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Flashback Friday: Christmas Tree Bill
When there’s something in a measure for nearly everyone

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree stands in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For less astute observers of Capitol Hill, the term “Christmas tree bill” might conjure up festive images of twinkling lights and tinsel, candy canes and cookies. But in reality, the term refers to seasonal indulgence of a different sort. A Christmas tree bill is a piece of legislation, loaded with “ornaments” — unrelated, and often, excessive amendments.

The term is said to date back to a March 1956 Time magazine article on the debate over the farm bill. New Mexico Sen. Clinton P. Anderson, frustrated by the number of amendments added to the measure, was quoted as saying, “This bill gets more and more like a Christmas tree; there’s something on it for nearly everyone.”

Informal Nature of Border Wall Request Roils Spending Debate
Trump still hasn’t submitted “budget amendment” on $5 billion demand

President Donald Trump still hasn’t put details of his $5 billion request for border wall funding on paper in any official capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has held up the entire spending wrap-up for fiscal 2019. Yet Trump still hasn’t put the details of that request on paper in any official capacity, a departure from precedent that is in keeping with this president’s unconventional style.

The fact Congress hasn’t gotten a formal letter to change the border ask seems technical. But it has set a stage for debate where no one’s arguing on the same terms. And this has arguably let lawmakers and the White House escape a broader debate on the substance by simultaneously referring to an outdated budget request or a dollar figure that doesn’t exist formally on paper.

George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, Dies at 94
Last World War II veteran to serve as POTUS dies seven months after wife Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush at the 1992 Republican National Convention.  (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president and self-effacing patriarch of one of America’s premier political families, which has included two occupants of the White House, a senator and a governor, died Friday, at age 94.

As president, Bush led an international coalition to victory in the first Persian Gulf war in 1990-91, only to lose his bid for re-election the following year to Democrat Bill Clinton primarily because of a prolonged recession and Bush’s perceived inability to cure it.

Racial Concerns Fuel Opposition to Judicial Nominee
Thomas Farr under scrutiny for issues traced back to North Carolina politics

Sens. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., right, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., support the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, but Farr’s work in the Tar Heel State on voting issues has attracted opposition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

To grasp how the long partisan war over the Senate’s judicial confirmation process shapes the nation’s legal landscape, look no further than this week’s floor vote on Thomas Farr to sit on a federal district court in North Carolina.

If confirmed — something that appears uncertain in a narrowly divided Senate — Farr would fill the oldest judicial vacancy in the country in a part of North Carolina with a significant black population. The Eastern District of North Carolina seat has been open for nearly 13 years — and three presidents — because of the Tar Heel State’s contentious politics and the way senators have used traditions to block nominees.

Trump Slams 9th Circuit as a ‘Disgrace,’ Intends to File ‘Major Complaint’
President also defends daughter Ivanka Trump over email use

President Donald Trump says he plans to file a “major complaint” against the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a “disgrace,” saying he intends to file a “major complaint” against it for a ruling against his attempts to cease asylum grants to migrants.

Without providing specific potential moves, he told reporters on the South Lawn that the country must “look at” the 9th Circuit because other countries take cases against the U.S. there for an “automatic win.”

Photos of the Week: Lame Duck, New Member Orientation and Official Class Photos
The week of Nov. 12 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Rep.-elect Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., arrives for New Member Orientation at the Courtyard Marriott in Southeast D.C., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterms have come and gone and it’s back to the Hill for members new and old. The lame duck sessions in the House and Senate gaveled in Tuesday while new member orientation kicked off its first week.

The chambers, along with orientation, recess next week for the Thanksgiving holiday and will start up sessions again the week of Nov. 26.

House Republicans Adopt New Rules to Govern Themselves (and the Indicted)
Rule changes are timely, given GOP has two indicted members on its hands

House Republicans adopted rules to strip indicted members from committee and leadership roles in the next Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans in leadership positions in the next Congress will have to abdicate their positions if they announce a run for higher office. The GOP conference adopted their internal rules for the 116th Congress Thursday, including the proposal on leadership from New York Rep. Elise Stefanik.

The provision from Stefanik would preclude the situation that Rep. Luke Messer was in last year, when he served as the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee while also running for the Senate.

Midterms Were a Buffet Election for Democrats, Republicans
Each side can pick what it liked best from the results — and ignore warning signs

Sen.-elect Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen.-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., pose for a group photo in McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When I was a kid in small-town Oregon, my family would occasionally go to King’s Table, and my sister and I would get free rein at the buffet.

I became famous in my own family for my condiment salad — an impressive collection of bacon bits, croutons, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and plenty of ranch dressing. Essentially, my strategy involved choosing what looked and tasted good and avoiding anything of nutritional value.

House Republicans to Consider Changing the Way They Select Committee Leaders
Proposal is part of a broader Thursday debate over internal conference rules

Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., want to change the way the House Republican Conference selects its committee leaders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update Thursday 5:01 p.m. | House Republicans on Thursday will consider changes to their internal conference rules, with several amendments targeting the process for selecting committee leaders. 

The biggest proposed change comes from Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, who wants committee members to be able to choose their own chairmen or ranking members. 

After Momentous Election, Senators Largely Settle for Leadership Status Quo
Republicans add woman to leadership slate for first time since 2010

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer were re-elected to their respective posts for the 116th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the aftermath of a momentous midterm election, senators in both parties are largely sticking with the status quo when it comes to their own elected leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York were re-elected to their posts by acclamation, along with the entire slate of nine other Democratic leaders.