Paul Ryan’s Last Stand

Maintaining Republicans’ House majority was outgoing-Speaker Paul Ryan’s final mission, even before President Trump dumped responsibility for holding the majority on the Wisconsin Republican. The task was Herculean from the outset: Defy modern history by being the first House leader not to lose a significant number of seats in a midterm when an unpopular president of the same party is in his first term.  Ryan’s decision to tell the world that he will retire seven months before Election Day was a tactical error, pundits said. A lame-duck speaker cannot keep his troops in line, and a retiring congressman cannot raise the huge sums of cash the GOP needs to keep the House, conventional wisdom held.

But despite what Trump will say if Democrats win control of the House (that Ryan’s lame-duck status is to blame), Ryan can take much credit for Republicans having a chance, albeit a slim one, of keeping their House majority. He has continued raising money hand over fist since his April 11 retirement announcement; he’s stumped incessantly for vulnerable incumbents and challengers across the country; and a super PAC closely affiliated with him, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has emerged as a game-changing force in this election cycle. Continue reading “Paul Ryan’s Last Stand”

Three Things to Watch in the Midterms

Amid all the talk of a Democratic boom in the midterm elections, bear three things in mind that likely will determine whether Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives: The structural advantages Republicans built into the system over the last few decades; key Republican-held suburban districts; and how much money, hard and soft, each side has.

There is plenty of good news for Democrats, and voter enthusiasm is on their side. However, they have a higher hurdle to clear to win control of the House than they did in 2006, or than Republicans did when they won it back in 2010, because partisan gerrymandering has erased so many swing districts. Continue reading “Three Things to Watch in the Midterms”

Democrats Make Anti-Kavanaugh Case for Naught

Unless Democrats unearth some truly disqualifying information about Judge Brett Kavanaugh, expect the U.S. Court of Appeals jurist to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Two days after President Trump tapped the 53-year-old alum of President George W. Bush’s administration, Senate Democrats and liberal groups are struggling to explain exactly why the Washington, D.C. native should be denied the seat. Continue reading “Democrats Make Anti-Kavanaugh Case for Naught”

GOP Lawmakers Aim To Stave Off Government Shutdown

Lawmakers are again leaving town without making some tough decisions, punting numerous issues into the new year ahead of a midnight Friday deadline to keep the federal government open.

Given the disagreement among congressional Republicans—not to mention with Democrats—on everything from how much money to dole out to various agencies, to how to deal with foreigners illegally brought to the U.S. as children, GOP leaders have decided to leave Washington on a high note after passing their massive overhaul of the tax code. Continue reading “GOP Lawmakers Aim To Stave Off Government Shutdown”

Republican Senators Strive for Unity on Health Care Bill

After coming within one vote of total failure today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was able to rally Republicans to at least allow a floor debate over altering the Affordable Care Act. Until ailing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced late yesterday he would return to Washington sooner than expected, after being diagnosed with brain cancer, to participate in the procedural vote, it looked like the Senate would break for August recess without even considering some sort of GOP Obamacare repeal or replacement plan.

But even though the one-time Republican presidential nominee provided McConnell the much-needed momentum that for months had eluded him, it is entirely unclear whether enough support exists to get any sort of repeal bill through the Senate, let alone a comprehensive package. Continue reading “Republican Senators Strive for Unity on Health Care Bill”

After Health Care, Congressional Republicans Pivot to Tax Reform

While Senate Republicans torpedo the GOP’s latest attempt at unraveling President Obama’s signature health care law, House Republican budget writers are trying to keep the party on track to deliver its other top agenda item: Tax reform.

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-TN) yesterday unveiled her first fiscal blueprint as head of the panel once led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). In addition to spelling out the party’s spending priorities, Republicans plan to use the budget resolution as a vehicle for overhauling the tax code. Senate Republicans can advance legislation on simple-majority votes — and avoid potential Democratic filibusters — only if they use the procedural workaround known as budget reconciliation. And they need an approved budget resolution before they can invoke reconciliation to pass a tax bill. Continue reading “After Health Care, Congressional Republicans Pivot to Tax Reform”