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If shutdown is not over by then, no recess next week, Hoyer says
House will be in session next Tuesday through Friday if government not reopened

If the government shutdown is still going on next week, the House will not recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House will not take its scheduled recess next week if the government is still shut down, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday.

“If the government is not open, we will not have a recess,” the Maryland Democrat said during a pen and pad briefing with reporters.

Barr assures senators of his independence
AG nominee says Mueller investigation isn’t a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions ‘probably did right thing’ in recusing himself

William Barr, nominee for attorney general, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | William Barr appeared to be on a path to confirmation as the next attorney general Tuesday, after he gave senators key assurances about the special counsel probe into the 2016 elections and distanced himself from some of President Donald Trump’s comments about the investigation.

Barr avoided the kind of missteps during more than seven hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that might cost him votes of Republicans, who have a 53-47 advantage in the chamber. But some Democrats say he did not do enough to reassure them that he would protect Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and make the results public.

Susan Collins has a 2020 problem
The Kavanaugh saga damaged her brand — but by how much?

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has a durable political brand centered on moderation and serious deliberation as a lawmaker. But 2020 poses a potentially perilous political contest for her if she seeks re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Sen. Susan Collins runs for a fifth term, she ought to expect a very different race than in the past. Forget coasting to victory, no matter the opponent or even the nature of the election cycle.

Collins will start off as vulnerable — a top Democratic target in a state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Time for Republicans senators to override the shutdown
A genuine national emergency — not the kind you have to declare — is taking root

Passengers wait in a TSA line on Jan. 9 at JFK airport in New York City. With TSA agents going unpaid during the partial government shutdown, many are forced to call in sick to work hourly jobs elsewhere to pay the bills. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OPINION — It’s Day 25 of the longest government shutdown in American history and there’s only one end in sight.

It’s not a compromise between Democrats and President Donald Trump. White House aides say the president is “dug in” on his demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the wall “immoral.” There is very little hope for a breakthrough between “dug in” and “immoral,” especially between two sides that both think they’ve got the moral high ground — and voters — on their side.

Republican Steering panel votes not to seat Steve King on any committees
“We believe in swift action, because we do not believe in his words,” McCarthy says

Iowa Rep. Steve King has come under fire in recent days for racist comments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Republican Steering Committee unanimously decided Monday evening not to seat Iowa Rep. Steve King on any committees for the 116th Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters.

Earlier in the day, McCarthy met with King and communicated his intention to recommend that action to the Steering Committee. After the panel met and agreed with McCarthy’s recommendation, the California Republican said he called King to inform him of Steering’s decision.

New members, meet the ‘slush fund’
Many Hill freshmen are already establishing leadership PACs despite association with abuse

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., are among the more than two dozen freshman lawmakers who have established so-called leadership PACs, a type of fundraising committee critics say is too often abused. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar have pledged not to accept corporate PAC money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The newest class of congressional lawmakers — some of whom campaigned against corruption and corporate influence in politics — is rapidly adopting a practice that critics say is among the swampier in Washington.

More than two dozen new members of the House and Senate — including prominent freshmen such as New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney — have established so-called leadership PACs, according to data compiled by government watchdog group Issue One. Leadership PACs are fundraising committees that allow lawmakers to raise money for their colleagues and candidates.

States scramble to get February food stamps out amid shutdown

The lapse in funding for the Agriculture Department due to the shutdown is complicating people getting their food stamp benefits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State and county workers spent the weekend gathering information needed to make sure 38 million low-income people receive their February food stamp benefits early despite a partial federal government shutdown.

The Agriculture Department prompted the flurry of activity when it announced last week that it would tap the remaining budget authority in an expired continuing resolution to provide states $4.8 billion to cover February benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

House conflict-of-interest rules still not up to snuff, ethics experts lament
Democratic rule changes haven’t extended to Ethics panel, watchdogs say

The burden of proof to show that a member improperly wielded that influence for personal benefit remains steep, according to some government watchdog groups. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats have touted their new rules package for its crackdown on potential corruption among members and staffers, lobbying, and money in politics.

But the House Ethics Committee’s conflict-of-interest standards for members who own businesses small and large — from plumbing companies to the largest privately owned alcohol retailer in the country — leave a lot to be desired, multiple congressional ethics experts told Roll Call.

Government’s data policies enter the 21st century — finally
Recently passed reforms hold hope of more evidence-informed policies

Before he gave up his speaker gavel and retired from the House, Paul D. Ryan had a final hurrah in December when Congress passed a package of comprehensive data reforms that he and Washington Sen. Patty Murray had introduced a year earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It might be 2019, but our government’s data infrastructure is largely stuck in the 20th century.

That’s a big problem in the era of the information age. Failing to use data to improve government’s programs and services means taxpayers may not be getting what they pay for. It also means our public discourse suffers when figuring out what problems should be addressed and the best ways to do so.

Congress ignored its election duties for years. That ends now
With HR 1, House Dems have laid out a blueprint for voting reform

As House Democrats push voter registration reforms, there may be heartburn at the state level. But the conversation they’re starting is a crucial one, Weil writes. Above, Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries approaches a “For the People” podium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — House Democrats have waited eight years to regain the speakership, and now that they hold the gavel, they will clearly seek to move on pent-up priorities. For their first act out of the gate, they rolled several into one.

The “For the People Act” — or H.R. 1 — runs just over 500 pages and includes proposals the Democrats have pursued during their time in the minority, such as ethics reforms, campaign finance changes, and a well-publicized section requiring presidential candidates to hand over their tax returns.