Vermont

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.

Two Democratic Lawmakers Go After One of Their Own in Illinois
Schakowsky and Gutiérrez endorse Marie Newman in Democratic primary

Marie Newman, center, speaks during an event in Washington on Wednesday to receive the endorsements of Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis V. Gutiérrez in her primary challenge to their fellow Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are optimistic about their chances of kicking out GOP incumbents in 2018, but first a few sitting Democrats would like to kick out one of their own.

Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis V. Gutiérrez on Wednesday endorsed a primary challenger to fellow Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski, a Blue Dog Democrat who’s opposed to abortion rights. 

Maple Syrup Keeps Welch’s Colleagues and Constituents Happy
Vermont Democrat brings his own to breakfast

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., brings maple syrup back to work in D.C. from a farm next to his Vermont home. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Peter Welch knows how to make friends in Congress.

“If I give somebody maple syrup here, you’ve got a friend for life,” he said.

Opinion: White People in Norway? Who Knew?
Kirstjen Nielsen displays the rhetorical contortions necessary to serve under Trump

Kirstjen Nielsen might want to stay away from categories on Norway or basic geography if she ever appears on “Jeopardy” — especially if the answer is, “What’s a Scandinavian country with lots of white people?” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the conclusion of more than four hours of testimony Tuesday before an often hostile Senate Judiciary Committee, Kirstjen Nielsen, the new secretary of Homeland Security, slowly gathered up her papers, shared a few laughing words with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake (the last senator in the room) and confidently exited surrounded by an armada of aides.

Depending on her level of self-awareness and the degree of flattery from her staffers, Nielsen may have nurtured the belief that she aced her Capitol Hill exam. After all, the loyal Cabinet secretary avoided saying almost anything controversial, even when pressed by Democrats over Donald Trump’s doubly confirmed reference to “shithole countries” during last Thursday’s White House immigration meeting that she attended.

States Alarmed by Delay in HHS Family Planning Money
Title X grant recipients play the waiting game, fearing revival of abortion gag rule

The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to announce a new round of Title X funding for family planning, leaving advocacy groups fearing for the future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

State officials are dismayed that the Trump administration has stalled the process for applying for new family planning money the states are counting on. Abortion advocacy groups worry that the delay may mean the administration is planning to target abortion providers or rewrite family planning policies. 

The funding announcement was expected by November, with states’ applications for 2018-19 due Jan. 3. But the announcement still isn’t out. The funding is provided by the Title X program, through the only federal grants focused on family planning.

The Democrats’ Savior
Donald Trump gave Democrats what they could not give themselves: unity

Protesters walk down Independence Avenue in Washington on Jan. 21, 2017, during the Women’s March. President Donald Trump has energized and united Democratic voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One year ago, as Donald Trump was preparing to take the oath of office, Democrats were in disarray. Supporters of 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were pointing fingers at each other, the Democratic National Committee was in disgrace, and Democratic voters were demoralized.

Now, Trump has succeeded in doing something extraordinary, something neither Clinton nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could do — he has united and energized Democrats.

Doug Jones Took Office Leading Senate Democrats in Diversity
Jones chief of staff and transition adviser are African-Americans

Then-Democratic candidate for Senate Doug Jones speaks, flanked from left by Selma Mayor Darrio Melton, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and former Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., outside of the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Ala., on Dec. 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones took office on Wednesday as the only Democrat in the Senate with an African-American chief of staff.

Dana Gresham, Jones’ new chief, was previously assistant secretary for governmental affairs at the Department of Transportation. He was nominated by former President Barack Obama and held the position for all eight years of the administration. He most recently was a consultant in D.C.

Hatch’s Congressional Career in Photos
The seven-term Utah senator said he’s retiring at the end of this term

Nov. 13, 2017: Ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, arrive for the Senate Finance Committee markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a staple of the Senate for more than 40 years, said Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term and not seek re-election in the 2018 midterms. 

Roll Call dug into our archives to find a few highlights of the Utah Republican’s seven terms in office:

Al Franken's Departure Date: Jan. 2

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives in the Capitol to deliver his resignation speech on the floor of the Senate on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Al Franken plans to leave the Senate on Jan. 2, ending his tenure in the chamber with nearly three years left in his term and after he started 2017 being regarded as a possible presidential contender.

Last week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he would appoint the state’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to fill Franken’s seat until a 2018 special election. 

House Will Need to Revote on Tax Overhaul
Bill as written violates Senate rule

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Despite House Republicans’ jubilant celebration after Tuesday’s passage of the tax overhaul, the chamber will have to vote again Wednesday because the measure as written would violate Senate rules.

The issue stems from the fast-track budgetary process known as reconciliation that the GOP is using to advance it. The process allows Republicans to pass a bill with support from a simple majority. But there are rules that govern the process, including the so-called Byrd Rule, which mandates that every provision must have a budgetary impact.