Dianne Feinstein

Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar
Weeks in April and May could be consumed by State, CIA nominations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to clear some floor time for the nominations of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to run the CIA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whatever the Senate might have wanted to focus on in April and May will now have to compete for time with a new priority thrust upon it by President Donald Trump.

Once senators got past the initial shock of Trump’s Twitter announcement Tuesday that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they quickly moved toward paving the way to debate and confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor, as well as Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead that agency.

Dave McCurdy, a Retiring Optimist Pushing Back on ‘Disciples of Declinism’
Former Intelligence chairman and current head of AGA reflects on two public careers

Former Oklahoma Rep. Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, will retire in February 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After nearly four decades in Washington, former Rep. Dave McCurdy is still an optimist.

Even as the former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma and current head of the American Gas Association prepares for retirement, he says there is a lot Congress can learn from the swamp so easily derided by public officials who struggle to step out of their partisan foxholes.

No GOP Candidates Step Up to Challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein
California Democrat will likely face state Sen. Kevin de León in general election

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein faces a challenge from the left in her bid for a fifth full term this November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California’s 2018 Senate race will likely be a Democrat-on-Democrat battle for the second consecutive cycle after no big-name Republican candidates stepped up to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein before the filing deadline.

The Golden State’s jungle primary pits the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, against one another in the general election.

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.

Opinion: Democrats’ Own Spanish Inquisition Could Burn Party
How Democratic ‘restisters’ stand to hurt party’s chances in November

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign stage a sit-in at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. With the party’s progressive wing flexing its muscle in primaries, Democrats run the risk of nominating general election candidates far out of the mainstream, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When a Democratic candidate picks up nomination papers, to quote Monty Python, “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” — that is until now. More and more, Democratic primary candidates are being treated to a litmus test that feels more grand inquisition than great debate.

A particular brand of progressivism rooted in the “Resistance” is growing in its distemper and disassociation with what these activists see as outdated, traditional Democratic ideology, further dividing their leaderless and, as they see it, increasingly aimless Democratic Party.

Legislators, Advocates Prepare Ahead of Abortion Case
California law on crisis pregnancy centers stirs free speech debate

Supporters and opponents of abortion rights rally outside the Supreme Court in June 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and advocacy groups are readying themselves for a highly anticipated U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine whether a California law violates free speech for so-called crisis pregnancy centers.

On March 20, the nation’s highest court will begin oral arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. At issue is the constitutionality of a California state law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to post signs explaining that the state offers subsidized family planning services including abortion.

Trump Made No Promises to NRA, Sanders Says
‘We all ... don’t want gun control,’ gun lobbyist said after Oval Office meeting

Washington-area students and supporters protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House last month. President Trump met with NRA officials on Thursday night as he searches for a solution to school shootings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump made no promises to NRA leaders during a Thursday night meeting other than a vow to “continue to support the Second Amendment,” his top spokeswoman said Friday.

Trump’s campaign-trail description of himself as a staunch defender of Americans’ right to purchase and possess firearms “is not something that he’s backed away from,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House.

Companies, Nonprofits Put Brakes on Foreign Lobbying Bills
Despite momentum to revamp foreign lobbying disclosures, opposition remains

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s indictment has revived interest in the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced an overhaul to foreign lobbying rules, while a similar, once fast-moving measure appears temporarily stalled in the House amid pressure from outside interests.

The new bill from Texas Republican John Cornyn and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein indicates that momentum to revamp foreign lobbying disclosures persists as the Russia probe has kept concerns about international influences in the spotlight. But opposition remains.

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.

Trump Chides GOP Senator for Being ‘Afraid of the NRA’
President signals support for bill raising age limit on assault rifle purchases

President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. He met with lawmakers Wednesday about gun violence and school safety. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would seriously consider signing legislation raising the age limit for assault rifle purchases, and chided a key GOP senator for being “afraid of the NRA.”

He also urged lawmakers who have authored various bills to address school shootings and gun violence to consolidate their ideas in a single bill that he can sign into law.