New Mexico

Democrats try to meet people where they are: mired in cynicism
Next to Trump’s unfulfilled, empty pledge to drain the swamp, HR 1 looks pretty savvy

Democrats are intent on sticking to their “For the People” message, even if they’re swimming upstream against the partial government shutdown. Above, from left, Rep. Colin Allred, Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark, and Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small hold a press conference in the Capitol on Jan. 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — It’s tempting, and deliciously smug, to dismiss House Democrats’ everything-but-the-kitchen-sink campaign finance, lobbying, ethics and voting overhaul bill as an overtly partisan political messaging stunt that’s doomed in the Senate and too unpolished for enactment.

The measure is all of those. But ignoring this effort outright means waving off voters’ very real perception that their democracy has been sold out to the highest campaign donors.

Harrassed Kihuen staffer slams Democrats for not acting on complaints sooner
Former DCCC staffer ignored calls and emails from House Ethics Committee as it investigated congressman

Former Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s pursuit of women was “relentless” and sometimes included women he interacted with professionally, the House Ethics Committee concluded in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional campaign workers who have experienced sexual harassment and want to hold their harassers accountable face a rocky path, according to a scathing editorial by a staffer who was the target of persistent unwanted sexual advances by former Rep. Ruben Kihuen.

“Campaign staff members who are being mistreated seemingly have no options other than either risk their careers and financial stability by quitting, or stay on a campaign and endure abuse,” wrote Samantha Register, a former staffer on the Democrat’s 2016 primary campaign, in the Nevada Independent this week.

Trailblazers and absences define start of new Congress
Plenty of firsts, as well as some notable empty seats

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sworn in Thursday, surrounded by children in the rostrum of the House chamber on the first day of the 116th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The first day of a new Congress is filled with ceremony and tradition, but there were a few things that set the start of the 116th Congress apart.

For the first time in history, a new congressional session began in the midst of a partial government shutdown. The swearing-in ceremonies and celebrations were clouded by the ongoing shutdown that’s now entered a second week. About a quarter of federal discretionary spending has run out, resulting in the shuttering of agencies and federal programs. But with the legislative branch already funded, there weren’t logistical problems on Capitol Hill that would devastate a high-profile day like the opening of a new Congress.

Congress Cashes Out as Rich Members Depart
Of the top 10 flushest lawmakers, four are packing their bags

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been Congress’ richest member for years. Now he and several other multimillionaires are headed for the exits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The combined wealth of Congress is set to plummet next year after a deluge of departures and the results of the midterm elections. Some of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill won’t be returning next year, and the body’s $2.43 billion of personal net worth will drop by $933 million. 

Of the top 10 richest members of Congress, four are packing their bags. Most are staying in the public sector. California Rep. Darrell Issa, net worth of $283 million and the perennially richest member of Congress, announced his retirement in January 2018. The inventor of the Viper car alarm was expected to leave public office but will move to the Trump administration, after being appointed to the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Trump Administration to Make Asylum-Seekers Wait in Mexico
Similar asylum policy proposed last month was stymied by the courts

DHS announced a plan to keep Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

The Homeland Security Department on Thursday announced a plan to keep Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings, claiming it would “reduce illegal migration by removing one of the key incentives that encourages people from taking the dangerous journey to the United States in the first place.”

Under the plan, asylum-seekers would be temporarily returned to Mexico after being issued a notice to appear in U.S. immigration court. The department said it reached an agreement with Mexico to issue asylum-seekers humanitarian visas and access to attorneys and the United States for the purpose of appearing in court.

Republicans in Congress Are Coy About Whether They Would Take Interior Post
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said this week she is not interested in the job

Several senators praised outgoing Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and endorsed his capacity to take on the secretary of the Interior job. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In anticipation of the appointment of a new Department of the Interior secretary this week, one member of Congress on the reported shortlist has confirmed his interest in the post, but most rumored candidates have shied away from public statements.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter Saturday that he would nominate a replacement to outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week. 

Democrats Press Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to Disclose More About Political Ads
Senators want voluntary disclosures about buyers of politically charged advertising

Democrats want Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to offer more voluntary disclosure about political ads. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A contingent of Senate Democratic Conference members want Facebook to voluntarily disclose more about the sources of advertising dollars on the social media platform.

The group led by New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, highlights in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg efforts by Russia to use Facebook to spread political messaging to undermine the U.S. electoral process.

Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column
From Trump to Beto to the Red Sox, it has been, well, another year

President Donald Trump provided much fodder for Stu Rothenberg's annual end of the year winners and losers column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Well, it’s time for another of my end-of-the-year winners and losers columns. I’ve titled it “Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column” just so you don’t miss the point.

As I have often done in the past, I’ll offer up a category with some nominees. Then I’ll give you my winner. If you disagree, please send your complaints to Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections or Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. Just don’t send them to me.

Flashback Friday: Christmas Tree Bill
When there’s something in a measure for nearly everyone

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree stands in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For less astute observers of Capitol Hill, the term “Christmas tree bill” might conjure up festive images of twinkling lights and tinsel, candy canes and cookies. But in reality, the term refers to seasonal indulgence of a different sort. A Christmas tree bill is a piece of legislation, loaded with “ornaments” — unrelated, and often, excessive amendments.

The term is said to date back to a March 1956 Time magazine article on the debate over the farm bill. New Mexico Sen. Clinton P. Anderson, frustrated by the number of amendments added to the measure, was quoted as saying, “This bill gets more and more like a Christmas tree; there’s something on it for nearly everyone.”

Informal Nature of Border Wall Request Roils Spending Debate
Trump still hasn’t submitted “budget amendment” on $5 billion demand

President Donald Trump still hasn’t put details of his $5 billion request for border wall funding on paper in any official capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has held up the entire spending wrap-up for fiscal 2019. Yet Trump still hasn’t put the details of that request on paper in any official capacity, a departure from precedent that is in keeping with this president’s unconventional style.

The fact Congress hasn’t gotten a formal letter to change the border ask seems technical. But it has set a stage for debate where no one’s arguing on the same terms. And this has arguably let lawmakers and the White House escape a broader debate on the substance by simultaneously referring to an outdated budget request or a dollar figure that doesn’t exist formally on paper.