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Congress

ehpien flickr.com/photos/91499534@N00 / Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is praising House passage on Wednesday night of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act. 

Nancy Pelosi beat back her toughest challenge yet to her leadership of Democrats in the House of Representatives, defeating Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan to secure another term as House minority leader.

The California Democrat got 134 votes to Ryan's 63 in a secret ballot vote on Wednesday. Pelosi had boasted going into the vote that she had support from two-thirds of the caucus, and she received just over that amount.

In the past week President-elect Donald Trump has tweeted about Cuba, and the recount funded by the Green Party. He tweeted eleven times about Hillary Clinton and voter fraud, including a controversial tweet in which he claimed that "millions of people voted illegally." Trump re-tweeted a 16-year-old who criticized coverage of CNN, and said people who burn the American flag should face consequences - "perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail!" 

Paul Morigi / Brookings Institution

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy is sounding the alarm on President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head up Health and Human Services in his cabinet.

jennie-o, creative commons

In his recent New Yorker commentary, Jelani Cobb writes about the defiance some states are feeling towards President-elect Trump and his policies. Democratic leaders in California and New York have released statements saying they'll protect their most vulnerable communities. 

Lori Mack/WNPR

Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is anticipating what a Trump presidency could mean for efforts to stall climate change. He assembled a group of Connecticut environmental advocates in New Haven to strategize on Monday.

In the wake of his party's significant losses across the Rust Belt in last week's elections, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan is stepping up to challenge Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's nearly 14-year grip on the House Democratic caucus.

Ryan, a a seven-term lawmaker who represents Youngstown, wrote to his colleagues that "Democrats must not let this opportunity for change pass by without a fight." He noted that the party has hemorrhaged over 60 House seats in the past six years and has only been in the majority for two terms in the past 18 years.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Connecticut’s two United States Senators said they will give a fair hearing to any nominee Donald Trump may send before them for the Supreme Court. 

The Affordable Care Act's requirement that people have health insurance or pay a fine is one of the least popular provisions of the law, and one that Republicans have pledged to eliminate when they repeal and replace Obamacare.

But take a look at some of the replacement proposals that are floating around and it becomes clear that the "individual mandate," as it's called, could still exist, but in another guise.

Republicans have been vowing for six years now to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They have voted to do so dozens of times, despite knowing any measures would be vetoed by President Obama.

But the election of Donald Trump as president means Republican lawmakers wouldn't even have to pass repeal legislation to stop the health law from functioning. Instead, President Trump could do much of it with a stroke of a pen.

No matter who wins the presidential election on Tuesday, it's nearly certain Congress will be more narrowly divided come January.

And with no clear mandate likely coming out of 2016, there is little reason to be overly optimistic that the next Congress can escape the cycle of unproductivity and polarization that has gripped Washington in recent years.


The 115th Congress: Political Dynamics

With little chance of a Democratic House takeover in the 2016 election, the two likeliest scenarios are:

From the outset, Democrats needed a very big-wave election to get to the 30 seats they need to win back control of the House. Then, a video of Donald Trump surfaced showing the GOP nominee making lewd comments, and later multiple women accused him of groping them. That left some wondering if these scandals could trigger that wave.

But that simply hasn't happened.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Election Day is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time to cast your vote in Connecticut's U.S. Senate race. Last month, Republican candidate Dan Carter stopped by for an in-depth look at his campaign. 

This hour, it's Democratic incumbent Richard Blumenthal's turn to answer our questions and hear from you. As always, we take your calls, tweets, and emails.  

A riff by Donald Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Monday night about Hillary Clinton's culpability in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, is raising questions about where exactly Trump got his information and how.

During his speech, Trump held up a piece of paper. "This just came out a little while ago. I have to tell you this," Trump said as he read from the page, which he identified as an email from Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal.

The Supreme Court gets down to work on Tuesday, hearing the first arguments of a new term.

Technically, the court term began on the traditional first Monday in October, but because it fell on the same day as the Jewish New Year, the court's three Jewish justices were absent and the remaining justices conducted only administrative business.

Barry Blitt / The New Yorker

Donald Trump's horrible, terrible week got worse after the New York Times released three pages of Trump's 1995 tax return this weekend. They show he lost nearly $916 million in a year when the economy was thriving. But, that's another story. He may have used legal loopholes in the tax code to make more money off his loss and avoid paying federal income taxes for the next 18 years. Did he? He won't tell. But, he did note at last week's debate that he would be smart if he did. 

It's been nearly eight months since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, leaving the nation's highest court short-handed, and evenly divided on some of the most important legal issues of the day.

While Democrats had expected to exploit GOP stonewalling on a replacement, Republicans have played the issue shrewdly.

Courtesy of Sen. Blumenthal's office

Congress voted to reject President Barack Obama's veto of a bill that would allow the families of September 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. 

Negotiators in the House and Senate have reached a deal on a bill to fund the government through Dec. 9.

Republicans and Democrats have been arguing for weeks to find a way forward before the Sept. 30 deadline in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Last week, negotiations in the Senate appeared to be at a standstill, with Democrats in both chambers insisting that the most recent Republican offer was not enough.

The Senate voted Wednesday to give families of 9/11 victims the right to sue the Saudi Arabian government, overriding President Obama's veto for the first time.

The vote was lopsided, with 97 Senators voting in favor of the override, well above the two-thirds majority needed to overcome the president's objection. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid cast the lone "no" vote. Senators Tim Kaine, D-Va. and Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. did not vote.

Screenshot / C-Span

Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, spoke on the floor of the Senate Wednesday morning to express his frustration over the Republican leadership's inaction on number of issues, including a bipartisan bill he introduced earlier this year that would overhaul the nation's mental health care system.

Ron Cogswell flickr.com/photos/22711505@N05 / Creative Commons

Just days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. House unanimously passed legislation that would allow families of the victims to have their day in court. The bill, which passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year, now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk, where politicians speculate it may be vetoed. 

Sen. Chris Murphy's Office

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has been walking across Connecticut this week to hear from constituents about their issues and concerns, and what they expect from their representatives in Washington. 

The Navy continues struggling to get its new class of warships to work right.

When the USS Coronado set sail last week from Pearl Harbor for a planned deployment across the Pacific Ocean, it suffered engine problems and had to turn back. Before that, the Navy acknowledged that a diesel engine on another ship, the USS Freedom, was in such bad shape, it needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

Both of these are littoral combat ships, known as LCS, which are intended for operations taking place close to shore.

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