Executive Branch

Senate Panel to Consider Rules Change
Resolution would cut debate time on the floor for nominees

Sen. Roy Blunt thinks Democrats are abusing the rules in demanding full debate time on nominees. On Tuesday, the Rules panel will consider a resolution to cut the debate time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are readying another rule change to the chamber, this one aimed at reducing the number of hours the chamber debates executive and judicial nominees. 

The Rules and Administration Committee will meet on Tuesday to consider a resolution sponsored by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., that would reduce the time the chamber debates nominees drastically from the current 30 hours after debate is cut off. 

GOP in Home Stretch on Tax Bill, Eyeing Senate Attendance

House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, left, and ranking member Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., prepare for the Senate-House Conference Committee meeting on tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At the Races: Jonesing for Another Special Election Yet?
Doug Jones pulled off an upset in Alabama, giving Democrats hope for 2018 wave

AT-THE-RACES-LOGO-01

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races by subscribing to this weekly newsletter here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget BowmanThis week … A Democrat won in deep-red Alabama, Minnesota’s getting a new female senator and another Texas Republican isn’t coming back in 2019.

Holding on: We’ll get back to Alabama in a second, but first ... embattled Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold is retiring, GOP sources confirmed Thursday. But he says he’s not going anywhere yet. The four-term Republican will serve out the remainder of his term, which means an ethics probe into allegations of his misconduct will continue. Some of his fellow Texas members were already ready to show him the door. Just last night, Roger Williams endorsed one of Farenthold’s primary challengers. The filing deadline for Texas congressional races was Monday.

Marco Rubio, Mike Lee Support for Tax Bill in Jeopardy

The House-Senate Conference Committee on tax overhaul is looking for the right combination of agreements to ensure passage. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are withholding their support for the GOP tax bill in an attempt to bolster the child tax credit, a change that may be difficult amidst opposition from House Republicans.

The duo is hoping to make the credit fully refundable. The two senators, backed by top White House adviser Ivanka Trump, had previously succeeded in increasing the credit to $2,000 per child in the Senate-passed bill.

Paul Ryan Departure Circus Swings Into High Gear
Reports point to resignation, retirement

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., is dismissing reports he is on his way out, but the rumors of his departure linger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One report speculated he would quit after the tax overhaul was signed into law. Another said he was done after the 2018 elections, opting for retirement after 10 terms. For his own part, Speaker Paul D. Ryan says he’s not leaving in the near term. And Donald Trump says he wants the Wisconsin Republican to stick around.

The will-he-or-won’t he game started early on Thursday in the wake of a HuffPost report that stated members were beginning to speculate Ryan would hang it up after the tax bill was done, a long time priority for the former Ways and Means Committee chairman. 

Pence Delays Trip to Preside Over Senate Tax Vote
Move signals GOP expects a close count

Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the Capitol to preside over the Senate and cast a possible tie-breaking vote on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of Education in February. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence will remain in Washington next week to preside over the Senate’s vote on the Republican tax overhaul bill, his chief spokeswoman said, a signal GOP leaders expect to thread the needle.

“Yesterday the White House informed Senate Leadership that due to the historic nature of the vote in the Senate on tax cuts for millions of Americans, the VP would stay to preside over the vote,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, said in a statement. “The Vice President will then travel to Egypt [and] Israel where he’ll reaffirm the United States’ commitment to its allies in the Middle East and to working cooperatively to defeat radicalism.

Flake’s Son Says He was ‘Terrified’ of Arpaio’s Prosecution
Senator’s son Austin testifies in malicious prosecution trial against sheriff

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio leaves U.S. District Court in Phoenix during his trial for disobeying a court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants in July. (Ross D. Franklin/AP file photo)

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s son Austin testified Wednesday he was “terrified of what was going to come” as former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio pursued what he says were politically motivated charges against him.

Austin Flake said he lost faith in the criminal justice system due to Arpaio’s pursuit of an animal cruelty case against him and his ex-wife Logan Brown, AZ Central reported.

No-Alias: Smith & Jones Will Alter the Senate in ’18
Two newest Democrats will join as powerful a minority as possible, whether they skew left or to the center

The Senate will be a very different place after the arrival of two new Democratic senators: Doug Jones, the winner of Tuesday’s stunning upset in Alabama, and Tina Smith, who was tapped on Wednesday to fill the pending vacancy in Minnesota. (CQ Roll Call file photos)

Turns out, the Senate is going to be quite a different place next year even without Roy Moore — and that’s not only because senators named Smith and Jones will be serving together for the first time in 86 years.

The chamber will have its closest partisan split in a decade, and the narrowest divide in favor of the Republicans since the spring of 2001. The roster of women will expand to a record 22, and for the first time a pair of women will comprise the Senate delegations of four states. The Deep South will be represented by a Democrat for the first time in four years.

Tax Bill Set to Move at Warp Speed to Trump’s Desk
Some hurdles still remain, but Republicans feel confident they have the votes

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, left, and ranking member Richard E. Neal prepare for the tax bill conference committee meeting Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Don’t blink, because you might miss Congress passing a historic overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

House and Senate Republicans say they are nearing completion on a sweeping bill that would dramatically reduce the corporate tax rate, lower the top individual tax rate, nearly double the standard deduction, bolster the child tax credit and remove some breaks enjoyed by many Americans.

Opinion: The Commandments According to Roy Moore Take a Hit
Pride goes before a political trouncing — and the more humble man goes to Washington

A sign outside the Living Ways Ministries church in Opelika, Ala., after the words “Vote Roy Moore” were removed shortly before the Alabama Senate election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the Alabama Senate race, both sides went to church — Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones took their appeals to their faithful, which, for the most part, worship the same God but came to wildly different electoral conclusions.

On Tuesday, Jones won. The miracle of a Democrat winning a statewide race in deep-red Alabama actually happened. It was not the divine intervention Moore had prayed for, perhaps pointing out the danger when you so shamelessly use the word of the Lord to divide.