Lawmaker News

The Greatest of Senators

A lot of big political news today, with Clinton’s big win in Kentucky and Obama’s big win in Oregon. Good news for both candidates.

But the good political news is overshadowed by the bad: word from Boston that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has an inoperable and malignant brain tumor.

Kennedy has already left the hospital to continue his recovery, so it’s certainly too early to write his obituary. But it’s not too early to salute a spectacular career in public service.

The New Buzz on the GOP VP

The latest buzz about in the vice presidential derby is that Eric Cantor, the House Republican chief deputy whip, is being seriously considered. If he isn’t, he should be.

Cantor is the James Brown of politics. He is the hardest-working man in show business (or the politics business, if you will). He is the go-to guy in putting together coalitions and getting votes.

Unlike Washington, D.C., which John Kennedy once said combines Southern efficiency with Northern charm, Cantor has all the Southern graces, but he is brutally efficient in getting the job done.

Cantor understands that raising money is all part of the game, and because of that fact, he is a prodigious fundraiser.

Get Well, Sen. Kennedy: The Lion Will Roar Again

One matter wins complete bipartisan support in Washington: the wish that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the great figures to ever serve in the Senate, will get well soon.

It now appears that Sen. Kennedy is doing fine, coming back, and will probably run for reelection in 2012 and reach an astounding five decades of service in the Senate.

Ted Kennedy is a national treasure; he may well have the most brilliant lifetime body of work and achievements of any individual who has ever served in the upper chamber.

Republicans Turn to Drugs

Overshadowed by Hillary Clinton’s big win in West Virginia was a big victory for Democrats in Mississippi.

In Mississippi’s 1st congressional district, Democrat Travis Childers defeated Republican Greg Davis in a 62 percent Republican district that George W. Bush carried in 2004 with over 60 percent of the vote. And this transpired even though — or maybe because — Dick Cheney flew to Mississippi and spent election eve campaigning for the Republican candidate.

Poor Greg Davis. Campaigning with Cheney proved almost as dangerous as going hunting with him!

Three Makes a Trend

First, it was the Hastert seat. Then Richard Baker’s seat. And now, Roger Wicker.

Four years ago, the House GOP would have easily won special elections in these three districts. But it is not four years ago.

It is amazing how quickly things can change. Four years ago, things seemed to be OK. But that is not the case today.

Most Americans think this country is going in the wrong direction. Many Americans are scared about their own financial futures. Most Americans are worried about their mortgages, about rising gas prices, about rising food prices. Many Americans are worried about the decline in the value of the dollar.

McCain's VP Decision

As the Democratic primary draws to a close, everyone is trying to look around the political corner to see what's next. To get ahead of the game I began writing this post a couple of weeks ago, but procrastination got in the way. Here is the lede I wrote about Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.) as a potential running mate on the Republican ticket:

"A few years ago if you asked the question of which Virginian might be the first to find his way to the White House, you might have said George Allen (R), Mark Warner (D) or maybe even Jim Gilmore (R). The now-obvious answer is Eric Cantor."

The Four-Corner Offense

One of Dean Smith’s innovations when he was the coach at North Carolina was the four-corner offense. His teams would build up a small lead, get possession of the basketball, and then hold onto it for the rest of the game. It was a horrible tactic, and it ruined the game for a while, until the NCAA put in a shot clock, which forced Smith to allow his players to play the game.

Congressional Democrats are doing their version of a four-corner offense, basically running out the clock in this session, avoiding real work, and punting most big issues until next year.

Process Matters

One of the things I learned when I worked for Bob Michel and his legendary floor adviser Bill Pitts is that the legislative process matters.

It matters not only because a good legislative process begets good legislation. It also matters because the legislative process is what separates democracy from tyranny.

The rules of the House have been established for over 200 years to carefully balance the rights of the minority with the needs of the majority to expedite legislation.

Running on Common Ground — And Liking It

Want a better way to start your day? Want to bridge the divides that too often break us apart in Washington?

Yesterday, a host of Washingtonians — White House staffers, diplomats, journalists, philanthropists, businesses, military personnel, members of Congress — together with our capital city's mayor took to the banks of the Anacostia River to run, jog or walk three miles before work. All for an important cause.

Participants in the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) Capital Challenge signed up as teams. California Rep. Jane Harman (D) headed the "Harmaniacs." Mayor Adrian Fenty captained the Fleet Feet team, Alan Holmer from the Treasury Department headed up the Jacksons and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) helmed Team Ensign.

Democratic David Copperfields

Poof! It disappeared without a trace. Then a wave of a wand. It reappeared in their opponents' hand. This week the Democrats lost — no, gave away — the single largest domestic political issue of this year, the mortgage and housing crisis.

Senators returned from their two-week break, where they heard an earful about the economic situation. They also saw the Fed bail out Bear Stearns. Now they were ready to deal on the housing bill the Senate had stifled just a few weeks before. Democrats were in the driver's seat.

What unfolded next was stunning. The bill began taking the shape of Republican legislation as Georgia's Sen. Johnny Isakson got a significant tax credit added. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) appeared at a press conference shoulder-to-shoulder to announce they had worked out a way for the bill to proceed. The Republicans garnered headlines of bipartisan cooperation.