Podcast: What Defines a Political Wave in the House?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 6

MARCH 14: Speaker Paul D. Ryan holds a press conference with House GOP leadership in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, as a television displays election results from the special election in Pennsylvania. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With President Donald Trump’s mediocre job ratings, Democrats’ advantage on the national generic ballot and success in special elections in Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk about a political wave. In this week’s Decoder, Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, sitting in for David Hawkings, talks with Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg about how many seats it takes to make a wave and which Republicans might survive.

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Podcast: How We Determine the Wealth of Congress
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 5

California Rep. Darrell Issa is the wealthiest member of Congress according to Roll Call's Wealth of Congress study. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Podcast: A Map Puts Pennsylvania on Political Center Stage
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 4

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., runs past Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., on the House steps as members of Congress leave for the 4th of July recess following the final votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday, June, 29, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The state’s Democratic congressional roster could grow by half a dozen, a huge boost for the party’s bid to take back the House this fall, thanks to new district lines drawn by the state’s highest court. Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman explains the party’s boosted targets for opportunity now that one of the nation’s most partisan gerrymandered maps has been re-colored in purple.

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Podcast: ​In Search of the Ideal Political Map
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 3

Shirley Connuck, right, of Falls Church, Va., holds up a sign representing Texas’ 18th District, as the Supreme Court hears a case on possible partisan gerrymandering by state legislatures on October 3, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Courts are weighing in as never before on whether gerrymandering can be too political. If red and blue can no longer constitutionally dominate the mapmakers’ work, what are they to do? As Roll Call election analyst Nathan Gonzales explains, it’s very difficult to draw districts that are at once competitive, compact and fair to minority voters. And the 2018 primaries are about to get started.

 Show Notes:

Podcast: How Trump is So Quickly Remaking the Federal Bench
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 2

President Donald Trump arrives for Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the Capitol rotunda to honor former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., on January 17, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The end of filibusters, changes in other Hill customs and subcontracting nominations to conservative groups – all have combined to make Senate judicial confirmations much more about “consent” than “advice,” CQ legal affairs reporter Todd Ruger explains.

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Podcast: Unpacking This Year’s Version of the Budget Mess
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 1

Tourists file past the statue of George Washington in the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four Senate Stories That Might Shape Moore’s Fate
Past election and ethics controversies offer precedent for GOP

Those who hope to block Moore from the Senate might look to the paths pursued by, clockwise from top left, Robert G. Torricelli, John Ensign, Roland W. Burris and Lisa Murkowski. (Douglas Graham, Scott J. Farrell and Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

Torricelli, Murkowski, Burris & Ensign: That’s not the newest lobbying law firm on K Street, but rather a roster of senators whose extraordinary political careers point toward the four tough paths for Republicans intent on keeping Roy Moore out of the Senate.

The lateness of the electoral hour, combined with Alabama’s deeply red nature and solid support from the state’s GOP base, continue to afford the 70-year-old, twice-removed chief justice of the state Supreme Court big advantages if he persists in his campaign — notwithstanding allegations that while he was a prosecutor in his 30s he sexually assaulted two teenage girls and pursued romantic relationships with others.

Will GOP Settle for a Clean Debt Limit Win?
No other legislative victories in sight

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrives for a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “Domestic and International Policy Update,” on May 18, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Both repelling and wallowing in a manufactured crisis are surefire ways for the Capitol to put itself in the headlines. That’s why some fresh drama fabrication is getting underway, even before the lawmakers have decided if their response will be crisply responsible or melodramatically craven.

This morality play will be about the federal debt, which is not going anywhere except up in the near term, no matter what anyone in Washington says or does to the contrary.

What the GOP Wants to Keep or Gut from Obamacare
One Republican health plan is heading toward the House floor next week

GOP leaders, including pictured Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., held a news conference Tuesday as the group continues to pitch a repeal and replace plan in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


A GOP proposal to repeal and replace portions of the 2010 health care law is making its way though the House, but it faces an uncertain fate.

What Is a Continuing Resolution?
Stopgap spending bills are now the norm to keep federal agencies running

Federal workers rally on the West Front of the Capitol during the 2013 government shutdown, after Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution, or CR, before deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The twinned letters on the Capitol’s collective lips this month are C and R. Together they stand for “continuing resolution,” the colloquial name for legislation that keeps money flowing to federal programs whose regular spending bills are unfinished.

Anywhere from two to 21 of these stopgap measures have been required in each of the previous 19 years to maintain regular operations for some time in most, if not all, agencies and departments. The last time not a single CR was needed was two decades ago, in 1996, because Congress had enacted every one of the regular spending bills by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.