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Senators Ponder: How Forthcoming Should Judicial Candidates Be?
Republicans push back on Democratic concerns over responses to school desegregation question

Democrats say U.S. District Court nominee Wendy Vitter did not clearly endorse the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, but Republicans pushed back on that characterization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced two judicial nominees Thursday amid an ongoing debate over how forthcoming candidates should be about their views on established Supreme Court decisions, particularly the landmark school desegregation ruling from 64 years ago.

All Democrats on the committee voted against Andrew Oldham to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit based in New Orleans, and Wendy Vitter to be a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Among their objections: They say the nominees did not clearly endorse the high court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education during their confirmation hearings.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Capitol Hill Staffers to Watch
Six staffers talk about how to get more AAPI staffers on Capitol Hill

Linda Shim, chief of staff for Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., says, “In the Asian culture, as you are growing up, you are told to respect your elders. That conflicted a lot with being a staffer on the Hill.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, six Hill staffers from the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community spoke about how they got to where they are.

They shared experiences from their internships, mentoring other staffers, and what it’s like to be the only person who looks like them in a room. 

Analysis: What Matters Most in the NDAA
Obscurities and omissions define this year’s defense authorization bill

In this year’s NDAA, House Armed Services Mac Thornberry has required cuts to agencies that handle logistics, human resources and services contracting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The massive defense authorization bill approved by the House Armed Services panel early Thursday morning is a consequential measure — but not for the reasons most people think.

The $708.1 billion bill, which the House plans to debate the week of May 21, would endorse the largest budget for defense since World War II, adjusting for inflation and when war spending is taken out of the equation.

Nine House Members Pushing for Gubernatorial Promotion
But for many, the road to the governor’s mansion won’t be easy

Of all the House members running for governor this year, Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa may have the best shot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just seven of the 50 current governors have previously served in the House, and only five of those were elected directly from the House without holding a statewide office or another job in the interim period. But a handful of lawmakers are hoping to buck the trend and push that total number closer to double digits.

Many of them have to navigate competitive primaries first, and the precedent for members getting elected governor isn’t great. But while most of them are leaving behind safe seats, there’s an upside: becoming their state’s top elected official and departing from an unpopular Congress.

If Not Gina Haspel, Then Who?
Opposition to career officer comes with risk of less palatable alternative

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel has her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

If not Gina Haspel, then who would be behind door No. 2?

Senate Democrats have concerns about Haspel, the CIA director nominee, ahead of her Wednesday confirmation hearing before the Intelligence Committee, but they might want to consider the potential alternatives.

When Flowers Blossomed on the Congressional Floors and Why They Were Banned
Once a fixture in the chambers, the adornments are now so rare

Flowers bloom in the concrete planter at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and D Street NE in Washington on April 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“The proceedings were dull, but the flowers were bright and fragrant, and in profusion, and the air was full of the odor of roses, hyacinths, carnations, and geraniums.” No, this isn’t a description of a spring trudge around the Tidal Basin, but The New York Times’ description of the opening of a congressional session in the winter of 1893.

In modern times, the beginning of a session of Congress is marked by procedural votes and political grandstanding. And it was much the same at the turn of the 20th century, except with an infusion of scent and color.

Sluggish Supreme Court Poised to Deliver Big Decisions
From gerrymandering to cake artists, the court has a full plate

Lydia Macy, center, of Berkeley, Calif., holds a sign outside the Supreme Court on Dec. 5. The court has dozens of cases left to decide, including one featuring a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court started the current term in October with a docket that could have a lasting impact on politics and culture, including major cases on partisan gerrymandering and LGBT rights. 

Six months later, the justices are done with oral arguments and approaching the end of the term in June. And they haven’t crossed off much on their to-do list.

Analysis: Why I’m Cautious About Phil Bredesen’s Prospects in Tennessee
Former governor is running a good race, but federal campaign dynamics could turn against him

Phil Bredesen has bipartisan credentials from his time as a businessman, mayor and governor, but the dynamics of a federal race have a life of their own. (Courtesy Phil Bredesen for Senate)

Two early surveys show former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, holding a lead over Republican Rep. Marcia Blackburn in hypothetical ballot tests of this year’s Senate race.

Those polls, along with kind words about Bredesen from retiring Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, have raised the contest’s profile and heightened the buzz. But it’s best to be cautious about the former governor’s prospects as you watch the race play out.

Supreme Court to Weigh Legality of Trump’s Travel Ban
Not even the Supreme Court can escape hearing about Trump’s Twitter feed

Trump's travel ban sparked protests when it was announced in January 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the Trump administration’s travel ban, the first major high court test of one of President Donald Trump’s signature campaign issues and a key piece of his tough-on-immigration efforts.

The showdown is shaping up to be among the highest-profile cases of the court’s current term, with a line forming along First Street NE on Sunday for seats in the courtroom.

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite visual aids from congressional floor-watching

(Courtesy @FloorCharts screenshot of C-SPAN)

From tributes to senators to hours of testimony from a tech giant, spring has been a visual mixed bag in Congress.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help them get their point across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and we’re doing a monthly roundup of the best of the best.