All the President’s Congressmen

As a political outsider, candidate Donald Trump had little support on Capitol Hill during the nascent days of his presidential run. As he cranked into high gear in mid-2016, a small cadre of supporters emerged, mostly from the House. They became Trump loyalists and the relationship was mutually beneficial; the lawmakers got coveted access to the White House while Trump gained a critical foothold in Congress.

But like everything else in Trumpland’s constant state of flux, the list of Trump insiders looks very different now than it did two years ago. The only constant is that all members are Republicans. Expect the list to keep evolving as his White House tenure matures. Continue reading “All the President’s Congressmen”

Defense Industry Happy With Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Pick

Look for the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee to be more deferential to the Pentagon, the White House and the defense industry in the wake of Chairman John McCain’s (R-AZ) death.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, now the panel’s top Republican, is poised to take over the gavel as soon as this week. The committee plays a leading role in overseeing U.S. defense policy, including helping craft defense policy bills that do everything from specifying how many tanks the Army can buy to limiting U.S.-Russian military cooperation. Inhofe’s approach will contrast starkly with that of the “maverick” McCain. Continue reading “Defense Industry Happy With Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Pick”

Jordan Plays House GOP Kingmaker

Rep. Jim Jordan likely won’t be the next House Republican leader, though that isn’t stopping him from vying to replace Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan as the lower chamber’s top GOPer next year. But the Ohio firebrand is positioned to play kingmaker, shifting House Republicans’ balance of power closer to the conservative edges in the process.

Winning the leadership contest isn’t Jordan’s only motive for running, and possibly not his principal one. He wants to solidify the influence of the House Republican Conference’s conservative flank, particularly that of the Freedom Caucus, the politically far-right group he cofounded in 2015. Continue reading “Jordan Plays House GOP Kingmaker”

2018 is the New “Year of the Woman” in Politics

A new “Year of the Woman” is taking shape in politics. An unprecedented number of women are running for Congress and governor this year, reflecting a sharp uptick of overall female participation in politics since the 2016 presidential election, particular within the Democratic Party.

Women still face some challenges, so it’s uncertain how this crop will fare come Election Day. But women have never been better positioned to make gains at the state and national levels. Continue reading “2018 is the New “Year of the Woman” in Politics”

Hemp is Coming Back

Hemp will once again be a cash crop for the United States. There is a strong bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to legalize the plant, a close relative of marijuana with myriad industrial uses, and define it as an agricultural commodity.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is cosponsoring and fast-tracking a bill that would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. The legislation would allow states to regulate the plant’s cultivation and sale and it would make hemp farmers eligible for federal crop insurance. Continue reading “Hemp is Coming Back”

Paul Ryan’s Exit Upends House GOP

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s pending retirement wasn’t unexpected. Given the raucous, de-centralized nature of the House Republican Conference, as well as the unpredictable, often strained relationship between GOP leaders and President Trump, his announcement this week that he won’t seek re-election was already in the works. The speakership, once the most coveted prize on Capitol Hill, has become a thankless job that some qualified potential candidates now shun. Ryan himself didn’t want the gig, reluctantly accepting the assignment in 2015 out of a sense of party loyalty after then-Speaker John Boehner’s ouster left the conference in turmoil.

Ryan’s self-imposed exile sets off a chain-reaction. For starters, Republicans are struggling to retain control of the House next year. Heading into its toughest campaign season in a decade with a lame-duck leader won’t make things easier for them. Continue reading “Paul Ryan’s Exit Upends House GOP”

Be on the Lookout for IRS Impersonators

Taxpayers, beware. While the tax filing season winds down, fraudsters continue duping unsuspecting taxpayers by posing as IRS officials. Seniors and newer immigrants are particular targets of the scam that the agency says is one of the most reported frauds in the nation.

In this scam, fraudsters contact victims via phone, mail or email pretending to be an IRS agent and demand immediate payment of allegedly owed back taxes. They frequently threaten victims with arrest, foreclosure or other adverse legal action. Scammers often instruct their victims to wire money or use a prepaid debit card. Continue reading “Be on the Lookout for IRS Impersonators”

Odds Fade For Last-Minute Flurry Of New Legislation

The last major legislative train of the year is about to leave Capitol Hill and a lot of high-profile cargo will be left behind.

Lawmakers had hoped to attach several significant and unrelated provisions to a massive government funding bill that Congress will address later this week. The $1.3-trillion omnibus bill is the last major “must pass” piece of legislation that Congress will take up until the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, so lawmakers from both parties and chambers had hoped to use it as a vehicle to address everything from shoring up Obamacare’s health insurance markets to new gun control measures, immigration reform and protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Continue reading “Odds Fade For Last-Minute Flurry Of New Legislation”

Fake News Websites Proliferating

Beware of a growing trend in politics—websites masquerading as unbiased news organizations that are run by politicians, political parties or activists created to tout their partisan views.

Republicans have been particularly savvy in utilizing this technique to spread their messages and discredit Democrats. Continue reading “Fake News Websites Proliferating”

Don’t Believe The Hype. Congress Can’t Play Nice.

Next time congressional leaders suggest they’re ready to bury the political hatchet and work together in good faith toward a common goal, take their words with a grain of salt. In fact, make it a block.

Take this week’s immigration “debate.” When Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed to reopen the government last month, he did so on a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to debate a key Democratic agenda item: Legislation to protect the 1.8 million “Dreamers,” immigrants brought to the United States illegally as minors. McConnell vowed an “amendment process that is fair to all sides.” Continue reading “Don’t Believe The Hype. Congress Can’t Play Nice.”