2017

Amazon’s Bezos Contributed Over $20,000 to Members of Congress
Recipients: Washington’s two Democratic senators, Jason Chaffetz and Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is among four lawmakers who received campaign contributions from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos since he bought the Washington Post. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Jeff Bezos has given more than $20,000 split between four lawmakers — two Democrats and two Republicans — since he bought The Washington Post in October 2013, a review of the billionaire’s Federal Elections Commission files revealed.

In the last three election cycles, Bezos has donated the maximum amount allowed by election laws to two Washington Democrats and two Utah Republicans.

Sinclair TV Owner Maxed Out Donations to Gianforte, Montana GOP
Robert E. Smith, who identified himself as ‘retired’ and worked in real estate, also donated to Trump’s campaign

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., has received maximum campaign contributions from an owner of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An owner of the controversial Sinclair Broadcast Group has donated more than $10,000 to Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte in the last year and a half.

Robert E. Smith, whose family owns the largest local television station operator in the country, gave the maximum $5,400 to Gianforte’s campaign in March, The Guardian reported. He did the same last year, ahead of Gianforte’s 6-point special election victory over Democrat Rob Quist.

Ryan Promises Vote This Year to Make Individual Tax Cuts Permanent
Hoyer suggests most Democrats would oppose such a measure if not offset

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, right, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., leave a news conference in the House studio where they discussed the GOP’s tax law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Taxes were the talk of Congress Tuesday, the deadline for taxpayers to file returns for 2017, with Republicans messaging on the tax overhaul they passed last year and Speaker Paul D. Ryan promising a vote this year on a measure to make the individual tax cuts permanent.

“We fully intend to make these things permanent and that’s something we’ll be acting on later this year,” Ryan said of the individual tax rate reductions. Taxpayers will begin using the new rate structure in the 2018 filing season, but absent congressional action the individual rates will expire after 2025. 

Gregg Harper Hopes Disability Internship Program Expands After His Departure
Retiring House Administration chairman cites his son as an inspiration

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., right, poses with his son Livingston and Vice President Mike Pence last year. Harper said Livingston was the impetus for his internship program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. (Courtesy Rep. Gregg Harper’s office)

As Rep. Gregg Harper prepares to leave Congress, he has high hopes the internship program he created for individuals with intellectual disabilities will grow and lead to more alumni getting hired.

Helping the disabled has been a priority for the Mississippi Republican since his election to the House in 2008. He has sponsored multiple pieces of legislation to help people with disabilities transition into adulthood, including his Transition toward Excellence, Achievement, and Mobility, or TEAM, Act in 2013, which stalled in committee.

Trump Orders New Syria Strikes After Assad Chemical Attack
U.S. warns Assad there will be further retaliation for future chemical attacks

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile during a Trump administration strike on Syrian government targets last April. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price)

The U.S. military — together with French and British forces — struck three targets inside Syria on Friday night, just days after Bashar Assad’s government allegedly carried out a chemical attack on a Damascus suburb and amid new U.S.-Russia tensions.

In a televised address, President Donald Trump announced that strikes against Assad's forces were “now underway.”

Trump Warns Russia Missile Strikes ‘Coming’ After Syria Chemical Attack
Mueller is 'most conflicted of all,' president tweets, 'except Rosenstein'

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Ross fires a Tomahawk land attack missile while conducting operations in the Mediterranean Sea last year. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price/U.S. Navy file photo)

Updated at 9:36 a.m. | President Donald Trump on Wednesday signaled his coming response to the Syrian government’s recent chemical weapons attack, tweeting his intention to launch a missile strike. He also again lashed out at the Justice Department's Russia probe.

Trump later fired off other tweets lamenting souring U.S.-Russia relations, using one to blame “bad blood” with the Russian government on what he dubbed the “Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation” being led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. And he went right after the deputy attorney general who legal experts say is standing between a frustrated president and pushing out or clamping down on Mueller.

Syria Strife May Cause a Trump Shift Lawmakers Like
‘We need to make Bashar al-Assad pay a price,’ Sen. Roger Wicker says

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December 2015. At left, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump may be forced to change his mind — again. But this time, an about-face on Syria would likely bring accolades from many lawmakers who have been frustrated by his ever-shifting stances.

Another example of Trump going off course only to return to it days later could emerge early this week with the situation in Syria. Reports of a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military on the rebel-held area of Douma might prompt Trump to alter his stance of pulling U.S. forces from the war-torn country.

Stockman Ends Defense Without Testifying
Former Texas lawmaker’s lawyers call only two witnesses

Former Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, chose not to testify in his fraud trial. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The defense for former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman’s fraud trial rested Thursday after calling only two witnesses to the stand.

The former Republican congressman chose not to testify in his own defense, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Reps. Gowdy, Goodlatte Call for Special Counsel on DOJ Bias, FISA Abuse
Request stems from allegations in Nunes FISA memo

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., above, sent a letter with Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate potential FISA abuses. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Republican chairmen of powerful House committees have asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate “potential bias” within the FBI in 2016 and 2017 as the bureau obtained surveillance warrants related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

“The public interest requires the appointment of a Special Counsel” to investigate “certain decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice and FBI in 2016 and 2017” due to potential political conflicts of interest, Reps. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Bob Goodlatte of Virginia wrote in a letter to Sessions and Rosenstein on Tuesday.

Campaign Legal Center Files Complaint Against Pro-Doug Jones Super PAC
Group says ‘secrecy scheme’ cooked up by Highway 31 threatens to create a new disclosure loophole

The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against a super PAC backing Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., during the December special election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The watchdog group accused Highway 31 of engaging in a “secrecy scheme to spend $4.2 million in the race” to support the Democratic candidate, AL.com reported.

Part of the complaint is that Highway 31, which is headquartered in Birmingham, said it spent $1.15 million in Alabama’s special election.