Idaho

Don’t Expect a Dramatic Finish as Ryan Runs to the Tape
Retiring speaker unlikely to rock the boat during the midterms

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is not running for re-election. But that may not give him any more freedom to do what he wants. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With Speaker Paul D. Ryan retiring after this Congress ends in January, he seemingly has newfound freedom to either make a stronger push for conservative policy priorities or strike bipartisan grand bargains with Democrats.

In reality, the Wisconsin Republican has little room to do either — at least not until after November.

State Activists Watching Washington Balanced-Budget Kabuki
Rapt audience for Thursday’s symbolic vote

State activists hope this week’s balanced-budget vote will bring national attention to their work. Above, staffers attend a House Financial Services Committee hearing in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House’s balanced-budget amendment vote Thursday may be a symbolic gesture aimed at shoring up Republicans’ conservative base in advance of the midterm elections. But it’s all too real for activists at the state level, who are watching closely and thrilled about the national spotlight on an issue that has been percolating quietly outside the Beltway.

Despite the joint resolution’s lack of support within the halls of Congress, there is still optimism that a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution will be sent to the states for ratification during the next few years.

Facebook’s Lobbying Team Faces Test With Zuckerberg on Hill
Zuckerberg intends to approach appearance in a contrite and humble manner, sources say

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message-shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for questions from members of Congress this week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s highly anticipated debut as a congressional witness this week marks an unprecedented step in the company’s decade-long effort to wield influence in the nation’s capital.    

The social media titan is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for a host of questions from senators on Tuesday and House members Wednesday. Lawmakers plan to probe everything from a scandal involving Facebook users’ data to the secretive sources of campaign ads on the platform.

Who Is Cecil Andrus?
How the late Idaho governor almost derailed the omnibus

Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus speaks during the National Audubon Society Gala Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on March 31, 2015. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The National Audubon Society)

Cecil who?

The spirit of the late Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus graced the political stage this week when a provision in the omnibus spending package naming the Gem State’s White Clouds Wilderness after the Democrat snarled progress on the legislation, which was needed to fund the government past Friday.

Senate Sends 2,232-Page Omnibus Spending Bill to Trump
Passage follows House action Thursday, the day after text was unveiled

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul delayed votes on the omnibus to take time to review the legislation, but the Senate finally cleared the spending bill early Wednesday morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate cleared the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package early Friday, less than 24 hours ahead of what would have been a government shutdown.

Following the 65-32 vote, north of the 60 votes needed for passage, the bill now heads to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.

Senate Passes Bank Deregulation Bill, House May Seek Additions
More than a dozen Democratic senators joined all Republicans

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo sponsored the measure that would ease regulations on all but the biggest banks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would be the biggest bank deregulation since 1999 and would roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

More than a dozen Democrats joined the Republicans to pass the bill, sending it to the House, where conservative Republicans may seek to attach further provisions to roll back the 2010 law. Republicans will be trying to straddle the line between the extensive reversal of bank regulation that they seek and keeping on board the Senate Democrats who will be needed to clear the measure.

Senators Will Vote on Pulling Troops Out of Yemen, But When
Resolution could reach the floor this week, if there’s time

Sen. Mike Lee is said to be eager to get a vote on the Yemen resolution this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution that would direct the withdrawal of U.S. forces from ongoing hostilities in Yemen is ripe for Senate action, but the clogged calendar means supporters might not immediately get it to the floor.

The question may be how to shoehorn the measure on to the schedule before the next recess.

Congress, Waiting for an Omnibus to Arrive
Senate staying on banking legislation, House looks at votes on guns

Lawmakers could get their first look at an omnibus spending bill this week.. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Keep an eye out for the release of a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill this week. Negotiators are aiming to complete work on the sprawling bill and pass it before March 23, when the fifth stopgap funding measure of the fiscal year expires.

The bipartisan budget deal enacted last month freed up an additional $143 billion for discretionary programs in fiscal 2018 — $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for nondefense accounts.

One Gun Control Bill Has 60 Votes in the Senate — Now What?
Current floor schedule may prevent timely consideration of legislation

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gun-related legislation backed by President Donald Trump now has enough support to clear the Senate, increasing pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to schedule a vote on the measure.

The bill from Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., that would enforce existing law related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System has 60 additional cosponsors as of Friday, an aide confirmed.

Banking Debate Splits Democrats, but They Might All Win
Friends or foes hope to capitalize on the topic

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is one of several Democrats who helped negotiate the bipartisan banking bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats might all be winners in the chamber’s debate this week on curtailing some provisions of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul.

On the one hand, progressives can again prove their bona fides as voices against big financial institutions, while more conservative Democrats on the ballot in 2018 from largely rural states can boast they are making the Senate work to support their community banks.