Senate Intel Unveils First Findings on Russia Election Meddling
Focus Tuesday was on election infrastructure security

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., left, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., lead a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday to preview the committee’s findings on threats to election infrastructure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s recommendations for how to secure U.S. election systems from intrusion efforts by the Russians and others aren’t exactly earth-shattering.

But that’s not to say they aren’t important.

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.

Opinion: Putting the ‘N’ in SNAP Should Be a Farm Bill Priority
Program should be strengthened to promote nutrition among SNAP recipients

Among the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s SNAP Task Force is continuing incentives for recipients to consume fresh fruits and vegetables (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress begins its deliberations on this year’s farm bill, it’s time to pay more attention to the “N” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Launched as a pilot program by President John F. Kennedy and expanded nationwide by President Richard Nixon, the food stamps program — now SNAP — has enjoyed bipartisan support over its nearly 60-year history. From its initial goals of supporting farm incomes and ensuring low-income families did not face hunger, it has evolved into an effective anti-poverty program. That evolution continues today with a focus on nutrition.

Flashback Friday: ‘BTUed’
Here’s a phrase from the past that you might not know the story behind

The term “BTUed” dates back to President Bill Clinton’s first year in office. (Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s a congressional throwback — a phrase or part of Capitol Hill culture that a younger generation of Hill staffers might not know.

The term (rhymes with rude) dates back to the Clinton administration. It was coined in 1993 during a debate on legislation to reduce the deficit, which included a proposal to tax the heat content — measured in British thermal units, or BTUs — of most forms of energy. 

House Intel Republicans Say 'No Collusion' Between Trump and Russia
Release short summary of findings before sharing report with panel Democrats

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, became the lead Republican on the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee disagree with the position of every U.S. intelligence agency that Russia wanted Donald Trump to be elected president.

The House Intelligence Committee Republicans said in a short public summary document for a more than 150 page report that they would be, concurring, “with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] supposed preference for candidate Trump.”

Sergeant-At-Arms Prepares for New Role as Advocate for Veterans
Frank Larkin set to work with wounded warriors after he leaves current role

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Larkin escorts President Donald Trump into the House chamber for the State of the Union address in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress love to talk about how important it is to care for military veterans. But in the view of Frank Larkin, there has been a lot of talk but little action. And he wants to change that.

Larkin, who has been Senate sergeant-at-arms for the past three years, will depart his post at the end of March. His decision to leave stems from the death of his son, an emotionally taxing experience for him and his family and one that gave Larkin a new mission in life.

Bipartisan Bill Seeks to End Political ‘Burrowing’
Legislation would create cooling off period to prevent appointees from moving into career positions

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., co-sponsored legislation to end the process of political “burrowing,” in which political appointees take career positions in the federal government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan duo’s legislation to prevent political appointees from receiving career positions in the federal government moves to the Senate after passing the House on Tuesday.

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California and Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado introduced The Political Appointee Burrowing Prevention Act, which was approved by a voice vote.

Titus Asks Justice Department to Preserve Online Gambling
Obama administration ruled in 2011 that online gambling was not illegal in states that allow it

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging it not to reverse a legal ruling by the Obama Administration allowing for online gambling. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus is asking the Justice Department to keep online gambling legal.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Titus asked him not to reverse a 2011 ruling by the Obama administration that online gambling within states did not violate the Wire Act, which outlaws illegal gambling, The Associated Press reported.

Nebraska Democrats Ask Ethics Office to Review Rep. Bacon Tweets
Tweets violate House Ethics manual, party says

The Nebraska Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., for alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars for political activity. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic party of Nebraska has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to review Rep. Don Bacon's official Twitter account for political activity.

The request stems from two tweets the Omaha Republican published, one last November and the other in January, criticizing his predecessor, former Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford.

Graham Lies at Center of Politics He Both Embraced and Eschewed
Biographer: Nixon ‘used’ reverend, making him leery of most politicians

President Donald Trump touches the casket of the Rev. Billy Graham as he lies in honor in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Capitol Rotunda went mostly silent late Wednesday morning, with just the precise footsteps of eight military pallbearers echoing and camera shutters fluttering. The servicemembers moved slowly but with purpose as they placed Billy Graham’s brown casket on a stand covered by a black cloth.

The towering and sometimes polarizing American religious figure — hailed for his sermons and criticized for anti-Semitic remarks once caught on tape — had arrived to lie in honor in a building that symbolizes the politics he both embraced and eschewed.