independents

As the Democratic debaters chase their base, Trump has a prime opening
Miami debates are more likely to resemble a bad morality play than an intelligent discussion of issues

When the 2020 Democratic hopefuls debate in Miami, their conundrum of connecting with the party’s anti-Trump base while not alienating middle-of-the-road voters will be on full display, Winston writes. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Hardball presidential politics, a little like Mother Nature, has an unforgiving way of winnowing a field and this go-round there is more to winnow than usual with 24 Democrats vying for their party’s nomination.

In the wild, it’s called survival of the fittest and that seems an apt description for today’s presidential primary process, regardless of party.

Perfect attendance? Not for Democratic presidential hopefuls
Members of Congress running for president have already been missing votes

Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are among the Democratic presidential candidates who may have a schedule crunch between votes and the debates this week.  Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Any time a member of Congress runs for president, there is a tension between voting on Capitol Hill and campaigning on the trail. It’s still relatively early in the 2020 cycle, but the seven senators and four House members running are already racking up absences. 

All of the sitting lawmakers who are seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination have already missed votes, some more than others. And with the first of the party’s presidential debates taking place on Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, several of them are likely to miss more votes this week. 

Trump admits he lacks exit strategy for an Iran war
Candidate Trump harshly criticized ‘stupid wars’ in Middle East that U.S. couldn’t untangle

Peshmerga fighters are seen driving along the frontline outside the town of Altun Kubri on October 23, 2017 in Altun Kubri, Iraq. President Donald Trump long criticized George W. Bush and Barack Obama for their lack of exit strategies in the Middle East. Now, he might need one for war with Iran. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday he has no plan for how to get out of war with Iran if one breaks out, even though he campaigned on ending protracted American wars in the Middle East that he long has called “stupid.”

Hours after he responded to insults by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by warning him of “obliteration” if a shooting conflict starts, CQ Roll Call asked Trump this during an unrelated event in the Oval Office: “Do you have an exit strategy for Iran, if war does break out?”

Chuck Schumer wants Senate to vote on Iran, after the Democratic debates
New York Democrat: All senators should be present for vote on restricting Trump actions

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.,  wants all senators present for a vote related to Iran policy.(Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants senators to vote on restricting the ability of the Trump administration to go to war with Iran, but he suggested Monday that vote should not take place until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

“One of the best ways to avoid bumbling into a war is to have a robust, open debate, and for Congress to have some say,” the Democrat from New York said on the Senate floor.

Power of New York, Texas hinges on immigrant count
Census will determine which states win or lose in redistricting

Texas could gain as many as three seats in Congress after the 2020 census — but not if the census response rate falls among noncitizens in the Lone Star State. (Courtesy Scott Dalton/U.S. Census Bureau)

Two states that have the most on the line in the Supreme Court case over the citizenship question in the 2020 census are taking drastically different approaches to the decennial count next year.

New York and Texas could have the biggest swings in congressional representation after the 2020 census. New York is projected to lose two seats, and Texas could gain as many as three, according to forecasting by the nonpartisan consulting firm Election Data Services. 

Only 3 percent of Democratic voters want a president in their 70s, survey finds
Pew found that the age of presidential candidates is important to potential voters, and they prefer younger candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden would be 78 on Inauguration Day 2021. While he’s the current front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, a recent poll finds the party’s voters largely prefer their presidents younger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be inching toward their 80th birthdays come Election Day.

Though Biden and Sanders are polling well among Democratic voters, their success belies what voters told the Pew Research Center in a new poll on how they see the age of candidates.

When sanctions become weapons of mass disruption
A popular foreign policy tool can often have unintended consequences

Russian state energy firm Gazprom is leading work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is the target of a sanctions bill by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Ted Cruz. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

These days, it seems lawmakers believe every foreign policy challenge can be resolved by imposing sanctions.

Worried that Russia will interfere in the 2020 presidential election? Concerned about the international community bringing Syria’s Bashar Assad in from the cold? Horrified by China’s mistreatment of its Uighur Muslim community? There are sanctions bills for all of them.

Congressional leaders, White House give spending caps talks another try
Fall government shutdown looms if both sides can’t agree on a deal

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, center right, here with ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, says both sides are closer to a deal on spending caps than they have been to date. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials plan to meet with congressional leaders Wednesday — for the second time in as many months — to reach a deal on spending limits that would prevent another government shutdown this fall.

The first meeting, on May 21, produced some initial hopes that a bipartisan deal could be reached relatively quickly, avoiding a breakdown in the appropriations process when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Trump again pressures Fed to cut rates with lukewarm comment about its chairman
President says he wants a ‘level playing field’ from central bank

President Donald Trump answers questions as he departs the White House on April 26. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday opted against giving a public vote of confidence to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as the central bank mulls a possible interest rate cut in coming weeks.

“Let’s see what he does,” the president said, appearing to suggest Powell’s future as chairman could be linked to whether the Fed answers his call and slashes rates.

Angus King gives Susan Collins a rose after her 7,000th Senate vote

Sen. Angus King offers a rose to his Maine colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, after her 7,000th Senate vote.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins cast her 7,000th vote on the Senate floor Tuesday, having never missed a roll call vote since joining the Senate in 1997.