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Suicide Nooses in Cells Prompt ICE Query From Elizabeth Warren, Democrats
Letters come after DHS inspector general found makeshift nooses in detention cells

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is leading a letter to the private companies that run ICE detention facilities. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of Senate Democrats want the private prison industry to explain whether it is complying with federal standards for housing at ICE immigration detention centers.

Led by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the senators have written to CoreCivic and GEO group about their housing practices following reports from the inspector general at the Homeland Security Department.

There’s Some WTF in This Lame Duck Session of Congress
Appointed, maybe and not-yet, maybe-never members dot the Capitol

Members-elect from the 116th Congress pose for the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol on November 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Every lame duck session of Congress is special in its own way, and the current one, operating alongside the orientation session for newly elected members of Congress, has its share of oddities and weirdness. 

Speaker Paul D. Ryan swore in new members of the House on Tuesday, those who won special elections to fill out unexpired terms, Joseph D. Morelle, D-N.Y., and Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa. Oh, and also an “appointed” member, Republican Kevin Hern of Oklahoma.  

These Democrats Swore Off PACs. But Corporate Lobbyists Have a Plan
K Street tries some workarounds to reach the 32 incoming lawmakers who said ‘no’ to corporate cash

Abigail Spanberger is one of 32 incoming new members who refused to accept corporate PAC money. Lobbyists think they can reach these lawmakers in other ways. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The anti-PAC class cometh, but K Street has a backup plan.

Lobbyists for business interests say they’re implementing workarounds to get to know the 32 incoming freshman Democratic House members who have sworn off corporate political action committee dollars.

House Democrats Initiate Probe into Whitaker’s Business Entanglements
Acting attorney general was on advisory board of company that FTC says scammed inventors

Then-Department of Justice Chief of Staff Matt Whitaker participates in a roundtable event with the Joint Interagency Task Force in August. On Wednesday, House Democrats said they were looking into the now acting attorney general’s involvement in a Miami company that agreed to a $26 million settlement over what the Federal Trade Commission called an “invention-promotion scam.” (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

House Democrats took the first steps toward launching an investigation into acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker for his involvement in a Miami marketing company that allegedly scammed millions of dollars from people looking to sell their inventions.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, and Frank Pallone Jr., the top Democrats on the House Judiciary, Oversight, Intelligence, and Energy and Commerce Committees, sent letters to Whitaker, his former business partner and five other federal and non-federal groups requesting documents and information about the alleged scheme.

House Democratic Factions All See Gains After Midterms
Progressive Caucus, New Democrats, Blue Dogs tout their expanding ranks

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Pocan expects his group to see a net gain of 13 members, not counting the uncalled races. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two largest ideology-based Democratic factions in the House — the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition — are both projecting they’ll have more than 90 members next year after the party picked up over 30 seats in last week’s midterms.

The growth comes at a time when numbers will matter for these groups, more than they have for the past eight years when their party has been in the minority. With the House in their hands next year, Democrats will get to set the legislative agenda and control what bills come to the floor.

Steaks and Scotch Can Restore Sanity, According to One Hill Staffer
An invitation to the Bipartisan Dinner Group is mysterious and vague

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., right, is the inspiration behind the Bipartisan Dinner Group for staffers. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Michael Hardaway was in an elevator with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy when he was just a young Senate staffer. He seized the opportunity to ask the liberal giant for advice on navigating D.C.

“Sen. Kennedy told me that members in the old days were able to pass bills and get things done because of friendships formed after hours, when members often gathered for steaks and scotch,” said Hardaway, now communications director for New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Nadler Wants to Hear From ‘Political Lackey’ Whitaker as First Order of Business
Acting AG’s only qualification seems to be ‘hatchet man to destroy the Mueller investigation,’ Nadler says

New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the likely incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said reports that President Donald Trump was involved in negotiations over hush money payments before the 2016 election to two women he allegedly had affairs with could constitute an impeachable offense. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democrats who will be in charge of conducting oversight on the Trump administration have begun laying out a rigorous investigative plan, they said over the weekend.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the presumed next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the first official his committee will want to hear from is new acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, whom the New York Democrat called a “political lackey” bent on undermining the Russia investigation.

What Will Happen to All Those Beto Signs?
The election cleanup in Texas could take awhile

Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke went all in on yard signs as he ran for Senate. What’s next for all that plastic and poly-coated paper? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campaign signs are like Halloween decorations; what went up must come down. In Texas, where losing Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke blitzed the state with his iconic logo, it might take awhile.

“Just driving around, the signs are still everywhere,” graphic designer Tony Casas said Thursday. “He inspired a lot of people, and a lot of people still feel that way after the election.”

Women Won at the Ballot in Record Numbers. Here’s What’s Next
4 things we’ll watch as the ‘Year of the Woman’ matures

Virginia Democrat Jennifer Wexton watches election returns as campaign staffers yell out returns in the campaign's war room on Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Historic wins for women in the midterm elections drove home the interpretation that 2018 was, indeed, the “Year of the Woman.” But it remains unknown whether women’s political capital will continue to rise.

The 101 women and counting who won House races face numerous obstacles to standing out in a divided Congress where seniority often plays more of a role in determining political power than success at the ballot box or legislative ingenuity.

Karen Handel Concedes in Race for Full Term in Georgia’s 6th District
Handel came to Congress after expensive special election last year

GOP Rep. Karen Handel lost her bid for a full term in Georgia’s 6th District. (By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats this week did what they failed to do in last year’s expensive special election: flip Georgia’s 6th District. 

Republican Rep. Karen Handel, who won that June 2017 special election to fill the open seat in the Atlanta suburbs and was running for her first full term this year, conceded Thursday morning to gun control activist Lucy McBath.