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Congress

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.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The U.S. Secretary of Education stopped by Hartford on Wednesday to talk about the importance of school diversity. 

Secretary John King only has a few months left in his position, but he made one thing clear to an audience of about 100 educators and students -- diversity helps everyone.

Esther Shittu / WNPR

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal met with members of the CaroGen Corporation in Farmington on Wednesday to discuss what can be done to help develop vaccines for the Zika virus.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Two of Connecticut's more conservative voices formerly in Congress announced on Wednesday that they will vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

House Speaker Paul Ryan easily defeated conservative business executive Paul Nehlen in Wisconsin's primary Tuesday night.

"I am humbled and honored that Wisconsinites in the 1st Congressional District support my efforts to keep fighting on their behalf," said a statement Ryan released late Tuesday. "Janna and I are grateful to have the support of so many in southern Wisconsin, and we are truly thankful for all of their hard work."

courtesy CT Students for a Dream

Local Connecticut advocates are taking part in the launch of a national campaign for immigration reform called Reason for Reform.

PBS NewsHour

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy gave an impassioned speech about gun control at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, telling the crowd he has a sense of outrage he's never felt before.

President Obama is expected to sign a federal GMO labeling bill into law soon. This would nullify Vermont's labeling law, as well as laws passed by Connecticut and Maine that have not been enacted yet — effective immediately.

After years of bitter debate and legislative stalemate over the labeling of genetically modified ingredients, a compromise proposal sailed through Congress in breathtaking speed over the past three weeks.

The House of Representative passed the measure on Thursday with solid support from both Democrats and Republicans. It now goes to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it.

With the overwhelming support of the Senate, Dr. Carla Hayden has been approved as the next librarian of Congress.

Hayden, the head of Baltimore's public library system and the former president of the American Library Association, is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post.

Hayden was nominated by President Obama in February, but a vote on her nomination wasn't held until Wednesday.

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.

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