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Why It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid
With growth up, unemployment down, voters are focusing on other issues

National Republicans are hoping the strong economy will boost candidates like Jim Hagedorn, their nominee in Minnesota’s 1st District, seen here campaigning Sunday at the Applefest parade in La Crescent, Minn. However, public polling shows the economy is not at the top of voters’ concerns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a web video entitled “Better Off Now.” According to NRCC communications director Matt Gorman, who was quoted in the accompanying press release, “November comes down to one question: Are Americans better off now than they were two years ago?” That might be what Republicans want, but it is not likely to be voters’ sole motivation as they cast their ballots. 

According to Gorman, voters will “keep Republicans in the majority.” The economy certainly is good, and there is no reason to believe that will change before November.

Kavanaugh’s Fate Lies in Women’s Hands — As It Should Be
Female voters will also be judging how Republicans treat him and his accuser

Responses by some male Republican lawmakers to the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh show that many still don’t understand what it takes for a woman to come forward and tell her story, Murphy writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — This was the point. This was always the point of the “Year of the Woman,” in 1992 and every election year since then. To have women at the table, to have women as a part of the process in the government we live by every day. Women still aren’t serving in Congress in the numbers they should be, but it is at moments like this one — with a nominee, an accusation, and a Supreme Court seat in the balance — where electing women to office matters.

When Anita Hill told an all-male panel of senators in 1991 that Clarence Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her when she had worked with him years before, the senators on the all-male Judiciary Committee seemed to put Hill on trial instead of Thomas. Why didn’t she quit her job and get another one, they asked. Why did she speak to him again? Why didn’t she come forward and say something about Thomas sooner if he was such a flawed nominee?

Lawmakers Eye Cyber Bounties to Fix Bugs in Federal Networks
House panel approves Senate bill to set up pilot program at DHS

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a Senate bill last week that would set up a bug bounty program at the Department of Homeland Security. Above, Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., at a 2014 hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers last week moved closer to mandating that the Department of Homeland Security start a bug bounty program that will pay computer security researchers to spot weaknesses in DHS’s computer networks. That requirement would bring the department in line with other U.S. agencies with similar cybersecurity programs.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday by unanimous consent approved a Senate bill that would set up a pilot program at the department. The Senate passed the bill on April 17. The Pentagon, the IRS and the General Services Administration already operate such programs, and lawmakers have proposed legislation that would launch similar efforts at the departments of State and Treasury.

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Primary Challengers Aren’t Always More Partisan in Congress
Some successors have been more willing to work across the aisle

Ayanna Pressley defeated Rep. Michael E. Capuano in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 7th District earlier this month. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

It’s often said that conservative challenges to Republican incumbents in primary elections — the prime example being Dave Brat’s victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 — have led to more polarization in Congress, with the challengers less willing to compromise than their predecessors.

Now that two incumbent Democrats, Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts on Sept. 4 and Joseph Crowley of New York in June, have fallen to upstart challengers, it raises the question whether the phenomenon has now spread to the Democratic Party, foreboding even more dysfunction at the Capitol.

Rep. Scott Taylor Falling Behind Challenger After Ballot Forgery Scandal, Democratic Poll Shows
Democrat Elaine Luria is challenging freshman lawmaker in Virginia’s 2nd District

An internal poll for Democrat Elaine Luria showed her leading Rep. Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd District amid lingering questions about Taylor’s role in a fraudulent ballot petition scandal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrat Elaine Luria led Rep. Scott Taylor by 8 points in Virginia’s 2nd District amid lingering questions about the Republican lawmaker’s role in a ballot signature scandal, according to an internal poll released by Luria’s campaign Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, gave the Navy veteran a 51 percent to 43 percent lead over Taylor. A June survey by the same firm showed her trailing by 4 points, the campaign said.

Exchange Programs Aren’t Just for High Schoolers. Congressmen Do It Too
Nebraska and California congressmen trade views of their districts

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., left, visited Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., in his district in August. (Courtesy office of Rep. Salud Carbajal)

Say “exchange program,” and most people think of traveling teens.

That was true for Rep. Don Bacon, whose family hosted a German exchange student when he was 16. Mostly, the pair geeked out over American cars.

GOP Super PAC Dings Nebraska Democrat on Medicare-for-All
Kara Eastman is taking on GOP Rep. Don Bacon in 2nd District

Kara Eastman is the Democratic nominee in Nebraska’s 2nd Disrict. (Courtesy Kara Eastman for Congress)

The Congressional Leadership Fund is launching a new television ad knocking Democrat Kara Eastman over her support for a Medicare-for-All proposal, a sign Republicans view the attack as a salient one in the competitive Nebraska district. 

The 30-second ad, which launches in the Omaha media market Tuesday, will run for roughly two weeks. Eastman is taking on Republican freshman Don Bacon in the 2nd District, which President Donald Trump carried by by 3 points in 2016. 

China Slapped Again by Trump with Tariffs
President promises additional action if China retaliates

President Donald Trump is hitting China again with tariffs. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House announced it is slapping tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods as tensions between the two economic giants rise.

“On January 1, the tariffs will rise to 25 percent,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Further, if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.”

Kavanaugh, Ford Will Appear Before Judiciary Committee in Public
Supreme Court nominee, woman who accused him of sexual assault will be heard out

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was among the senators calling for a public hearing about the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will have a public hearing Monday, Sept. 24, on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, a former Judiciary Committee chairman, confirmed the scheduling update to reporters on Monday evening. The news broke after senators had arrived back at the Capitol Monday afternoon and after a meeting of Judiciary Committee Republicans in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office about how to proceed in light of allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford.