Speaker Ryan

Campus Notebook: President nominates pick for Architect of the Capitol

The Cannon House Office Building renovation will be a tough issue to grapple with for Blanton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated J. Brett Blanton to be the next Architect of the Capitol for a 10-year stint.

If confirmed by the Senate, Blanton would provide stability to the helm of an agency that has been led by a succession of acting directors. Christine Merdon, an acting director, announced her resignation in August and was replaced by Thomas Carroll, who worked in the same capacity. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for maintaining the facilities on the Capitol complex as well as renovations.

North Carolina ratings changes offer a taste of redistricting to come
After seats held by Holding and Walker lean more Democratic, one retires with the other deciding

North Carolina GOP Rep. George Holding announced his retirement after the makeup of his district changed dramatically. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ten years is long enough to forget the chaos of covering campaigns during redistricting. But North Carolina, bless its heart, was kind enough to offer us an early taste of the upcoming craziness of a redistricting cycle.

First, new congressional lines can put new pressure on members.

Lawmakers weaponize colleagues’ call records
Devin Nunes disclosure could presage conflict over phone conversations

The phone records of House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., have become an issue in the impeachment inquiry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week gave members of Congress a glimpse at a new and distressing weapon in partisan warfare — the exposure of lawmakers’ call records as part of congressional oversight.

The House Intelligence Committee report in its investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine included the call records of the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly under criminal investigation, and his indicted associate Lev Parnas.

It’s Devin Nunes v. World when it comes to lawsuits
California Republican has sued parody Twitter accounts, media, others

A protester holds up a puppet of California Rep. Devin Nunes on Nov. 20 as Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Nunes has threatened to sue media outlets that reported he met with Ukrainian officials to get help compiling a committee report when he was chairman of the Intelligence panel. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Devin Nunes has been a high-profile participant in the impeachment inquiry as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, but since March, the California Republican has also filed six lawsuits, the most recent one reportedly against CNN. He’s also threatened to sue The Daily Beast. Here’s where the six lawsuits stand.

In March, Nunes filed a $250 million defamation suit against Twitter and two parody accounts — Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom — and Liz Mair, a Republican consultant, alleging that Cow and Mom accused him of being a Russian spy who was friends with racists. Twitter sought to dismiss the suit, but in October, a judge in Virginia allowed the case to go forward. Also in October, Nunes’ lawyer sent a letter to Nunes’ 2018 Democratic opponent, Andrew Janz, demanding Janz make the person behind the cow account stop. Janz’s lawyer rejected that demand.

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats
Members want to know if political influence played a role in retaliation against their state

California Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui, left, and Anna G. Eshoo, seen after a caucus meeting in the Capitol, both signed on to the letter to the EPA watchdog. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has retaliated against their state for political reasons, including by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple transportation projects.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler threatened in a Sept. 24 letter to the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air agency, to withhold federal funding for highway projects if local regulators did not implement plans, known as “state implementation plans,” or SIPs, to improve air quality.

Hill leaders get high marks from Hill staffers
But aides aren’t happy about lack of legislative accomplishments, survey finds

Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Charles E. Schumer and Kevin McCarthy received high ratings from Hill staffers in the most recent Capitol Insiders Survey. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times file photo)

As Democrats prepared to take control of the House in 2019, some plotted against Nancy Pelosi, the presumed speaker. Lawmakers like Tim Ryan of Ohio and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts argued that it was time for new blood at the top and a generational shift in the Democratic Party.

Pelosi deftly squelched the revolt and a year’s worth of polling of congressional staffers by CQ Roll Call shows that she has consolidated her power. CQ Roll Call surveyed aides five times in 2019, in January, March, April, September and October, and Pelosi received glowing reviews from Democratic staffers for her job performance.

Tim Ryan was once a star quarterback, with Congress as his backup
Ohio Democrat recalls how he got his start on Capitol Hill

Before he was a congressman, Ohio’s Tim Ryan was an intern and a staff assistant for his predecessor, Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tim Ryan “caught the bug” for Congress first as a summer intern in 1994 and then as a staff assistant the following year for a fellow Ohioan, the late and colorful Democratic Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.

He recalls meeting Traficant during his senior year in high school, when Ryan was the star quarterback of his team. The two bonded over their football experiences. Ryan was recruited to play for Youngstown State, but an injury cut short his college football career. 

Plaintive lawmakers lament bygone era at Boehner, Isakson tributes
Two ceremonies at the Capitol on Tuesday felt more wistful than celebratory

Former Speaker  John Boehner, R-Ohio, stands next to his portrait after its unveiling in Statuary Hall in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

They were ostensibly celebrations, but listening to the lamenting politicians addressing the audiences at each one, they felt more like funerals. Speaker after speaker delivering elegies for a bygone era when bipartisanship and cooperation held sway.

One honored a man who became Speaker of the House before his own unruly caucus drove him into retirement. The other celebrated a man who overcame early political losses, but went on to serve with a quiet cooperative style before health problems limited his ability.

Louie Gohmert’s daughter wrote a song about ‘my father’ and it’s, well, you listen ...
Music runs in the family, from father to daughter

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, might be the subject of the new BELLSAINT single “Much Like My Father." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Louie Gohmert has three daughters. Caroline, the middle child, is a musician who lives in California under the artist name BELLSAINT. And her latest single is called “Much Like My Father.”

“Everybody loves you / But there’s poison in the water / You get away with everything / Much like my father,” BELLSAINT begins.

Stefanik seizes the spotlight at Trump impeachment proceedings
New York Republican trends on Twitter and is praised by Trump as ‘new Republican star’

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik questions former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday during a House Intelligence hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

She went out of her way to confront Adam B. Schiff

The House Intelligence Committee had gathered Friday for its second open hearing of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump when Rep. Elise Stefanik stormed into the spotlight.