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O’Rourke touts Senate run in White House bid — even though he lost
Texan cites battle with Cruz as evidence he can energize Democrats, win over Republicans

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks during his town hall event in Alexandria, Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Ruth traveled to Texas last year to knock on doors when former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke ran for Senate. Now she’s concerned he’s repeating mistakes from that race, and she told him so to his face.  

Ruth, who declined to give her last name, told O’Rourke at a town hall meeting Wednesday she did not think he drew enough of a contrast with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who was narrowly re-elected in November.

The Mueller report gets a 9:30 Club kind of debut
Key questions as the hype around the Russian interference probe gets release

Attorney General William Barr will command the spotlight as the man who releases the heavily anticipated Mueller report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Coming to a Justice Department near you: The most highly anticipated investigative report in at least a generation, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, gets some pre-release hype at 9:30 EDT on Thursday in Washington before its wide release later in the day. 

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be on hand at the Justice Department to deliver the (perhaps heavily redacted) goods. So as one of the few events that could preempt “Today” and “Good Morning America” gets underway, here are some of the key questions surrounding the report. 

CFPB to focus on protecting consumers, not enforcing laws on financial institutions
New agency Director Kathy Kraninger gave her first public speech as director at the Bipartisan Policy Center

Kathy Kraninger, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, prepares to testify at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on March 7, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In her first public speech as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger said the agency would focus on supervising and working with financial institutions on protecting consumers, rather than enforcing laws against them.

Kraninger announced Wednesday that the CFPB would soon propose rules to update one of the nation’s older consumer protection statutes, which prohibits abusive practices from debt collectors. One proposal would be a clear limit on the number of phone calls per week debt collectors could make.

Johnny Cash is replacing one of the Capitol’s Civil War statues
The country music legend and civil rights leader Daisy Gatson Bates will replace controversial Civil War figures

A statue of Uriah Milton Rose of Arkansas is seen in the Capitol's Statuary Hall on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The times are changing, and so is the marble. Arkansas is leaving behind statues of the old guard and sending a few new faces to the U.S. Capitol.

Civil rights icon Daisy Gatson Bates and musician Johnny Cash will join the Statuary Hall collection in D.C., replacing 19th-century attorney Uriah Milton Rose and statesman James Paul Clarke. The governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, made the plan official by signing a bill last week. 

Club for Growth backs a woman in 17-person North Carolina primary
Celeste Cairns is one of three women running for GOP nod in safe seat

The Club for Growth PAC has backed one of the three women vying for the GOP nomination in a safe Republican seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.)

The Club for Growth PAC backed accountant Celeste Cairns in the crowded primary for North Carolina’s 3rd District on Wednesday, elevating one of three women seeking the nomination in this safe Republican seat. 

Seventeen Republicans are vying for the nomination for the eastern North Carolina seat that has been vacant since Walter B. Jones died earlier this year. A candidate must win at least 30 percent of the vote in the April 30 primary to avoid a runoff in July. 

Senators press acting ICE director over ‘deficiencies’ at prison facilities
Democratic senators led by Warren contend no one is owning responsibility for failures

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other Senate Democrats are pressing ICE for answers on detention facility standards. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An investigation by Senate Democrats into the operation of ICE detention facilities by private prison companies just keeps turning up more questions.

That’s according to the latest letter from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 10 other Democratic caucus members, including fellow 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Ethics Committee still reviewing Schweikert allegations, releases initial OCE referral
Arizona Republican and former chief of staff allegedly misused office resources and broke campaign committee rules

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., is still under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegations that he misused office resources and violated campaign committee rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee is continuing an investigation into allegations that Rep. David Schweikert and his former chief of staff misused office resources and violated campaign committee rules, as the panel on Wednesday released the initial report from the Office of Congressional Ethics board unanimously recommending it review the matter.

OCE’s six-member board voted unanimously on April 5, 2018 to refer the allegations involving the Arizona Republican to the House Ethics Committee, which opened an investigation in May.

Trump civil rights official wants to defend abortion opponents and religious freedom
OCR is now reporting a rise in civil rights complaints related to a person’s moral beliefs

HHS Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino speaks at a news conference announcing a new division on Conscience and Religious Freedom at the Department of Health and Human Services January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. The new division, part of the department’s Office of Civil Rights, will aide medical professionals who object to certain procedures on religious grounds. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

A Trump administration official charged with protecting civil rights has major plans for defending abortion opponents and promoting religious freedom, he said in a rare and wide-ranging interview.

Roger Severino, the director for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, highlighted his goals to investigate states that require insurance to cover abortion, protect individuals who reject certain vaccinations on religious grounds, and defend students training to be medical providers if they object to participating in abortions.

Lawmakers spar big-time on behalf of rocket companies
Billions of dollars in business, and the future of national security, are at stake in fight over developing a new generation of rockets

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on February 6, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world and is carrying a Tesla Roadster into orbit. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

More than two-dozen House members have thrown the latest punch in a bare-knuckled fight that pits competing U.S. rocket manufacturers and their allies on Capitol Hill against one another.

A bipartisan group of 28 House members urged Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson in an April 12 letter not to alter the service’s blueprint for developing a new generation of rockets to lift U.S. military and spy satellites into orbit. But plenty of other lawmakers have pushed for several changes.

A blockchain bill, backed by industry, may tie SEC’s hands
The bill would provide a safe harbor from federal securities regulations for digital currencies and other blockchain-based products

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Wednesday morning, June 13, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as the nation’s infant blockchain industry lines up in support of a new bipartisan bill to exempt digital tokens from Securities and Exchange Commission oversight, others warn about the dangers of Congress making the situation worse.

The bill from Reps. Warren Davidson, an Ohio Republican, and Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat, would provide a safe harbor from federal securities regulations for digital currencies and other blockchain-based products. But outside of the young sector’s backers, some worry that the bill goes too far in its current form.