Democratic Rep. Bill Owens announced Tuesday that he won’t seek reelection in 2014, the latest in a string of recent retirements by House moderates. His decision will will leave Democrats defending a vulnerable House seat in upstate New York this fall.Owens, who is serving just his second full term after coming to Congress via a special election in 2009, said in a statement: “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection for the 21st Congressional District this November…. It is time for me to undertake new endeavors and spend more time with my family.”
But the “related news” section of Owens’s website, below his retirement announcement, might be more telling. The next news release listed is titled, “Owens Frustrated With Stalled Farm Bill Negotiations.” A handful of other moderates from both parties have also announced retirements in the past few months, with many citing congressional gridlock as part of their impetus for getting out of the legislating game. According to National Journal‘s 2012 vote ratings, Owens was the 10th-most conservative Democrat from that year still in the House. Two other conservative Democrats (Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina) have already announced their retirements, making their seats likely Republican pickups in the 2014 elections.
Owens was also facing a tough reelection in a battleground district, with Republicans touting former Bush official Elise Stefanik as one of their stronger recruits this cycle. President Obama carried the 21st District with 52 percent of the area’s votes in both 2008 and 2012, but it was a longtime Republican seat, represented by current Secretary of the Army John McHugh, before Owens captured it in 2009. Both that year and in 2010, Owens won despite getting only 48 percent of the vote, thanks to third-party candidacies splitting the vote.
A slate of moderate Republicans, including Reps. Jon Runyan of New Jersey, Tom Latham of Iowa, Frank Wolf of Virginia, and Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, will also retire in 2014, sparking competitive election races.
What We're Following See More »
Given the Senate's inaction on the continuing budget resolution (so far), the White House "said it has begun to work with agencies to prepare for the possibility of a large swath of the federal workforce being furloughed without pay beginning at midnight." Even if a shutdown occurs, however, "Senate procedures will allow the chamber to approve the CR with only a handful of Democrats in support by Sunday morning. Of the roughly 900,000 federal employees who were subject to furloughs in agencies’ most recent calculations, most would not be materially impacted as they do not work on weekends."
President Obama has called for a "full review" of the hacking that took place during the 2016 election cycle, according to Obama counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco. Intelligence officials say it is highly likely that Russia was behind the hacking. The results are not necessarily going to be made public, but will be shared with members of Congress.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are threatening to block the spending bill—and prevent the Senate from leaving town—"because it would not extend benefits for retired coal miners for a year or pay for their pension plans. The current version of the bill would extend health benefits for four months. ... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday afternoon moved to end debate on the continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28. But unless Senate Democrats relent, that vote cannot be held until Saturday at 1 a.m. at the earliest, one hour after the current funding measure expires."
The South Korean parliament voted on Friday morning to impeach President Park Geun-hye over charges of corruption, claiming she allowed undue influence to a close confidante of hers. Ms. Park is now suspended as president for 180 days. South Korea's Constitutional Court will hear the case and decide whether to uphold or overturn the impeachment.