Politics

Trump, McConnell All Smiles, All the Time
President, majority leader say they are on the same page, despite tension

President Donald Trump, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., say their relationship is A-OK. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is ready to cancel Christmas recess to get a tax bill done, but President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled the effort could slip into next year.

Trump on Monday called his relationship with McConnell “very good” amid reports of tension between the two leaders. During a remarkable and rowdy midday joint press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump declared he and McConnell “are probably now … closer than ever before.

Florida Republican Who Once Claimed Alien Abduction Announces House Bid
Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera is joining the GOP primary for Ros-Lehtinen’s open seat

Former Doral, Florida, city councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera once claimed aliens took her up in their spacecraft controlled by quartz stones. Now she's running for Florida's open 27th District seat in 2018.(bettinaforcongress.com)

Either Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera has been watching too much Syfy Channel or she’s really just that special. We’ll probably never know for sure.

No matter, the 59-year-old Republican, who once recalled in an interview a visit from three blond-haired aliens who took her aboard their spacecraft, is running for Florida’s 27th District seat being vacated by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Manchin to Trump: Don't Make Marino the Drug Czar
Follows reports of legislative effort Justice Department decried

Rep. Tom Marino, the nominee to be the drug czar, is under fire for his legislative efforts on drug use. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic senator from a state ravaged by opioid abuse wants President Donald Trump to pull back the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino to be the nation’s drug czar.

Citing reporting from the Washington Post, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III said in a letter to Trump that he had concerns that Marino, a Republican from Pennsylvania, could be too favorable to the opioid industry if he were to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Trump Asia Itinerary Filled With Potential Headaches
North Korea tension, meeting with Philippines strongman frame trip

Chinese President Xi and President Trump, along with their wives, in April during their 24-hour summit in Florida. The duo will meet again on Nov. 8 when Trump visits Beijing as part of his first Asian trip as president. (Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump will stop in China and South Korea — two countries key to his standoff with North Korea — next month during his first Asia swing, a trip that also will feature one-on-one meetings in the Philippines with that country’s hardline leader.

Trump is slated to depart on an 11-day swing through the continent on Nov. 3, with the main event to be his participation in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.

Thad Cochran, Still Ailing, Will Miss Senate Votes This Week
Urinary tract infection sidelines Mississippi Republican for extended time

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has been absent from the Capitol since September and will continue to be away while he recuperates. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Thad Cochran will not immediately return to Washington following a four-week absence, raising speculation about the 79-year-old Mississippi Republican’s ability to continue as Appropriations chairman during the remainder of the 115th Congress.

His absence could also have implications for the budget resolution vote this week, though debate was still on track as of Monday, even after Cochran’s office confirmed he would not be present.

Trump Pounces on Democrats over Iran Deal, Tax Overhaul
President says he hopes Hillary Clinton runs again in 2020

President Donald Trump criticized Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other congressional Democrats on a host of issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump spent early Monday morning slamming congressional Democrats for not supporting a proposed tax overhaul and then sent a personal message to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the Iran deal.

“Dem Senator Schumer hated the Iran deal made by President Obama, but now that I am involved, he is OK with it,” Trump tweeted to his more than 40 million followers. “Tell that to Israel, Chuck!”

Cicilline Pledges to Donate Brain to CTE Research
Nearly all NFL players studied after their deaths had concussion-related brain damage

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., played Pop Warner football in his youth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump publicly decries football for going soft and over-penalizing vicious helmet-to-helmet hits, Rep. David Cicilline pledged last week to donate his brain to head trauma research.

The Rhode Island Democrat and five of his colleagues hosted a panel of Boston University researchers and a former NFL player to hear about the correlation between playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Judge Rules That Robert Menendez Will Face All Charges
New Jersey Democrat was seeking dismissal of corruption counts

Sen. Robert Menendez is seen during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting Oct. 5, his first day back to the Hill since his corruption trial started. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

Updated: 12:49 p.m. | A jury will hear corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez after all, leaving intact federal prosecutors’ case against the New Jersey Democrat. 

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls said the evidence the Justice Department presented in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, appeared to meet the legal test for proving bribery under federal law, NBC News reported.

Hunter Spent More on Legal Fees Than He Raised In Third Quarter
Raised $91,400 and spent more than $130,000 on legal fees

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., faces a criminal investigation into how he spent campaign funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Embattled California Rep. Duncan Hunter spent more in the most recent fundraising quarter on legal fees than he raised.

According to Hunter’s October quarterly fundraising records filed with the Federal Election Commission, Hunter spent roughly $134,000 on legal fees.

Rohrabacher Challenger Keirstead Outraises Rouda in Third Quarter
Stem cell researcher’s haul is slightly less than incumbent’s

Dr. Hans Keirstead is an expert in stem cell research and CEO of the biomedical company of AIVITA. (UC-Irvine News via Youtube)

Democratic House candidate Hans Keirstead outraised his Democratic opponents and slightly trailed Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who he is hoping to unseat.

Keirstead, a stem-cell scientist, raised $330,937.24 in total receipts, according to his October quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Issa’s Democratic Challengers Combined Raise More Than Him
Issa still has a huge advantage in cash on hand

Mike Levin, a Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, raised more than double that of Democrat Doug Applegate, who came within about 1,000 votes of unseating the incumbent in 2016. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic challengers to California Rep. Darrell Issa raised more money combined than the Republican incumbent in the third quarter.

Environmental lawyer Mike Levin, who jumped into the race in March, raised $300,874.66 — more than double the $147,553.95 raised by retired Marine Corps Col. Doug Applegate, who narrowly lost to Issa last year and is gunning for a rematch.

Brady and Ryan Mulling Big Gamble on Key Tax Deduction
State and local tax deduction has its fans among rank and file, though

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady want to repeal the state and local tax deduction, but face resistance from several GOP colleagues in high-tax states. (Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders face many decisions regarding details of a tax overhaul but perhaps none more immediately consequential than whether to roll the dice and try to eliminate the state and local tax, or SALT, deduction.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas and Speaker Paul D. Ryan have made it abundantly clear they’d prefer to get rid of the deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct what they pay in state and local property taxes and either state income taxes or sales taxes.

In Iowa, Heartland Democrats Ask ‘What About the Economy, Stupid?’
But candidates are divided on how populist their messages need to be

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talks with Heather Ryan (no relation), a Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 3rd District, during a steak fry in Des Moines on Sept. 30. (Charlie Neibergall/AP File Photo)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Democrats in the Midwest know that the way to win back voters in states like Iowa is to talk about the economy, but they’re debating how exactly to do it.

As a state that can make or break presidential campaignsand one that had regularly sent liberal Democrats to Washington, Iowa now serves as a test of whether Democrats can win back white voters who have swung toward the Republican Party over the last decade.

De Leon to Challenge Feinstein in California Senate Race
State Senate leader says Democratic incumbent is not liberal enough

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, left, has the support of fellow California Sen. Kamala Harris. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

State Senate Leader Kevin de Leon announced Sunday this he will challenge incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the California Senate race.

De Leon, 50, is taking on his fellow Democrat for not being liberal enough to represent the solid blue state. In his announcement video, he highlighted his own story as the youngest child of a single immigrant mother. 

Thwarted by Congress, DeVos Seeks School Choice With Grants
She must also follow a presidential directive to fund STEM programs

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Congress has blocked school choice proposals from the Trump administration, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may have found a way to make choice a priority by awarding grants.