Politics

Rep. Poliquin Clings to Power, Appeals Ranked-Choice Voting Decision
GOP congressman challenges federal court ruling on Maine’s new voting system

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, is one of four plaintiffs who will appeal a federal court's decision to support ranked-choice voting for federal candidates in Maine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three of his constituents in Maine’s 2nd District are appealing a U.S. district court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of the state’s new ranked-choice voting system that boosted Democrat Jared Golden over Poliquin, who had more first-place votes.

Poliquin’s lawyers will file a brief with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald reported.

To Trump, Flynn Merely Under ‘Tremendous Pressure,’ But Cohen Is a ‘Rat’
‘Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn,’ POTUS tweets

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, speaks during a rally for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Sept. 16, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning issued a prebuttal to anything Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser and campaign aide, might reveal when he is sentenced by a federal judge later in the day.

The retired Army three-star general last year pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle. Flynn once egged on Trump rally crowds in chants of “lock her up,” referring to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State.

Illness Will Make Rep. Walter Jones Miss the Rest of This Session
Jones to return in January to serve out his final term in office

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones has been granted a leave of absence for the duration of the congressional term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones’ unspecified illness will cause him to miss votes for the remainder of the 115th Congress.

Jones’ House colleagues granted the leave of absence on Dec. 11 by unanimous consent, according to the Congressional Record.

House GOP Makes Another Push for Year-End Tax Cuts
Price tag, end-of-year shutdown maneuvers might complicate movement

House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wants to give it another try on a year-end tax cut package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans will try again this week to pass a year-end package of tax cuts after revamping the measure a second time to win broader political support.

The latest version of the bill restores an extension of two expired tax breaks: one for a biodiesel tax credit and another for a railroad track maintenance credit. The biodiesel credit, which would be extended and then phased out by 2024, was a particular priority for Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the likely chairman next year of the Senate Finance Committee.

An Office Swap Lands Ayanna Pressley in Shirley Chisholm’s Former Spot
Thanks to fellow Rep.-elect Katie Hill, Democrat will get her dream office

Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley swapped offices to get a space once occupied by Shirley Chisholm. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ayanna Pressley had her heart set on a Capitol Hill office previously occupied by her “shero,” Shirley Chisholm. A fellow incoming freshman Democrat helped her dream come true.

At the high-stakes office lottery for newly elected members of Congress last month, Pressley called on an iconic former lawmaker’s good vibes, announcing as she approached the number-filled box that if Chisholm were still alive, she would be celebrating her 94th birthday. Chisholm was the first black woman ever elected to serve in the House.

Cindy Hyde-Smith Sworn in for Second Time This Year
Appointed Mississippi Republican won special election in November

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber after the real swear in on the Senate floor on December 17, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was sworn into office for the second time in 2018, the result of having won a special election runoff for the seat she had been appointed to earlier this year.

On Monday afternoon, as the Senate started its workweek, Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin G. Hatch administered the oath of office to the Mississippi Republican. In March, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to replace Republican Thad Cochran, who resigned. She took the oath of office on April 9 and immediately went about the business of running in November’s special election to fill out the remainder of Cochran’s term. 

Ethics Office Report Released on Lame Duck Rod Blum
House Ethics jurisdiction will expire when Iowa Republican leaves Congress

Outgoing Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, is the subject of an ethics inquery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on allegations against Iowa Republican Rod Blum Monday, while the House Ethics Committee announced that it is continuing its own inquiry, but likely not for long.

The House Ethics panel began the inquiry into Blum in July when it received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics and extended the inquiry in early September. In February, the Associated Press reported that Blum violated House ethics rules by failing to disclose his ownership role in a new company and that his top federal staffer was featured in a false testimonial promoting the company’s services.

Who Might Run for Alexander’s Tennessee Senate Seat in 2020?
All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam and Rep.-elect Mark Green

Outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, seen here at a rally with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, is a likely candidate for the open Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement on Monday that he won’t seek a fourth term opens up a 2020 Senate seat in a state President Donald Trump carried by 26 points in 2016.

All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who could clear the field and would likely be a successor in the same Republican mold as Alexander.

Lamar Alexander Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election in 2020
Tennessee Republican plans to retire from the Senate

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has announced he’s not running for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a longtime Republican senator from Tennessee who previously served as governor, will not seek re-election in 2020.

He made the announcement on Monday that he will be retiring at the end of his current term.

Unfinished Appropriations Work Piled High as Yuletide Awaits
Avoiding partial government shutdown tops the list

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., says he’s ready to take up a stopgap measure tiding lawmakers over until after Christmas, if that’s what it takes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Welcome to “hell week” on Capitol Hill.

From wrapping up seven of 12 outstanding appropriations bills to enacting a landmark overhaul of criminal sentencing laws, the last week before Christmas is shaping up to be a frantic one — made more difficult by likely absences of lame-duck lawmakers not coming back next year.

GOP Could Ditch Mark Harris in Potential North Carolina Primary Re-Do
Republican state lawmakers have passed bill to hold new primary if elections board tosses initial results due to illegal tampering

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have raised the possibility of allowing their party to ditch 9th District candidate Mark Harris in a new primary election if the Nov. 7 results for his race are tossed out. (John D. Simmons /The Charlotte Observer via AP)

Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina have passed legislation that would allow the party to ditch Mark Harris in a new primary election for the 9th District seat if the state board of elections there decides to toss out the results of the Nov. 7 midterms.

Now the bill sits on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers ‘Not Interested’ in Interior Post
Members in line to replace Ryan Zinke include Labrador, Denham, Heller

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on Nov. 28. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite being a speculative frontrunner to lead the Department of the Interior when President Donald Trump first appointed his cabinet, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not interested in the post.

Since Trump announced that Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will depart his administration amid corruption charges on Saturday, speculation about who will replace the former congressman has centered on a handful of Republican members or former members of Congress from western states.

Driverless Industry Surges Forward While Hill Hiccups on Regulation
Two years after Sen. Thune’s test drive, still no laws from Congress

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., prepares to ride in the 2014 Chrysler 300c, during an exhibition of self-driving cars for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on March 15, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John Thune was test-driving a car of the future when he ran into a very 20th-century problem: traffic.

In 2016, Washington’s local laws forced Thune’s autonomous-capable Chrysler sedan to motor into neighboring Virginia before it could show off the no-hands navigation. That’s where the South Dakota Republican got stuck in a tide of commuters.

In Oversight Role, House Democrats Aim for Both Check and Balance
Investigating the president carries risks for incoming House majority

Incoming House Oversight ranking member Elijah E. Cummings envisions a two-pronged approach to investigating President Donald Trump — focusing on his personal business dealings, including whether they implicate the president’s campaign in colluding with Russia, and probing the “harm” he says Trump has inflicted on the foundations of American democracy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has seen the headlines. The 12-term Maryland Democrat, who in January will take control of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, knows he has the power to become President Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. For now, he’s taking a more measured approach.

“A nightmare has to be in the eyes of the beholder,” Cummings said in a recent interview. “If a nightmare comes with me doing my job that I’m sworn to do, so be it.”

Chuck Schumer Seeks Senate Vote on Defending Obamacare
New push by Senate Democrats to respond to Texas judge’s ruling that law is unconstitutional

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday that Democrats will make another push to get the Senate to defend the health care law in court. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Calling the ruling of a Texas federal judge, “awful, awful,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer wants a congressional intervention on behalf of Obamacare.

The Friday night ruling from Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the individual mandate of the 2010 health care overhaul as unconstitutional, and he went a step further in saying that it couldn’t be severed from the rest of the law, meaning it would fall as well. But as a practical matter, the law appears to be remaining in place pending appeals.