Louisiana

The dead earmarks society
Congress gave up pork years ago. Now it could be making a comeback

Steny Hoyer says he’s working to restore congressionally directed spending, with “reforms to ensure transparency and accountability.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From the outside, they looked like a collection of political misfits akin to the characters from “The Breakfast Club.” This peculiar little crew of lobbyists, ethics watchdogs and government spending hawks included the likes of Public Citizen’s Craig Holman and former House member-turned-lobbyist Jim Walsh.

Instead of serving Saturday detention, like the high schoolers of the 1985 hit movie, they spent their meetings nearly a decade ago seeking compromise on one of Congress’ most politically fraught but powerful tools: earmarks. “It was a strange group, an eclectic group,” concedes Holman, whose liberal Public Citizen is best known for taking on K Street, not working with the lobbyists and lawyers in the sector. “We identified what the real problem with earmarks is — and earmarks do pose a serious problem with corruption.”

Trump will sign spending bill, declare national emergency
Mitch McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive for lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The big bipartisan government funding deal is going to become law, but it will be far from the end of the border security battle between President Donald Trump and members of Congress.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Thursday that Trump intends to sign the spending conference report, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had indicated earlier.

Barr nomination to get votes on the Senate floor next week
Comes after 12-10 committee vote, which reflected concerns from Democrats about how he would handle the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation

William P. Barr, left, nominee for attorney general, greets former Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, upon arriving for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Hatch introduced Barr to the committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | William P. Barr is on track to be confirmed as the next attorney general next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to limit debate and cut off any filibuster threats against the Barr nomination Thursday, setting up votes as soon as the Senate finishes work on a bipartisan package of public lands bills.

Democrats are right to be wary of Howard Schultz
Coffee mogul’s independent run could complicate Electoral College math

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is considering running for president as an independent.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — The frenzy over businessman Howard Schultz’s announcement that he is considering an independent run for president is understandable.

Democrats think President Donald Trump is headed for defeat in a one-on-one general election contest, and anything that changes that trajectory improves his re-election prospects.

It’s still the year of the woman, if this pizza chef has her way
Every week Ruth Gresser will offer up a cheesy, saucy concoction inspired by female politicians

Ruth Gresser, right, is bringing back her pizza promotion celebrating women who lead. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

After last year’s elections swept a record number of women into office, they’re finally getting some dough. Literally.

“I’m sure there would be many people who would say that there shouldn’t be any politics in pizza,” said chef Ruth Gresser, who owns D.C. mainstay Pizzeria Paradiso. But that hasn’t stopped her from creating a yearlong homage to women who lead.

‘Mr. President, get real’: Democrats reject Trump’s SOTU alarm about socialism
Republicans have increasingly referred to Democrats as socialists, but Trump remarks take attack to new heights

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., pictured walking through Statuary Hall to the House chamber for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Feb. 5, dismissed Trump’s remark about the rise of socialism as “demagoguing.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican efforts to label the Democratic Party as socialists reached a new high Tuesday night as President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address to further that partisan message — prompting groans and grimaces from Democrats. 

“We are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump said. “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Tulsi Gabbard rejects former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s 2020 endorsement
Hawaii Democrat says she has ‘strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views’ and ‘support’ in the past

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has rejected the endorsement of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke of her 2020 presidential campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has received a presidential endorsement that she does not want — from former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana GOP state lawmaker David Duke.

Duke, 68, has made his Twitter banner photo an image of Gabbard with the caption, “Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First,” a reference to one of President Donald Trump’s trademark slogans.

Senate passes Middle East policy bill, urges caution in Syria
21 Democrats vote against measure, including four declared presidential contenders

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s provision against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement directed at Israel proved controversial for many Democrats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Tuesday passed a Middle East policy bill that urges President Donald Trump not to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

The 77-23 vote on the measure came hours ahead of Trump’s State of the Union address and more than a month after the legislation, initially touted as widely bipartisan and noncontroversial, was first brought to the floor. Democrats refused to consider the bill during the 35-day partial government shutdown.

Wheeler EPA nomination advances on party-line panel vote
Wheeler, currently the agency's deputy administrator, has been leading the agency in an acting role since July when Scott Pruitt resigned

Andrew Wheeler, nominee to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, arrives for his confirmation hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Jan. 16, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to become administrator of the EPA.

He was among five of President Donald Trump’s nominees who moved a step closer to taking key administration jobs on Tuesday, including two for the EPA and one who would fill a two-year-old vacancy at the top of the Federal Highway Administration.

Primary care changes could be part of Senate effort to lower health care costs
A committee discussed ideas including provider incentives to buy drugs directly from wholesalers, and encouraging employers to offer on-site clinics

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., right, and Tina Smith, D-Minn., talk with attendees of the a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Sept. 25, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Tuesday highlighted changes to primary care coverage that could be part of a Senate effort to lower health care costs this year.

Those ideas include incentives for providers to buy drugs directly from wholesalers, expanding which services qualify for health savings account purchases, encouraging employers to offer on-site clinics to workers, and clarifying how direct primary care programs can help physicians reduce time spent on administrative tasks.