Franken, Franks, Conyers leave office
Amid scandal, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Michigan Rep. John Conyers and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks all resigned from their positions after increasingly loud calls to do so. Franken stepped down after eight women accused him of inappropriate conduct. Meanwhile, Franks resigned after reporters revealed that he offered a female employee $5 million to bear his child. Conyers’ abrupt retirement came following leaked confidential details regarding secret congressional settlements of sexual harassment cases. The resignations open three particularly uncompetitive seats, but will nonetheless welcome three new faces to a quickly changing Congress.
Trump wants Moore, Shelby doesn’t
In statements, a speech in Pensacola, Fla. and recorded robocalls, President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. Meanwhile, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby has stated he will not be voting for Moore. The embattled Moore, fighting back from a rush of accusations of improper relations with minors, now holds an average lead of 2.2 points over challenger Doug Jones, according to Real Clear Politics.
Government shutdown pushed back until Christmas
Congress passed a measure to delay a federal government shutdown for two weeks as party leaders scrambled to narrow extremely wide gulfs between them on issues of taxes and border security, among others. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was optimistic, but as of yet, neither side has made any promise of compromise.
Trump talks moonshot
President Trump signed an order directing the National Aeronautic and Space Administration to plan, prepare and execute a moonshot and begin work on a trip to Mars in the near-term. This order is the first in many years and would be a big leap forward for NASA. Space Policy Directive 1 is Trump’s first NASA-oriented measure.
Oregon Senator walks back support of natural gas terminal
US Senator Jeff Merkley dropped his support for a proposed natural gas export facility in Coos Bay, Ore., further establishing his credentials as a staunch environmentalist and angering supporters of the big ticket project. The senator becomes the first major politician in Oregon to stand against the project, which has been rejected by regulators once before; the project is likely to see more favorable ground in the Trump administration. Governor Kate Brown has yet to announce her position on the project.
Portland Housing Bureau head ousted, Wheeler reportedly unhappy with performance
Mayor Ted Wheeler fired Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager on Thursday, ending the latter’s two-year career. According to a report in the Oregonian by Jessica Floum, Wheeler was reportedly unhappy with Creager’s handling of personnel issues and the management of bond funds. This makes the sixth bureau head to be axed by Wheeler.
Vera Katz, 1933-2017
Former Portland Mayor and Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Vera Katz passed away on Dec. 11. She was 84. A refugee that fled the dawning of Nazi Germany with her family, Katz was famous for her trailblazing career which spanned several decades, culminating in three terms as mayor, which three of her successors have failed to match and at which her fourth has yet to get a chance. Among Katz’s achievements are numerous re-makings of the fabric of Portland, including the Rose Quarter and the streetcar system, as well as becoming the first female Speaker of the Oregon House.