Podcast: What Defines a Political Wave in the House?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 6

MARCH 14: Speaker Paul D. Ryan holds a press conference with House GOP leadership in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, as a television displays election results from the special election in Pennsylvania. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With President Donald Trump’s mediocre job ratings, Democrats’ advantage on the national generic ballot and success in special elections in Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk about a political wave. In this week’s Decoder, Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, sitting in for David Hawkings, talks with Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg about how many seats it takes to make a wave and which Republicans might survive.

Show Notes:

Spending Bill Unlikely to Include DACA Fix
White House, Democrats talking past one another

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, says Democrats rejected the latest White House offer. Democrats counter the White House already missed its chance on a DACA fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Prospects are dim that a short-term patch that would extend a program protecting about 690,000 “Dreamers” from deportation will be included in the upcoming fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Conversations remain ongoing between Congress and the White House on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with some aides insisting a last-minute deal is a possibility. President Donald Trump wants to end the Obama administration program, but federal judges have blocked him and Dreamers brought to the United States illegally as children are in limbo.

Lawmakers Push for Sexual Harassment Bill in Spending Package
Bipartisan coalition, Speaker want legislation included in omnibus

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., left, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrive to hold a press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans and Democrats are making a last-minute bid to add legislation that would address the sexual harassment of staffers by members of Congress on the omnibus appropriations bill.

With dozens of policy issues still in flux as part of the full-year fiscal 2018 spending package, some lawmakers are upset by indications a bill that would implement robust sexual harassment policies in Congress is currently not part of the omnibus. The House passed the anti-sexual harassment measure, as well as sweeping rules changes aimed at protecting staffers, by voice vote on Feb. 6.

Paul Ryan Yields to Trump on High-Profile Issues
Speaker hedges on omnibus, sexual harassment, tariffs

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., closes the door as he prepares to hold a press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. Also pictured, from left, are Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan laughed Tuesday when a reporter asked him if he thinks President Donald Trump should stop attacking special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. 

“The special counsel should be free to follow through with his investigation to its completion without interference, absolutely,” Ryan said. “I am confident that he’ll be able to do that. I’ve received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration.”

Mississippi Governor Expected to Appoint Hyde-Smith to Cochran Seat
Agriculture commissioner would fill seat until November special election

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is expected to be named to resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, according to The (Jackson) Clarion Ledger.

A Republican strategist confirmed Tuesday morning to Roll Call she’s likely to get the appointment Wednesday, but cautioned that the governor’s office hadn’t directly communicated those intentions yet.

Hatch Blasts White House Trade Policy, Seeks Action On Trade Imbalances
Finance chairman takes aim at China over steel and aluminum production, intellectual property

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, said that the U.S. is currently in “one of the most challenging trade environments” that he has seen in his four decades in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch on Tuesday issued a blistering critique of the Trump administration’s trade policy and called on the White House to take action to remedy imbalances with trade partners like China and the European Union. 

The Utah Republican, speaking at a Business Roundtable event with the Farmers for Free Trade, highlighted the threat posed to the U.S. economy by “external opponents and internal skeptics.” 

Insiders See Democratic House Gains of 30-45 seats
Polling, election results, fundraising tend to point in one direction

President Donald Trump continues to define the landscape for this year’s midterms, which insiders predict will be favorable to Democrats in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Seven and a half months before the midterm elections, the combination of attitudinal and behavioral evidence leads to a single conclusion: The Democrats are very likely to win control of the House in November.

Just as important, Republican and Democratic campaign strategists also agree that an electoral wave has already formed. The attitudinal evidence begins with national polling.

Democratic Campaigns Start Unionizing in #MeToo Era
Move could protect against sexual harassment and lead to better employee benefits

Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, who is challenging Speaker Paul D. Ryan, says letting his campaign workers unionize was “a natural thing to do.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Randy Bryce’s campaign for Wisconsin’s 1st District was only two staffers deep, one of them told him he was thinking of forming a union.

“There wasn’t really thought involved,” said the Democrat challenging Speaker Paul D. Ryan about allowing his campaign staff to unionize.

Opinion: Putin’s Job Is Easy When Americans Do It for Him
Partisan maneuvering undermines the election process

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Vladimir Putin during an anti-Trump “March for Truth” rally on June 3, 2017, in New York City. Putin’s rigged re-election gives him time to meddle in elections elsewhere in world, Mary C. Curtis writes — but given the partisan efforts to affect outcomes in the U.S., he may have little to do here. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images file photo)

Russian president Vladimir Putin easily cruised to a fourth term this past weekend, surprising absolutely no one. The only nail-biters were how many people would head to the polls — always unpredictable when the victor is certain — and how completely Putin would trounce the token opposition. Now, presumably, the newly re-elected leader can turn his attention to meddling in elections in other countries.

Speaking of the United States, while both Democrats and Republicans would prefer a little more predictability in the November midterms, if not Russian-style oversight, it is members of the GOP who seem most nervous about the eventual outcomes, especially in close House races. And while the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was officially disbanded in January, its spirit lingers on in hints from officials that certain votes should count more than others.

Opinion: Fossil Fuels Aren’t Dead, and North Dakota Is Proof
Investing in coal and natural gas still pays dividends for our communities

Investing in fossil fuel research doesn’t mean throwing good money after bad; it means prosperity for our communities, Hoeven writes. Above, workers watch a gas flare at an oil well site in Williston, North Dakota, in 2013. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images file photo)

One of the most important challenges we face as a nation is reducing our deficit and debt. As a proud fiscal conservative, I understand we must make tough financial decisions; that is why I have worked diligently on measures that will put our nation on a path to a balanced budget.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which formulates the federal government’s spending plans, I know there is a distinct difference between making wise investments and frivolous spending. I believe it is important that we steer our scarce federal dollars toward effective investments like energy research and innovation.