When Rep. Henry Waxman announced his retirement last month, he insisted he was not leaving out of frustration with Congress. The Democrat who was rumored to be running for his empty seat in California, however, may be staying out of the race because of it.
“While I strongly considered offering my candidacy for Congress, I feel there is a better way for me to advance the causes that are important to our community,” Fluke told the Los Angeles Times late Tuesday night.
The lawyer and women’s-rights activist plans to run instead for the state Senate, where she believes she would be able to accomplish more than she would have in Congress. Fluke has a point: Aside from skirting congressional gridlock, staying in state government means Fluke will actually wind up with a larger constituency than she would have had in Congress, as California has more congressional districts than it does state Senate districts.
Fluke had moved from “strongly considering” a congressional run last week to seeking party support by filing with the California Democratic Party on Tuesday. The decision suggested to many that Fluke was already gearing up for a congressional campaign.
Fluke’s turnaround could be due to competition for Waxman’s seat. Democrat Ted Lieu already has a state senator’s gig under his belt, and former City Controller Wendy Greuel was expected to attract a similar set of voters as Fluke would have. Fluke worked with EMILY’s List, a political action committee that seeks to elect Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights, during the 2012 election, but the group backed Greuel in an unsuccessful Los Angeles mayoral race last year.
Fluke’s decision to run for state Senate mirrors a growing movement among state governments to push ahead on policy issues, such as raising the minimum wage and expanding prekindergarten education, that are stalled at the federal level. These days, a young, up-and-coming politician can more easily build a reputation in local government for getting things done than she could in Congress.
Fluke became a national political celebrity in 2012, when conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” after her congressional testimony in favor of requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of contraception.
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.