Marsha Blackburn

Mitt Romney, Rand Paul Preview GOP Debate Over Donald Trump in New Congress
Paul speaks out against Romney’s criticism of the president ahead of swearing-in

Mitt Romney, left, and Rand Paul have different approaches to President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

Two Republicans with among the largest national profiles of senators in the new Congress aren’t wasting any time in drawing the contours of a debate that is sure to run over for the next two years.

Namely, the extent to which members of the Senate GOP hitch their wagons to President Donald Trump as an election cycle gets underway with a map that might be more favorable to the Democrats.

Here Are the House Members Who Have Skipped Votes This Lame-Duck Session
Most of the absentees are members who lost re-election, ran for another office or are retiring

The lame-duck session of Congress has seen its fair share of absenteeism in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

More than 40 percent of House members have missed at least one vote this lame-duck session, leading to attendance problems that have prohibited the outgoing Republican majority from advancing legislation that Democrats don’t want to help them pass — and a smaller subset have missed at least half of all lame-duck votes.

There have been only 20 House roll call votes since the lame-duck session started on Nov. 13, but 17 members have missed at least half of them. Of those 17 repeat offenders, 11 are Republicans and six are Democrats.

Who Might Run for Alexander’s Tennessee Senate Seat in 2020?
All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam and Rep.-elect Mark Green

Outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, seen here at a rally with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, is a likely candidate for the open Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement on Monday that he won’t seek a fourth term opens up a 2020 Senate seat in a state President Donald Trump carried by 26 points in 2016.

All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who could clear the field and would likely be a successor in the same Republican mold as Alexander.

Tennessee Rep.-Elect Walks Back ‘Anti-Vaxx’ Comments
But Mark Green says ‘More research should be done’ after alleging a CDC coverup

Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., said his comments endorsing a conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism were “misconstrued.” (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., has softened his endorsement of the myth that vaccines cause autism in statements to the media, claiming his comments had been distorted.

“Recent comments I made at a town hall regarding vaccines has been misconstrued. I want to reiterate my wife and I vaccinated our children, and we believe, and advise others they should have their children vaccinated,” the 7th District Republican said.

High-Stakes Lottery Will Land New Members in Capitol Hill Offices
While many newly elected say they are just happy to be here, choice real estate is at stake

Members-elect will draw chips Friday to determine which office space they’ll get for next year. Two years ago, Lisa Blunt Rochester, seen here, was fairly pleased with her number. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every two years, the office lottery that closes out new member orientation becomes a delicate game of chance that will determine who gets choice workspace — and who must toil in the congressional badlands.

Each newly elected House member will take their chance and pick a numbered chip as they’re called by their last names in alphabetical order. The traditional room lottery draw is run by the Architect of the Capitol House Superintendent’s Office and kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. The chip number corresponds to the order in which they can choose an office.

Seven VP Candidates if Trump Dumps Pence for 2020 Re-Election Fight
Pence says they ‘had a good laugh’ over questions — but do they have a deal?

President Donald Trump (right) speaks with Vice President Mike Pence as first lady Melania Trump looks on during a Capitol ceremony for the late Rev. Billy Graham earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence stood in the East Room of the White House after his boss put him on the spot. He smiled. He nodded. But he never uttered one word: Yes.

The moment, prompted by a reporter’s question during a rowdy post-midterm press conference on Nov. 7, was an attempt by President Donald Trump to quiet speculation that he had begun to question Pence’s loyalty and was mulling other potential running mates for his 2020 re-election campaign.

Money Doesn’t Always Buy (Electoral) Love, but It Can Help
Scott and Cisneros spent big on their own campaigns and won, while other self-funders tanked

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who won Florida's Senate race over the weekend, spent at least $64 million of his own money on his campaign. That kind of self-funding doesn’t always pay off though. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The victories of California Democrat Gil Cisneros and Florida Republican Rick Scott are yet another reminder that when it comes to running for public office, having personal wealth can be pretty helpful.

Both candidates spent millions of their own money and ultimately prevailed in races that went on long past Election Day. Cisneros, who won the lottery in 2010, kicked at least $9 million of his own money into his campaign for California’s 39th District, which The Associated Press called in his favor on Saturday.

Photos of the Week: Lame Duck, New Member Orientation and Official Class Photos
The week of Nov. 12 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Rep.-elect Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., arrives for New Member Orientation at the Courtyard Marriott in Southeast D.C., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterms have come and gone and it’s back to the Hill for members new and old. The lame duck sessions in the House and Senate gaveled in Tuesday while new member orientation kicked off its first week.

The chambers, along with orientation, recess next week for the Thanksgiving holiday and will start up sessions again the week of Nov. 26.

Midterms Were a Buffet Election for Democrats, Republicans
Each side can pick what it liked best from the results — and ignore warning signs

Sen.-elect Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen.-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., pose for a group photo in McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When I was a kid in small-town Oregon, my family would occasionally go to King’s Table, and my sister and I would get free rein at the buffet.

I became famous in my own family for my condiment salad — an impressive collection of bacon bits, croutons, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and plenty of ranch dressing. Essentially, my strategy involved choosing what looked and tasted good and avoiding anything of nutritional value.

The Candidates Mattered. But Opinions About Trump Mattered More
Different outcomes in the House and Senate mostly about the president

Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly both lost their bids for second terms Tuesday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both parties had something to celebrate after Tuesday’s midterm elections, depending on where they looked. But that split outcome — with Democrats winning the House, and Republicans gaining seats in the Senate — underscores the extent to which opinions about President Donald Trump shape today’s politics.

Republicans largely prevailed at the Senate level because they were running in red states where President Donald Trump performed well in 2016. The House saw the opposite outcome, but the reason was the same. Republicans largely struggled because they were running in places where Trump was unpopular.