hawkings

A Steady Flow of Political Royal Blood to Congress
Hill dynasties don’t last so many generations any more, but plenty of family members still try to stay in electoral business

Greg Pence, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, is seeking the Congressional seat once held by his younger brother, Vice President Mike Pence. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Saturday’s wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is creating another surge of American royal mania, and with a particular twist — besotted chatter about their offspring someday running for Congress, or even president, while remaining in the line of succession to the British throne.

It’s a fanciful notion, regardless of whether the Los Angeles actress retains dual citizenship after she passes her British citizenship test, because the Constitution prevents titled nobles from taking federal office.

Podcast: There’s (Political) Royalty in Congress, Too
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 10

Vice President Mike Pence and his brother Greg Pence, who is the GOP candidate for Indiana's 6th Congressional District. (Left photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, right photo courtesy Greg Pence for Congress)

San Antonio Not Looking for a Republican Invasion
GOP convention could produce intense anger — without a sure economic windfall — in Latino-majority city

Some folks in San Antonio weren’t too happy when the Mexican army invaded in 1836. Now city officials have decided Republicans need to find some other city to occupy during their national convention in 2020. (Jill Torrance/Getty Images file photo)

How Ryan and Pelosi Are Kicking Themselves to the Curb (Sort Of)
Removing modest perks for ex-speakers is good politics but enfeebles the speakership

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul D. Ryan are of one mind when it comes to post-speaker perks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Incredible Shrinking Speakership is going to get just a little bit smaller.

The Constitution makes speakers unassailable as presiding officer in the House. Chamber rules vest the job with plenty of responsibility. And federal law places them second in the line of presidential succession.

Voters Reward a Do-Something Congress. Wrong, Recent Results Show
Some midterm years are policy voids, others historic. Either way, voters tend to shake things up

Sound and fury signifying few achievements might describe what Congress has accomplished this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, the second session of the 113th Congress was widely identified as one of the most profoundly unproductive stretches at the Capitol in the run-up to a midterm election.

And yet the achievements of that divided Congress tower over the minimalist aspirations for this year held by the Republicans unilaterally in charge of the Hill. The limit on federal debt was raised in 2014, federal flood insurance premiums were rolled back, dozens of new waterway and environmental projects were authorized, a five-year farm bill was finished and, most notably, a generous deal was struck for improving veterans’ medical care.

Why the Hill’s Quitters Caucus Keeps Growing
Republicans, especially, are leaving Congress midterm to get a money-making head start

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., is leaving the House to get a head start on his new career as a cable TV news analyst. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are really just three ways to give up a seat in Congress on your own timetable: retire, resign or quit. And the method with the least attractive connotations has become particularly popular in the last decade, especially among Republicans.

Those who use the term “retirement” properly are lawmakers who decline to run for re-election but complete the term for which the voters chose them before returning to civilian life, whether as money-makers or golf club denizens. Departures are best labeled “resignations” when senators or House members are forced to up and leave by particularly good, or ruinously bad, professional circumstances — elevated to higher positions in public service, most often, or politically poisoned by moral exposures or criminal failings.

Podcast: Use of Force vs. Use of Power
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 8

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talks with reporters in the basement of the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators on both sides are pushing to rewrite the law authorizing military force, untouched for 16 years. Even after airstrikes on Syria the debate is likely to fade fast, White House correspondent John Bennett explains, part of a complex modern war-making power dynamic that favors presidents over Congress.

Show Notes

Roy Blunt: Playing the Inside Game and Scoring
Missouri’s GOP senator is proof the popular outsider play isn’t the only winning route

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., regained the chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee last week.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a political world where running against Washington has become one of the easiest paths to getting there, and where the ultimate outsider neophyte is president, Roy Blunt stands out as proof that the opposite approach sometimes still works.

Few in today’s Congress have succeeded as well, and for as long, at the inside game — where influence is cultivated and sustained by combining broad political and policy expertise along with deep interpersonal skill.

Ryan: Liberated Deficit Hawk or Lame Duck Whose Quack Won’t Be Heard?
Keeping his options open might mean reviving his personas of Trump critic and fiscal doomsayer

Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., announces his retirement at a press conference on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul D. Ryan is the first speaker of the House to depart on his own timetable in more than three decades. So what’s he going to do with the time he’s given himself for trying to massage his wounded legacy?

His most obvious option is working to revive a pair of well-remembered but recently abandoned roles — earnest fiscal doomsayer in a time of coursing red ink, and steward of seriousness and stability in a Republican Party that’s in the thrall of President Donald Trump.

Republicans Need Another Legislative Success to Avoid Midterm Woes
Realistic expectations a plus in politically polarized environment

Members of Congress exit the Capitol down the House steps after the final vote of the week on Thursday. Lawmakers headed home for the two-week spring recess after passing the omnibus spending bill. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last week was all about the Republican Congress finishing a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad assignment that is nonetheless essential to the nation’s sustenance, exemplifies minimal governing competence, and may even be genuinely rewarding for the people elected to set policy.

It will be good for only half a year, and it was born of dozens of compromises for each side to crow and cry about, but the Capitol has produced a solidly bipartisan agreement on the full measure of federal spending.