Johnson won't seek re-election in 2014
On Tuesday of this week, Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced that he would not seek another term in 2014. Johnson's retirement is a blow to Democratic hopes to maintain or grow their majorities in the upper chamber.
Popular former SD Governor Mike Rounds (R) immediately becomes the favorite to flip this seat to Republican hands in a state Mitt Romney won by 18 points over President Obama in 2012.
Senator Brown to Chair Banking Committee?
Now that current Senate Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD) has announced that he will not seek another term in 2014, Hill watchers are already speculating about who could replace the retiring Johnson. One name that has caused more than casual concern on Wall Street is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D).
While Brown is fourth in line to succeed Johnson atop the powerful Banking Committee, all three of the Senators in line in front of him have reasons to take a pass. There have been few louder voices in either chamber when it comes to bank regulation than Sherrod Brown.
Brown offered legislation in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis, and again this year, aimed at breaking up the big banks and he has been an outspoken critic of what he sees as unscrupulous behavior on Wall Street.
Judd won't seek Senate
On Wednesday, Hollywood actress Ashley Judd announced via Facebook and Twitter that she would not be seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
While Judd would have brought star power and Hollywood money to the race, many Democrats in Washington and Kentucky feared the outspoken liberal activist would be a tough sell in conservative Kentucky. Judd's announcement paves the way for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who said she plans to form an exploratory committee as early as next week.
While Judd passed on running in 2014, she did leave open the possibility of challenging Kentucky's junior Senator Rand Paul (R) in 2016.
Supreme Court considers same-sex marriage
This week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases dealing with same-sex marriage. The first case, a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8 in California that banned same-sex marriage, was brought by conservative super lawyer Ted Olson and liberal super lawyer David Boies (Olson and Boies squared off in 2000 in the landmark Bush v. Gore case that decided the 2000 Presidential election). The second case is a challenge to the 1996 federal law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
After oral arguments, Supreme Court watchers trying to read the tea leaves suspect that we could be headed for a split decision of sorts. Many of the Justices expressed concern about hearing the Prop 8 case based on the standing of the parties challenging the law. If the Court were to dismiss the Prop 8 case it would leave the 9th Circuit decision -- overturning Prop 8 and legalizing same-sex marriage in California -- in place, but would not go as far as some activists had hoped the Court might in finding a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.
While the Court may punt on Prop 8, it appears that there is a majority on the Supreme Court that has serious concerns about the Constitutionality of DOMA, which could mean the end of the Clinton-era law. A ruling on both cases is expected some time in June.
A look ahead:
The House and the Senate remain in recess next week and will return to work the week of April 8th.
President Obama will send his long anticipated budget to the Hill on April 10th.
Washington by the numbers:
12,000 - the number of meal deliveries that will be lost by the West Michigan Meals on Wheels program as a result of the loss of $50,000 in funding due to sequestration.
If you dropped $400 on a client lunch, but spend $4.50 on a late dinner out of the office vending machine... you might be a Washington lawyer.
Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.737.8933
McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
101 Constitution Avenue NW, Suite 600 East, Washington, D.C. 20001