Podcast: Use of Force vs. Use of Power
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 8

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talks with reporters in the basement of the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators on both sides are pushing to rewrite the law authorizing military force, untouched for 16 years. Even after airstrikes on Syria the debate is likely to fade fast, White House correspondent John Bennett explains, part of a complex modern war-making power dynamic that favors presidents over Congress.

Show Notes

What’s the Nuclear Option? Dismantling This Senate Jargon
 

Roy Blunt: Playing the Inside Game and Scoring
Missouri’s GOP senator is proof the popular outsider play isn’t the only winning route

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., regained the chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee last week.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a political world where running against Washington has become one of the easiest paths to getting there, and where the ultimate outsider neophyte is president, Roy Blunt stands out as proof that the opposite approach sometimes still works.

Few in today’s Congress have succeeded as well, and for as long, at the inside game — where influence is cultivated and sustained by combining broad political and policy expertise along with deep interpersonal skill.

Ryan: Liberated Deficit Hawk or Lame Duck Whose Quack Won’t Be Heard?
Keeping his options open might mean reviving his personas of Trump critic and fiscal doomsayer

Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., announces his retirement at a press conference on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul D. Ryan is the first speaker of the House to depart on his own timetable in more than three decades. So what’s he going to do with the time he’s given himself for trying to massage his wounded legacy?

His most obvious option is working to revive a pair of well-remembered but recently abandoned roles — earnest fiscal doomsayer in a time of coursing red ink, and steward of seriousness and stability in a Republican Party that’s in the thrall of President Donald Trump.

Joseph Crowley, 56 Years Young and Ready to Succeed the Old Guard
Current leadership at least two decades older than New York Democrat

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When the inevitable generational change starts in the top ranks of the House Democrats, Joseph Crowley is planning to be first in line.

Seven months can be more than several lifetimes in politics, of course, and an almost infinite number of internecine machinations will play out before the election — maneuvering not only within the current caucus but also among the candidates who are its most viable prospective new members.

Republicans Need Another Legislative Success to Avoid Midterm Woes
Realistic expectations a plus in politically polarized environment

Members of Congress exit the Capitol down the House steps after the final vote of the week on Thursday. Lawmakers headed home for the two-week spring recess after passing the omnibus spending bill. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last week was all about the Republican Congress finishing a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad assignment that is nonetheless essential to the nation’s sustenance, exemplifies minimal governing competence, and may even be genuinely rewarding for the people elected to set policy.

It will be good for only half a year, and it was born of dozens of compromises for each side to crow and cry about, but the Capitol has produced a solidly bipartisan agreement on the full measure of federal spending.

Blue and Purple States Set to Lose Clout Under Trump Census Move
Allocation of congressional seats would be affected for a decade

Protesters rally on March 13 outside the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel where President Donald Trump was staying. California has more undocumented immigrants than any other state, and even a small undercount of its population could cost it a House seat. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

Assertions of bald political skullduggery on one side, and protecting voting rights on the other, are obscuring a core consequence of the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question on the next census.

Posing such a query will likely reshuffle the allocation of congressional seats for the coming decade.

Republican Lawmakers Missed Opportunity to Save Trump From Trump
Legislative protection for special counsel could have forced president to refocus

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says he’s received assurances that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s firing is “not even under consideration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans have let slip a golden opportunity to make good on their most important and counterintuitive campaign promise of 2018 — covering for President Donald Trump at every mind-numbing opportunity.

They still have half a year to change their collective minds, but for now the GOP is essentially all in on one of the most outside-the-box political strategies of all time: Betting that safe passage for their imperiled majorities requires lashing themselves to a president mired in record low approval ratings, subsumed by self-orchestrated chaos and in the crosshairs of a special counsel.

Podcast: What Defines a Political Wave in the House?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 6

MARCH 14: Speaker Paul D. Ryan holds a press conference with House GOP leadership in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, as a television displays election results from the special election in Pennsylvania. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With President Donald Trump’s mediocre job ratings, Democrats’ advantage on the national generic ballot and success in special elections in Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk about a political wave. In this week’s Decoder, Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, sitting in for David Hawkings, talks with Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg about how many seats it takes to make a wave and which Republicans might survive.

Show Notes:

Podcast: How We Determine the Wealth of Congress
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 5

California Rep. Darrell Issa is the wealthiest member of Congress according to Roll Call's Wealth of Congress study. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

How Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Pushed to the Center
Of the 10 running in Trump states, four stand apart for siding with the president

Joe Manchin III voted with the president 71 president of the time last year when his wishes were clear in advance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you’re wearing a blue uniform but your game is in a stadium where most of the crowd usually roots for the reds, try accessorizing with as much purple as possible.

That bit of fashion advice is one cheeky way of describing the politically pragmatic behavior of most, but not all, of the 10 Democratic senators hoping to hold their seats this fall in states that went for President Donald J. Trump.

Wealth of Congress: Richer Than Ever, but Mostly at the Very Top
Collectively, their gains have outpaced the market, net worth is five times U.S. median

Lawmakers are richer than ever — and their wealth has outpaced most voters and the markets. (Illustration by Cristina Byvik)

The people’s representatives just keep getting richer, and doing so faster than the people represented.

The cumulative net worth of senators and House members jumped by one-fifth in the two years before the start of this Congress, outperforming the typical American’s improved fortunes as well as the solid performance of investment markets during that time.

A Guide to Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress
Roll Call Decoder with David Hawkings, wonky explainers from a Capitol Hill expert

Roll Call has completed its analysis of Congress’ wealth, and the results are clear: Congress is getting richer. Senior editor David Hawkings walks you through the findings of the Wealth of the 115th Congress.

Podcast: A Map Puts Pennsylvania on Political Center Stage
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 4

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., runs past Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., on the House steps as members of Congress leave for the 4th of July recess following the final votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday, June, 29, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The state’s Democratic congressional roster could grow by half a dozen, a huge boost for the party’s bid to take back the House this fall, thanks to new district lines drawn by the state’s highest court. Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman explains the party’s boosted targets for opportunity now that one of the nation’s most partisan gerrymandered maps has been re-colored in purple.

Show Notes:

When the Deal Precedes the Bid, Time to Change the Rules?
With bipartisan agreement that the budget system is broken, the Hill sets in motion a serious overhaul debate

Boxes containing President Donald Trump’’s fiscal 2019 budget are unpacked by staff in the House Budget Committee hearing room on Monday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The latest unfeasible budget proposal is so two days ago. But a rewrite of the unsalvageable budget process may be unavoidable three seasons from now.

What the White House delivered to the Capitol on Monday were among the least consequential documents of the year. That’s because their fine-print aspirations of fiscal restraint were entirely theoretical. They had been rendered meaningless three days before by the newest law on the books, which makes real the promise of at least $300 billion extra in acceptable appropriations during the next several months.