Hawkings

Insider’s guide to Hill policy, people & politics

Podcast: Sexual Harassment in Congress — More to Come
The Big Story, Episode 80

California Rep. Jackie Speier introduced legislation last week to address and prevent sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Show Notes:

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.

Who’s Getting to Write the Tax Bill
Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings

How do the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committee members get their assignments?  Political bomb-throwers rarely get the call. Facing a tough campaign is a plus. So are party loyalty and K Street support. Senior editor David Hawkings explains.

Podcast: What Tuesday's Elections Signal for the 2018 Congressional Map
The Big Story, Episode 79

Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam greets supporters at an election night rally November 7, 2017 in Fairfax, Virginia. Northam defeated Republican candidate Ed Gillespie. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

While the Democratic surge in the off-year voting gives the party reason to smile, the midterm election is a long way off. Roll Call reporters Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman detail what the results in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere mean for the Democrats' quest to take back the House. 

 

Kevin Brady: A Low-Profile Tax Writer for the Highest-Stress Time
Texan may be the most obscure Ways and Means chairman in such a pivotal role

Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, places books of the current tax code on the dais, during a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republicans’ tax reform plan titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in Longworth Building on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Millions of taxpayers, not to mention seemingly all of K Street’s lobbyists, are focused this week on the work of a man precious few outside the Beltway have ever heard of — but who’s among the most powerful people at the Capitol at the moment.

Perhaps expecting Kevin Brady to be a household name is asking too much of the typical American household, where two out of three people can’t name their own member of Congress.

Trump’s Stamp on Judiciary Starting: It Could Be Much Faster
With no filibuster and a GOP Senate, he’s got a big opening to reshape appeals courts

The four appellate nominees moving through the Senate this week include, from left, Amy Coney Barrett, Joan Larsen, Allison H. Eid and Stephanos Bibas. Barrett and Larsen have already been confirmed. (Courtesy Screenshot/C-SPAN, Joan Larsen/Facebook, University of Pennsylvania Law School)

While White House officials are subsumed by the fresh intensity of the special counsel investigation, and House Republicans are preoccupied with propping up the tax overhaul, their GOP colleagues in the Senate are focusing on something not nearly as provocative as either of those things — but perhaps almost as consequential over the long haul.

This week, they’re pushing to double, from four to eight, the number of reliable conservatives that President Donald Trump has installed on the federal appeals courts during the opening year of his administration.

Ahead, the First Pure Party-Line Modern Tax Cut?
Bipartisanship has heralded tax bills for decades, but the Trump era is all about unique dynamics

If President Donald Trump is able to pul off a significant tax cut, it may well happen without any support from Democrats. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The steady path toward today’s partisan polarization at the Capitol is etched in the history of tax bills over more than half a century.

If President Donald Trump is able to pull off his uphill drive to join most of his predecessors since World War II in securing a significant tax cut, it’s very possible he’ll do so exclusively with the votes of congressional Republicans.

Podcast: Women's Political Power in the Age of Trump
The Big Story, Episode 77

Marilyn Gates-Davis, CQ Magazine

Donald Trump's presidency has encouraged women to make campaign contributions in unprecedented numbers. Will more women run for Congress, too? CQ lobbying reporter Kate Ackley and Roll Call political reporter Simone Pathé explain.

David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: What’s the 25th Amendment?
 

What Happens When Corker Lays Down His Foreign Relations Gavel?
Tennessee Republican leaves a committee far from what it used to be

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is the first senator to announce his retirement this Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Neither Peyton Manning nor Reese Witherspoon is going to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next year. Not Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton or Samuel L. Jackson, either.

The most clear-cut reason is that none of those celebrity Tennesseans is likely to end up running to become a senator, much to the disappointment of Beltway insiders starved for glitzy, if harmless, political distractions in the Trump era and already enthralled by Kid Rock’s flirtation with a Senate run in Michigan.

David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: What’s a Filibuster?
 

New High Court Term, Same No-TV and Tape-Delay Rules
Arguments will be invisible, and hard to hear, even for member of Congress with eyes on landmark redistricting case

Cameras still won’t be allowed in the U.S. Supreme Court and arguments will continue to be on a tape-delay. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court term starting next week promises to be among the most consequential in years, but it’s guaranteed to be as invisible as ever to the American citizenry.

The campaign to get cameras in the courtroom has almost totally foundered. Instead, some open-government advocates have started campaigning to simply hear oral arguments in real time  — so far, also with no success.

Podcast: What’s Moore Strange Than Alabama’s Senate Race?
The Big Story, Episode 72

Judge Roy Moore campaign worker Maggie Ford collects campaign signs after the U.S. Senate candidate forum held by the Shelby County Republican Party in Pelham, Ala., on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. Moore is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Alabama’s Senate contest Tuesday is the first election skirmish in this year’s Republican civil war. Appointed Sen. Luther Strange is the candidate of the party establishment yet has the backing of the outsider president, Donald Trump. But former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s controversial conservatism has the ear of many Trump diehards. A preview from reporters who’ve seen the contest up close, Roll Call’s Bridget Bowman and The Economist’s James Astill.

Which of These Bills Is Not Like the Others? The Defense Budget
Testy and balky debate, like this year, still has ended with authorization for 57 straight years

Two U.S. army Blackhawk helicopters approach for landing at an airfield in Australia during a joint U.S. and Australian training exercise in July. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images File Photo)

For the uninitiated, it might have seemed last week like the annual legislation authorizing the nation’s military was about to come off the rails. And only now does it appear to be clamoring out of some thick mud — yet another example of a Congress so challenged when it comes to discharging even its most fundamental responsibilities.

Rest assured, though: There’s truly nothing more certain in the Capitol’s life cycle than enactment of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

Schumer’s Big Gamble on the Virtue of ‘Yes’
Most Senate minority leaders are all about ‘no’ — but the Trump era isn’t like most times

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has transformed this fall’s congressional dynamic and has become the breakout senatorial star of the season. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the Senate’s governing principle can be reduced to this, “Saying no is easier than saying yes,” then it makes sense that leading the caucus so often focused on stopping stuff is much less demanding than being in charge of the group that’s always held responsible for getting things done.

Six men have personified this lesson during the past 40 years, former senators who had both responsibilities while they were floor leaders. For Democrats Robert C. Byrd, Tom Daschle and Harry Reid, as well as for Republicans Howard H. Baker Jr., Trent Lott and Bob Dole, solid arguments can be made that their stewardships were much more successful as minority leaders than as majority leaders.