health care

A Mississippi Senate Flip? Probably Not
Absent reliable data, Democratic chances there should be taken with skepticism

Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., is in the Mississippi Senate runoff with former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, a Democrat. Is the race close? That depends on your definition of close, Rothenberg writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Alabama Democrat Doug Jones demonstrated last year that candidates matter and that on the rarest occasions — such as when the majority party’s nominee is accused of sexual misconduct by many women — voters in federal races veer from their partisan loyalties. But Jones’s win was the exception, not the rule, and it shouldn’t obscure the difficulty Mississippi Democratic Senate hopeful Mike Espy faces in a runoff in one of the most Republican and conservative states in the entire country.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the Mississippi Senate runoff “has turned into an unexpectedly competitive contest.” That’s hard to challenge, since expectations are a matter of opinion, as is competitiveness. But until I see hard evidence that Democrats have a realistic shot at the seat, count me as skeptical that the Mississippi seat is in play.

On ‘Medicare-for-All,’ Democrats Tread Lightly
It polls well. But Dems say the proposal isn’t ready for floor action

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., founded the Medicare-for-All Caucus earlier this year. She pushed back on the idea that single-payer health care is unpopular in suburban parts of the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the House are calling for a vote on a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill in the next Congress, but the expected chairmen who will set the agenda for next year say they have other health priorities.

Still, the progressives’ push could earn more attention over the next two years as Democratic candidates begin vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. A handful of potential presidential candidates expected to declare interest have already co-sponsored “Medicare-for-all” legislation, an issue that was also a flashpoint in Democratic primaries over the past year.

Cue the ‘Jaws’ Soundtrack, Pelosi Is Hunting for Votes
California Democrat has long displayed a knack for winning tough votes

When it comes to counting votes in Congress, Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly shown she has few equals, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — When Nancy Pelosi’s supporters talk about her strengths for the job of speaker, “counting votes” is usually right at the top of the list. But counting hardly describes the process that Pelosi has deployed for the last 16 years as the Democratic leader in the House to pass more landmark pieces of legislation than any other sitting member of Congress.

Part kindly godmother (think baby gifts and handwritten notes), part mentor, part shark, part party boss, Pelosi’s uncanny ability to move legislation may be the most important, yet least discussed, aspect of the Democrats’ internal debate about who should lead them into the future.

Black Voters Propelled Blue Wave, Study Finds
African-Americans increasingly associate GOP with Trump, racist rhetoric

Members-elect, front row from left, Kim Schrier, D-Wash., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, Sharice Davids, D-Kan., Haley Stevens, D-Mich., and other members of the incoming freshman class, pose for a photo on the East Front of the Capitol on Nov. 14. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms were driven largely by African American voters — particularly black women — who increasingly associate the GOP with President Trump’s perceived hostility toward people of color and immigrants, according to an analysis released Monday.

The report by the NAACP, the racial justice nonprofit Advancement Project, and the political action group African American Research Collaborative found that across competitive elections 90 percent of black voters supported Democratic House candidates, compared to 53 percent of voters overall. It also found 91 percent of black women, 86 percent of black men and 50 percent of white voters believe Trump and the GOP are using toxic rhetoric to divide the nation.

Speaker Races Are Usually Internal Affairs. Pelosi’s Is Anything But
Liberal groups pile on with endorsements

Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has some unlikely allies in her bid for speaker: outside influence groups. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in her bumpy bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel, has wooed endorsements from more than two dozen outside groups and labor unions, an atypical element of a debate usually held within the party’s inner sanctum.

The public show of support for the California Democrat makes clear the high stakes of the leadership slate for the incoming House majority and for the party’s off-the-Hill allies. MoveOn.org weighed in on Pelosi’s behalf on Thursday evening, as other progressive and liberal-leaning groups say privately their leaders are considering taking the unprecedented step of making an endorsement in a leadership contest.

Bill Nelson Concedes Florida Senate Race After Hand Recount
Governor Rick Scott’s victory over Nelson boosts GOP’s Senate majority

Florida Gov. Rick Scott held the hand of his grandson, Auguste, at his election night party in Naples, Fla. The Associated Press declared Scott the winner after a recount. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has conceded Florida’s Senate race to his Republican opponent Gov. Rick Scott following a hand recount.

“I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service. This victory would not be possible without the hard work of so many people,” Scott said in a statement. “Now the campaign truly is behind us, and that’s where we need to leave it.”

Grassley Will Step into Tax Storm, Finance Gavel in Hand
Iowa Republican was a key player on big-ticket measures during his previous tenure as Finance chairman

Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, conducts a Senate Judiciary Committee markup in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley is expected to be the next chairman of the Finance Committee, putting the Iowa Republican at the center of the storm in the 116th Congress on what could be divisive debates over tax, trade and health care policy.

Grassley cited a sense of “optimism” fueled by the “pro-growth” policies of a Republican president and Congress. “Looking ahead. ... I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves,” he said in a statement released Friday. “That means working to provide Americans with additional tax relief and tax fairness so they can spend more of their hard-earned money on what’s important to them.”

Chuck Grassley Opts for Finance Chairmanship
Move kicks off a round of musical chairs in the Senate, opening up a slot for a new Judiciary panel chairman

Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, right, will succeed Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as gavel-holder on the Senate Finance panel. That means Judiciary will be looking for a new leader too. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley announced he would take over the gavel of the tax-writing Finance Committee in the 116th Congress, a position he held in the early part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.

Grassley’s move also opens up a slot for a new Judiciary panel chairman, likely South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham

The Survivors: Three Republicans in Clinton Districts Hang On
A combination of individual brands and attacks on Democratic challengers helped them win

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., won re-election last week as his fellow Republicans in the suburbs lost. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016 were largely washed away in the Democratic wave last week — but three managed to hang on.

GOP Reps. John Katko of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and David Valadao all won their races on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press (though Valadao’s margin has narrowed with votes still being counted).

Suicide Nooses in Cells Prompt ICE Query From Elizabeth Warren, Democrats
Letters come after DHS inspector general found makeshift nooses in detention cells

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is leading a letter to the private companies that run ICE detention facilities. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of Senate Democrats want the private prison industry to explain whether it is complying with federal standards for housing at ICE immigration detention centers.

Led by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the senators have written to CoreCivic and GEO group about their housing practices following reports from the inspector general at the Homeland Security Department.