Politics

Senate Panel to Consider Rules Change
Resolution would cut debate time on the floor for nominees

Sen. Roy Blunt thinks Democrats are abusing the rules in demanding full debate time on nominees. On Tuesday, the Rules panel will consider a resolution to cut the debate time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are readying another rule change to the chamber, this one aimed at reducing the number of hours the chamber debates executive and judicial nominees. 

The Rules and Administration Committee will meet on Tuesday to consider a resolution sponsored by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., that would reduce the time the chamber debates nominees drastically from the current 30 hours after debate is cut off. 

Report: Head of Congressional Ethics Office Sued
Ashmawy accused of verbal abuse and physical assault in civil action

Omar Ashmawy, staff director at the Office of Congressional Ethics. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The staff director and chief counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics is being sued for verbally abusing and physically assaulting women. 

Omar Ashmawy’s case goes back to his involvement in a late-night brawl in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, according to Foreign Policy.

GOP in Home Stretch on Tax Bill, Eyeing Senate Attendance

House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, left, and ranking member Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., prepare for the Senate-House Conference Committee meeting on tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At the Races: Jonesing for Another Special Election Yet?
Doug Jones pulled off an upset in Alabama, giving Democrats hope for 2018 wave

AT-THE-RACES-LOGO-01

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races by subscribing to this weekly newsletter 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 BowmanThis week … A Democrat won in deep-red Alabama, Minnesota’s getting a new female senator and another Texas Republican isn’t coming back in 2019.

Holding on: We’ll get back to Alabama in a second, but first ... embattled Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold is retiring, GOP sources confirmed Thursday. But he says he’s not going anywhere yet. The four-term Republican will serve out the remainder of his term, which means an ethics probe into allegations of his misconduct will continue. Some of his fellow Texas members were already ready to show him the door. Just last night, Roger Williams endorsed one of Farenthold’s primary challengers. The filing deadline for Texas congressional races was Monday.

Marco Rubio, Mike Lee Support for Tax Bill in Jeopardy

The House-Senate Conference Committee on tax overhaul is looking for the right combination of agreements to ensure passage. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are withholding their support for the GOP tax bill in an attempt to bolster the child tax credit, a change that may be difficult amidst opposition from House Republicans.

The duo is hoping to make the credit fully refundable. The two senators, backed by top White House adviser Ivanka Trump, had previously succeeded in increasing the credit to $2,000 per child in the Senate-passed bill.

Paul Ryan Departure Circus Swings Into High Gear
Reports point to resignation, retirement

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., is dismissing reports he is on his way out, but the rumors of his departure linger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One report speculated he would quit after the tax overhaul was signed into law. Another said he was done after the 2018 elections, opting for retirement after 10 terms. For his own part, Speaker Paul D. Ryan says he’s not leaving in the near term. And Donald Trump says he wants the Wisconsin Republican to stick around.

The will-he-or-won’t he game started early on Thursday in the wake of a HuffPost report that stated members were beginning to speculate Ryan would hang it up after the tax bill was done, a long time priority for the former Ways and Means Committee chairman. 

Kihuen’s Future in Question After Second Accuser Comes Forward
Pelosi indicates Nevada Democrat wants to go through Ethics Committee process

A second woman has accused Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., of sexual harassment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s future remains in question amid calls to resign and a second accuser alleging he sexually harassed her while he was in the Nevada state Senate.

The Nevada Independent reported Wednesday night that a lobbyist claimed Kihuen sent her hundreds of text messages, some of them suggestive, and touched her inappropriately. Two weeks ago, Buzzfeed reported allegations that Kihuen harassed a former campaign staffer.

Pence Delays Trip to Preside Over Senate Tax Vote
Move signals GOP expects a close count

Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the Capitol to preside over the Senate and cast a possible tie-breaking vote on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of Education in February. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence will remain in Washington next week to preside over the Senate’s vote on the Republican tax overhaul bill, his chief spokeswoman said, a signal GOP leaders expect to thread the needle.

“Yesterday the White House informed Senate Leadership that due to the historic nature of the vote in the Senate on tax cuts for millions of Americans, the VP would stay to preside over the vote,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, said in a statement. “The Vice President will then travel to Egypt [and] Israel where he’ll reaffirm the United States’ commitment to its allies in the Middle East and to working cooperatively to defeat radicalism.

Flake’s Son Says He was ‘Terrified’ of Arpaio’s Prosecution
Senator’s son Austin testifies in malicious prosecution trial against sheriff

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio leaves U.S. District Court in Phoenix during his trial for disobeying a court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants in July. (Ross D. Franklin/AP file photo)

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s son Austin testified Wednesday he was “terrified of what was going to come” as former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio pursued what he says were politically motivated charges against him.

Austin Flake said he lost faith in the criminal justice system due to Arpaio’s pursuit of an animal cruelty case against him and his ex-wife Logan Brown, AZ Central reported.

Keith Ellison Will Not Challenge Smith for Franken’s Seat in 2018
Says he supports appointed replacement Tina Smith

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., will not challenge newly appointed interim Sen. Tina Smith in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Keith Ellison will not run in Minnesota’s special election for Senate to replace Sen. Al Franken in 2018, the six-term Democratic lawmaker signaled Wednesday.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith has been pegged to replace Franken through January 2019. Smith, a Democrat, said she plans to run in the November 2018 special election.

Embattled Farenthold Won’t Seek Re-election in 2018
Congressman has been subject of renewed Ethics Committee probe

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, leaves the Capitol following the final votes of the week on Thursday. Farenthold announced he will not seek reelection amid sexual harassment allegations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:50 p.m. | Facing renewed allegations of misconduct, Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold will not seek re-election in 2018, he announced Thursday. 

The embattled Republican congressman plans to serve out the rest of his term and is not resigning.

Texas Republican Williams Backs Farenthold Challenger Amid More Accusations
Former staffer details fits of rage, discussion of oral sex, and obscene language to insult staff

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, is seen Wednesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Justice Department’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As more accusations that Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold sexually harassed staffers emerged, a primary challenger says he has the endorsement of Farenthold’s fellow GOP Rep. Roger Williams

Former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun announced Williams’ support in a news release, the Texas Tribune reported.

After Alabama, How Optimistic Should Democrats Be for 2018?
The special election may have been unique, but strategists see important lessons

Supporters of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Within minutes of Doug Jones’ victory Tuesday night, they started coming in — a flood of fundraising emails from other Democrats around the country, many running in red territory.

“Next up, Texas,” read the subject line for a fundraising email from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who’s hoping to topple Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz next year.

Tax Bill Set to Move at Warp Speed to Trump’s Desk
Some hurdles still remain, but Republicans feel confident they have the votes

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, left, and ranking member Richard E. Neal prepare for the tax bill conference committee meeting Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Don’t blink, because you might miss Congress passing a historic overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

House and Senate Republicans say they are nearing completion on a sweeping bill that would dramatically reduce the corporate tax rate, lower the top individual tax rate, nearly double the standard deduction, bolster the child tax credit and remove some breaks enjoyed by many Americans.

Those That Shall Not Be Named: Cost Sharing Reductions
Once a nonstarter, health insurance subsidies part of year-end calculus

Speaker Paul D. Ryan once panned a measure that would restore cost-sharing reduction subsidies for health insurance companies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In Congress, where most lawmakers are hesitant to spill secrets about ongoing negotiations, answers are often found in what lawmakers are not saying. And House Republican leaders are not saying much about subsidies for health care insurers lately.

GOP leaders’ continued refusal in recent weeks to rule out funding the cost-sharing reduction subsidies, or CSRs, which President Donald Trump’s administration has stopped paying, is not a guarantee that Congress will do so. But it’s certainly a green light for negotiations to continue.