Vermont

Obamacare: A big issue voters might be missing
Supreme Court delay in deciding on health care law challenge could hide the issue from voters

The Supreme Court deferred a decision on a case challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Correction 2:20 p.m. | ANALYSIS — Democrats who say they are determined to keep voters focused on health care this year were hoping that the Supreme Court would hand them a ready-made campaign ad and a potential courtroom win.

Instead, the court recently punted on a major decision over whether to kill the 2010 health care law that expanded coverage to more than 20 million Americans. Now, Democrats hope that by shifting their attention to high prescription drug prices they might still mobilize voters and help the party maintain its edge on health care, the public’s top domestic concern, although Republicans also are focused on drug prices.

Cummings’ predecessor, Kweisi Mfume, wins Democratic nod in Maryland
Mfume last served in the House in 1996

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume has won the Democratic nomination for Maryland’s 7th District, which has been vacant since Elijah E. Cummings died last fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who last served in the House in 1996, has won the Democratic nomination for the seat vacated by his successor, the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. Defeating 23 Democrats — including Cummings’ widow — he’s heavily favored to be the next member of Congress from the solidly Democratic Baltimore-area seat.

With nearly all the precincts reporting, Mfume had 43 percent of the vote. Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, was in second place with 17 percent, followed by state Sen. Jill Carter with 16 percent.

After Iowa, a boost for Buttigieg and concerns for Biden and Warren
Partial results put the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor in enviable position

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg talks with attendees at a campaign event in Fairfield, Iowa, on Aug. 15. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — One state down, and many states to go. In one respect, Pete Buttigieg “won” the Iowa caucuses Monday evening regardless whether he finishes first in delegates or in the popular vote.

One year ago, Buttigieg was a mere asterisk in the Democratic contest. Then 37 years old and the gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg seemed unlikely to raise the necessary money or excite Democratic voters, who were likely to gravitate to better-known officeholders like former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Even former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, fresh off an unsuccessful but enthusiasm-generating Senate campaign, seemed like a potentially more significant hopeful in the Democratic field.

Iowa lawmakers band together with early caucus spot on the line
Democratic chaos raises new questions about whether the state should be first in presidential contest

Iowa voters wait for the start of a Democratic satellite caucus at the IBEW headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

With Iowa’s “first in the nation” status on the line after chaotic Democratic caucuses rocked the presidential primary, Iowa lawmakers in both parties banded together Tuesday to defend their state’s role in the process. 

It took until early Tuesday evening for the Iowa Democratic Party to announce results from Monday’s caucuses. And even then it was less than two-thirds of the tallies because of uncertainty and confusion around a new app used for reporting voter preferences as well as the calculations for allocating delegates.

Lobbyists donate to presidential contenders, who then reject it
Democrats have policies against lobbyist cash

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., shown speaking at the Iowa State Fair in August 2019, does not accept lobbyist campaign donations. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic presidential contenders — including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren — have official policies of rejecting campaign donations from registered federal lobbyists, but lobbyists still donated to all of them in recent months, new disclosures show. 

Some of the K Street cash has already been refunded to the contributors, lobbyists told CQ Roll Call. Other donations may be on their way back, as some of the campaigns said they would return any newly identified contributions from registered federal lobbyists. 

State of the Union: Governors keep their distance from Trump
State executives this year have often compared the shape of their states favorably to the federal government.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks beside President Donald Trump at a 2018 White House dinner. Ducey this year noted differences between “the Arizona way” and “D.C. politicians.” (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

To hear New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tell it, his Empire State is strong but threatened by a national mood he compared to a sea “as tempest-tossed as we have seen,” with “waves of anxiety, injustice and frustration  . . .  fanned by winds of anger and division, creating a political and social superstorm.”

His Jan. 8 State of the State address in Albany framed the state of the union under President Donald Trump as a disaster that would be far worse for New Yorkers if not for his state government.

Senate plans Wednesday vote to acquit Trump
Chamber adopts second organizing resolution to allow senators to have their say

Reporters watch the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate Press Gallery in the Capitol on Friday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 8 p.m. | The Senate is now expected to vote to acquit President Donald Trump on Wednesday, one day after the president delivers his State of the Union address to Congress.

After rejecting a move Friday night that would have allowed motions to introduce witnesses and documents to the impeachment proceeding, the two parties huddled to discuss next steps, eventually deciding on a second organizing resolution for the trial that takes it to a conclusion. 

Liberal group endorses Democrats in competitive primaries
PCCC says its backing includes outreach to supporters seeking grassroots donations

Michigan Rep. Fred Upton’s district in Michigan is one of the Republican seats Democrats are seeking to capture this year. A liberal advocacy group endorsed one of the Democrats vying to unseat him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Five Democrats in competitive House primaries in four states were endorsed Friday by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group pushing for liberal policies including the Green New Deal and expansion of Medicare and Social Security. 

The group called the move a “show of progressive energy,” in a news release obtained by CQ Roll Call, and said its endorsements follow those by preferred presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator earlier this week endorsed two of the PCCC-backed candidates, Mondaire Jones in New York’s 17th District and Candace Valenzuela in Texas’s 24th. A third, Georgette Gómez  in California’s 53rd, was endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren’s rival for the progressive mantle in the Democratic presidential primaries.

Trump's Mideast peace plan puts pro-Israel Democrats in a bind
Possible lasting break between the Israeli government and Democratic lawmakers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House Tuesday announcing a new plan for Middle East peace (Getty Images)

The White House’s release of its long-awaited Middle East plan is notable less for its specifics, which have already been rejected by the Palestinians, than for the bind it puts on traditional pro-Israel stalwarts in the Democratic Party, particularly if Israel decides to formally annex Palestinian land as the administration plan would immediately allow.

The administration’s 180-page “Peace to Prosperity” proposal released Tuesday, also called “The Vision,” is the three-year brainchild of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. “The Vision provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River,” states a White House outline of the proposal.

Momentum on marijuana moves to statehouses
With Congress stalled and state ballot initiatives scarce, legislatures will become main arena for debates

A bill in the House to legalize marijuana faces an uncertain future, the Senate has not moved legislation that would allow marijuana businesses to bank and opportunities to legalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives have winnowed. The result is state legislatures will be the main arena for legalization debates. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Marijuana legalization campaigns will increasingly run through state capitols as Congress remains stalled, advocates say.

A bill in the House to legalize marijuana faces an uncertain future, and the Senate has not moved legislation that would allow marijuana businesses to bank. Meanwhile, opportunities to legalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives have winnowed; while nine other states and the District of Columbia approved commercial sales through ballot initiatives, just 23 states and the district allow such initiatives.