumed by self-orchestrated chaos and in the crosshairs of a special counsel.

Senate Opts Against Limiting Trump’s War Powers
Measure to cease most military actions in Yemen shot down

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at a rally at the Capitol last year, pushed a resolution to end most U.S. military operations in Yemen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid a whirlwind day of White House news, President Donald Trump on Tuesday retained the expanded war powers he inherited from his post-9/11 predecessors, as the Senate shot down a measure that would have ordered him to cease most U.S. military operations in Yemen.

Trump scored a victory on behalf of the executive branch’s ability to launch and sustain military operations in new countries without first getting authorization from Congress. Amid pressure from Republican leaders, the White House and the Pentagon, the chamber killed a resolution, 55-44, offered by a bipartisan group of senators that would have required Trump to cease all U.S. military action against groups other than al-Qaida in Yemen.

Opinion: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again in Southwest Pennsylvania
Republicans still have time to remember the lessons learned

Democrat Mark Critz’s victory in a 2010 Pennsylvania special election ended up being a gift for Republicans, who regrouped to take back the House that fall, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s the scenario. A special congressional election in southwest Pennsylvania becomes the center of national attention as control of the House hangs in the balance come fall. The Democratic candidate runs as an anti-Nancy Pelosi, pro-gun, pro-life candidate concerned with economic issues — in other words, as a centrist.

Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, for the most part, runs a mostly negative ad campaign trying to tie his opponent to Pelosi and her liberal agenda. Both national parties make huge multimillion-dollar investments in the outcome for a district that is going to disappear in a matter of months thanks to redistricting. Meanwhile, the media has upped the ante by declaring this a bellwether race whose outcome will signal whether the minority party is about to win a wave election or the majority will defy the odds and hold on to the House.

Opinion: When Congress Lost Its WWII Veterans, Cynicism Crept In
Upholding the rule of law and democratic norms does not happen automatically

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole speaks with Army Sgt. Maj. Beth Lyle following a press conference on the World War II Memorial in 2000. Congress isn’t the same now that it has no more veterans of that war, Walter Shapiro writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Something was lost when the World War II generation vanished from the halls of Congress.

Originally personified by young veterans like John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Jerry Ford, who were elected to the House in the 1940s, the torch of memory was later held high by former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole (who suffered grievous war wounds with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy).

Dan Lipinski Survives Primary Challenge From the Left
Seven-term Illinois Democrat defeats progressive challenger Marie Newman

Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski faced the toughest fight of his political career in this year’s 3rd District Democratic primary.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Seven-term Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski survived his most competitive political contest yet, defeating first-time candidate Marie Newman in Illinois’ 3rd District primary.

Lipinski led Newman 51 percent to 49 percent, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, when The Associated Press called the race for the incumbent early Wednesday morning.

Trump Urges GOP to Take On ‘Pelosi Democrats’
“They have gone so far left, we have to go a little further right”

President Donald Trump is encouraging Republicans to continue to tie Democratic candidates to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this election season. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening offered a preview of his midterm election messaging, labeling Democratic candidates “all Pelosi Democrats.”

The Republican president’s signal that he will try to tie Democratic incumbents and congressional candidates to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came during a National Republican Congressional Committee fundraising dinner.

No Snow Day on Capitol Hill Wednesday
Floor votes and hearings are still expected

A worker clears the sidewalks on the East Front of the Capitol in March 2009. Employees of the office of the Architect of the Capitol also will likely be hard at work to keep the Capitol open for business on Wednesday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Executive agencies might close Wednesday for the snowstorm that’s bearing down on Washington, but it should be closer to business-as-usual on Capitol Hill.

The cold rain and expected changeover to snow is arriving when lawmakers are already safely in the nation’s capital, so the most usual reason to cancel business — flight delays — won’t be an issue.

House GOP Renews ‘Holman Rule’ Targeting Federal Pay
Provision allows cuts to individual employee salaries

Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, shown here in 2015, proposed a Holman rule amendment in July that aimed to slash a section of the Congressional Budget Office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders on Tuesday re-upped a rule that lets lawmakers slash the salaries of individual federal employees, in a move that some Democrats condemned as an attempt to dismantle the federal workforce.

Tucked into a floor rule that teed up consideration of two unrelated bills on financial services and health policy is a provision that extends the “Holman rule,” a standing order whose revival has sparked controversy in recent years. 

Controversy Swirls as Lawmakers Eye Campaign Finance Changes
Possible Johnson amendment repeal is among most-watched developments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., concludes a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers continue to debate major changes to political money regulations as part of a year-end spending package, despite opposition from numerous congressional Democrats and campaign finance watchdog groups.

Even with congressional primaries already underway, the proposals could play out in the November midterm elections if enacted, campaign finance experts on both sides of the debate say.

Podcast: What Defines a Political Wave in the House?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 6

MARCH 14: Speaker Paul D. Ryan holds a press conference with House GOP leadership in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, as a television displays election results from the special election in Pennsylvania. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With President Donald Trump’s mediocre job ratings, Democrats’ advantage on the national generic ballot and success in special elections in Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk about a political wave. In this week’s Decoder, Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, sitting in for David Hawkings, talks with Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg about how many seats it takes to make a wave and which Republicans might survive.

Show Notes: