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National Govt & Politics
With all the talk of change, 2016 barely shakes up the Congress
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With all the talk of change, 2016 barely shakes up the Congress

With all the talk of change, 2016 barely shakes up the Congress
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

With all the talk of change, 2016 barely shakes up the Congress

One thing that was very clear when you interviewed voters around the nation who backed Donald Trump, was that they wanted to shake things up in Washington, D.C., whether it was in the White House or the Congress. The irony of the final results of Campaign 2016 was that the election did not do much at all to foster change in the halls of Congress.

While Republicans won the White House and kept control of the House and Senate on Tuesday, they did not expand their numbers - as it was not any type of 'wave' election.

"Some surprising things happened, but in a wave election, the party that is in a wave election doesn't lose a half dozen House seats," said political analyst Charlie Cook.

In the end, only a handful of seats changed hands, and that was noticed by the voters.

When compared to recent elections, the turnover in 2016 for the Congress was below average. If you go back to 2004, the average change in the House has been 61 seats for each election (14 percent).

The new Congress that convenes in January will have 57 or 58 new members - that is a 13 percent turnover.

In the Senate, the change was well below the recent average of 11 Senate seats changing hands, as only seven Senators will be new in January.

Democrats gained seats in both the House and Senate, but in limited numbers.

In the House, the GOP will have at a minimum 240 seats, depending on the outcome of a runoff in Louisiana in December.

In the Senate, Democrats have picked up two seats - one in Illinois, one in New Hampshire, leaving one seat in Louisiana still in play for a December runoff.

With the Republicans favored in Louisiana, the Republicans seem likely to have 52 seats in the Senate.

Maybe the most important number in the Senate is 60 votes, the number needed to break a filibuster. Republicans won't be close to that in 2017.

As for the state that saw the most change, that was Florida, which elected four new House members, as two incumbents, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) and Rep. John Mica (R-FL) were defeated.

The irony there is that the GOP lost a net of three seats in Florida, even as Donald Trump was winning that state, on his march to the White House.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum for former President Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was submitted Friday and parts of it were made public Saturday. >> Read more trending news Mueller’s team filed its recommendation for Manafort’s punishment in one of his two criminal cases, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson says it contains sensitive information that prosecutors want to keep secret.  UPDATE 3:30 p.m. EST, Feb. 23: Robert Mueller has recommended a U.S. District Court judge not be lenient when sentencing Paul Manafort, according to an 800-page sentencing memo made public Saturday. In the memo, Mueller alleges Manafort “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law” and shows a “hardened adherence to committing crimes,” the Washington Post reported. Mueller didn’t recommend a specific sentence for Manafort, but noted that federal guidelines call for a sentence of 17 to 22 years. However, under Manafort’s guilty plea, the statutory maximum he faces is 10 years, according to the Washington Post. The special counsel said they may ask Judge Amy Berman Jackson to order a sentence that runs consecutive to whatever sentence Manafort receives in Virginia federal court. 'Based on his relevant sentencing conduct, Manafort presents many aggravating sentencing factors and no warranted mitigating factors,” Mueller wrote. Manafort is set to be sentenced March 8 in Virginia, and will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on March 13. ORIGINAL REPORT: The midnight deadline for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to make recommendations about the sentencing for Paul Manafort passed Friday night, but the report was not publicly released as of Saturday morning.  Manafort, President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, pleaded guilty to several charges last year.  Prosecutors may have sent the document to Judge Amy Berman Jackson under seal, with proposed redactions, CNN reported Saturday. It would then be up to Jackson to decide what happens next. Prosecutors were expected to file the sentencing memo in federal court in Washington, where Manafort pleaded guilty in September to charges including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering. >> More on Robert Mueller's investigation  Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors; however, authorities later said Manafort lied to investigators. Prosecutors are not expected to recommend leniency for him. Manafort’s attorneys will have until midnight Monday to file their own sentencing memo. A judge is expected to hand down Manafort’s sentence March 13 at a 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. >> Judge rules Paul Manafort intentionally lied after agreeing to cooperate In a separate case that also stemmed from Mueller’s investigation, a jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty last summer of tax and bank fraud charges in a case related to work he and an associate did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. Prosecutors last week recommended Manafort serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison and be fined as much as $24 million for those crimes. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced in that case during a 9 a.m. hearing March 8 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, according to a court filing. >> Mueller recommends Paul Manafort be sentenced to 19.5-24.5 years in prison and $24M fine Last month, defense attorneys said Manafort has been kept in solitary confinement for his own safety. He’s had severe gout for several months of his incarceration, according to his attorneys, and it’s sometimes been severe enough to require him to use a wheelchair. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Washington Insider

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their one page plan on Friday to overturn President Donald Trump's bid to funnel more money to a border wall by declaring a national emergency, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters said the House would vote next Tuesday to block the President's executive actions on funding for the wall. 'Members of Congress all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,' the Speaker said. 'The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,' Pelosi wrote earlier this week in a letter to fellow Democrats. Democrats said they already have more than a majority of members signed on to the one page resolution to reject the Trump national emergency. 'We hope that enough of our normal Republican enablers will join us to stand up for the Constitution,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 'If not, we’re ready to turn to the courthouse.' As of Friday, only one Republican in the House had signed on to the plan to reject the President’s national emergency, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “Trump’s absurd declaration of a “national emergency” undercuts the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as approval in the House would send the plan to the Senate. Under special rules governing this process, GOP leaders would not be able to ignore the House action, as a vote must take place on the resolution. But even if it passes in the Senate, a veto is likely by President Trump, and at this point - it seems unlikely that Democrats could muster enough GOP votes for a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto.