Congress is a Strange Place These Days

If ever there was a single day that highlighted just how chaotic, conflicting and outright strange a place Congress is, it was Tuesday. At 9 am, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a historic press conference to declare that the Democratic-controlled chamber had prepared two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The commander in chief and his fellow Republicans howled, though they certainly weren’t surprised.

Then, just an hour later, Pelosi surprisingly stepped to the microphones again to announce that she and the Trump administration had reached a deal on a long-stalled free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Talk about a schizophrenic morning! Continue reading “Congress is a Strange Place These Days”

How Population Growth Will Affect Political Power Post-2020

It’s still too soon to say who will win the 2020 presidential election, now less than a year away. But plenty can be said about a major political event that won’t happen until after 2020: Congressional reapportionment, the process of divvying up the 435 seats in the House of Representatives based on population growth, which occurs every decade following the U.S. Census.

At least 16 states will gain or lose seats in Congress after the 2020 Census, based on the latest demographic trends. One thing to keep in mind: Since the number of House seats is fixed at 435, even states that are still adding people, such as Calif., are at risk of losing representation in Congress.

Continue reading “How Population Growth Will Affect Political Power Post-2020”

Congress Mulling Impeachment, Other Pressing Business

The House’s public impeachment hearings, as expected, have dominated Capitol Hill this week. Even the Senate is largely consumed by the inquiry, as the congressional press corps doggedly queries senators – particularly Republicans – about their thoughts on impeachment. And while Senate Republicans either dodged reporters’ questions or responded with boilerplate GOP talking points, they’re monitoring the proceedings with increasing anxiety. That’s because the prospects are increasing by the day that the House will vote to impeach President Trump, sending the whole show to the Senate. This is not a scenario Senate Republicans relish, as they don’t want to be stuck either having to defend a president many aren’t particularly enamored with or – worse – publicly rebuking him and risking Trump’s wrath (and the resulting potential voter backlash).

Still, as things now stand, a Senate trial would result in Trump’s acquittal. Very few, if any, of the chamber’s 53 Republicans would side with Democrats and vote to convict. And remember, conviction requires support of two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators. That’s a threshold that even many mundane measures don’t achieve in today’s hyper-partisan Congress. Continue reading “Congress Mulling Impeachment, Other Pressing Business”

The Impeachment Drama Begins

It’s been a strange, almost surreal week on Capitol Hill. Things started out slow – a holiday on Monday, then Tuesday was a “fly-in” day with an extremely light schedule. But all that changed Wednesday, when the first public impeachment hearing in two decades commenced (with more to follow over the next week or so). All signs point to the chamber voting to impeach President Trump sometime either just before or after Thanksgiving (probably before), which then would require a trial in the Senate.

It’s not a lock that the House will impeach. Why? Because there are about 30 moderate House Democrats from districts that Trump won in 2016. If all or most of them got cold feet and voted against impeachment, the vote could fail. Still, House Democrats seem unified. So, look for the House to impeach the president, sending the matter to the Senate. Continue reading “The Impeachment Drama Begins”

Tension Rises between Pelosi and the Far-Left “Squad”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hold on the fractured House Democratic Caucus is loosening, as the Californian’s burgeoning feud with a small group of far-left freshmen has spilled into public.

However, President Trump’s decision to target the four Democratic lawmakers—all minority women—with a series of offensive tweets over the weekend, has taken the heat off of Pelosi and handed her an opportunity to unify her caucus.

Continue reading “Tension Rises between Pelosi and the Far-Left “Squad””

Mexican Tariff Turmoil Roils Senate Republicans

President Trump’s proposed tariff on Mexican goods struck the Capitol like a thunderbolt this week, catching lawmakers off guard and forcing Republicans to choose between two things they loathe: pushing back against Trump or allowing him to implement what they consider bad policy. Most, at least in the Senate, are choosing the former.

“There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that’s for sure,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. Continue reading “Mexican Tariff Turmoil Roils Senate Republicans”

Disaster Aid Disaster

Congress’ inability to follow through on a routine task with overwhelming bipartisan support—providing aid to areas hit by natural disaster—bodes ill for making the tough fiscal choices that lie ahead.

A proposed disaster relief package for areas hard-hit by flooding, hurricanes and wildfires has been stalled for months, largely over a squabble about how much money—if any—should go to Puerto Rico. President Trump claims that Puerto Rican officials have mismanaged the federal dollars it already received for 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria and is reluctant to approve more. Democrats disagree and are demanding significant aid for the island. Continue reading “Disaster Aid Disaster”

To Build or Not to Build the Wall

Since before he was elected to the White House, President Trump has promised Americans he will build a “big beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border, a barrier he says is needed to secure the United States from dangerous intruders entering the country illegally. But the money for the project has been elusive. Democrats on Capitol Hill have done everything in their power to block his demands, and Trump himself has changed his mind on the price and construction of the wall multiple times.

Now, after almost two years of tense back and forth, the president and Congress have secured a deal that would keep the government fully open through September and provide for 55 miles of physical barriers to be built along the southern border.

But the wall saga is far from over. The president has declared a national emergency on the southern border, which he says will allow the government to redirect funds from other projects to add many more miles of border barriers. Legal challenges are all but certain to follow. If all this leaves you feeling a bit confused, some history on how we reached this point may help. Continue reading “To Build or Not to Build the Wall”

Shutdown Will Haunt Federal Workforce for Years

While the federal government has fully reopened, at least through mid-February, its recent partial shutdown is poised to inflict significant long-term harm to its workforce.

The shutdown has tarnished one of the main attractions of working for the federal government: Job stability. Unlike the private sector, the federal government can’t go out of business and doesn’t typically lay people off. But with the threat of future shutdowns always a possibility in the current political climate, that perk is now greatly diminished. Continue reading “Shutdown Will Haunt Federal Workforce for Years”

McConnell Big Midterm Winner

There is no savvier, effective politician in Washington than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican masterfully orchestrated a midterm campaign strategy for the Senate that not only stymied a nationwide Democratic surge, but led to his party gaining at  least one seat in the chamber, all while his party lost control of the House by a healthy margin.

The Senate map favored the GOP all along. Democrats defended a whopping 26 seats, compared with only nine held by Republicans. And eight of those GOP seats were in states President Trump won in 2016, while 10 of the Democratic ones were in Trump territory. Continue reading “McConnell Big Midterm Winner”