Author: Paul Kane

Plenty of drama is coming on the next Supreme Court nominee — but not in Senate questioning – Washington Post

GOOGLE NEWS The looming Supreme Court confirmation battle presents itself as a hinge-point moment for the nation, potentially tipping the direction of rulings toward conservative outcomes for decades. Yet, if the recent past is political prologue, the least dramatic moment of the process will be the chapter that is supposed to be the most illuminating: the confirmation hearings. At least that is how President Trump’s advisers will draw up their game plan, following a path blazed by their predecessors in the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The modern Supreme Court nominee has learned the lessons of...

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Ryan dismisses House chaplain, leaving lawmakers demanding answers – Washington Post

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) dismissed the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy this month as chaplain of the chamber, an unusual decision that angered some of the Jesuit priest’s allies in Congress. Ryan made no mention of the reasons behind Conroy’s ouster in an April 16 announcement, leaving the impression among most lawmakers that the priest was leaving voluntarily. The speaker called Conroy “a great source of strength and support to our community” and said the priest is “deeply admired by members and staff.” But the issue blew up in recent days as lawmakers began to speak to the chaplain,...

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With no more deadline, Congress has stopped talking about immigration

Take away a deadline, and Congress will simply lose its focus on any issue — even the heated debate around immigration. At Tuesday morning’s House Republican briefing, just one of the five GOP leaders made a reference to the issue, and it was a passing one — a proposal meant mostly to placate conservatives, not a real solution that could get signed into law. Across the Capitol, a few hours later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and four senior Republicans did their weekly briefing. Topics ranged from gun background checks to the Winter Olympics. There was no immigration...

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Another House Republican announces retirement plans

Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) has expressed frustration with congressional gridlock during his decade in office. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Five-term Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) announced Monday that he plans to retire at the end of the year rather than stand for reelection, leaving behind a deeply conservative district in central Florida. Rooney, 47, was considered a rising star among Florida Republicans, but he never hid his frustration with the gridlock that gripped Congress for most of his decade in office. He becomes the 28th House Republican to quit politics — at least for now — this election season....

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Will the tax bill help or hurt Republicans in 2018? It depends on who’s talking.

By Paul Kane, A couple with two children from Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly faces a difficult reelection next year, explain to the audience that with combined wages of $73,000, they stand to save $2,000 under the Republican tax cuts enacted Wednesday. A single mother with one child from North Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is in similar straits as Donnelly, describes how much more of her $41,000-a-year salary she can keep. “She looks into the camera and she says, ‘Sen. Heitkamp, maybe $1,300 is not a lot of money to you. But for me, it’s a 73 percent reduction in my tax bill.’ ” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was reading from a memo he had just pulled from his coat pocket listing ideas for TV ads that he expects Republicans to run in their campaigns next year. Democrats have been claiming Republicans triggered a political tsunami by pushing an unpopular tax bill to President Trump’s desk for his signature. McConnell defiantly disagrees. He has been thinking a lot about the 2018 midterms, and he wants everyone to know that he is confident that the tax vote will help. “In no way do we believe this will be a political liability,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Trust me, we’re prepared to deal with this in a political context.” As Congress ends a year...

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How the oldest Senate ever is taking a toll on the business of Washington

By Paul Kane, In November, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, who is 83, was at the helm when the Senate’s massive tax bill came through the Finance Committee. But Hatch also deputized four younger Republicans on the panel to serve as de facto co-chairmen over various parts of the legislation. This week, with a compromise bill marching toward final passage in both chambers, the House has to vote first — because a pair of senators, Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), are recuperating from, respectively, non-melanoma skin surgery and the side effects of cancer treatments. Hatch’s advisers say his move demonstrates a keen sense of coalition building, and aides and friends to Cochran, 80, and McCain, 81, contend that their bosses should be back in the Senate before long. But here’s something else to consider: All three are exemplars of an institution that has become, by one measure, the oldest Senate ever. Eight octogenarians currently serve, nearly twice as many as ever before, according to records maintained by the Senate Historical Office. Another handful of senators are at least 75. For decades, older members of Congress have brushed aside questions about their fitness for office. They have defended their health and faculties, and some have implied that those who inquire are ageists who don’t understand that America is growing older. But the change in schedule for the tax bill...

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