Joe Manchin III

McConnell warns of need for cooperation to complete Christmas wish list
There already may not be enough time if senators object to defense policy, spending measures

There is a backlog of legislation to move before Christmas. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The clock is ticking toward Christmas, and in one of the longest-lasting holiday traditions, a Senate majority leader is warning that without bipartisan cooperation there won’t be enough time to get all the work done before the holidays.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Tuesday’s session with the 2019 version of the regular holiday warning.

Former EPA advisers say agency’s mercury proposal is flawed
Process for devising proposal to weaken Obama-era pollution rule was ‘fatally flawed,’ they say

The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard targeted emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the EPA gets closer to finalizing changes to an Obama-era air pollution rule, a group of former agency advisers says the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the mercury emissions regulations is based on faulty and outdated data.

The Trump administration a year ago proposed a rule that would revoke the EPA’s legal justification for issuing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule that aimed to curb hazardous air emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Democrats prepare to duel McConnell over year-end wish list
Amid push for legislation benefiting Kentucky constituents, Dems seek their own concessions

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing several initiatives to benefit his constituents, including renewal of tax breaks for bourbon distillers, aid for retired coal miners and appropriations to bolster Kentucky’s hemp industry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As former Sen. Wendell Ford often said, with small variations: “Kentucky is beautiful women, fast horses, bourbon whiskey, cigarettes and coal. I represent Kentucky, and that’s what I represent.”

The colorful Ford, a Democrat who died in 2015, had little else in common with Mitch McConnell, the stoic Kentucky Republican who served as the junior senator from the Bluegrass State alongside Ford for 15 years until the latter’s 1999 retirement. But the Senate majority leader is clearly taking a few pages from Ford’s playbook in the year-end legislative scramble as he heads into a potentially difficult reelection campaign in 2020.

Trump's Energy nominee bats away questions about Perry and Ukraine
Brouillette also tells confirmation hearing about mining potential of the Arctic

Dan Brouillette, nominee to be Secretary of Energy, walks to the witness table after speaking with committee members before the start of his confirmation hearing Thursday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s nominee to become secretary of Energy distanced himself Thursday from the House impeachment inquiry of the president, telling senators he does not have direct knowledge of efforts to overhaul the board of a Ukrainian government-owned energy firm.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Dan Brouillette, the No. 2 at DOE, said he was aware Secretary Rick Perry met with people interested in changing the corporate structure of Naftogaz, the Ukrainian company.

Moneyball, meet politics: Could VAR settle arguments about candidate strength?
Vote Above Replacement puts Klobuchar atop presidential field, Collins way above other senators

Maine Republican Susan Collins, center, outranks the entire Senate on Inside Elections’ Vote Above Replacement statistic, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, ranks highest among Democratic presidential contenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the era of data and metrics and models in political analysis, at least one question still remains: How do we quantify the strength of individual candidates?

Arguing over whether a candidate or incumbent is good or bad is an age-old tradition in the political media and among party operatives. Typically, candidate strength is measured by fundraising or the margin of a win or loss. But that can fail to account for the particular election cycle or the possibility that any candidate running on a particular party’s line in a particular year or state would do just as well.

Manchin backs FERC nominee despite Schumer’s opposition
W.Va. Democrat’s support should all but clear the way for a precedent-breaking confirmation

Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Joe Manchin has said he will support the nomination of James Danly to fill a vacant Republican seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking Democrat Joe Manchin III said he will support President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a vacant Republican seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission even though the White House has yet to nominate a member for a vacant Democratic seat.

The West Virginia senator’s support should all but clear the way for a precedent-breaking confirmation, despite opposition from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

A year out, here's four scenarios for 2020 elections
How voters feel about economy, impeachment will decide which party rules in 2021

Sign from a rally in September staged by a coalition of progressive activist groups, including MoveOn.org, at the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, there’s a saturating fear of projecting elections. Nearly three years into his presidency, and with one year left in his first term, there are multiple potential outcomes for the 2020 elections. But the scenarios aren’t created equal and don’t have the same chance of taking place, and they will have a profound impact on policy in the future.

Even though predicting anything to do with Trump might seem like a risk because of how typically damaging stories don’t seem to impact his standing, the president is a historically unpopular figure whose job approval rating has been static for months. More voters have disapproved than approved of his job performance since about a week after he was inaugurated, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, and his approval rating has been between 41 and 44 percent for most of the past year and a half.

Romney, Manchin want new rescue committees to address trust fund solvency
Bipartisan, bicameral effort calls for setting up joint committees

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, wants to set up a bipartisan process to address entitlements. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Mitt Romney is leading a new bipartisan effort to try to force lawmakers to come together to address looming funding shortfalls in several government trust funds.

In a draft bill shared first with CQ Roll Call, a bipartisan contingent led by the Utah Republican wants to establish “Rescue Committees” to write legislation providing 75 years of solvency for trust funds identified in a report to Congress from the Treasury Department. Examples of funds that would likely qualify include Social Security and the Highway Trust Fund.

Democrats seeking votes in Trump country tout miners’ benefits
As Republicans prepare a coal pension fix proposal, Democrats push for more

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Sherrod Brown, right, called for action on Democratic pension proposals this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans say they’re close to unveiling a plan to address a $66 billion funding shortfall affecting coal miners’ and other union pension plans, an issue Democrats see as advantageous politically and as a possible bargaining chip in trade talks with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump championed manufacturing and coal industry jobs during his 2016 campaign, including in critical swing states he won like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the 2020 campaign, Democrats have been touting “broken promises” to workers in those states and others, including more traditional GOP bastions like Kentucky where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection next year.