Congress

Is 2019 over yet? It kind of feels like 2020 already

At State of the Union, it felt like half the room was raring to take Trump on next year

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a presidential candidate, gives a thumbs-up to Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., as senators arrive in the House chamber for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Is 2019 over?

Is it 2020 yet? Sure feels like it. When President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union, it only felt like half the room was raring to take him on next year (looking at you, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, Tulsi Gabbard, Eric Swalwell …) And that’s not even counting other 2020 considerations, like how many claps the president might get from senators in potentially tough races like Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan. We look at the politics of what has basically become one big campaign pep rally in the latest Political Theater Podcast.

The Dean departs

John D. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, died Thursday at the age of 92. He was quite a guy. Niels Lesniewski and David Hawkings, now at The Firewall, did the obituary for Roll Call, which is awesome and details the Michigan Democrat’s power, influence and personality over a 60-year career in the House and time on Capitol Hill as a page and student. And then there is this photo from the Roll Call archives, which is just, I don’t know, it’s just …

John Dingell get set up on the skeet range during the 10th Annual Great Congressional Shoot-Out at Prince George's Shooting Center in Glenn Dale, Maryland.
John D. Dingell at the skeet range during the 10th Annual Great Congressional Shoot-Out at Prince George's Shooting Center in Glenn Dale, Md, in 2004. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House calls

Nothing heralds the political cycle in earnest like a nice list of special members the party wants to protect. Et voilà, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has unveiled the latest iteration of its Frontline program for vulnerable members — 44 of them will be in line for extra help in defending their seats. If that sounds like a lot of folks, well, consider that the Democrats elected a lot of folks en route to claiming the House majority. Most of the Frontline 44 are freshmen. 

Recycling program

Who says the administration is anti-environment? They sure do like recycling Cabinet members. First there was Elaine Chao, Transportation secretary in the current executive branch, previously Labor secretary for George W. Bush. Comes now William Barr, whose nomination to be attorney general is on its way to the Senate floor next week. He was AG under George H.W. Bush. Who’s next? Any chance for a Carlos Gutierrez return trip to Washington? I’d pay good money to see that Cabinet meeting. 

Got drugs?

Much has been made of House Democrats cranking up the oversight machine when it comes to the president and his dealings, including by the president himself. But the House is also holding hearings on some things that dovetail with the president, including his avowed interest in lowering prescription drug prices. Hence the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee’s interest in the topic at a Thursday hearing

No, seriously. No parking

“Parking scofflaws, beware.” The House Administration Committee is toughening parking rules with new penalties for members and staff who are particularly egregious about flouting the rules. “The exclusive member license plates or congressional parking passes can’t protect you now,” and there are fewer loopholes when trying to get a parking pass after having it revoked elsewhere. 

Pizza here, pizza there

Want pizza at work? The new &pizza in the Rayburn House Office Building is officially open. Want pizza away from work with a political bent to it? Head to Pizzeria Paradiso for its “United States of Pizza: Women’s Slice of the Pie” specials, the brainchild of owner Ruth Gresser. “Every week the restaurant will offer up a cheesy, saucy concoction inspired by female politicians. This week it’s the women of Washington state, including an all-female Senate delegation — one of just six in the nation.”

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