Agriculture

Inside the House Republican Brain Drain
Record exodus by members who’ve wielded gavels will complicate next year

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce isn’t seeking re-election. He’s part of a record wave of departures by House chairmen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This has already become a wave election year, because a record wave of departures by House chairmen already guarantees a sea change in the Republican power structure next January.

Even if the GOP manages to hold on to its majority this fall, its policymaking muscle for the second half of President Donald Trump’s term will need some prolonged rehabilitation. And if the party gets swept back into the minority, its aptitude for stopping or co-opting the newly ascendant Democrats’ agenda will require some serious retraining.

Senate Leaders Announce New Committee Rosters
Ratio change gives GOP a one-seat advantage at all committtees

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., received his committee assignments on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The full Senate is set to ratify revised committee rosters and ratios before adjourning Tuesday evening.

The changes add a Democrat to the Finance and Judiciary Committees, because each needed new Democrats to provide an across-the-board one-seat advantage for the GOP with their diminished majority.

Trump Heads Down to the Farm (Bureau)
Address to convention will be first by a U.S. president since George H.W. Bush

President Donald Trump will address the American Farm Bureau Federation national convention on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention on Monday — the first president to attend since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The president will discuss key points of an administration report the White House says is designed to boost the rural economy.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, shown here in 2013, are throwing their weight behind legislation to promote evidence-based policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

47 Images of the Wild Ride That Was 2017 in Congress
The year in photos as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

1. January 6: Carrying the Electoral College ballot boxes, Senate pages lead a procession through the Capitol Rotunda into the House chamber, where Congress certified the results of the 2016 presidential election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With 2017 coming to a close, Roll Call sorted through its photo archive for some of our best images of the year.

Opinion: An Absolutely Truthful Christmas Card From Congress
This is the message lawmakers wish they could send

If we trimmed back the hyperbole from congressional Christmas cards, Shapiro asks, what would be left? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Long before Donald Trump declared war on “Fake News,” there existed a form of communication so exaggerated and untrustworthy that it united Democrats and Republicans in universal scorn.We are, of course, referring to the annual holiday or Christmas letter, filled with boasts of on-the-job triumphs that make Warren Buffett seem like a piker and tales of marital bliss certain to embarrass Cupid. In these mass mailings, every nine-year-old child is on the fast track to become a Rhodes scholar, and the Instagram snapshots from the family vacation to Disney World will soon be made into a major motion picture.But in this era of media scrutiny and scrupulous fact-checking, members of Congress put themselves at risk by indulging in this end-of-year hyperbole. So let’s imagine how a congressional holiday letter might read if the unnamed legislator actually told the truth:

Dear Donors Who Think They’re Friends,

No-Alias: Smith & Jones Will Alter the Senate in ’18
Two newest Democrats will join as powerful a minority as possible, whether they skew left or to the center

The Senate will be a very different place after the arrival of two new Democratic senators: Doug Jones, the winner of Tuesday’s stunning upset in Alabama, and Tina Smith, who was tapped on Wednesday to fill the pending vacancy in Minnesota. (CQ Roll Call file photos)

Turns out, the Senate is going to be quite a different place next year even without Roy Moore — and that’s not only because senators named Smith and Jones will be serving together for the first time in 86 years.

The chamber will have its closest partisan split in a decade, and the narrowest divide in favor of the Republicans since the spring of 2001. The roster of women will expand to a record 22, and for the first time a pair of women will comprise the Senate delegations of four states. The Deep South will be represented by a Democrat for the first time in four years.

Take Five: Karen Handel
‘One of the greatest moments ever’ was when Donny Osmond called her about Mitt Romney

Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., says there’s a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde syndrome in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Rep. Karen Handel, 55, a Georgia Republican, talks about her friendship with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, her intense race for the House and her love of football. 

Q: What has surprised you so far about Congress?

The Strange Day of Senate Farewells
Franken, Strange speeches were very different scenes

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and his wife Franni, leave the Capitol on December 7, 2017, after Franken announced on the Senate floor that he will resign his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thursday became departure day in the Senate, with back-to-back farewell speeches oddly linked due to the recent wave of allegations about sexual harassment.

Staffers and visitors, along with members of the media, filled the Senate chamber Thursday morning for Sen. Al Franken’s announcement that he would in fact resign his seat in the aftermath of an ever-increasing number of sexual harassment allegations.

Freshman Civility Pledge Reflections: Across-the-Aisle Friendships
Members of the House freshman class discuss bipartisan relationships

From left to right: Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., interviewed by HOH's Alex Gangitano. (Bian Elkhatib/CQ Roll Call)

Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson, right out of the gate of his first term in Congress, decided to set civility in stone.

“If the nation’s leaders can’t model civility, then it’s pretty hopeless for the rest of the country,” he said.