Maine

Analysis: It’s a Blue House Wave, but Not Yet a Senate One
Rural, Trump-friendly states make for a formidable map for Democrats

Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are among the Democrats’ many vulnerable incumbents this cycle, which complicates the party’s efforts to retake the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

“The odds are greater than half we will take back the Senate.” — Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Monday night 

Democrats ought to temper their optimism about the fight for the Senate this year.

Anti-Abortion Groups Look for Wins in 2018
Senate vote on a 20-week abortion ban is a top priority

Attendees gather near the Washington Monument on Jan. 27, 2017, during the speaking portion of the annual March for Life. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Anti-abortion groups, pursuing a list of priorities, hope to further capitalize on the Republican control of both chambers and the presidency in 2018.

Groups that oppose abortion scored a series of wins last year, including the appointment of several conservatives to top Department of Health and Human Services positions, the House passage of a late-term abortion ban bill and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

States Alarmed by Delay in HHS Family Planning Money
Title X grant recipients play the waiting game, fearing revival of abortion gag rule

The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to announce a new round of Title X funding for family planning, leaving advocacy groups fearing for the future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

State officials are dismayed that the Trump administration has stalled the process for applying for new family planning money the states are counting on. Abortion advocacy groups worry that the delay may mean the administration is planning to target abortion providers or rewrite family planning policies. 

The funding announcement was expected by November, with states’ applications for 2018-19 due Jan. 3. But the announcement still isn’t out. The funding is provided by the Title X program, through the only federal grants focused on family planning.

GOP Leaders Weighing Mid-February Stopgap, With Sweeteners
CHIP fix could grease bipartisan skids

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is not thrilled about the prospect of another short-term stopgap spending measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

GOP leaders are working on a stopgap continuing resolution that would continue current spending levels into mid-February and include a health care package that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, fund community health centers and extend various Medicare provisions, people with knowledge of the process say.

Some elements of the proposal are still being worked out, and it is unclear what the final package will look like. But the aim is to draw bipartisan support on the floor of both chambers next week, averting a partial government shutdown after midnight next Friday, Jan. 19, when the current stopgap expires.

U.S. Needs More ‘Idiot Control,’ Not Gun Control, Kennedy Says
Louisiana senator pans bipartisan bill to strengthen background check system

Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy could be the lone opponent to a bill aimed at strengthening enforcement of national background check system policies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John Kennedy on Tuesday took a stand against bureaucratic incompetence in the name of the Second Amendment.

“I don’t think we need more gun control; I think we need more idiot control,” the Louisiana Republican told NOLA.com, blasting a new bipartisan gun control bill that appears to be aimed at preventing more of those so-called idiots from purchasing firearms.

Health Care Overhaul Appears Unlikely Before Midterm Elections
Republicans could face voters without strategy on rising premiums, other issues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn arrive for a news conference following the Republicans’ policy lunch on Tuesday. McConnell has been pessimistic about the chances for a health care overhaul this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans are at risk of facing voters this year with no cohesive strategy to fulfill their seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law or address the rising cost of health care.

Following a meeting at Camp David over the weekend between President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders, members said a major overhaul of the law is unlikely this year.

Northeastern Lawmakers Unite Against Trump Offshore Drilling Plan
Republicans and Democrats from region join Florida and West Coast colleagues blasting plan

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, penned a joint letter on Monday to resist the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plans off their state’s coast. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers in the Northeast united across party lines on Monday to hazard against President Donald Trump’s offshore drilling plan to re-open more than 90 percent of the U.S. coastline to oil and gas companies.

Roughly 94 percent of the coastline, including the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts, remains off limits to oil and gas drilling. But Trump’s Interior Department revealed a five-year plan proposing 47 potential lease sales to energy companies through 2024, including two in the North Atlantic region from Maine to New Jersey.

House Seats You Think Can’t Flip but Might
Political wave elections create their own race dynamics

Rep. Sue W. Kelly lost her re-election bid in 2006 even though she appeared safe, having won two years earlier with 67 percent of the vote in a New York district carried by President George W. Bush. The result is a reminder that wave elections produce their own dynamics. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Responses to the “generic ballot” poll question suggest a partisan electoral wave is building. But the fight for control of the House isn’t a single national election. It will be fought district by district, and national Democrats face challenges on the ground even with the generic ballot favoring them.

In Michigan, according to America Votes 2007-2008, the statewide congressional vote shifted noticeably from 2004 to 2006 — from 49 percent Republican and 48 percent Democratic to 53 percent Democratic and 44 percent Republican — but that popular vote surge for the Democrats didn’t translate to a shift of even a single House seat.

Senate GOP Leans Away From Obamacare Repeal, Toward Stabilization
Repeal of the individual mandate creates new issues to solve, members say

Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans appear unlikely to attempt a complete overhaul of the 2010 health care law next year and instead have shifted their focus toward stabilizing the insurance markets.

Members say the repeal of the penalty for not having insurance that was included in the GOP tax plan removes a crucial aspect of the law, rendering it largely unworkable.

McConnell Puts Infrastructure Ahead of Entitlements in 2018
Says candidate recruitment continues, hopes Rick Scott runs in Florida

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is looking ahead to 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With the tax code overhaul on its way to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking ahead to 2018, in both politics and policy.

“I think that Democrats are not going to be interested in entitlement reform, so I would not expect to see that on the agenda,” McConnell said Thursday at an event hosted by Axios.