sponsored content
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

Internet service providers say they'd like Congress to pass a law mandating net neutrality now that the Federal Communications Commission has rescinded the rule requiring them to abide by it. But the providers also want Congress to exempt them from broader FCC regulation, says Rick Boucher, a former Democratic representative who now works for the industry. CQ reporter Alan Ota says such a measure faces a tough road on Capitol Hill.

Show Notes:

FCC Ends Internet Rule, Starts Test of Investment vs Inequality ($) https://t.co/ncXTvWmxWn via @Alankota pic.twitter.com/gufZwgT0k4

Why did @FCC and @AjitPaiFCC rush this vote on #NetNeutrality despite known fraud & criminal activity in the public process? I look forward to Chairman Pai one day testifying under oath to Congress as to why he ignored 18 Attorneys General. Did Chairman Pai aid and abet fraud? https://t.co/KK6kfWUk7P

Chairman Pai released a video statement following @FCC adoption of his Restore Internet Freedom proposal: https://t.co/R8qTpdaKjT

Subscribe on iTunes

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

12,000

In the Alabama Senate race, both sides went to church — Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones took their appeals to their faithful, which, for the most part, worship the same God but came to wildly different electoral conclusions.

On Tuesday, Jones won. The miracle of a Democrat winning a statewide race in deep-red Alabama actually happened. It was not the divine intervention Moore had prayed for, perhaps pointing out the danger when you so shamelessly use the word of the Lord to divide.

Moore continued the tactic, defiantly refusing to accept the results — no surprise when you consider he has refused to accept court rulings, the recollections of a parade of women, the rights of the LGBTQ community and any societal, political and cultural change after the Civil War.

He offered his election-night supporters a message from the Bible and a vow to press on: “We’ve been put in a hole, if you will. And it reminds me of a passage in Psalms 40. I waited patiently for the Lord. That’s what we’ve got to do. And he inclined it to me, heard my cry, brought us out of a horrible pit out of clay and set my feet on the rock and established my goings and put a new song in our mouth. A hymn praising to our God. Many shall see it and hear it and shall be moved by that, if you will.”

I am the first to admit I am not privy to the thoughts of the Almighty and I don’t want to make the same mistake as Moore in that regard; but I do wonder if, at that moment, Jesus cringed.

So the Republican will miss his chance to move to Washington, D.C., with the word according to Moore as his guide to legislation. President Donald Trump, though he tries mightily to skate away from blame, has lost and so has Steve Bannon, who went all in. The former judge will return to the path he still insists is the Truth, while others who disagree with Moore’s certainty will rejoice, and Washington and the world have been spared that unholy trinity.

Watch: Schumer Calls on McConnell to Delay Tax Vote Until Jones Is Seated

It is telling that in Alabama, white evangelicals, including many church leaders, backed Moore.

Nationally, there was more soul-searching. Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted before the election: “Christian, if you cannot say definitively, no matter what, that adults creeping on teenage girls is wrong, do not tell me how you stand against moral relativism,” referencing charges Moore has denied and dismissed.

The Southern Baptist Convention has experienced being on the wrong side of history, in its very founding and past support for white supremacy, segregation and slavery, a time that Moore has remembered with fond nostalgia. It was to the white Alabama clergy who questioned his tactics in pursuit of justice that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Though the large Protestant denomination has apologized for its horrible historical record, tensions remain in its continued reluctance to denounce racism, which surfaced again over a resolution at this year’s meeting that condemned the “alt-right” and proved surprisingly controversial.

In the meantime, the quieter faith style of Doug Jones was not much discussed, except, perhaps, by those who considered their choices in the voting booth and cast a ballot for him.

African-American voters, despite voting and ID restrictions in a 2011 state law that disproportionately affected them, made the difference for Jones with turnout and passion. In doing so, they reclaimed a moral high ground and reminded those who had forgotten of the contentious, often bloody, battles for voting rights that took place on Alabama soil.

The fight for civil rights often came through the church.

Devon Crawford, a 24-year-old black Alabamian, who traveled from his divinity studies at the University of Chicago to vote for Jones, told The New York Times that Moore’s version of Christianity “sanctifies the truth-making power of white men” and was “really just a masquerade for white supremacy.”

Moore has twice been ousted from his chief justice perch at the Alabama Supreme Court, the first time for his refusal to move a granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building in Montgomery.

Now that Moore and his fervent followers will have time on their hands, is it a perfect occasion for some righteous reckoning? Is it time to reflect on those commandments — slightly different in various interpretations of Christianity — but pretty much in agreement on the big stuff?

“I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me,” is one I recalled when I saw the photo of a sign outside an Opelika, Alabama, church: “They falsely accused Jesus!” (After backlash, the part that added “Vote Roy Moore” was removed, though if President Trump keeps his promise to eliminate the Johnson Amendment, that last whisper of the separation between church and state could vanish.)

In our society, where everyone — those of every faith or no faith at all — is equal under the law, what happens when interpretations of the will of God are placed above that law, and earthly leaders are compared to God? Or when new commandments are forged in partisanship and fear?

In Alabama, voters, by a slim margin, put that question off — for now.

Roll Call columnist Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

12,000
sponsored content
Healthcare Distribution Alliance


10 Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Election

One of the best parts about covering elections is that there is always a result. After all the prognosticating, projecting, discussing and arguing, there’s a winner. But determining the true meaning of victory and loss can be difficult.

There will be plenty of time to analyze the Alabama Senate special election (at least until the next special election on March 13 in Pennsylvania’s 18th District), but here are some initial postelection thoughts:

This was a historic victory for Doug Jones. Of course, Roy Moore had some unparalleled flaws as a candidate, but Jones overcame a 20-point deficit in partisan performance to win. The last Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama was Sen. Richard C. Shelby in 1992, and he’s now the state’s senior senator as a Republican. Tonight’s upset will be talked about for years to come.

The seat is more important than being a bellwether. In the short term, Jones’ victory narrows the Republican majority, making it more difficult to pass legislation next year. In the longer term, it puts Democrats one seat closer to the majority in 2019. It was also the most difficult seat of the three-seat gain Democrats need, considering the party has better takeover opportunities in Nevada and Arizona next year. They still have to run the table for a majority, but it’s now easier with the special election victory in Alabama.

Watch: Inside Doug Jones’ Election Party as Race is Called

Republicans avoid one headache. Jones in the Senate puts Democrats closer to the majority, but at least Republicans on the Hill will avoid the endless questions about what to do with Roy Moore.

The Republican civil war isn’t over. Moore’s allies, Trump supporters, and Steve Bannon will likely blame the loss on the GOP establishment for abandoning Moore, while anti-Moore Republicans will blame the likes of Bannon for supporting a candidate who was unelectable beyond the primary. The fight for the heart and soul of the GOP isn’t over.

Gotta give Jones and the Democrats credit. Moore and the Republicans did their best to give this race away, but Democrats still needed to run a terrific campaign to overcome the state’s partisan lean. They had to thread multiple needles, including attracting funding from Democrats across the country without giving the appearance of a nationalized race.

It’s not impossible for a Democrat to win a state that Trump carried by nearly 30 points, but boy, did it take a lot. Democrats won’t have the luxury of running against an alleged child molester in races around the country, but the good news for the party is that they don’t have to win in many areas as Republican as Alabama to win majorities in the House and Senate. The two candidates who have to pull off similar feats as Jones next year for Democrats to win a majority are Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota (where Trump won by 36 points) and Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia (where Trump won by 42 points). But both of them start from a stronger position than Jones.

The House majority was at risk before Alabama and the House majority is at risk after Alabama. It’s unclear how applicable the Jones victory is to House races given the unique circumstances surrounding Moore as a candidate. But Democrats won’t need to win districts as Republican as Alabama to net the 24 seats necessary for a majority. If they can replicate the turnout of African-American voters, that would boost their prospects in some districts. But that’s still unclear and doesn’t necessarily apply to every race.

It was a good night for the polling average. Neither result should have been a surprise, considering Moore had a narrow 48 percent to 46 percent advantage in the final RealClearPolitics average. But that was much closer to the final outcome than late polling which showed Moore with a 9-point lead (Emerson College) and Jones with a 10-point lead (FOX News).

Overall, a relatively small percentage of Americans vote. Even though turnout was higher than expected, about 35 percent of voting-age Alabamians chose to vote in the most highly-publicized election in the state in recent history.

2018 is going to be a heck of a ride. With dozens of races happening simultaneously and uncertain turnout projections, next year’s midterm elections should be another historic moment with a potential Democratic comeback just two years after humiliating losses.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

12,000

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.

And Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., still has not said whether he’s running for re-election after facing sexual harassment allegations and calls from top leaders to resign. He could face more pressure to make a decision after a second accuser came forward late Wednesday night.

Reality check: Democrats celebrated Doug Jones’ victory this week, with some hopeful southern candidates sending out fundraising emails saying things like “NOTHING is off limits.” DNC Chairman Tom Perez added his own bit of hyperbole: “I firmly believe Democrats can win everywhere.”

Reality check: Alabama was a unique situation, and Jones only narrowly defeated an alleged sexual predator. But Democratic strategists say there are tactical lessons to be learned and reasons to be hopeful ahead of 2018.

Alabama may be over, but there are still more special elections to come. Simone broke down the next ones in this video.

*Bookmark* Jones’ victory changes Democrats’ Senate math in 2018. Get smart about the landscape with our race ratings map for House, Senate and governors races.

What’s next: It’s not yet clear when Jones will be coming to the Senate. The election results still need to be certified, and Roy Moore hasn’t even conceded yet. But the Democrat wasted no time speaking with top Republicans Wednesday, including President Donald Trump. Senate Republicans are relieved they won’t have Senator Moore hanging around the neck of all their candidates next year. But Democrats are already attacking GOP Senate candidates for more warmly embracing Moore (or less forcefully rejecting him) than Senate leadership did.

“Help is on the way!” Terri Sewell has been the only Democrat in the Alabama delegation since she was elected in 2010. But now — as she shouted out at Tuesday’s victory party — she’s getting some help. The lawmaker played an important role in get-out-the-vote efforts for Jones, helping to convince the national party to get involved on the ground and bringing other African-American surrogates to the state for Jones. She hosted and attended more than 20 events for the Democratic nominee. Many events were in churches, which played a key role in this race on both sides. Read more about the six degrees of Sewell in this Abby Livingston gem from the 2014 archives.

Ms. Smith Goes to Washington: Sen. Al Franken still hasn’t set a date for his resignation. But as widely expected, Gov. Mark Dayton went ahead on Wednesday and announced he’ll appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, his former chief of staff, to Franken’s seat. Smith plans to run in next fall’s special election to fill out the remainder of Franken’s term, which is up in 2021. The election is rated Likely Democratic.

The number of Texas lawmakers not returning in 2019. (See all of them here.) That’s more than 20 percent of the Lone Star State’s House delegation.

What to make of the craziest special election of the year? (Sorry, Georgia 6, you were wild but not this wild.) Catch up with 10 takeaways from Nathan Gonzales.

Dave Richardson knows all about what it means to be at the races. His parents owned 100 greyhounds when he was growing up in Orlando. And the Florida Democrat, who’s running for the open 27th District, got his trainer’s license when he was 18. He’s hoping to outpace the other eight Democrats vying for the nomination in the Aug. 28 primary.

Remember to keep those emails coming. We want to know what races you want to read about. This week, you asked for a deeper dive into North Carolina’s 9th District. Three-term Republican Robert Pittengerbarely survived his primary last year, winning by only 134 votes in a recount.

The same primary challenger, former pastor Mark Harris, is back for a rematch and potentially running with the support of Steve Bannon, whose allies have cast the race as an opportunity to strike against GOP strategist Karl Rove (a Pittenger backer). The congressman is already on the air (“putting Christ back in Christmas”), trying to get out in front of Harris. Since last year’s close finish, the FBI has closed an investigation into whether Pittenger transferred money from his former real estate company to his 2012 campaign.

Pittenger is also facing a Democratic challenger, who outraised both him and Harris and has more money in the bank. Marine veteran and businessman Dan McCready raised $416,000 during the third quarter, ending September with $700,000. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

For next week, let us know which race you want to know more about: North Dakota Senate or Indiana’s 6th District.

Talk to us. It’s easy. Reply to this email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. As always, send us any race you think we should pay more attention to, and we’ll look into it.

“He’s so unattractive. It’s unbelievable,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins said on a hot mic earlier this year. “Did you see that picture of him in his pajamas?”

This is the photo Sen. Susan Collins was referring to when she commented on Rep. Blake Farenthold wearing pajamas in 2010. pic.twitter.com/jZYCPC4FYW

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

12,000
Heard on the Hill

Word on the Hill: Whitehouse Mocks White House Nominee

By Alex Gangitano
Heard on the Hill

Why Pups Push Partisanship Aside on the Hill

By Alex Gangitano


Former Congresswomen Share Stories of Harassment

Former congresswoman Mary Bono knows sexual harassment is rampant on Capitol Hill because she experienced it firsthand.

“My first year, first or second year in the Congress, I was accused of having an affair with Newt Gingrich. It was on the front page of the National Enquirer,” she recalled.

She said she “had this little awakening that it existed,” but she said women back then never thought she could change the culture of sexual harassment on the Hill.

“I don’t even think we realized how much we had just accepted it as a culture,” she said.

But now as a backlash against harassment washes over the Hill — and the rest of America — some women who served in Congress over the last four decades spoke to Roll Call about that culture as they knew it.

Watch: Former Congresswomen Reflect on Sexual Harassment Issues

Bono came to Congress in 1998 to replace her husband, then-California Rep. Sonny Bono, who was killed in a skiing accident. The Republican was a 37-year-old mother of two young children.

With women who worked on Capitol Hill stepping forward to share their stories of sexual harassment, Bono said it’s a watershed moment.

Her advice to women considering running for Congress: Make sure you have thick skin.

“However thick it is, it’s still not going to be thick enough, because they are going to get under your skin and they are going to try to get you spinning and get you off your game and hurt you and get people talking,” Bono said. “It’s hard to explain to people what that feels like and what it’s like to endure that.”

She said that because of the culture back then, where women often got picked on, no one took the Gingrich rumor particularly seriously.

“Again, that’s that thick skin thing: Where did that come from and how could it be on the front page of the National Enquirer. Luckily, back then, people didn’t take [the tabloid] seriously, but in this environment, would they?”

Bono said there were “tons” of other incidents.

“My favorite one was somebody wrote a letter to a female colleague of mine and they forged my signature and wrote the letter as if it were from me to her, and in the letter it said that I was in love with her,” she said. “And, so this colleague grabbed me and she said, ‘Mary, did you send me a letter?’ And I’m thinking, ‘What did my staff do?’ I had no idea.”

So she took me to her office, she showed me this letter and I look at it and I start laughing. I’m going, ‘You can’t be serious.’ She goes, ‘Mary, I didn’t know if it was a cry for help.’”

She turned the letter over to Capitol Police, but she never found out who wrote it.

“I actually think in hindsight it’s funny, but you have to warn people again that these are the kinds of things that you would never in a million years think you would have to endure, but people can be that clever to be so devious,” she said.

As members and former members started to come forward with stories of harassment over the last couple months, Bono shared her story of a former member who she wouldn’t identify telling her he tought of her in the shower.

“As a member of Congress, [I] occasionally would have a colleague say something inappropriate to me and I had to call them to the mat for it, say ‘Knock it off,’” she said.

Sexual harassment on Capitol Hill was no secret back then, she said.

“Anybody who says they weren’t aware this was going on is either in denial or they’re lying,” Bono said.

Republican Connie Morella of Maryland, who served from 1987 to 2003, didn’t have any personal experience with harassment, but said staffers were usually the most aware of what went on.

“It probably was rampant and it was probably was that I really didn’t know about it. I think a lot of the information could have come from staff who are open about saying something. Because, you know, you have a staff camaraderie, too, and sometimes they try to protect each other and they know what’s happening in other offices — it’s just amazing,” she said. “I have a feeling that the staff were more cognizant than the members.”

Morella, 86, did have a celebrity one time act flirtatious with one of her staffers.

“I do remember having a star who was testifying on one of my domestic violence issues who wanted to make out with one of my staffers, and that I knew about,” she said.

Morella is still active with politics. She was president of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress from 2012 to 2014, before Democrat Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut, who served as president from 2014 to 2016.

Kennelly, who served from 1982 to 1991, said back in her day, staffers and members thought their only choices were “You have to put up with it or they quit.”

Former Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland, who was in Congress from 2008 to 2017, said it should be easier for women to report cases of harassment.

“Especially if it’s a staff person, I would actually encourage the person to go directly to the member. But I do think Congress could actually set up an avenue for that,” she said.

Edwards believes in deferring to the victim and his or her decision of whether to address harassment.

“I think it would just depend on the circumstance. It would also depend on what the allegations are and for that person, whether coming forward would actually induce others to come forward,” she said. “I don’t think that you can make a hard and fast rule under the current operating environment for a particular person. I think it really depends on what their experience is and what [the victim] wants.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

12,000

Senate Panel to Consider Rules Change

By Jason Dick
Heard on the Hill

The Hottest Holiday Parties on the Hill

By Alex Gangitano