Nebraska

Omaha Man Pleads Guilty to Plotting to Kill Joni Ernst
Suspect believed Iowa Republican was connected to ISIS

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was the target of a potential plot on her life last July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An Omaha man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to threatening the life of Sen. Joni Ernst, who he believed was in cahoots with Islamic State terrorists.

Robert W. Simet, 64, told employees at a motorcycle shop near the Nebraska-Iowa border last July that he might kill the Iowa Republican at a speech she was scheduled to deliver there, according to court documents obtained by The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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.

House Seats You Think Can’t Flip but Might
Political wave elections create their own race dynamics

Rep. Sue W. Kelly lost her re-election bid in 2006 even though she appeared safe, having won two years earlier with 67 percent of the vote in a New York district carried by President George W. Bush. The result is a reminder that wave elections produce their own dynamics. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Responses to the “generic ballot” poll question suggest a partisan electoral wave is building. But the fight for control of the House isn’t a single national election. It will be fought district by district, and national Democrats face challenges on the ground even with the generic ballot favoring them.

In Michigan, according to America Votes 2007-2008, the statewide congressional vote shifted noticeably from 2004 to 2006 — from 49 percent Republican and 48 percent Democratic to 53 percent Democratic and 44 percent Republican — but that popular vote surge for the Democrats didn’t translate to a shift of even a single House seat.

Trump Poised to Set Record for Appeals Court Judges
Three more nominees set to be confirmed this week

Appellate nominee Steve Grasz, who is set to be confirmed by the Senate this week, was , nominee to be U.S. circuit judge for the Eighth Circuit, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing in Dirksen Building on November 1, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are set to confirm three more of President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks this week, a push that will help set a record for the most such appointments in a president’s first year in office.

The Senate is expected to confirm Steve Grasz for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and James Ho and Don Willett for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, over the objections of Democrats who question whether they can be unbiased.

Podcast: Defense, Domestic Budget Increases Crucial for Long-Term Spending Deal
Budget Tracker Extra, Episode 41

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CQ appropriations reporters Kellie Mejdrich and Jennifer Shutt discuss the two-week spending bill that averted a government shutdown and look at how lawmakers may keep the government funded beyond Dec. 22.

Budget Deal Could Bust Caps by $200 Billion
Two-year agreement expected to draw motley crew of supporters

Marc Short, left, White House director of legislative affairs, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse at the Capitol on Dec. 1. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional negotiators have moved well north of $200 billion in their discussions of how much to raise discretionary spending caps in a two-year budget deal.

The higher numbers under consideration follow an initial Republican offer several weeks ago to raise defense by $54 billion and nondefense by $37 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2019 — a $182 billion increase in base discretionary spending.

Ratings Update: Tennessee Senate Remains Solid R for Now
Democrats may still have uphill battle, even with Bredesen

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. (Courtesy the American Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Democrats made a big splash this week with the entry of former Gov. Phil Bredesen into the Tennessee Senate race, but the party still has an uphill battle in a state President Donald Trump won convincingly, and it’s not even clear Bredesen gives Democrats the best chance of winning.

On the surface, having a former two-term governor running for an open seat (GOP Sen. Bob Corker is not running for re-election) looks like a great takeover opportunity for Democrats, but there are some signs that the race should still be considered a long shot.

Civility Pledge Signers ‘Disagree Without Being Disagreeable’ in a Tumultuous Congress
HOH talked to 18 freshman members who signed pledge earlier this year

From left, Reps. Lou Correa of California, Brian Mast of Florida and Scott Taylor of Virginia walk down the House steps after the group photo for the freshman class during orientation week in November 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House freshmen who signed a civility pledge say they’ve been able to live up to their agreement to “disagree without being disagreeable” and even strike up some friendships amid a rancorous Congress.

Rep. Mike Johnson, the author of the pledge that the lawmakers signed in January, said his model for civility is former President Ronald Reagan.

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.

Senate Republicans Move on Trump’s Appeals Court Picks
Chamber confirms Gregory Katsas to D.C. Circuit in 50-48 vote

Gregory Katsas was confirmed Tuesday to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans are pressing forward this week on putting President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks on the bench, with a floor vote Tuesday for the pivotal circuit court in Washington and an upcoming confirmation hearing for a judge that Minnesota Democrat Al Franken has tried to block.

The Senate voted, 50-48, to confirm Gregory Katsas to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which often has the last word on appeals of presidential actions and issues decisions that have a national impact on environmental, energy and regulatory policies.