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Democrats target state elections with focus on election security
Supporting secretaries of state offices in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi in effort to expand voting rights

Democrats are supporting secretaries of state offices across the country to try to win a majority of those offices nationwide. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on Thursday launched a campaign to win secretaries of state races in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi this November by pointing to their focus on boosting election security and expanding voting rights, compared with Republican officials.

“The office of the secretary of State is more important than ever,” Alex Padilla, the secretary of state for California and president of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, told CQ Roll Call. “Every election cycle is an opportunity to elect Democratic secretaries of State, but also to ensure security and accessibility” for voters.

Hickenlooper enters Colorado Senate race, but he will have competition
Former governor announced his withdrawal from the presidential race a week ago

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake earlier this month before he announced he was dropping out of the presidential race. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After spending a week off the campaign trail, former presidential candidate John Hickenlooper announced Thursday that he will run for Senate in Colorado. 

The former two-term Democratic governor said he wants to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in next year’s election. Hickenlooper will face several challengers for the Democratic nomination, and will have to address statements he made earlier this year that he was not interested in the job.

Democrats tried to ‘blackmail’ casino owner to let employees unionize, conservative group claims
Lawmakers say ethics accusations by Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust are baseless

Rep. Mark Pocan, D- Wisc., speaks with reporters as he leaves a House Democrats' caucus meeting in February. Pocan is one of 14 Democrats who wrote a letter to a casino mogul that a conservative ethics watchdog group says was part of an effort to coerce him to allow employees to unionize. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conservative watchdog group is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday to review whether 14 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican inappropriately used their office to try to coerce a Las Vegas casino mogul into allowing his employees to unionize.

In May, Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and 13 other Democrats wrote a letter to Frank Fertitta III, the CEO of the Las Vegas-based casino management company Red Rock Resorts Inc., urging him to “respect the rights of employees” at the company “to form a union and collectively bargain.”

Criminal justice reform had a bipartisan minute. Then 2020 reared its head
Republicans are falling in line and reverting to their ‘law and order’ past

In a recent speech, Attorney General William Barr took a partisan blowtorch to the legitimacy of duly elected prosecutors, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — That didn’t last long.

For a while, it looked as though the distance between the parties had narrowed on the issue of criminal justice reform. Bipartisan cooperation passed the First Step Act, a small step indeed toward remedying America’s mass incarceration crisis that disproportionately, in a historically skewed system, burdens minorities and the poor in everything from arrests to sentencing. Increasingly, though, the rhetoric resembles a partisan return to form.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ends presidential campaign
Inslee centered his campaign on combating climate change

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who staked his presidential campaign on combating climate change, announced Wednesday night that he is dropping out of the race for the White House after failing to qualify for the third round of Democratic primary debates.

Earlier this week, Inslee crossed one of the thresholds to qualify for the September debates when his campaign announced it had 130,000 individual donors. But Inslee said in an email to supporters on Wednesday that it was clear he would not reach the second threshold — set by the Democratic Party partly to winnow the crowded field of contenders — of 2 percent public support in at least four approved polls.

Trump straddles the line on gun control

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at the construction site for the Trump International Hotel, at the Old Post Office Pavilion in downtown Washington, D.C., Monday, March 21, 2016. Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

Trump missing an opportunity to burnish his legacy with gun law
If anyone in GOP can stand up to the NRA, it's the outsider president

President Donald Trump has not been clear about what changes he would seek to gun background checks, but he has the political capital in the GOP to stand up to the NRA if he wants a new gun law to be part of his legacy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has forgotten who holds the power within the Republican Party.

There’s a perception that the National Rifle Association has an impenetrable lock on base Republican voters and thus is holding GOP members of Congress captive. But Trump is the one person who has the capital with the GOP base to oppose the NRA and get something done on guns. And the president is missing an opportunity to add a legacy item to his time in office and even help his chances of winning a second term.

Now background checks are back on the table as Trump veers again
POTUS makes Danish leader latest female critic he has dubbed ‘nasty’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration will push for background checks legislation that would close “loopholes.” (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued careening from one policy stance to the opposite, this time saying he has an “appetite” for background checks legislation after twice this week backing away from just that.

“We’re going to be doing background checks,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a speech to military veterans and two fundraising events in Kentucky. Notably, he said his focus would be on closing so-called “loopholes” in existing laws.

Bernie Sanders labor plan would let federal workers strike
Presidential contender unveils plan ahead of Iowa AFL-CIO trip

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has unveiled a labor policy plan ahead of a visit to the Iowa AFL-CIO. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled a new labor plan Wednesday that includes a proposal to let federal employees go on strike.

“Under current law, federal employees are not guaranteed the same labor rights as workers in the private sector. While they have the ability to unionize, they are prohibited from going on strike,” a plan summary said. “Under this plan, federal workers would have the right to strike.”

$960B deficit expected this year, more than $1 trillion next
The return to trillion-dollar deficits has been moved up by two years from the previous forecast in May

Its sign is seen at the office of Congressional Budget Office. The office said in its updated budget and economic outlook that the federal deficit is likely to reach $960 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Congressional Budget Office has upped its estimate of current and future deficits largely as a result of the two-year budget deal enacted last month, which the agency projects will add $1.7 trillion in red ink over 10 years.

That forecast assumes that the increased spending in fiscal 2020 and 2021 thanks to the higher caps will continue throughout the decade-long budget window, growing with inflation. At the same time, changes to the economic forecast and a reduction in estimated interest rates will partly offset the spending increases, the agency said in its latest budget and economic outlook.