Departing Appropriations Chairmen Set to Reap Omnibus Bounty
Fiscal 2018 spending bill a swan song for Cochran, Frelinghuysen

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s swan song as the outgoing chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee may be a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

The outgoing chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees are set up for a bountiful swan song as a sprawling $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill comes to fruition this week.

For Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, resigning April 1, it’s a “mic drop” moment as the ailing 80-year-old Mississippi Republican will walk off the stage just after the omnibus measure is expected to become law. Cochran’s departure leaves his state with an enormous loss of clout that he will be anxious to ameliorate in his final go-round.

At the Races: Keystone State Nail-Biter
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns


Mark Your Calendars: The second congressional primaries in the country are in Illinois on Tuesday. Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in the state, where EMILY’s List has played an early, influential role backing candidates it thinks will be viable in the general election. But the Prairie State primary that’s received the most attention is actually in a solid Democratic seat. EMILY’s List is involved in this race too (although it took a while for the group to endorse), and it’s quickly become a flashpoint in the fight over the identity of the Democratic Party. On one side is first-time candidate Marie Newman, who’s backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (who carried the 3rd District in 2016), two members of the Illinois delegation (pictured above), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, SEIU and a coalition of reproductive rights and progressive groups.

Chris McDaniel Will Run for Cochran Seat in Special Election
McDaniel had already launched a primary challenge to Roger Wicker

Chris McDaniel, Republican candidate for Mississippi Senate, speaks with patrons of Jean’s Restaurant in Meridian, Miss., May 29, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday he will switch from challenging GOP Sen. Roger Wicker in a primary to running in the November special election for resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. 

“By announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats’ chances of winning the open seat,” McDaniel said in a statement, alluding to Republicans’ loss in an Alabama special election late last year. 

House Committee Leadership Is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs
Term limits, fundraising pressure and reduced clout are taking a toll on GOP chairmen

Reps. Lamar Smith and Robert W. Goodlatte, shown here in 2014, are two of at least eight committee chairmen who are leaving Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter what happens in the November elections, the House of Representatives will be a body transformed.

At least eight of the chamber’s sitting committee chairmen are quitting Congress — and two additional chiefs have already given up their gavels. These exits come at a cost to the institution, as House Republicans will lose policy expertise, political savvy and procedural prowess.

At the Races: Here We Go — 5 Days Until PA-18
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

House Approves Funding for Lantos Human Rights Panel
Move is a first for commission that holds hearings, briefings

The House will direct funds to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, named after the late House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House for the first time will direct funds to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a panel of members that has operated on a volunteer basis since it was created nearly a decade ago.

The House Administration Committee on Wednesday by voice vote backed a $200,000 allocation from a reserve fund for commission operations and personnel. Chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said the committee resolution was in response to a request from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Resigning From Senate in April
Longtime Republican senator cites his health as “ongoing challenge”

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran will not complete his seventh term due to health reasons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:28 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran announced Monday he will resign from the chamber effective April 1, giving way to a special election in November. 

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” the Mississippi Republican said in a statement. 

At the Races: The Wheels on McDaniel’s Bus Go ’Round and ’Round
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. Sign up here. We want to hear what you think. Send us your questions, tips or candidate sightings at attheraces@cqrollcall.com. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman

This week … Chris McDaniel launched another Senate primary run in Mississippi, voters picked their candidates in Arizona, and underdog Democrats used the gun debate to make their mark.

Decision Time in the Desert: Former state Sen. Debbie Lesko won the GOP primary Tuesday in the special election to replace GOP Rep. Trent Franks (who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations). She’s in a strong position heading into the April 24 special election, since President Donald Trump carried the seat by 21 points. Lesko will face emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni, whom Democrats see as a strong candidate. So Lesko might not want to get too confident. Nathan Gonzales shifted this race rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican, because, well, special elections have been pretty crazy this cycle.

Chris McDaniel Launches Primary Challenge to Roger Wicker
McDaniel urges supporters to remember 2014

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, seen here during his 2014 Senate campaign, is challenging Sen. Roger Wicker in the June primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Mississippi Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel addressed supporters Wednesday afternoon in front of a giant American flag, an aide ran up to affix a Senate campaign sign to the candidate’s wooden podium.

“I guess the cat’s out of the bag,” McDaniel said, standing on stage at Jones Junior College in his hometown of Ellisville.

‘The Looming Tower’ Learning Curve
What the creative team behind the series learned about Washington

Hulu’s new series “The Looming Tower” shows just how D.C. infighting can have tragic consequences. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Welcome back to Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

HULU’s new mini-series “The Looming Tower” traces the rising threat of al-Qaida in the runup to the 9/11 attacks and is adapted from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book.