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At the Races: 2018 Starts in PA-18
Our weekly newsletter on the latest in House and Senate races

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. Subscribe here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget BowmanThis week … Trump is wading into another special election, Democrats went after one of their own and Tim Pawlenty said “no thanks” to a Senate run.

Tim Pawlenty Not Running for Senate in Minnesota
Republicans saw him as strongest recruit to take on Tina Smith in November

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will not run for Senate in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he will not run in November’s special election for Senate.

“I am very interested in public service and service for the common good — there are a lot of different ways to do that — but I’ll tell you today running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,” Pawlenty told Fox Business. 

Inside the House Republican Brain Drain
Record exodus by members who’ve wielded gavels will complicate next year

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce isn’t seeking re-election. He’s part of a record wave of departures by House chairmen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This has already become a wave election year, because a record wave of departures by House chairmen already guarantees a sea change in the Republican power structure next January.

Even if the GOP manages to hold on to its majority this fall, its policymaking muscle for the second half of President Donald Trump’s term will need some prolonged rehabilitation. And if the party gets swept back into the minority, its aptitude for stopping or co-opting the newly ascendant Democrats’ agenda will require some serious retraining.

With Tax Deal in the Works, Questions Turn to Timing
Deal could be announced as early as Tuesday, with votes next week

Capitol Hill was relatively calm Tuesday morning, as Washington braced for the results of the Alabama Senate election and timing on a vote on tax overhaul and spending is in flux. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill was relatively calm Tuesday morning, even as the timing on two big-ticket items — voting on a tax overhaul package and what to do about year-end spending questions — hung in the air unresolved and the nation remained fixated on Alabama’s special Senate election, where voting is underway.

House Republicans meeting as a conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters said there was no specific timeline for voting on the tax package, as the formal conference committee is set to meet, perhaps for the only time, Wednesday.

With Levin Leaving, Dan Kildee Seeks Ways and Means Spot
Third-term Michigan Democrat spent the weekend lobbying leadership

Rep. Dan Kildee, second from left, is angling for a spot on the Ways and Means Committee now that fellow Michigan Rep. Sander M. Levin, second from right, isn’t seeking re-election in 2018. Also pictured, from left, Virginia Rep. Robert C. Scott and Michigan Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With longtime House Ways and Means member Sander M. Levin announcing Saturday he won’t run for re-election next year, his fellow Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee spent the weekend lobbying leadership for a spot on the influential panel.

Kildee sent letters to each member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which is responsible for making committee assignments after the midterms.

Opinion: Ensuring We All Count
If we don’t act fast, many people will be uncounted in 2020 census

From left, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves, acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in December 2010 at an event announcing the U.S. population. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they knew that for our country to be the true democratic republic they envisioned, it must reflect the ever-changing makeup of its people.

To meet this need, they enshrined, in Article I, Section 2, the decennial census. This exercise stands alone as the only constitutionally mandated task of the federal government, required by the framers to be renewed every ten years, to make sure each and every person living in the United States is counted.

The Hottest Holiday Parties on the Hill
Are you on the list?

The holidays are party time in D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s the holiday season, which in D.C. means parties for politicos, hosted by nearly every lobbying shop and communications firm in town. 

Despite the busy days of legislating ahead, the party starts this week and goes through the end of the year.

Senate’s Defense Spending Bill Shows Need for Budget Deal
Defense appropriators would bust budget caps

Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy is highlighting the urgency of a bipartisan budget agreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s decision to release the four remaining fiscal 2018 spending bills last week — including a cap-busting defense measure — underscores the urgency to get a deal on the bigger picture.

If the Senate defense bill became law, arbitrary automatic cuts would take place in the middle of January, as Democratic Sens. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois pointed out in a Nov. 21 statement.

Republican Jeb Hensarling Not Running for Re-Election
Texas congressman says he has stayed far longer than originally planned

Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling will not seek a ninth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling said Tuesday he will not run for re-election next year.

“Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the US Congress in 2018. Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” the eight-term congressman said in a statement.

Word on the Hill: Trump and the Awkward Buffet
Breast cancer info, a McCain anniversary, and the devilishly handsome Angus King

Samantha Yeider of the Senate Press Gallery, clears a path for Minnesota Sen. Al Franken in the basement of the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s been a hectic week between budget talks, President Donald Trump’s trip to Capitol Hill and Republican senators taking shots at their president.

Then imagine Trump having to fend for himself in a buffet line in front of a roomful of senators, one of whom the president had engaged in a war of words with that morning.