staffers

Senate Periodical Press Gallery loses a familiar face
Deputy Director Shawna Blair departs after 14 years

Shawna Blair of the Senate Periodical Press Gallery, center, holds her dog George Clooney, in the Capitol's Senate Daily Press Gallery in 2015. Appearing in the background, from left, are Tricia Munro of the Senate Press Photographers' Gallery, Laura Lytle and Beth Crowley, both of the Senate Press Gallery and Bloomberg News' Kate Hunter, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After helping coordinate three presidential inaugurations, eight presidential conventions, five Supreme Court nominations and answering more than a decade of reporter questions, a familiar face will no longer be in the Senate Periodical Press Gallery.

Shawna Blair, the gallery’s deputy director, worked her final day in the gallery Wednesday after about 14 years there. On Monday, she starts her new gig as communications director for the Delta Regional Authority.

Special California election to replace Katie Hill set for March 3
Vote on same day as presidential primary could hurt GOP effort to take back seat

Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., resigned earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has set the special election date to replace former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, likely complicating the Republican effort to flip the 25th District.

Newsom set the special election primary for March 3, the same date as the Golden State’s presidential and congressional primaries. Candidates from both parties run on the same ballot. For the special election, if one candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she wins the race outright. If no one gets above 50 percent, the top two would advance to a May 12 election.

Trump ignites firestorm during impeachment hearing — with just two tweets
‘Be quiet!’: Agitated president lashes out at reporter‘s questions about tweet

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a briefing at the White House on October 17. He and other staffers were caught off guard by President Donald Trump's tweet attacking a senior U.S. diplomat as she testified in the impeachment proceeding. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was fired  by President Donald Trump had just begun her public testimony in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Then came the tweet.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” he wrote. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.

Campus Notebook: How much does a legislative director for Katie Hill make anyway?
More: stolen scooters, heroin, fellow Marco Rubio, trading Mark Warner

Former Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., left Congress amid allegations she was in an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This week’s Campus Notebook features a little context on staffer pay in the office of former Rep. Katie Hill, arrests for scooter theft and a heroin bust, and payouts for two senators, for different reasons. 

Graham Kelly, who served as legislative director for former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of California, earned an annual salary of $80,000, according to May 2019 payroll records from the Legislative Resource Center. The only staffer to make more than Kelly—there were other aides who made the same as him—was Emily Burns, Hill’s chief of staff, who made $130,000 a year.

Senator finds out about school shooting during gun control debate
California shooting highlights Senate gun control debate in real time

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is passed a note about a school shooting on the Senate floor Thursday. (Senate Recording Studio/Screenshot)

When Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., started speaking on the floor Thursday morning, he had not yet heard about the mass shooting at a Southern California high school a little less than an hour before. During Blumenthal’s speech on gun control legislation, a staffer passed him a note alerting him to the shooting. Although he incorrectly stated that the shooting took place in Santa Clara, Calif. instead of Santa Clarita, Calif., Blumenthal quickly pointed to the massacre where two people died as a real-life example of the need for the legislation.

Ethics Committee investigating Alcee Hastings relationship with staffer
Hastings is the third member or delegate since October that has been investigated for an alleged sexual relationship with a subordinate

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., is under Ethics Committee scrutiny for a relationship with a subordinate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it is investigating Rep. Alcee L. Hastings and whether his relationship with a staffer, Patricia Williams, violates rules that forbid members from having sexual relationships with any subordinates in the House.

“I have cooperated with the Committee since May 14, 2019. As they continue to conduct their work, I stand ready to fully cooperate with their inquiry,” the Florida Democrat said in a statement.

Justice Department requests Ethics Committee deferral on Rep. Spano case
Tlaib and Huizenga cases still under consideration; details emerge in newly released documents

The Justice Department requested that the House Ethics Committee defer action on a case involving Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee released on Thursday the Office of Congressional Ethics referral documents for cases regarding Reps. Bill Huizenga, Ross Spano and Rashida Tlaib, deferring consideration of the Spano case at the request of the Justice Department.

The Office of Congressional Ethics first referred the three cases to the House Ethics panel on Aug. 16. The OCE is a nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct involving House staff and lawmakers and refers cases to the House Ethics Committee with recommendations for further review or dismissal.

States in the East with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Pennsylvania remains a presidential battleground, while Collins bid in Maine will be closely watched

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, but she has a strong personal brand that will help her if she seeks another term as expected in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

One of Government Publishing Office’s most important customers might soon be in charge
Hugh Halpern has confirmation hearing to be GPO director

Hugh Halpern, nominee to serve as director of the Government Publishing Office, testified at the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Not every nominee shows up for a confirmation hearing ready to show off his own personal copy of the House Manual. Then again, not every nominee is Hugh Halpern.

Halpern, the longtime Republican staff director of the House Rules Committee and subsequently director of floor operations for Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, is President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Government Publishing Office.

House leaders give modernization panel more time
A second year of work ahead for committee that seeks to make Congress more efficient

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress meeting in the Capitol in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Like most any fixer-upper endeavor, renovating Congress for the modern era will take at least a year longer than originally planned.

The House’s temporary Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is on track to get more time to finish its effort to update the legislative branch amid the increasing political polarization of the 2020 elections. The House Rules Committee approved a rule Wednesday extending the modernization panel through next year. The full chamber voted Thursday, making the extension official.