North Dakota

Very much up for grabs: this year’s profile in courage
Washington may not offer much in the way of inspiration, but look a little harder

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott occasionally calls out examples of racism in his own party, Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Identifying the politician offering that idealistic advice is not so hard — President John F. Kennedy at his Jan. 20, 1961, inauguration. But that’s not all the 35th president had to say about the promise and challenges of America.

Climate change? “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” Income inequality? “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

Email dump could slow EPA confirmation fight
Shutdown throws a wrench in court-ordered document release related to potential conflicts of interest

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works panel last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has been formally nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a contentious confirmation fight just as a court order threatens the release of over 20,000 emails related to his potential conflicts of interest.

The White House on Wednesday formally sent Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate, triggering the start of the process. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, was confirmed to be the agency’s deputy in April 2018 and became acting administrator in July after the departure of scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt, who resigned from the top post amid mounting ethics issues.

Here are lawmakers diverting pay in solidarity with shutdown employees
Thousands of civilian workers will not receive paychecks due next week if deal to end shutdown isn’t reached

Sen. Mazie Hirono said she will donate her paycheck to food banks in Hawaii during the shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several lawmakers have declared they will decline their paycheck or will donate it to charity in solidarity with civilian workers furloughed or working without pay.

Federal workers received their regular paychecks last week for work completed before the shutdown, but if a spending agreement is not reached soon, thousands could see a delay in paychecks scheduled for next Friday.

Postal Service Prayer: Deliver Us From Fiscal Doom
White House stops short of calls for outright privatization, but big changes could lie ahead

United States Postal Service employee Gloria Hinton participates in a rally in Washington in 2011. Over the last decade, mail volume has tanked but package delivery has become more important than ever. The White House is calling for a legislative overhaul, but conflict with Congress could get in the way. (Tom Williams/Roll Call file photo)

The United States Postal Service faces a major policy shakeup at a time when package delivery has become more central to Americans’ lives than ever.

A growing reliance on e-commerce has driven demand for direct-to-door shipping for everything from textbooks to toothbrushes. And to the casual observer, USPS is playing what looks like a seamless part in the process, with more and more packages delivered the “last mile” to customers’ doors by government workers.

Senators Christmas Carol Their Way to Approval of Stopgap Government Funding
Live quorum call comes with melody of O Come All Ye Faithful

Christmas carols rang out throughout the Senate on Wednesday as the chamber passed a continuing resolution to fund the government.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate procedural vote turned into sing-along session late Wednesday night as a group of senators gathered for a live quorum call and passed the time by singing Christmas carols, all leading up to a voice vote that passed stopgap spending legislation to avert a partial government shutdown.

The group of senators, which included Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Bill Nelson of Florida, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Angus King of Maine and others gathered together to sing a range of festive tunes.

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.

Shutdown Fears Abound, Despite Temporary Reprieve
Another deadline looming in appropriations standoff

Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, says Transportation-HUD measure not among the “problem child” spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional aides on both sides of the aisle say they don’t see how the appropriations impasse ends without a partial government shutdown just in time for Christmas Eve.

President Donald Trump signed a continuing resolution into law Friday that would change the expiration date of the stopgap measure enacted before the midterm elections to Dec. 21. But he wasted little time in taking aim at Democratic leaders for “playing political games” on border security funding, even as he prepares to sit down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York in the Oval Office Tuesday.

McCaskill Blames Loss on Democrats’ ‘Demand for Purity’
Democrats have abandoned moderates in flyover country, Missouri senator says

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said her party has abandoned moderates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Claire McCaskill is leaving the Senate after losing her re-election bid to state Attorney General Josh Hawley by 6 points earlier this month, but the Missouri Democrat isn’t heading out on a whimper.

McCaskill blamed her defeat not on her own campaign, but on the Democratic Party for abandoning its moderate constituents.

Marcia Fudge Forgoes Speaker Bid, Will Support Pelosi
Pelosi intends to name Fudge chairwoman of a House Administration subcommittee on elections

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, has declined to enter the speaker's race after securing concessions from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Marcia Fudge has decided not to run for speaker and agreed to back Nancy Pelosi for the gavel after securing some concessions from the longtime Democratic leader. 

“My consideration was due in large part to the lack of sustained efforts that ensure diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the House,” the Ohio Democrat said in a statement, noting Pelosi has assured her that black women will have a seat at the decision-making table. 

4 House Races Remain Uncalled, Previously Projected Race in California Narrows
GOP Rep. Valadao was winning by 4,000 votes on Election Day; now he’s up by less than 1,000

Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., was declared the winner of his race against TJ Cox on Election Day. But his lead has dwindled to less than 1,000 votes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two weeks have gone by since the midterm elections, but officials have yet to determine the winner in four House races. And the results of a California House race that was called on election night has now been thrown into question.

House Democrats have long since passed the threshold for a majority that they haven’t held since 2010. They currently have 232 seats called in their favor with the potential to win some of those five not-yet-called races. They’re likely to finish around 234 with a 33-seat majority.