Vermont

Mueller probe could spark historic balance of powers debate
Lawmakers, administration set for battle over how much of report to make public

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III walks after attending church on Sunday in Washington. He turned in his report on the Russia investigation to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The political spotlight focused brightest on reticent special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for nearly two years, his every legal move and court filing scrutinized by a country eager to decipher what the Russia investigation had uncovered about President Donald Trump.

But with Mueller’s work done, the question changes from what Mueller found to how much of it House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other lawmakers can make public.

Trump continues to bash McCain as ‘horrible’ for role in Russia dossier
President blames media for asking questions about his unprompted criticism seven months after McCain’s death

Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain, and their son Jimmy follow an honor guard carrying the senator’s casket out of the Washington National Cathedral after his funeral in September 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump continued his feud with the late Sen. John McCain, calling the Arizona Republican “horrible” for handing to the FBI the so-called dossier of unflattering information about his pre-White House activities in Russia.

Trump has been lashing out at McCain for nearly a week after he apparently was reminded about the former Senate Armed Services chairman’s role in turning over that document to federal investigators. During a speech Wednesday ostensibly about the economy, the president even criticized the deceased senator and his family for not thanking him for approving parts of McCain’s funeral plans that needed a presidential green light.

So you want to be on ‘Jeopardy!’? The online test draws nigh
If you’re a political wonk, you can follow in the footsteps of four congressional staffers

Isaac Loeb, a legislative aide of Vermont Democrat Rep. Peter Welch, playing Jeopardy. (Courtesy Isaac Loeb)

Alex Trebek may have pancreatic cancer, but the game show must go on. The longtime host, who announced his diagnosis earlier this month, is still taping new episodes of “Jeopardy!” — and the show is still hunting for new contestants.

Mark your calendars, because the official “Jeopardy!” online test opens in less than a week. The exam is your ticket to an in-person audition, provided you can nail 50 questions, each from a different category. 

John McCain’s wife: My husband’s legacy ‘under attack’
Cindy McCain pushed back against Trump’s recent comments in fundraising letter for McCain Institute

Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., looks at the casket during a memorial service at the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, Pool)

The widow of Sen. John McCain pushed back against President Donald Trump’s continued attacks against the late Arizona Republican.

“The legacy and record of John McCain are under attack,” Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, wrote in a fundraising email for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

Shrinking victims fund signals tough times for appropriators
The program’s finances are drying up, and committees may not be able to depend on it to fill funding gaps elsewhere

Leahy: higher costs, less money to go around in fiscal 2020, even if there's a caps deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s been an unspoken rule among appropriators for years: if the annual Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee allocation feels a little light, fear not. There’s always money in the Crime Victims Fund.

However, the good times may be coming to an end. The program’s finances are drying up, and the Appropriations Committees are facing major new obligations in fiscal 2020 that will stretch the means of panel leaders even if there’s a deal to lift austere spending caps for next year.

Trump's 2020 budget seeks 7 percent rise in Secret Service funding for 2020 campaign
The budget summary says it seeks to hire 177 additional special agents, officers and professional staff for the agency

A Secret Service agent wipes down a presidential limousine on Inauguration Day 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump's fiscal 2020 budget proposal seeks $2.3 billion to fund the U.S. Secret Service, an increase of 7 percent over the estimated spending for 2019 and some 15 percent above actual spending for 2018, according to budget documents released this week.

Much of the extra money in discretionary budget authority would go to protecting presidential candidates during the 2020 campaign and for the two national political conventions, plus hiring more agents, and more money for research and development and "protective equipment and technology." 

Colorado joins effort to elect presidents by popular vote, go around Electoral College
Colorado is the latest state to join a group pledging to elect presidents based on who wins the national popular vote

Trump's election in 2016 boosted interest in the national popular vote — at least among Democrats. (Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call file photo)

Colorado has become the latest state — and the first swing state — to join a group pledging to elect presidents based on who wins the national popular vote.

Eleven other states and the District of Columbia have signed onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement that requires those states to select their presidential electors based on who wins the most individual votes nationwide, regardless of which candidate wins in the state.

Beto O’Rourke breaks presidential fundraising record with $6.1 million haul
Texas Democrat on campaign swing through states Trump won in 2016 after launching campaign Friday

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke shakes hands as he arrives at a St. Patrick’s Day party in Dubuque, Iowa, on Saturday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Beto O’Rourke raised a record-breaking $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his presidential campaign on Friday.

The former Texas Democratic congressman collected $6,136,763 from donors in every U.S. state and territory, his campaign announced in a news release Monday.

Disaster aid vote is expected after recess, but what’s in it is still in the works
Several issues, including Puerto Rico, continue to be sticking points

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate leaders are teeing up a vote after the weeklong St. Patrick’s Day recess on an as-yet-undefined disaster aid package for victims of major storms and other natural disasters during the last two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Thursday filed a motion to limit debate on proceeding to a $14.2 billion disaster aid bill the House passed in January.

Small-dollar donors could hold the balance in 2020
Concerns about money in politics are empowering individual voters

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday, collected almost half of his $79 million Senate haul last cycle from small donations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Poll after poll shows that a wide majority of Americans denounce the role of money in the nation’s political campaigns — so their behavior in response might come as a surprise: More Americans are donating to candidates, particularly in small-dollar increments.

Molly McCloskey, a 27-year-old who works in advertising in Chicago, said she ponied up several donations, none larger than $40 and most closer to $15, in last year’s campaigns to support Democratic candidates. “There were times where I felt helpless, so I donated,” McCloskey said. “It felt like some sort of action, like I was doing something.”