hawkings

How Mark Sanford Proudly Failed His Loyalty Test
No regrets from second House Republican ousted by someone claiming stronger Trump allegiance

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., spent heavily but lost narrowly Tuesday in the Republican primary in South Carolina’s coastal low country to a state legislator who aligned closely with President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Today’s Congress deserves its reputation for uniformity in the ranks. Gender and ethnicity aside, the place is overrun with members priding themselves on their message discipline, policymaking tunnel vision and personal lives scrubbed and shielded from public view. And for the Republicans, of course, unflinching loyalty to President Donald Trump is now the core of the homogenized brand.

So is Hill survival even possible anymore for a member capable of thoughtful departures from his partisan talking points, open to ideological subtlety, with a home life that’s been a national melodrama — and who on top of all that has called out the president on more than one occasion?

Podcast: Will a Minibus Rescue Hill’s GOP?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 12

Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., talk before a Senate Appropriations Committee markup in the Dirksen Building on June 7, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file)

Republicans would love to avoid shutdown drama before the midterm but a tight timetable stands in the way. CQ’s appropriations reporter Kellie Mejdrich explains why the budgetary salvage vehicle is called a “minibus” and why it just might work.

For 2020, Hill’s Democrats Won’t Be So Super
Activists pushing to neutralize nominating say-so of members of Congress and other party insiders

Delegates appear on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in 2016. There’s growing momentum among Democrats to eliminate the formalized role of superdelegates in deciding the national ticket. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Does it make sense to tell the folks responsible for bringing the tribe back to the Promised Land that they’re losing some of their clout to help keep it there?

That’s one way of phrasing the question the Democratic National Committee has started to answer in recent days.

Sometimes, the Dissidents Do Leadership a Solid
As immigration debate shows, rare House discharge petitions can force the majority out of a self-made jam

A discharge petition filed by GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo has put pressure on his own party’s leaders to strike a deal on immigration — but they may not hold it against him, Hawkings writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It sounds like something that might be overheard at the congressional appliance dealership: Power abhors a vacuum, especially when there’s a political mess overdue for cleanup, and a great tool for fixing all that is a discharge petition.

It’s also an apt summation of what’s going on now with the Republican catharsis over immigration — which is notably similar to what went down three years ago, during the last House majority leadership interregnum, and also to another fabled GOP rift back in 2002.

GOP Slips Past Another Senate Custom, and Democrats Turn Blue
Home-state senators’ sway over judicial nominees is quickly disappearing

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have decided that the use of a “blue slip” when considering judicial nominees is a practice that needs to fade away, Hawkings writes. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The latest threat to what’s made the Senate the Senate for generations can be illustrated with a sheet of paper the color of cornflowers.

First to go was the reverence for compromise. It went out the window a decade or so ago, the start of the current era when the most conservative Democrat is reliably positioned to the left of the most liberal Republican. Then the veneration of minority-party rights got obliterated, five years ago, with a blast of “nuclear” limits on filibuster powers.

A Steady Flow of Political Royal Blood to Congress
Hill dynasties don’t last so many generations any more, but plenty of family members still try to stay in electoral business

Greg Pence, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, is seeking the Congressional seat once held by his younger brother, Vice President Mike Pence. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Saturday’s wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is creating another surge of American royal mania, and with a particular twist — besotted chatter about their offspring someday running for Congress, or even president, while remaining in the line of succession to the British throne.

It’s a fanciful notion, regardless of whether the Los Angeles actress retains dual citizenship after she passes her British citizenship test, because the Constitution prevents titled nobles from taking federal office.

Podcast: There’s (Political) Royalty in Congress, Too
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 10

Vice President Mike Pence and his brother Greg Pence, who is the GOP candidate for Indiana's 6th Congressional District. (Left photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, right photo courtesy Greg Pence for Congress)

San Antonio Not Looking for a Republican Invasion
GOP convention could produce intense anger — without a sure economic windfall — in Latino-majority city

Some folks in San Antonio weren’t too happy when the Mexican army invaded in 1836. Now city officials have decided Republicans need to find some other city to occupy during their national convention in 2020. (Jill Torrance/Getty Images file photo)

How Ryan and Pelosi Are Kicking Themselves to the Curb (Sort Of)
Removing modest perks for ex-speakers is good politics but enfeebles the speakership

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul D. Ryan are of one mind when it comes to post-speaker perks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Incredible Shrinking Speakership is going to get just a little bit smaller.

The Constitution makes speakers unassailable as presiding officer in the House. Chamber rules vest the job with plenty of responsibility. And federal law places them second in the line of presidential succession.

Voters Reward a Do-Something Congress. Wrong, Recent Results Show
Some midterm years are policy voids, others historic. Either way, voters tend to shake things up

Sound and fury signifying few achievements might describe what Congress has accomplished this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, the second session of the 113th Congress was widely identified as one of the most profoundly unproductive stretches at the Capitol in the run-up to a midterm election.

And yet the achievements of that divided Congress tower over the minimalist aspirations for this year held by the Republicans unilaterally in charge of the Hill. The limit on federal debt was raised in 2014, federal flood insurance premiums were rolled back, dozens of new waterway and environmental projects were authorized, a five-year farm bill was finished and, most notably, a generous deal was struck for improving veterans’ medical care.