Ryan A Costello

A Gun Rights Vote Only the GOP Base Can Appreciate
Expansion of concealed carry permission will die in the Senate, but the NRA really wanted the vote

Majority Whip John Cornyn has some doubts that he can get a bill passed that would improve background checks for gun purchasers but doesn’t make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines. A House bill passed Wednesday would do both. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One government shutdown may be narrowly averted, but another looms right around the corner. The stain of sexual misconduct at the Capitol continues to spread, and an alleged child predator is days away from possibly joining the Senate. Middle East destabilization seems assured as Congress gets its wish to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Public support dwindles daily for a loophole-encrusted, deficit-busting tax package that would be the year’s biggest legislative achievement. The push for presidential impeachment has gone far enough to necessitate procedural pushback in the House.

A week such as this one — already chockablock with headlines touching the Hill — seemed to the Republicans who run the place like an ideal time for making a bold hiding-in-plain-sight move.

Picture This: A ‘Perfecto’ Final Tax Bill
As House, Senate negotiate, president raises expectations

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks with reporters about the GOP tax bill between votes in the Capitol on Nov. 30. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House and Senate are not even in formal conference negotiations on a tax overhaul measure yet, but the expectation from the White House is clear: It’s got to be “perfecto.”

On a day of increasing uncertainty over how to fund the government past Dec. 8, President Donald Trump hosted a small group of Senate Republicans at the White House and placed his marker. 

As Tax Overhaul Looms, Senate Has Upper Hand
House GOP wary of Senate’s leverage given the narrow vote margin there

The Senate’s narrow margin on the tax overhaul provides it with some leverage in conference negotiations with the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s passage of a tax overhaul illustrated a fragile coalition of support that ironically provides the chamber with the upper hand headed into conference committee negotiations with the House.

House Republicans wanted a conference process on the two chambers’ differing tax bills to prevent the House from getting jammed by the Senate, as they acknowledge has happened frequently on major bills.

12 House Republicans Sign Letter Opposing Arctic Drilling
The proposal, not included in the House-passed tax bill, remains in the Senate version on floor

Reindeer wander off at the end of the Senate Democrats’ news conference and rally opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at the Capitol on Thursday. A number of activists dressed up as polar bears and reindeer for the event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A dozen House Republicans, half of whom voted for the House tax overhaul bill that passed Nov. 13, wrote a letter to GOP leaders urging them not to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, adding another complication to negotiating a tax bill that can pass both chambers.

The Senate tax overhaul bill is tied in a reconciliation measure with legislation that would open up drilling parts of the ANWR. Its inclusion is seen as key to having secured GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s support for the measure.

Vulnerable Republicans in Political Catch-22 on Tax Overhaul
Democrats will attack them for the GOP tax plan even if they vote against it

New York Rep. Dan Donovan said the tax plan “kills the people who I represent.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s decision time on the ultimatum Republican leaders have been issuing to members all fall: Pass a tax overhaul or wave the House majority goodbye. 

But some of the party’s most vulnerable members, many from high-tax states in the Northeast, have come out against the House tax plan over its curtailing of deductions for state and local taxes and mortgage interest. Others are still undecided, afraid of how the measure will affect their districts. 

Speier and Gillibrand Introduce Harassment Transparency Legislation
Bill would disclose involved offices and make members pay for settlements

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, right, and California Rep. Jackie Speier hold a news conference Wednesday to introduce legislation aimed at addressing and preventing sexual harassment for Capitol Hill staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined Rep. Jackie Speier to introduce new legislation that takes aim at sexual harassment in Congress.

“For all intents and purposes, a staffer in the Capitol is powerless and gagged,” Speier, a California Democrat, said Wednesday at the beginning of a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center. Harassers are often allowed to walk away to prey on others, she said.

DCCC Names First 11 Candidates in ‘Red to Blue’ Program
2018 program will include more targeted and frequent additions

Angie Craig, back for a rematch against Rep. Jason Lewis in Minnesota’s 2nd District, is one of 11 candidates named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is naming 11 candidates Wednesday in the first round of its Red to Blue program, which highlights strong Democratic recruits.

The list of 11 candidates, obtained first by Roll Call, includes recruits running in 10 competitive Republican-held seats and in an open seat Democrats are hoping to keep blue.

Congress Begins Digesting Tax Bill Outlines
Republicans say they need more detail

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and the GOP leadership team briefed members about their tax legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans leaving a closed-door conference meeting said they needed to see more details of the tax code overhaul before assessing the plan.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said “not enough detail” was provided. “Most of what was talked about in there was still at the 15,000-to-20,000 foot level.”

It’s Congress vs. Lobbyists at the Congressional Basketball Classic

“Most of us are a few pounds overweight, a few years past our prime, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Members Lose Charity Basketball Game, but Honor Teammate Scalise
Lobbyists won 19th annual charity event for third year in a row

Dan Coen of KemPharm holds up the championship trophy after the lobbyists’ team defeated lawmakers, 49-41, in the 19th annual Congressional Basketball Classic on Tuesday. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

The members’ team lost the Congressional Basketball Classic in one of the biggest showings of bipartisanship and Capitol Hill spirit since the Congressional Baseball Game.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot while practicing for the baseball game, has been a staple of the basketball game. Although he was on the roster, he wasn’t able to attend the game while still in recovery.