Joe Manchin III

The Strange Day of Senate Farewells
Franken, Strange speeches were very different scenes

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and his wife Franni, leave the Capitol on December 7, 2017, after Franken announced on the Senate floor that he will resign his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thursday became departure day in the Senate, with back-to-back farewell speeches oddly linked due to the recent wave of allegations about sexual harassment.

Staffers and visitors, along with members of the media, filled the Senate chamber Thursday morning for Sen. Al Franken’s announcement that he would in fact resign his seat in the aftermath of an ever-increasing number of sexual harassment allegations.

A Gun Rights Vote Only the GOP Base Can Appreciate
Expansion of concealed carry permission will die in the Senate, but the NRA really wanted the vote

Majority Whip John Cornyn has some doubts that he can get a bill passed that would improve background checks for gun purchasers but doesn’t make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines. A House bill passed Wednesday would do both. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One government shutdown may be narrowly averted, but another looms right around the corner. The stain of sexual misconduct at the Capitol continues to spread, and an alleged child predator is days away from possibly joining the Senate. Middle East destabilization seems assured as Congress gets its wish to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Public support dwindles daily for a loophole-encrusted, deficit-busting tax package that would be the year’s biggest legislative achievement. The push for presidential impeachment has gone far enough to necessitate procedural pushback in the House.

A week such as this one — already chockablock with headlines touching the Hill — seemed to the Republicans who run the place like an ideal time for making a bold hiding-in-plain-sight move.

Trump Tax Taunts Don’t Trouble Red-State Democrats
McCaskill outspoken in criticism of Senate GOP measure

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks Tuesday during the Senate Democrats news conference on taxes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate Senate Democrats — many of them on the ballot in 2018 — came together with a unified message Tuesday morning, just before President Donald Trump arrived at the Capitol to meet with the Republican Conference.

Sen. Tim Kaine was perhaps the most direct. The Virginia Democrat said at the news conference that the GOP should make a run at a bipartisan product before bringing to the floor a tax reconciliation bill that would only require a simple majority to pass.

For Murkowski, Tax Overhaul Isn’t Just Business. It’s Personal
Inclusion of ANWR drilling could put her in new Alaska league

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a conundrum with a clash between two of her key policy goals — drilling in ANWR and protecting access to health care back home. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sat at the breakfast table with her youngest son, who was in junior high school at the time. It was a big day. The chamber was set to vote on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, a priority of Alaska lawmakers for the previous three decades.

“My son looks up at me and he says, ‘Mom, I thought grandpa passed ANWR years ago,”’ the Republican senator recalled recently in her Hart Building office, referencing her father, former Sen. Frank H. Murkowski. “You have to kind of say, ‘Well, yeah, they kinda passed it, but it didn’t really pass. And so it’s back before us again and we’re going at it.’”

Super PAC Staffs Up for Morrisey in West Virginia GOP Primary
Morrisey led Jenkins in mid-October poll commissioned by 35th PAC

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is running for the GOP Senate nomination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A super PAC supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the GOP Senate primary is staffing up for the 2018 contest. 

The hires, shared first with Roll Call, will be announced Wednesday. 

From Party Chair to Candidate, Lucas Running for Open West Virginia Seat
Conrad Lucas is used to giving candidates advice; now he’s one of them

West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas, a former House aide to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, right, is running for the open seat being vacated by Rep. Evan Jenkins, left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Conrad Lucas has spent the last five years as a state party chair, advising candidates on how to run for office. 

Now that he’s a candidate for Congress, the shoe’s on the other foot. 

All the GOP’s Eggs Are Now in the Tax Basket
The pressure’s on as House Republicans try to move their tax bill

Sen. John Kennedy holds up his wallet during a Tuesday news conference in the Capitol as he says that families and small businesses would benefit from the GOP’s tax plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s hard enough to digest the policy details of the GOP tax overhaul plan — but add in a dose of distraction from the sprawling probe of Russian interference into last year’s elections and it’s easy to lose any budding “taxmentum.”

Selling a comprehensive tax code rewrite — even if it’s packaged as a tax cut for individuals and businesses — is so challenging that Congress hasn’t done it since 1986.

GOP Knocks Casey for Supporting Assault Weapons Ban
Casey is running for re-election in a state Trump narrowly won

Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., is co-sponsoring a bill banning assault weapons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bob Casey was the only Democrat in a competitive 2018 race to sign onto a bill banning assault weapons, and Republicans wasted no time criticizing the move. 

The Pennsylvania Democrat has evolved on gun control issues since he was first elected in 2006. And Republicans are accusing him of misleading Pennsylvania voters.

Collins Remains Positive On Tax Bill Despite Partisan Potential
Cites normal markup process as difference from health care

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine touted Tuesday the process under which the chamber’s still unreleased tax overhaul legislation will advance, but did not rule out voting for a final bill that might receive no Democratic support.

It is possible Collins could again be a critical swing vote on the pending tax bill. She was one of three Republicans who joined Democrats to sink a GOP bill to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

One Year Out: The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators in 2018
Taking heat from both sides, Nevada’s Dean Heller leads the list

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is among the ten most vulnerable senators in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats are defending 10 seats President Donald Trump won last cycle. But a year out from Election Day, the most vulnerable senator is the lone Republican facing re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton.The overall Senate landscape has improved for Democrats since the beginning of the year, with Republican retirements opening up two seats in 2018. But this ranking only features incumbents.

More GOP primaries could develop, but besides Nevada’s Dean Heller, the other nine most vulnerable senators are all Democrats.