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Listen to the New Sing-Song Warning for Senate Subway Riders
A new disembodied voice now rings out in the Russell trains

New audio warnings have been added for riders on the Senate subway. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s a new soundtrack in the Senate basement this week, with the addition of audio warnings for riders on the Russell trains.

“Stand clear, the doors are closing,” says the announcement, which follows a few musical tones. 

For Stripped-Down Criminal Justice Bill, Less Could Be More
Sen. Kamala Harris: It’s a ‘compromise of a compromise‘

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced her support for the bill Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill that advanced Monday evening falls short of what lawmakers and advocates had sought to do with the measure more than four years ago — but now that’s the key to enacting the most sweeping changes to prison and sentencing laws in decades.

The latest version, on the floor via an unrelated bill, is whittled down to the provisions with the broadest support, bulked up with measures demanded by law enforcement and tough-on-crime Republicans, and tweaked to get the backing of President Donald Trump.

Rep. Poliquin Clings to Power, Appeals Ranked-Choice Voting Decision
GOP congressman challenges federal court ruling on Maine’s new voting system

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, is one of four plaintiffs who will appeal a federal court's decision to support ranked-choice voting for federal candidates in Maine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three of his constituents in Maine’s 2nd District are appealing a U.S. district court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of the state’s new ranked-choice voting system that boosted Democrat Jared Golden over Poliquin, who had more first-place votes.

Poliquin’s lawyers will file a brief with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Happy New Year, Republicans! It’s Downhill From Here
Get ready for another no good, very bad year, complete with a looming constitutional crisis

If you think 2018 was bad, just wait for 2019. Above, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, walks past the annual Christmas sign in the basement of the Capitol on  Dec. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — 2018 will go in the books as a bad one for most Republicans. They picked up two seats in the Senate, but lost 40 in the House. Their numbers among women in the House shrank from 23 to 13, and President Donald Trump can’t give away his chief of staff job.

Ask anyone who’s been there: The only thing worse than losing the majority in Congress is every day after that, when chairing committees and holding press conferences is replaced by packing boxes and saying goodbye to staff.

Who Might Run for Alexander’s Tennessee Senate Seat in 2020?
All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam and Rep.-elect Mark Green

Outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, seen here at a rally with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, is a likely candidate for the open Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement on Monday that he won’t seek a fourth term opens up a 2020 Senate seat in a state President Donald Trump carried by 26 points in 2016.

All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who could clear the field and would likely be a successor in the same Republican mold as Alexander.

Lamar Alexander Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election in 2020
Tennessee Republican plans to retire from the Senate

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has announced he’s not running for re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a longtime Republican senator from Tennessee who previously served as governor, will not seek re-election in 2020.

He made the announcement on Monday that he will be retiring at the end of his current term.

All Is Not Lost for Republicans in the Suburbs
Party can regain its suburban advantage with a clearer economic message

Supporters of Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., cheer during an Independence Day parade in Leesburg, Va., in the suburban 10th District, which flipped to the Democrats this year. Republicans can regain their advantage in the suburbs by refocusing on household economic issues, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Will Ferrell once joked about his all-too-normal, stress-free upbringing: “Maybe that’s where comedy comes from, as some sort of reaction to the safe, boring suburbs.”

Safe? Boring? Not any more, especially not for Republicans this year. It was suburban voters — women and men — who voted Republican in 2010, 2014 and 2016 but leaned Democratic this year who played a major role in Republicans losing the House.

Republicans Aren’t Including Minorities or Women, Say Two Republican Minority Women
Lame-duck GOP Reps. Mia Love, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen deliver stark warnings for Republicans to be more inclusive

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, is not happy with her party’s apparent lack of messaging to minority voters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two lame-duck House Republican women are sounding the alarm on their own party for excluding minorities and women from their messaging.

Rep. Mia Love, the only black Republican woman in the House, was defeated by Democrat Ben McAdams in a hard-fought race in Utah’s 4th District in the Salt Lake City area last month.

The Gospel of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
La congresista goes to Washington

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., brings a fresh perspective to Washington, Manriquez writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I never had a problem showing ya tha real me” — Cardi B in “Best Life”

OPINION | A decade ago, my first job in Washington politics was waiting tables at “an establishment bar” on Capitol Hill a short walk from the House side of the Capitol. The bar’s management offered night-shift employees a side hustle killing rats for eight dollars per carcass.

Making Congress Relevant Again, One Budget at a Time
First and foremost, lawmakers must recommit to their fiscal responsibilities.

Rep. Steve Womack and his fellow budget process reformers had nine months to come up with a plan. But they couldn’t make it happen — and the budget process continues to collapse, Price writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — With members of the 115th Congress rushing to tie up their legislative loose ends, one unresolved issue may have a more lasting impact than any other. It is the continued failure of congressional budgeting.

Since February, a special Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has been trying to develop ways of repairing Congress’ deteriorating budget procedures. After nine months of discussions, committee members failed to send even their handful of fairly unremarkable recommendations to the House and Senate for a vote. Thus the budget process continues to collapse.