Author: Ron Elving

8 Congressional Chairmen Are Calling It Quits. Here’s Why And What It Could Mean

NPR [embedded content] YouTube Capitol Hill Republicans are nervous about November. The margins of their majority are dwindling in both chambers. It’s looking like a good year to run as a Democrat, and President Trump isn’t helping with his weak polls and potent controversies. But at least one of the woes afflicting the current majority on the House side has its roots in the politics of a generation ago. And its power to shape elections even now testifies to the enduring legacy of a leader who left the halls of power long ago — Newt Gingrich Gingrich was the...

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Why Trump Continues to Forge An Unlikely Bond with Religious Conservatives

NPR Enlarge this image President Trump has won over religious conservatives with promises of Supreme Court nominees, hard line support for Israel and a host of other items. Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images A Senate election in Alabama. A Republican tax bill moving through Congress. Violent protests in the Middle East following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. What could these widely disparate matters have in common, besides heavy news coverage? It turns out that they all have enabled President Trump to send a message to one...

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The NRA Wasn’t Always Against Gun Restrictions

NPR Enlarge this image The late Charlton Heston, the former actor and head of the National Rifle Association, addressing gun owners during a “get-out-the-vote” rally in New Hampshire October 2002. Jim Cole/AP hide caption toggle caption Jim Cole/AP Once again, and sadly not for the last time, a mass shooting has stunned the nation and shocked the rest of the civilized world, spurring a national debate about guns and gun laws. And once again, and surely not for the last time, that debate features the preeminent organization of gun owners, the National Rifle Association, known as the NRA. Founded...

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What Is The ‘Regular Order’ John McCain Longs To Return To On Health Care?

NPR On Tuesday on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for a return to “regular order”: the traditional legislative process, with more bipartisanship. Mark Wilson/Getty Images In an emotional return to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain admonished the leaders of his party for their managing of the health care bill and called instead for “regular order.” “Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order,” the Arizona Republican said. “We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the...

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Week Of High Expectations Stumbles To New Lows For Team Trump

NPR President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the Oval Office on Friday, March 24, 2017. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP This was to have been the week when President Trump turned his fledgling presidency around, setting a course for success and letting the wind fill its sails at last. Instead, it became his worst week to date, ending with the ship becalmed and its crew in disarray. After other controversies had spoiled the weather, the Republicans proved unable to muster the votes to pass their repeal-and-replace Obamacare bill in the House. The president and Speaker Paul Ryan had to...

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President Trump Seems Determined to Continue the Permanent Campaign

Enlarge this image President Trump is getting out of Washington for a campaign-style rally Saturday, his first since becoming president. He seems determined to keep up campaign-style politics even while governing. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images Americans have complained for years about presidential campaigns that start too early and last too long. Now, they are confronted with one that refuses to end — even after reaching the White House. There may never be a “last word” written or spoken about President Trump’s 77-minute barrage in the East Room Thursday, but the first word from many was: “Wow.” That was the initial reaction blurted out by Brett Baier at Fox News, as well as by Wolf Blitzer at CNN. For the first time since he took the oath, the president took questions from all kinds of news organizations. And he took them very, very personally. “I’ll tell you what else I see,” the president said with some heat. “I see tone. You know the word ‘tone’? The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that — the tone is such hatred.” The impromptu news conference came sprawling onto screens everywhere out of a planned introduction for Alex Acosta, the new nominee to be...

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In Flynn's Fall, Signs Of Potentially Deeper Problem In Trump's White House

Enlarge this image President Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office with now-former national security adviser Michael Flynn (center) and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Jan. 28. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Drew Angerer/Getty Images President Trump and his inner circle have reached their first crisis with the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, but the crisis extends well beyond one empty chair in one critical moment. Everything that has happened surrounding Flynn’s abrupt departure illustrates the larger troubles of the nascent regime. President Trump has made a great show of energy and excitement with a flurry of executive orders and meetings with foreign leaders. Yet the backstory has been all about the intense competition among the president’s top aides for his favor and attention. Press secretary Sean Spicer said Flynn had lost the president’s confidence because of an “erosion of trust.” But an atmosphere of distrust pervades in the 2017 White House, bred in part by the personal rivalries and competing visions at the level just below the president. Who Is Speaking For The President? Among the contestants in the level below Trump are his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his senior adviser Steve Bannon, his chief of staff Reince Priebus and various counselors and assistants including Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller (who appeared on four Sunday morning talk shows last weekend). While...

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Pence Becomes First VP To Break Senate Tie Over Cabinet Nomination

Vice President Pence arrives at the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote for Betsy DeVos to be education secretary on Tuesday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Vice President Pence has done something that his predecessor, Joe Biden, did not do even once in his eight years in the same office. He cast a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate. The occasion is Tuesday’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as President Trump’s secretary of education. The DeVos nomination has so far proven the most contentious of all Trump’s controversial Cabinet picks. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, joined all 46 Democrats and both Independents in opposing DeVos. The other 50 Republicans, however, stood by the nominee. That means the vote ended in a tie. Ties in the Senate do not happen often, but when one does, the Constitution says it may be broken by a vote cast by the vice president of the United States. Tuesday’s vote is the 245th instance of this power being used, but it is the first time in history that the vice president’s tie-breaking power serves to confirm a nominee to the Cabinet. Note, though, that previous administration’s Cabinet nominees, if filibustered, required 60 votes for confirmation, rather than a simple majority. Democrats changed that rule in 2013 when they were in power under former President Barack Obama, frustrated by Republican Senate...

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