FROM David Hawkings
It's now or never for a divided Republican Party The White House says President Trump will "watch and take names" as House Speaker Paul Ryan tries to unite the GOP to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Meantime, polls show more than half the public's opposed to adding some 24 million people to the ranks of the uninsured. The House is scheduled to vote later today, and we look at the consequences one way or the other. Will the President blame the Speaker if the bill fails? If it passes the House, what's its chance in the Senate? There's a lot at stake — including the health of America's healthcare system.
Republicans go home again — keeping their heads down Normally, town halls at home are a staple of Congressional recesses. But this week, with advice from leaders on Capitol Hill, just seven percent of Republican Congress members and Senators are following that practice. Angry constituents make for sound bites on TV and radio, and GOP leaders want to avoid that kind of coverage. Meantime, liberal Democrats hope grassroots Tea-Party tactics will give them more clout in their party. But will the backlash to the assault on Obamacare be strong enough to unify them against Republicans in next year’s elections?
Week in politics: Confirmation hearings to changes for Cuban migrants There were the confirmation hearings, Donald Trump’s first press conference in months, the Senate’s big move to unravel Obamacare, and a big policy change on Cuban migrants.
Congress opts for temporary budget until spring Republicans in Congress threw more uncertainty into America's future today. The lame duck session won't even try to pass any full spending bills, which is especially bad news for the Pentagon. But Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence, who met with the GOP’s House Caucus behind closed doors, emphasized that President-Elect Trump would bring together "a great team" to work with leaders of the House and Senate "to rebuild our military -- revitalize our economy." David Hawkings is senior editor of Roll Call , which keeps track of Capitol Hill.
Death of Justice Scalia Sets up Epic Battle for Power Article II of the US Constitution says the President "shall" nominate judges of the US Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. But it doesn’t say when that process should occur, and it doesn’t provide a timetable for filling vacancies. Even before any official mourning over Saturday’s sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the political debate was already underway. David Hawkings has covered Capitol Hill for 25 years. He’s Senior Editor at Roll Call and author of the blog and column Hawkings Here.
Vintage Political Theater on Capitol Hill A committee of Congress today grilled Hillary Clinton about the deaths of four American officials in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 while she was Secretary of State. Republicans used stacks of emails and charts to bolster their claim that she was lax about security. Democrats used video to accuse Republicans of another partisan witch-hunt that has failed to turn up any new information. All this as the GOP continued to struggle with Paul Ryan’s conditions for taking what could turn out to be the thankless assignment of House Speaker.
Republican Presidential Hopefuls Sing Reagan’s Praises Ronald Reagan is revered among the candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination. On Wednesday, they’ll no doubt pay further homage when they gather at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley for their second debate. But what is Reagan’s true legacy? Would Reagan himself have fit into today’s Republican party?
Key Issues on Tap for GOP Congress Forty nations sent heads of state or foreign ministers to Paris for yesterday's march against terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Abbas and even the King of Jordan marched. The US sent an Ambassador. We hear what the White House says now — and how Congress might respond in the aftermath of last week's terrorism.
When the Senate Goes GOP, Will They Keep the Nuclear Option? When senators return to work on Capitol Hill next week, Republicans will be in charge for the first time in eight years. That gives them the opportunity to keep a very controversial rule made by the Democratic Senate: the so-called "nuclear option," which makes it easier to approve Presidential appointments. At the time of the change, incoming Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he saw "no rational basis" to change those rules back. David Hawkings writes the "Hawkings Here" blog at Roll Call . He is former managing editor of that publication.
The Federal Budget: What's Important and What's Not? The federal budget is all about priorities, and President Obama says economic inequality is the defining issue for America's next generation. He wants to escalate the War on Poverty by closing tax loopholes. Republicans call that a tax increase that makes poverty worse and rewards refusal to work. Beyond that, the budget's a chance to debate everything from Pentagon spending to how much to pay for the habitats of honeybees. As arguments over the 2015 budget sets the stage for this year's elections, will the parties manage to unify or reveal their internal divisions?
What Does Waxman Resignation Mean for California, Congress? Henry Waxman helped make California a powerhouse in Congress. He infuriated Republicans for 40 years, most recently by pushing the Affordable Care Act. The California Democrat was also a major force for environmental legislation as Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. First elected to Congress in 1974 when Gerald Ford was President, today Waxman announced he won't run for re-election this year. David Hawkings, former managing editor of CQ Weekly, writes the Roll Call blog, Hawkings Here .
The President, Congress and the 'Red Line' in Syria Republican John Boehner and Democrat Nancy Pelosi left the White House today supporting President Obama's plan to punish Syria's use of chemical weapons. But both the parties they lead are sharply divided. So why has the President asked Congress to debate a decision he says he's already made? Without more international backing, does he need time to plead his case to the American people? What if Congress says "no?" What's at stake for American security and international sanctions against weapons of mass destruction?
Congress, the Farm Bill and the Nuclear Option Since Congress returned from its Fourth of July recess, it's back to business as usual. One long-time observer calls it a "wrecking ball factory." He's David Hawkings, former managing editor at CQ Weekly, now blogger for Roll Call at " Hawkings Here ."
Controversies Shaking Administration on All Fronts Barely into his second term, President Obama is facing comparisons to Richard Nixon. His press secretary, Jay Karney, fielded questions today about the IRS allegedly "targeting" conservative groups and the Department of Justice seizing phone records from Associated Press editors and reporters. David Hawkings has covered Washington for 25 years. He was managing editor of CQ Weekly. His new Roll Call blog is Hawkings Here .
The Republican Party Struggles to Define Its Identity As President Obama goes through the motions of reaching out to Republicans on Capitol Hill, Republicans themselves are going in different directions. Paul Ryan is fighting Obamacare — but accepting its Medicare cuts. Rand Paul wants an end to George W. Bush's wars and limits on executive power. At the Conservative Political Action Conference , a party pep-rally, Mitt Romney will defend his losing campaign. But rising star Chris Christie's not even invited. Is there any path toward a future consensus? Can President Obama take advantage of the current confusion?
Time's Running Out before a Fiscal Crisis Kicks In Yesterday, after fiscal-cliff negotiations broke down, President Obama admonished , "(T)hat we lurch from crisis to crisis every six months, or every nine months…that's not how you run a great country…. It is very hard for them [Republicans] to say yes to me. At some point, they've got to take me out of it – think about their voters, and think about what's best for the country." In the midst of negotiations with the President, House Speaker John Boehner proposed what he calls "Plan B." But it's sure to be dead on arrival when it reaches the Senate. We hear how compromise on the "fiscal cliff" is dominated by philosophical differences, political mistrust — and personal antipathy.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.