The clock is ticking on groups like the Madison Project, Senate Conservatives Fund and ““ to a lesser extent ““ the Club for Growth. Today’s National Journal magazine cover story tracks the GOP establishment striking back in this year’s primaries; the flip side of that story is the relative ineffectiveness of their rebellious conservative counterparts.
— It’s why the primary in Nebraska looms as a major moment in the 2014 campaign. There, after FreedomWorks’ unusual shift, conservative groups are aligned in unison behind Midland University president Ben Sasse against the more establishment-friendly former state treasurer, Shane Osborn. Sasse looks like the favorite right now, although it’s been a competitive race thus far. And if Sasse wins, groups like SCF can likely count on a fundraising victory lap that will spill over into other Senate primaries.
— Other opportunities have petered out. SCF went all in on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s challenger Matt Bevin (R) in a Kentucky race that’s closing with a whimper instead of a bang. (The same goes for Milton Wolf‘s (R) primary in Kansas against Sen. Pat Roberts.) Establishment candidates are on the march in North Carolina and Georgia. Even a candidate like onetime super lobbyist Ed Gillespie (R) in Virginia would seem primed for a challenge from the right; instead, he’s waltzing to the GOP nomination.
— Conservative groups have also lined up behind state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) in Mississippi, but his campaign has been dogged by revelations of a litany of offensive remarks he made as a talk show radio host. If he defeats Sen. Thad Cochran (R), the story might be less about conservative triumph than conservative outside groups giving Democrats, backing former Blue Dog Rep. Travis Childers (D), an outside chance at winning the state.
CFG still has a number of House primaries where they can claim primary victories. But in the Senate landscape, it’s Nebraska or bust.
— Alex Roarty
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The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."
"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.
"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.
Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.