Politics

With Opponents Dug In, Pelosi Has Little Room to Negotiate on Speaker Votes
At least 15 Pelosi opponents say they remain firm and will not vote ‘present’

Reps.-elect Max Rose, D-N.Y., left, and Jason Crow, D-Colo., pictured fist bumping at the new member office lottery on Nov. 30, are among the Democrats firmly opposed to Nancy Pelosi’s speaker bid. Rep.-elect Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is among those who voted against Pelosi in caucus elections but appears open to supporting her on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At least 15 Democrats resisting Nancy Pelosi’s speaker bid are holding firm in their opposition and say they plan to vote for someone other than the California Democrat during the Jan. 3 speaker election, providing Pelosi with little room to negotiate a victory.

With the House poised to have 235 Democrats seated on the opening day of the 116th Congress when the speaker election takes place, Pelosi can only afford to have 17 Democrats vote and say a name that is not hers to meet the 218-vote majority threshold. 

Voting Rights Piece May Take More Time in Ethics Overhaul
“We’re not going to put any fixed deadline on that,” Sarbanes says

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., says work on a voting rights component of the Democrats’ planned ethics overhaul may require more time. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats who are preparing an overhaul of political and ethics laws, a top priority of the incoming majority, have acknowledged that a component aimed at restoring a key section of the Voting Rights Act may take longer than their speedy timeline for the bill.

Other pieces of the overhaul, which Democratic leaders have said they will designate as House bill 1 in the new Congress, could also run parallel to the main package as a way to garner bipartisan support in the Senate, said Rep. John Sarbanes, the Maryland Democrat who is crafting the bill.

Russell Building Evacuated After Fire
Saturday night incident under investigation, building still closed Sunday

A fire broke out in the Russell Senate Office Building Saturday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fire and smoke in the Russell Senate Office Building prompted an evacuation Saturday night. The building remains closed Sunday morning.

Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol personnel are conducting an investigation and all other personnel will be restricted from entering the building.

John Kelly Out as White House Chief of Staff, Trump Says
Nick Ayers, VP Pence’s chief of staff, is leading candidate for job

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a White House briefing on Oct. 19. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump said Saturday White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will leave his post at the end of the year, concluding a rocky tenure during which he clashed with his boss.

“A great guy,” Trump said of the retired Marine Corps general as he left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

3 Takeaways for Trump as Mueller Details Russia’s ‘Political Synergy’ Offer
Special counsel adds intrigue to House Democrats’ expected investigations of 2016 campaign

President Donald Trump arrives back at the White House on Friday from a trip to Kansas City without taking questions from reporters. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump was watching television Friday evening when he reached for his phone after a subdued trip to Kansas City. Though federal court documents did not name him, he felt the need to declare his innocence.

“Totally clears the President. Thank you!” Trump wrote.

Trump to Nominate Top Army General for Joint Chiefs Chairman
Gen. Mark Milley has been Army chief of staff since 2015

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, second from right, applauds President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in January with, from left, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump said Saturday he intends to nominate Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to replace Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The commander-in-chief hinted Friday he intended to make the personnel announcement during the Army-Navy football game he will attend in Philadelphia Saturday.

Mark Harris Open to ‘New Election’ in North Carolina’s 9th District
Harris says he needs to see proof that illegal activity would have changed the results

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris said Friday he would support a new election in the 9th District if illegal activity is found to have changed the results. (John D. Simmons /The Charlotte Observer via AP file photo)

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris said Friday he’s open to a new election in the 9th District, where allegations of election fraud have thrown his victory into question.

The state board of elections is investigating absentee voting irregularities and confirmed Friday that a contractor for the Harris campaign is a person of interest in connection with an alleged absentee ballot operation. 

Harvard Tradition Agitates Democrats’ Left Wing
Number of lobbyists, not identifying some as such, at orientation for incoming Democrats draws criticism

New York Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke out against the many corporate interests present at the Harvard Bipartisanship Orientation for New Members. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

A prestigious, 50-year-old orientation for new members of Congress at Harvard University predicated on the virtues of bipartisanship and civility has drawn intense criticism this week for the presence of lobbyists and business executives — evidence of the growing influence of the left wing of the Democratic Party that has abstained from corporate PAC money.

Most incoming members of Congress attend the storied Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday. Since 1972, the Harvard Institute of Politics has hosted more than 700 current and former representatives, according to the school’s website.

Why Trump’s Call for ‘Overwhelming Bipartisan’ Vote for Barr Seems Unlikely
Wyden: Bush 41-era AG holds ‘anti-democratic’ view that president is ‘effectively royalty’

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., flanked by other Senate Democrats, at a news conference in March. The two senators have voiced concerns about President Trump's pick, William Barr, to make his second run as attorney general. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Friday gave a full-throated endorsement to the president’s pick to fill the post, former Attorney General William Barr,  but Democratic senators and civil rights advocates are sounding alarms.

William Barr “deserves” from the Senate “overwhelming bipartisan support,” Trump said while addressing a law enforcement conference in Kansas City. “There’s no one more capable or qualified for this position,” he claimed.

Retiring Kansas Lawmaker Opens Lobbying Shop While Still in Office
Watchdogs say Lynn Jenkins’ new business flouts ethics laws

Retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., shown here with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has raised the ire of ethics watchdogs for opening a lobbying firm before she finishes her term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Retiring Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins launched a new lobbying firm in her home state weeks before she officially steps out of public office, according to a local media report published Friday.

Lawmakers are restricted from working as lobbyists until they have been out of office for a year. But the federal law that restricts their activities is porous, and former lawmakers routinely find ways to trade their influence before the prohibition expires.

Scott Fairchild Named DSCC Executive Director
Fairchild is incoming chairwoman Cortez Masto’s chief of staff

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., is the incoming DSCC chairwoman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is bringing her chief of staff over to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, naming Scott Fairchild on Friday as the committee’s new executive director.

Democrats are largely on offense in the 2020 cycle, but they will have to protect vulnerable incumbents including Alabama Sen. Doug Jones. Democrats are defending 12 seats while Republicans are defending 22.

Trump Signs Spending Bill, Setting Up High-Stakes Oval Office Showdown
President will meet Tuesday morning with Pelosi and Schumer

Junior, a migrant from Honduras, waves the American flag while standing with other migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border fence on November 25, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump signed a two-week spending measure Friday that will avert a partial government shutdown, setting up a high-stakes meeting with congressional Democratic leaders who are opposed to his $5 billion border wall funding demand.

The House Appropriations Committee — not the White House — announced in a tweet that the Homeland Security Department and other unfunded agencies would not shut down later Friday. White House press aides had been unable to clearly state when their boss would put pen to paper.

Trump Nominates William Barr as Attorney General
President says he expects quick confirmation

President Donald Trump walks from the West Wing to Marine One on his way to Joint Base Andrews Friday July 20, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump said he expects William Barr will be quickly confirmed by the Senate to lead the Justice Department.

He called the former attorney general “a terrific person” and a “brilliant man.” Trump said he did not know Barr, saying he is “respected by Republicans, respected by Democrats.”

Three Takeaways as Trump Picks Former Fox Anchor for UN Envoy Post
President makes clear he’s running foreign policy, wants salesperson in New York

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) speaks with staff, including spokeswoman Heather Nauert, President Trump's pick for UN ambassador, during a G-20 summit last week in Argentina. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha / Public Domain via Flickr)

By selecting State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as his next UN ambassador, President Donald Trump has further consolidated his control of America’s foreign policy.

“Heather Nauert will be nominated for the ambassador to the United Nations,” Trump told reporters on his way to Marine One on Friday.

Expect Two Wildly Different Stories After James Comey’s House Testimony
Former FBI director not bound by confidentiality agreement, can speak freely after interview

Former FBI Director James Comey will speak with House members behind closed doors Friday but will not be bound by a confidentiality agreement unlike previous witnesses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former FBI Director James B. Comey is speaking with lawmakers behind closed doors Friday after reaching a compromise with House Republicans who subpoenaed him to testify about his recommendation in July 2016 not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server to conduct official government business.

But unlike all previous witnesses who interviewed with the joint panel of House Judiciary Committee and Oversight and Government Reform Committee members for their probe into potential bias at the FBI and Justice Department in 2016, Comey will not be bound to silence by a confidentiality agreement after the meeting.