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At the Races: Is Lesko’s Win in the Desert a Mirage?
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Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman

Special, Special, Special Elections
Gearing up for the midterms amid one special election after another

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The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

 

A Plea for the Old School Senate: Senators Really, Really Want to Move Spending Bills This Time
Meeting on nomination rules changes gives way to talk of spending bills, comity

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., brought a chart of the Senate floor to the Rules Committee. (Rules and Administration Committee screenshot)

What could have been a contentious meeting about shortening Senate debate time for nominations turned into more of a bipartisan conversation among some of the most senior senators at taking another shot at moving regular spending bills.

“Let’s pick an appropriation bill, put some training wheels on it and head it to the floor. Let’s see how this works,” Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin said. “We’ve got to educate ourselves.”

Senate GOP Set to Revive Time Limits on Debating Nominees
Rules panel expected to advance changes along party lines

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., speaks to reporters Tuesday about the proposed rules changes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators will take a small step Wednesday toward speeding up the pace of confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees even as controversy swirls around his pick to head the Veterans Affairs Department. 

The proposal by Sen. James Lankford is not exactly new. In fact, it isn’t new at all.

Why the Hill’s Quitters Caucus Keeps Growing
Republicans, especially, are leaving Congress midterm to get a money-making head start

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., is leaving the House to get a head start on his new career as a cable TV news analyst. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are really just three ways to give up a seat in Congress on your own timetable: retire, resign or quit. And the method with the least attractive connotations has become particularly popular in the last decade, especially among Republicans.

Those who use the term “retirement” properly are lawmakers who decline to run for re-election but complete the term for which the voters chose them before returning to civilian life, whether as money-makers or golf club denizens. Departures are best labeled “resignations” when senators or House members are forced to up and leave by particularly good, or ruinously bad, professional circumstances — elevated to higher positions in public service, most often, or politically poisoned by moral exposures or criminal failings.

Macron Visit Will Highlight Iran Deal, Trade Differences
‘Iran deal will be atop the list of things Congress is watching,’ expert says

American, French and Washington, D.C., flags fly on Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday ahead of the official state visit of President Emmanuel Macron of France, who arrived later that day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was all smiles and handshakes Monday afternoon when French President Emmanuel Macron arrived outside the West Wing. But Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expected to intently watch the youthful European leader’s talks with President Donald Trump.

Macron’s polished black limousine pulled into the White House’s West Wing entrance with a spring breeze perfectly pitching the flags of each country affixed to his hood. When the 40-year-old French president greeted his 71-year-old political alter ego, the personal bond they both often laud was on public display.

Pompeo Confirmation Debate Highlights Another Week of Senate Nomination Feuds
Rules and Administration panel also debating changes to nomination floor procedures

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, arrives for his confirmation hearing April 12 accompanied by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo seems all but assured to be confirmed as secretary of State this week. The question is how much pain will senators go through along the way.

The way forward should become clear after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convenes late Monday afternoon to formally vote on advancing Pompeo’s nomination — probably without a favorable review.

Arizona Teachers Latest to Walk Out, Members Supportive
Grand Canyon State ramps up protest, lawmakers react across U.S.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., speaks with Roll Call in his office in the Longworth Building. Grijalva said he supports Arizona teachers in the fight for better education funding, as teachers voted on a Friday walkout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona teachers voted Thursday night to join their counterparts in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky protesting wage and benefit cuts.

Teachers in the state voted through the Arizona Education Association to participate in a statewide walkout Friday to fight for better pay and school funding.

Lankford: Best to Let Russia Investigation Run Its Course
“The best politics would be do the right thing,” says Lankford

Sen. James Lankford is not in favor of the legislation to protect the special counsel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is reiterating his advice that President Donald Trump should let Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation run its course.

Sen. James Lankford said in an interview taped Thursday that the best strategy will be to let the chips fall where they may, citing the example of how the firing of FBI Director James Comey precipitated an expansion of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, rather than cut it off.

New Push for Senators to Pay Their Interns
Advocates say the time is right for offices to stop relying on free labor

A majority of Senate offices do not offer paid internships, according to data from nonprofit advocacy group Pay Our Interns. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Ideas to boost diversity on the Hill have been thrown around, and the numbers are slowly improving. But what if the solution was right in front of everyone, sitting at tiny shared desks in congressional offices?

Paid interns.