Gary Peters

Is 2019 over yet? It kind of feels like 2020 already
At State of the Union, it felt like half the room was raring to take Trump on next year

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a presidential candidate, gives a thumbs-up to Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., as senators arrive in the House chamber for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Is it 2020 yet? Sure feels like it. When President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union, it only felt like half the room was raring to take him on next year (looking at you, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, Tulsi Gabbard, Eric Swalwell …) And that’s not even counting other 2020 considerations, like how many claps the president might get from senators in potentially tough races like Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan. We look at the politics of what has basically become one big campaign pep rally in the latest Political Theater Podcast.

John D. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, died Thursday at the age of 92. He was quite a guy. Niels Lesniewski and David Hawkings, now at The Firewall, did the obituary for Roll Call, which is awesome and details the Michigan Democrat’s power, influence and personality over a 60-year career in the House and time on Capitol Hill as a page and student. And then there is this photo from the Roll Call archives, which is just, I don’t know, it’s just …

Washington mourns former Rep. John Dingell
Former presidents, colleagues in Congress share tributes to the Detroit Democrat

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center in 2011 to recognize the 46th anniversary of Medicare. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

The longest-serving member of Congress in history, Rep. John Dingell made an indelible impact on Capitol Hill, the nation’s laws and those who served with him. 

“John Dingell's life reminds us that change does not always come in a flash, but instead with a steady, determined effort,” former President Barack Obama said.

Trump won Michigan in 2016. Does that matter for Gary Peters in 2020?
Peters is one of just two Democratic senators facing re-election in a Trump state

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters is one of two Democratic senators up for re-election in a state President Donald Trump carried in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Michigan’s Gary Peters doesn’t typically attract a lot of attention. 

But as one of only two Democratic senators up for re-election in states that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, the mild-mannered Peters might find himself in the spotlight next year.

Driverless Industry Surges Forward While Hill Hiccups on Regulation
Two years after Sen. Thune’s test drive, still no laws from Congress

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., prepares to ride in the 2014 Chrysler 300c, during an exhibition of self-driving cars for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on March 15, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John Thune was test-driving a car of the future when he ran into a very 20th-century problem: traffic.

In 2016, Washington’s local laws forced Thune’s autonomous-capable Chrysler sedan to motor into neighboring Virginia before it could show off the no-hands navigation. That’s where the South Dakota Republican got stuck in a tide of commuters.

House, Senate Democrats Identify Slate of Committee Leaders for New Congress
House Dem Caucus must still ratify, Senate is ready to go

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has his roster of ranking members for committees ready. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats have identified their incoming committee leadership for the 116th Congress, although the full caucus must still weigh in and a few key chairs will have to wait until the House speakership contest is settled. In the Senate meanwhile, the roster is finished, with some notable movement in the smaller Democratic minority. 

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee made its recommendations for most committee chairmanships in the new Congress on Tuesday evening, with a few others designated Monday. The full caucus must still approve the choices.

It’s Not Too Early to Start Looking at the 2020 Senate Map
The fight for the Senate should once again be a prime battle.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is up for re-election in 2020 in a state carried by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The votes haven’t all been counted in the 2018 Senate elections, but we know the size of the incoming majority will be critical, because the 2020 Senate map offers limited initial takeover opportunities for both parties.

Of course, it’s too early to tell what the presidential race will look like, how voters will feel about the economy and direction of the country, and whether they’ll believe more Democrats are needed in Washington.

Bills Filed to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin
Bipartisan sentiment in both chambers to honor ‘Queen of Soul’

Lawmakers want to honor “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with a Congressional Gold Medal. (CQ Roll Call file photo).

A bipartisan group of four senators have introduced legislation to posthumously award Aretha Franklin the Congressional Gold Medal for her contribution to arts and culture. The “Queen of Soul” died August 16 at age 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

There are both House and Senate versions of the legislation, which is sponsored by Michigan Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters and Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents Franklin’s adopted hometown of Detroit. The legislation is also backed by Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. 

Gary Peters’ Michigan Motorcycle Ride Includes Tariffs Talk
Michigan Democrat just finished his third annual #RideMI

Sen. Gary Peters has ridden his Harley around Michigan to meet constituents every August for the last three years. (Courtesy Sen. Gary Peters/Twitter)

For Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, an annual summer tradition has become a highlight of his year: driving his Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide around the state to meet with constituents. 

“If you have to go from Point A to Point B, why not do it on a motorcycle?” the Democrat said by phone Friday as he was heading out for the fifth and final day of his #RideMI bike trip. He ended it in Cadillac in Northern Michigan and spent all day Saturday riding back to where his journey began — his home in Bloomfield Township, outside Detroit.

Thune Adding TSA, NTSB Bills to FAA Authorization
‘This may be our one shot at actually moving a major piece of legislation’

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune is including additional transportation-related bills in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, he said in a Wednesday interview.

In an effort to broaden the appeal of a four-year FAA authorization bill, he was including other committee-approved bills to authorize the Transportation Security Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The move is also an effort to clear as much of the committee’s business as possible when an opportunity for floor time arises, he said.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Another Thing to Worry About: Diversity on Their Staffs
Conference voluntarily released data on its diversity statistics for the second year

Vulnerable Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III, left, and Jon Tester have offices that are 93 percent and 92 percent white, an analysis of data released by Senate Democrats found. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic senators gearing up for competitive re-elections tend to have whiter staffs, according to a Roll Call analysis of data released by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who finds himself in a race rated Tilts Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, has a staff that is 93 percent white. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, also in a Tilts Democratic contest, was just behind him, at 92 percent.