nathan-l-gonzales

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame
Fixing the Hill is easier said than done

Politicians aren’t always to blame for the dysfunction in Congress and the perceived solutions are more complicated than many realize, Gonzales writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After 30 years of covering Congress, David Hawkings has a good idea of how Capitol Hill works — or more important, how it doesn’t — and he laid out five key reasons why Congress is broken.

But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.

Ratings Change: Races for 2 GOP Seats Shift to Toss-Ups
Texas’ Pete Sessions and Kentucky’s Andy Barr face strong Democratic challengers

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, faces Democrat Colin Allred in his bid for a 12th term representing the Dallas area. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 2010, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions led Republicans to a historic 63-seat gain in the House and a new GOP majority as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Now, he’s at significant risk of losing his own seat.

Sessions represents the Dallas-area 32nd District, which Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points in 2016. It’s the type of suburban, college-educated area that has been revolting against President Donald Trump since he took office. But for much of the cycle, Sessions benefitted from a fundraising advantage and a competitive Democratic primary, which was only decided in a May runoff.

Democratic Candidates Should Be Bolder on Gun Control, Poll Finds
“The center has shifted on this issue,” gun control advocate says

Students march to the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue to call on Congress to act on gun violence prevention during a national walkout on April 20 to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gun control has been a third rail of Democratic campaigns, but a new poll suggests that Democratic candidates should embrace a bolder approach to restrictions on guns, even in general elections.

Up to this point, Democrats have been decidedly defensive on guns. The most famous instances of Democratic candidates using guns in television ads include West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III shooting the so-called cap-and-trade bill, former Georgia Rep. John Barrow talking about his granddaddy’s pistol and Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander assembling a rifle blindfolded. The ads were meant to reassure voters that Democrats didn’t want to take away their guns.

Ilhan Omar Accused of Misusing Campaign Cash for Divorce Lawyer
DFL endorsee to replace Rep. Keith Ellison would be first Muslim congresswoman

An attorney for DFL House candidate Ilhan Omar called accusations that her client used campaign funds for her divorce proceeding “absolutely false.” (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images file photo)

A fellow state legislator has accused the Democratic-Farmer-Laborer endorsee to replace outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota of illegally misusing campaign funds to pay her divorce lawyer.

Ilhan Omar, who earned the state party’s endorsement for Minnesota’s 5th District in June, paid $2,250 in legal fees in 2016 to Kjellberg Law Office, a firm specializing in family and divorce law.

I Met 12 Democratic Candidates in Two Days and Lived to Write About It
None of them are talking about Trump or Pelosi

A demonstrator holds a sign at a news conference last week to announce the launch of the Medicare for All Caucus. Health care is a key component of the Democrats’ messaging this fall, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

I swore I’d never do it again.

In October, I interviewed 16 Democratic House candidates in two days. As much as I enjoy having face-to-face conversations with people running for the offices we cover, it might have been too many in a row.

Rep. Tom Garrett the Subject of Multiple Ethics Probes
OCE and House Ethics Committee looking into Virginia rep’s alcoholism, use of staffers to run personal errands

Rep. Tom Garrett, R-Va., is the subject of two ethics probes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tom Garrett is facing more ethics probes than he has years under his belt in Congress.

The GOP freshman from Virginia is the subject of two probes into allegations that he used his congressional aides to run personal errands for him and his wife on taxpayer-funded official time and how his self-reported alcoholism has affected his work, Politico first reported.

Rep. Sanford: GOP Risks Succumbing to Trump’s ‘Cult of Personality’
South Carolina Republican said president is ‘autocratic in style’ in blistering remarks over weekend

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., lost his June primary to pro-Trump candidate Katie Arrington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford issued a blistering rebuke of President Donald Trump over the weekend, saying the president is “autocratic in style” and that Republicans are at risk of becoming a “cult of personality” around the mercurial leader of the free world.

At a panel in New York Saturday, the former South Carolina governor, was asked to explain why he lost his primary to staunchly pro-Trump candidate Katie Arrington.

GOP Rep. Fitzpatrick Says Putin ‘Manipulated’ Trump
Former FBI agent says he was ‘sickened’ by exchange between Trump and Putin

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., said he was “sickened” by the exchange between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit between the two heads of state in Helsinki, Finland. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick had harsh words over the weekend for President Donald Trump’s comments and behavior at a joint news conference last Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a sign that the president’s performance at the Helsinki, Finland, summit could be an enduring political thorn in his side.

“The president was manipulated by Vladimir Putin,” Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican and former FBI counterintelligence agent, said Sunday on NPR. “Vladimir Putin is a master manipulator.”

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Bring Democratic Socialist Message to Kansas
Vermont, New York politicians will headline two rallies for Democrats in deep-red state

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., above, and congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., will headline two rallies in Kansas this weekend. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Two of the most prominent Democratic socialists in the country see an opportunity to exert their influence in an unlikely place: deep-red Kansas.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 76-year-old senator from Vermont, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic candidate from the Bronx who knocked off longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in their New York primary last month, are headed to the western Kansas City suburbs Friday to rally Democrats ahead of the state's August 7 primaries.

Roskam Tells Trump to Speak to Putin More Like Reagan Would
GOP congressman says Trump was ‘very defensive’ in conversation about Helsinki news conference

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said he confronted President Donald Trump about his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Peter Roskam said President Donald Trump delivered a “very defensive” response on Tuesday when he confronted the president about siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Roskam was at the White House for a meeting with Trump in which the president walked back his comments from Monday that he saw “no reason why it would be Russia” that interfered in the 2016 election, affirmed that he trusted his intelligence community’s assessment that it was Russia, and then immediately sought to undercut that assessment by saying there “could be other people also — a lot of people out there.”