Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite garish visual aids from a month of congressional floor-watching

(C-SPAN screenshot)

Tributes to the late Billy Graham, talking points about the Russia investigation, touts for the Republican’s tax bill — watching the House and Senate floors can be a thankless task. But the floor charts make it all worthwhile.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help get the point across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call now provides a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Election Interference, Energy Attacks
‘Russia’s behavior or lack thereof on the world stage is continuing to trouble us’

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at a G-20 summit in Germany. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Trump administration announced Thursday sanctions slapped on two dozen Russian individuals and entities — including its top two security and intelligence agencies — it says were involved in meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and an ongoing attack on the American energy sector.

Senior administration officials said the penalties on five Russian entities and 19 individuals are intended to punish Russia for “malicious cyber activity” and the “reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government,” a rare public rebuke of the Vladimir Putin-led Kremlin by the Trump administration. Those actions include a U.S.-backed finding by the U.K. government that Moscow is linked to the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.

Opinion: Not the Pennsylvania Message You’d Expect, but One Heard Around the World
World is watching as America struggles with basic questions of democracy and representation

President Donald Trump spoke at a rally for Rick Saccone Saturday night. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The election for a congressional seat in Pennsylvania was over, yet not over, on Wednesday, with all eyes on the few hundred votes that gave Democrat Conor Lamb an initial edge over Republican Rick Saccone.

And the reckoning has only begun. Amid the hand-wringing from nervous Republicans fearing a midterm blue wave and cautious optimism from Democrats who realize November is a long way off were signs that the tensions of this campaign resonate far beyond a spot in the southwestern corner of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar
Weeks in April and May could be consumed by State, CIA nominations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to clear some floor time for the nominations of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to run the CIA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whatever the Senate might have wanted to focus on in April and May will now have to compete for time with a new priority thrust upon it by President Donald Trump.

Once senators got past the initial shock of Trump’s Twitter announcement Tuesday that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they quickly moved toward paving the way to debate and confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor, as well as Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead that agency.

Dave McCurdy, a Retiring Optimist Pushing Back on ‘Disciples of Declinism’
Former Intelligence chairman and current head of AGA reflects on two public careers

Former Oklahoma Rep. Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, will retire in February 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After nearly four decades in Washington, former Rep. Dave McCurdy is still an optimist.

Even as the former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma and current head of the American Gas Association prepares for retirement, he says there is a lot Congress can learn from the swamp so easily derided by public officials who struggle to step out of their partisan foxholes.

Rooney Adopts New GOP Line: House Investigations Have ‘Lost All Credibility’
House Intelligence Committee to close Russia investigation

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., arrives with Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby on the West Front of the Capitol before Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional committees can no longer conduct credible investigations without poisoning them with partisan politics, Rep. Tom Rooney said.

“We’ve gone completely off the rails, and now we’re just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day’s news,” the Florida Republican said in an interview Monday with CNN. “We’ve lost all credibility, and we’re going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately. ... In that regard, that’s why I called for the investigation to end.”

House Committee Leadership Is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs
Term limits, fundraising pressure and reduced clout are taking a toll on GOP chairmen

Reps. Lamar Smith and Robert W. Goodlatte, shown here in 2014, are two of at least eight committee chairmen who are leaving Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter what happens in the November elections, the House of Representatives will be a body transformed.

At least eight of the chamber’s sitting committee chairmen are quitting Congress — and two additional chiefs have already given up their gavels. These exits come at a cost to the institution, as House Republicans will lose policy expertise, political savvy and procedural prowess.

House Intel Republicans Say 'No Collusion' Between Trump and Russia
Release short summary of findings before sharing report with panel Democrats

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, became the lead Republican on the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee disagree with the position of every U.S. intelligence agency that Russia wanted Donald Trump to be elected president.

The House Intelligence Committee Republicans said in a short public summary document for a more than 150 page report that they would be, concurring, “with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] supposed preference for candidate Trump.”

Analysis: Trump Follows His Gut on Tariffs and Kim Summit
‘Trump doctrine’ defined by ‘president’s feelings at any given time,’ expert says

President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., last month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With his go-it-alone approach to tariffs and possible conventional wisdom-busting meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump is showing how he follows his instincts above the advice of allies and experts. 

But there’s no consensus on whether his gut-level approach to foreign policy will produce the desired results. That means the world will have to stay tuned — and by all accounts that’s just how he wants it.

Analysis: Stunning North Korea Deal May Take Years to Nail Down
Breakthrough decision to meet is just the beginning

Any deal with North Korea could take several years to work through. (Wikimedia Commons)

The announcement in Washington Thursday night that the leaders of America and North Korea would soon meet for the first time and talk about eliminating North Korea’s nuclear missiles was an astonishing moment pregnant with promise — an event that let the world sigh. Enjoy it. But now look beneath the book’s cover. The prequel has not even been drafted, let alone any chapters written.

South Korea’s national security director, Chung Eui-Yong, told reporters on the White House lawn Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had committed to “denuclearization.” Kim had told the South Koreans he could even tolerate U.S.-South Korean military exercises, drills that Kim had previously decried. And Kim said he would refrain from additional tests of ballistic missiles or nuclear bombs, according to Chung.