Friday, November 12, 2010

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

 Today In Washington

You Could Have Predicted It. The lame-duck House Democrats have decided  their first piece of business next week will be voting to spend $12.8 billion on an important political constituency that turned decidedly against them on Election Day.

That group, of course, is the elderly, who broke decisively for the Republicans. The bill would deliver a $250 check to all 51 million Social Security recipients. The idea is to compensate for the fact that old people won’t be getting any cost-of-living increase in their benefits — for the second straight year — because there hasn’t been much inflation to speak of.

The bill is on course to pass the House despite considerable Republican opposition — a last hurrah for sponsor Earl Pomeroy, who lost his bid for a ninth term in North Dakota last week. But the idea remains a dead letter in the Senate, where the GOP will unite against it on the grounds that it’s both unnecessary and unpaid-for.

House Democrats’ other priorities for next week are bills to expand nutrition programs and to offer conditional legal status to the children of illegal immigrants who go to college or join the military. The debate over the Bush tax cuts — Obama continues to sound a hard line, even as his underlings negotiate for a limited extension of the cuts for both the middle-class and the rich — won’t be joined until after the one-week Thanksgiving break.

The Final Numbers. Republicans are on course for a final election gain of 65 House seats. The number has been at 60 since the morning after the election. But, the more officials pore over provisional and absentee ballots in the contested elections, the more things look good for five additional challengers to incumbent Democrats. In descending order of their current leads, they are:

Nurse and community activist Renee Ellmers, who’s ahead of Bob Etheridge by 1,650 votes in central North Carolina.
One-time DJ and lawyer Blake Farenthold, who’s maintained a steady 800-vote lead over Solomon Ortiz on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Ann Marie Buerkle, who’s a New York state health care lawyer and has 700 votes on Dan Maffei in the Syracuse area.
Entrepreneur Randy Altshuler, who has a 400-vote edge over Tim Bishop at the eastern end of Long Island.
Financial adviser Joe Walsh, who has a similar edge over Melissa Bean in the suburbs north of Chicago.

The GOP gain in the Senate is clearly set at six, because both potential winners of the one undecided race, in Alaska, are Republican. And another day of counting write-in votes only solidified the view that Lisa Murkowski will get a second full term, because so many of the write-in votes for her are spelled correctly and are otherwise unambiguous — meaning attorney Joe Miller won’t have much of a legal leg to stand on.

Ellmers, Farenthold and Walsh would be the biggest upset winners in the most expensive midterm election ever. While the Chamber of Commerce has been fingered as taking the most aggressive stand in putting millions behind so many of the pro-business Republican candidates who won, a look at campaign finance data shows that many of the big-name Democrats who lost had more than enough money to spend.

Down the Aisle? So now the other congressional Sanchez sister is getting married, too? That’s what several of Loretta Sanchez’s friends are telling Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill column. They say the 50-year-old Orange County Democrat, who just won a tough race for an eighth term, is engaged to retired Army Col. Jack Einwechter. (Her office hasn’t confirmed it yet.) It would be her second marriage. Her younger sister, Linda Sanchez — who’s represented a nearby part of southern California in the House since 2003 — married Jim Sullivan in April 2009, about a month before she gave birth to their son, Joaquin.

Mark the Time. The House and Senate plan the same time for the start of their lame duck sessions: 2 p.m. on Monday.

— David Hawkings, editor

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Editor's Picks From The CQ Roll Call Newsroom

Roll Call: Losing Dems Spent Big Bucks

Veteran Rick Boucher spent $28 a vote and still lost to a Republican who spent just $6 a vote. Similar disparities dot the House race landscape. » View full article

Roll Call: Chamber 'Central' to GOP Gains

One reason so many of the outspent Republicans triumphed was that they could count on generous help from their corporate allies. » View full article

CQ Today: Pass Child Nutrition Bill Now, Sort Out Offsets Later, Advocates Say

The cost of the Democrats' plan for expanding nutrition programs is the main reason the bill's prospects remain slim in the lame duck. » View full article

CQ Today: Democrats Pondering Immigration Push

The party hopes to find a crack in anti-immigrant fervor with a very narrow proposal that would allow kids of illegals to become legal if they go to college or get in uniform. » View full article

Congress.org: Does Switching Parties Work?

At least three senators are rumored to be considering switching parties. So what's happened to some recent politicians who switched? » View full article

Roll Call's Heard on the Hill: A Congressional Wedding?

Tipsters tell HOH that Loretta Sanchez plans to tie the knot. » View full article
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dailybriefing@cqrollcall.com

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

 Today In Washington

Chairman’s Mark. There’s no way 14 members of the Obama fiscal commission will vote for slaying all the budgetary sacred cows that the panel’s chairmen put on the chopping block. That’s the size of the bipartisan supermajority required for the commission to send anything to Congress. So the lame duck will not feature any votes on: boosting the gasoline tax by 15 cents, gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 69, cutting 15 percent of weapons procurement, ending the mortgage interest deduction or starting to tax workers’ health benefits.

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are savvy politicians, serious policy wonks  and clever communicators. They know their bold package is a non-starter at the commission, which will disband Dec. 1. But that wasn’t really the point of what they put forward yesterday.

Instead, their goal was to set a sober and serious marker for a debate that will dominate domestic policy in the coming decade: Here’s what it will really take to stabilize the debt and rein in deficits, they said, in effect. If Republicans think they can come up with nothing but spending cuts to get the job done, have at it. If Democrats think they can leave the social safety net alone and get the job done, go for it.

But both sides, Simpson said with his trademark obduracy, at least have to “start to chew on it.” And the expiring Bush tax cuts are the first bit of gristle for Congress and Obama. Given the GOP’s strength in the Senate, the White House has little choice but to allow an across-the-board extension (as in, even for the biggest earners) at least until after the 2012 election. Just doing that could cost as much as $500 billion.

Limping Duck. Disparate House and Senate agendas are starting to firm up for the session that starts Monday.

The outgoing Democratic majority in the House — which will have its leadership elections next week, after all — is trimming its wish list fast and hopes to turn off the lights by Friday, Dec. 3, which is when the current stopgap spending law expires. They’ll be content with short-term solutions to the must-do items (keeping spending flowing and addressing the tax cuts) and then will send the Senate an expansion of child nutrition programs.

Senate Democrats, on the other hand, want to make the most of their 59 votes (down to 58 after Thanksgiving, when Mark Kirk replaces Roland Burris in Illinois) during the lame duck. Beyond the have-to-do items, Reid is talking once again about pushing a limited immigration bill, while Kerry wants to win ratification of the Russian arms control treaty.

The Insurgency’s Limit. The week after is not turning out to be so good for the tea party. One of the movement’s favorite members of Congress (at least until next year) has abandoned her campaign to become the No. 4 Republican leader in the House. Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann conceded last night that Texan Jeb Hensarling has the GOP Conference chairmanship sewed up. And Joe Miller’s chances of getting to the Senate are fading every time another pile of write-in ballots is reviewed in Alaska. Election officials have settled on phonics, not spelling, as their favorite subject. If they sound out the pencil marks and the noise equals something like “Mur-cow-skee,” then the incumbent gets the vote. The counting, and the reading aloud, will last into the weekend.

On to 2012. Pelosi told other leaders on a conference call yesterday that Obama needs to be “perfect” to win re-election, mainly because of Democratic setbacks in several big states, Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis reports.

Pelosi also said Democrats could win back the House in 2012, but she won’t tap a new campaign chairman until she’s locked down her minority leader’s race. (So far, only about 15 in the caucus have said publicly that they want someone else.) Long Island’s Steve Israel is the front-runner against Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

There are still no takers for the job of Senate Democratic campaign chairman, which will be a much tougher gig. Incumbent Robert Menendez won’t be back. He’s one of the 23 members of the caucus who’s up in 2012 and wants a higher spot in the leadership to help him win a second full term in New Jersey. (John Cornyn of Texas will be back for a second round as head of the Senate GOP campaign.)

It’s Their Day. The congressional freshman class includes 25 military veterans. Three will be in the Senate: Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republicans Dan Coats and Mark Kirk. All the veterans in the House freshman class are in the GOP:

Sandy Adams of Florida, Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Chip Cravaack of Minnesota, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Jeff Denham of California, Chris Gibson of New York, Tim Griffin  of Arkansas, Michael Grimm of New York, Andy Harris  of Maryland, Joe Heck  of Nevada, Bill Johnson  of Ohio, Adam Kinzinger  of Illinois, Jeff Landry  of Louisiana, Richard Nugent  of Florida, Steven Palazzo  of Mississippi, Steve Pearce  of New Mexico, Mike Pompeo  of Kansas, Scott Rigell  of Virginia, Steve Stivers  of Ohio, Allen West  of Florida, Steve Womack of Arkansas and Todd Young of Indiana.

— David Hawkings, editor

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Editor's Picks From The CQ Roll Call Newsroom

CQ Today: Fiscal Panel Co-Chairmen Urge Tax Overhaul, Sweeping Spending Cuts

A look at the details of the bold, comprehensive and bipartisan plan from the chairmen of the president's commission. » View full article

Roll Call: Pelosi Deems Draft Fiscal Plan 'Unacceptable'

The speed with which she condemned the proposal illustrates just how difficult it will be to reach a bipartisan budget deal. » View full article

Roll Call: Menendez Reflects on 2010 While Charting Future Course

The departing Senate Democratic campaign chairman is looking for a leadership promotion after exceeding Nov. 2 expectations. » View full article

Roll Call: GOP Considers Alternate-Week House Schedule

The new majority's transition team is looking critically at a range of institutional chestnuts. Because one-third of the House GOP will be freshmen, it makes political sense to allow them frequent trips to get to know their constituents. » View full article

Congress.org: Lessons From the '70s for the Tea Parties

Forget about the 1770s for a minute. Today's tea partyers could learn a few lessons from the 1970s, when California voters revolted against property taxes. » View full article

Roll Call: Sources: Pelosi Says Obama Must Be 'Perfect' to Win Again

Several senior Democratic aides told Roll Call that Speaker Pelosi says President Obama has to be "perfect" to win a second term. » View full article
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

 Today In Washington

Cooling-Off Period Required. House Democrats may delay their leadership elections until after Thanksgiving. The balloting was supposed to be next week — same as in the Senate and with the House GOP — but Pelosi’s surprise decision to try to stick around in the top ranks has made her caucus intensely anxious and annoyed. Instead of licking their collective wounds from the election, they’re trying to prevent a wave of internal back-biting and factional strife.

Blue Dog conservatives may have seen their ranks wither last week, but they’re still showing some fight. While they have no candidate to oppose Pelosi for minority leader (whatever happened to Heath Shuler?), they’re talking about causing all manner of trouble for her and other liberals in the leadership. One possibility would be to side with Republicans to hand Pelosi a symbolic defeat on a floor vote or two during the lame duck.

Liberals, meanwhile, are furious at being forced to take sides in the Hoyer vs. Clyburn contest for whip — which of course wouldn’t be happening if the House’s No. 1 liberal had volunteered to get out of the leadership. Pelosi seems to understand this and is trying to broker a deal between her top lieutenants — so far with no sign of success. Hoyer is diligently lining up the votes he needs to win (he’s got about half of them) while Clyburn has gone home to South Carolina after signaling he’s not interested in either the caucus chairmanship or a senior seat on Appropriations as a consolation prize.

Right vs. Righter. House Republicans have their own schisms to contend with — mainly between establishment figures who are solidly conservatives and relative newcomers who portray themselves as ideologically pure. The marquee race on this front is between Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for the chairmanship of the GOP Conference, the No, 4 leadership post. It’s already split the leadership of the Republican Study Committee, which represents the most conservative incumbents. The other high-profile fight will be over the chairmanship of Energy and Commerce, where frontrunner Fred Upton of Michigan is viewed on the right as far too squishy.

In the Senate, the first big ideological fight among Republicans will be next week,  when the caucus will debate just how far to go to appear pure on earmarks. That this debate has split Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina is a sign the tea party revolutionary fervor has not swept the Capitol quite yet.

Budgeting for Change. The top Democratic seat on the Budget Committee will be Chris Van Hollen’s consolation prize for racking up a 1-1 record running his party’s campaign organization these past four years. The Maryland lawmaker’s decision effectively boxes out two who wanted to succeed the defeated John Spratt in that job: Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania and Bobby Scott of Virginia.

Kent Conrad of North Dakota probably will be Van Hollen’s partner in leading the party’s congressional cover for Obama’s fiscal policies, and maybe working on an overhaul of the broken federal budget process. Conrad is likely to keep the top Democratic seat on Senate Budget — which he’s had for a decade — rather than claim the ranking spot on Agriculture. His reasoning: He was able to drive the Senate version of the last farm bill from his Budget seat and can easily do so again. (The next farm bill is supposed to be done in 2012.)

Down-Shifting. The three lawmakers next in seniority behind Jim Oberstar, one of last week’s biggest upset losers, all want to become the new top Democrat on House Transportation. The smart bet is that Nick Rahall of West Virginia will get the gig instead if either Peter DeFazio of Oregon or Jerry Costello of Illinois. If that happens, then Ed Markey of Massachusetts would fill a void left by Rahall, easing into the ranking spot on Natural Resources.

McConnell, Esq. He didn’t have much luck in 2003, when the Supreme Court rejected his arguments and upheld the main provisions of the campaign finance overhaul in a case called McConnell v. FEC. But he’s back for another litigious turn this week, looking to get as many other GOP senators (and senators-elect) to sign on as possible before filing a friend-of-the-court brief on the side of the states that want the health care overhaul declared unconstitutional. McConnell argues that Congress doesn’t have the power to force citizens to buy something — as in a health insurance policy. He says that if the courts disagree by ruling the coverage mandate is constitutional, then there won’t be any real limits to congressional power over peoples’ lives.

Get Well Card. Jim McGovern, who transitioned 14 years ago from being an accomplished aide to legendary Hill liberals (George McGovern, Joe Moakley) to a leading lawmaker on the left in his own right, is out of the hospital after getting a cancerous thyroid gland removed. The 50-year-old Democrat from Worcester, Mass., won his eighth term last week with 57 percent.

Correction. Yesterday we got part of GOP House freshman Tim Scott’s resume wrong. He chaired the Charleston (S.C.) County Council, not the city council.

— David Hawkings, editor

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Roll Call: Pelosi Seeking End to Hoyer-Clyburn Race

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Roll Call: Moderates Eye Retaliation Against Pelosi

If she is retained as the top Democrat in the House, her first task will be to win over the remaining conservative Democrats, who say she should be punished for leading so many of their ilk to defeat. » View full article

CQ Today: GOP Splintered Over Conference Chairmanship

Next week's leadership election pitting a tea party icon and an establishment favorite will show just how far the new House majority will be pushed to the right. » View full article

Roll Call: GOP Earmark Rift Goes Public With Inhofe-DeMint Standoff

One veteran conservative says another is being disingenuous about his dedication to keeping pet projects out of the budget. » View full article

CQ Today: First of Three Debt Panels Takes Aim at Budget Process

A group led by retired lawmakers says the debt and deficits will never come down without big changes in the congressional budget system. » View full article

CQ Homeland Security: Lieberman, King, Match Up on Homeland Ideology

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Candidate Wants to Run Anti-Abortion Ads Again

Anti-abortion activists are hoping to show aborted fetuses during the Super Bowl. The small group behind the effort doesn't have enough money to buy the time, but it's proven able to use a a legal technical to get around network restrictions. » View full article
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dailybriefing@cqrollcall.com

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010

 Today In Washington

The Takeover Class Takes Hold. House GOP leaders are moving assertively today to make sure their record class of 84 freshmen feels respect from the outset. With so many elected as anti-establishment crusaders, the leaders have little choice but to try to bring the newcomers fast into the fold.

Boehner and Cantor announced creation of a new seat at the leadership table, reserved for a member of the Class of 2010. It will be the first time in history that a newcomer will have such a prestigious perch. And there will be two (not the usual one) freshmen on the GOP Steering Committee, which takes the lead in deciding chairmanships and making committee assignments. (In 1994, Gingrich’s best offers to freshmen were a few prestige committee seats and a handful of minor subcommittee chairmanships.)

The freshman leadership job will be filled by an election within the caucus. The leading candidates look to be Kristi Noem, an assistant House majority leader in the South Dakota legislature the past two years, and Tim Scott, who chaired the Charleston city council before going to the South Carolina legislature last year.

The Standoff is Taxing Both Sides. The focal point of the lame duck is whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for the richest 3 percent of Americans.

Congress has these choices when it comes to the tax cuts: It can extend all of them indefinitely, which is what Republicans want. It can extend them indefinitely on income below $250,0000 and let the cuts for the wealthier people expire, which is what Obama wants. It can extend all of them temporarily, as in one to three years, which is the GOP fallback position. It can extend the middle-class cuts indefinitely while continuing the upper-income cuts only for a couple of years — a concept called “decoupling” that is the Democrats’ backup plan. Or it can do nothing and go home, allowing the cuts to expire at least temporarily on NewYear’s Eve and then rejoining the debate in the new year.

The odds are in favor of the Democrats pushing hard for decoupling. Their reasoning is that they still have the votes to push the plan through the House, that a handful of Republicans might be willing to go along in the Senate and that Obama would probably sign it.

Don’t Even Ask. Prospects for repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” are fading fast. And if it doesn’t happen in the lame duck, it’s not happening in the next two years. The newly Republican House won’t even touch the issue.

The defense authorization bill is a must-do item in the coming weeks. But the Senate hasn’t passed its version yet, in part because it would repeal the 17-year-old ban on openly gay people in uniform. McCain, the top Republican on Armed Services, is pushing hard to get all the most controversial provisions stripped from the bill — “don’t ask, don’t tell” is first on his list — in order to speed it along. And Chairman Carl Levin is likely to go along, bowing to post-election political realities, and the Senate timetable, even though that means defying Defense Secretary Gates.

The First Freshmen. Four winners of special elections a week ago will be sworn in for the start of the lame duck: Chris Coons of Delaware and Joe Manchin of West Virginia  (who’s been emphatic in rebutting reports that he’s going to switch parties) will be new Democrats in the Senate. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Tom Reed of New York, both succeeding people who resigned after personal scandals, will immediately be seated in the House.

The fifth special election winner, Republican Mark Steven Kirk for the president’s old Senate seat, will have to wait until after Thanksgiving because Illinois election officials are taking their time certifying his very close win. Once he’s sworn in, the GOP caucus will grow to 42 seats. And, with Roland Burris’ strange senatorial odyssey at an end, the chamber will be absent an African-American for the first time since 2004.

Then There Were Seven. Keith Fimian’s concession today to incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly in D.C.’s Virginia suburbs shrinks the list of undecided House races to seven. Republicans still see their best shots in the districts now held by Melissa Bean in Illinois, Solomon Ortiz in Texas and Dan Maffei and Tim Bishop in New York. Jim Costa and Jerry McNerney of California, and Ben Chandler of Kentucky, all look to survive.

Knock, Knock. Most departing lawmakers — especially those leaving voluntarily — are gracious about showing off their office suites to House members looking to move into better quarters. But not Republican John Linder, who’s retiring after nine terms. A note on the (closed) door of 1026 Longworth says that the prime real estate can only be viewed between 4:30 and 5:30 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. The inhospitable approach is all the more remarkable because Linder’s chief of staff, Rob Woodall, has been elected to succeed his boss in representing the outer Atlanta suburbs.

Mark It Down. Wednesday, Jan. 5, will be the opening day of the 112th Congress. The Constitution says it’s supposed to be Jan. 3, but that day is routinely shifted. This time, leaders of both parties agreed to allow lawmakers a little extra travel time after the New Year’s holiday.

— David Hawkings, editor

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Editor's Picks From The CQ Roll Call Newsroom

CQ Today: Tax Cut Sparring Under Way as Lame-Duck Session Nears

Eight weeks before the Bush tax cuts expire, administration officials, weakened Democrats and incoming GOP leaders are circling each other warily, trying to determine how far they can push the other side for a deal. » View full article

CQ Weekly: Deep Breaths

John Cranford, in his latest Political Economy column, notes that while Americans said they voted their pocketbooks this year, it's unlikely they'll see much change soon. » View full article

CQ Today: 'Don't Ask' Language Could Be Stripped From Defense Bill

The people writing the Pentagon's budget bill are sounding much more interested in getting the measure done than in having a protracted fight over gay rights. » View full article

Roll Call: Walden Finds His Niche as GOP 'Utility Player'

The Oregonian who's leading the House Republican transition committee has been eyed as a rising star for more than a decade. » View full article

Roll Call: Freshmen Have to Decide Where Families Live

The record class of Republican newcomers may be getting unsual clout at the Capitol, but that won't help them make the extra mortgage payment or rent checkthey're now facing in town. » View full article

CQ Weekly: The Pendulum Pushed Well to the Right

This may sound like it belongs in the "believe it or not" category, but in terms of control-of-power levers in the federal government, the Democratic Party is still in a stronger position than it was eight years ago. » View full article

Congress.org: Why Are Political Robocalls Legal?

Why are political robocalls exempt from the Do Not Call Registry? The answer in this week's Congress Q&A. » View full article
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Monday, November 08, 2010

CQ Daily Briefing

CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

Monday, Nov. 8, 2010

 Today In Washington

Lame Duck Dynamic. With Obama in Asia and dozens of members new and old on post-election vacations, their aides are preparing for a much busier time next week. Not only does the lame duck get started then, but there will also be orientation for 16 freshman senators and at least 93 newly elected House members.

For Democrats, the big unsettled debate is how long and hard to push in the lame duck for what the party wants. (And it won't be until the House Democrats settle their own leadership tussle.)

The outgoing House majority and the dwindling Senate majority have the power to keep Congress in session until the week after Christmas, if they really want, to promote their agenda for as long as possible - on domestic spending, arms control, repealing "don't ask, don' tell" and limiting the reach of the tax cut extensions. Or they can do the minimum necessary, writing a bill to keep the government funded at current levels for another month or so beyond the Dec. 3 expiration date of the current stopgap spending statute.

And then they could send Congress home - handing the keys over to the GOP with the message, "OK, you won. Here are the problems you wouldn't let us solve this year. Have at them. And good luck with that." That, of course, would put additional pressure on Republican leaders as they try to hold their insurgent freshmen in check for as long as possible this coming winter.

Transitions. Internal "reform" wasn't all that high on the Republican campaign agenda, but exit polling suggests that voters are totally disdainful of the way Congress conducts its business. And so creating a House that's "more transparent, cost-efficient, and accountable to the people" is a principal goal of a team of 21 lawmakers named this morning by Greg Walden of Oregon, who's running the transition team for the House GOP. The group is larded with influential and senior members but does include four of the 84 members of the GOP freshman class: Alabama's Martha Roby, Illinois' Adam Kinzinger, Colorado's Cory Gardner and South Carolina's Tim Scott.

Leadership Shakeout. Heath Shuler of North Carolina still hasn't officially launched his campaign for minority leader, four days after declaring he'd run for the job if Pelosi decided she wanted it - and three days after the outgoing Speaker shocked so many of her colleagues by saying she did want the House Democrats' top job next year.

If Shuler concludes he can't possibly win and decides to back off, then it's likely the current roster of top Democrats will take a step back from the brink of open confrontation and agree they should all step down one notch in the ranks - returning to the leadership jobs they had in 2006 before their majority-making election: Pelosi as floor leader, Steny Hoyer as whip, Jim Clyburn as caucus chairman and John Larson as caucus vice chairman. Bumped off the ladder, then, would be the current vice chair, Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles.

On the GOP side, Pete Sessions of Texas said today that he is dropping the idea of running for House majority whip, clearing the path for California's Kevin McCarthy to get the No. 3 job without challenge. Instead, Sessions will likely come back for an encore as chairman of the House GOP campaign organization.  

But Chuck Schumer will NOT be coming back for an encore as chairman of the Senate Democratic campaign arm. Over the weekend the New Yorker rebuffed Reid's entreaty that he return to the job he held from 2003 through 2008, when he helped his party pick up a net of 18 new Senate seats. Instead, Schumer is content to stay as Reid's third-in- command.  Running the party's 2012 Senate campaign is going to be a thankless task (half a dozen others turned down the job before Schumer) because 23 of the 33 seats up for grabs are now held by the party.

No Net Loss of Limbo. Just as Gabrielle Giffords was declared the winner of a third term in Arizona, reducing the number of undecided House races to eight, election officials on Long Island announced late Friday night that their initial tabulation was wrong and that the race in New York's 1st District was too close to call. Democrat Tim Bishop, bidding for a fifth term, thought he'd won by about 3,500 votes. But a check of voting machine memory cards showed that Republican Randy Altschuler was actually ahead by 392 votes - albeit with more than 9,500 absentee ballots to be counted this week.

First Round Draft Pick. One of the most tense and frenetic rituals in the House - the picking of new office suites, known as "room draw" - gets under way today. Democrat Ed Markey, who will be 10th in overall House seniority next year (first elected from Massachusetts in 1976) is the most senior lawmaker who wants new digs. His best option will be moving upstairs to Rayburn 2314, an exceptionally spacious suite that the retiring Democrat Dave Obey of Wisconsin has been in for a dozen years.

Arguing against a long lame duck is this one fact: Departing members have to be out of their offices by noon Dec. 1. After that, each one is assigned nothing more than a small desk in a "cube farm" to be assembled in some unsightly basement somewhere.

- David Hawkings, Editor

 

 

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CQ Weekly: The Trials Ahead for John Boehner

This profile of the next Speaker of the House puts his career, and his challenges for the next year, in a particularly rich legislative and historic context. » View full article

Roll Call: Democrats Struggle to Unify

Setting an agenda for the lame duck will have to wait until House Democrats settle their latest internal strife. » View full article

CQ Budget Tracker: Fiscal Commission Meeting Postponed, Other Groups Ready Reports

Proposals from Obama's blue-ribbon deficit-reduction team were supposed to be debated in the lame duck, but the election has given both parties reason not to go there. » View full article

CQ Today: Battle for House Minority Whip Heats Up

Both Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn are campaigning as the person who could best help Pelosi learn to like brokering compromise. » View full article

Roll Call: K Street Tries to Woo the New Cast of Powerbrokers

The influence game has been turned upside down by the election. No matter the issue or the ideology, interest groups are adjusting priorities, rethinking strategy and looking for new "freshman" friends. » View full article

Roll Call: Blue Dogs On K Street Say Their Clout Stays

Lobbyists who used to be conservative Democrats in Congress insist they're valuable despite the the near-extintion of their ilk in the House. » View full article

Congress.org: Who Listens to Obama's Addresses?

President Obama may sit by a fireside in his weekly YouTube videos, but they haven't exactly caught fire. Views of the video online have dropped significantly. » View full article
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