July 22, 2014
CC by: DonkeyHotey

There are lots of reasons to believe the November elections should be great for the Republican Party: Midterms are generally kind to the out-of-power party, the president's party almost always loses seats in year six of an administration, the 2014 map is favorable to Republicans, and President Obama's approval ratings are pretty low. Republicans even have reasonable hopes for a really big "wave" election, like every election since 2006, minus 2012.

But if the Republicans are going to ride an anti-Democratic wave to big pickups in the House and Senate, there are scant signs of it now, says Nate Cohn at The New York Times.

The race for the Senate, at least right now, is stable. There aren't many polls asking whether voters would prefer Democrats or Republicans to control Congress, but the Democrats appear to maintain a slight edge among registered voters. Democratic incumbents in red Republican states, who would be all but doomed in a Republican wave, appear doggedly competitive in places where Mitt Romney won by as much as 24 points in 2012.... The light-blue Democratic states and purple presidential battleground states, like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, all seem to be heading toward tight races or Democratic wins, as one would expect in a fairly neutral year. [New York Times]

None of that means Republicans will have a bad year, or even that they won't win control of the Senate in a non-wave election. In fact, there weren't clear signs of a wave election in 2006, 2008, or 2010 until after this point in the election cycle, Cohn writes. "But as July turns to August, the GOP is now on the clock.... Every day that goes by without a shift toward the GOP increases the odds that there will not be a wave at all." Peter Weber

4:17 p.m. ET
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Randolph "Tex" Alles will be the next director of the U.S. Secret Service, President Trump announced Tuesday. Alles will take over for Secret Service Deputy Director William Callahan, who stepped up after former director Joseph Clancy retired in March.

Alles served in the Marines for 35 years, before retiring as a major general in 2011. He is now acting deputy commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection. The New York Times noted Alles will be the first Secret Service director "in at least a century not to have served among the agency's ranks."

Alles will take over an agency that has lately been plagued with scandals and structural issues, amid multiple White House security breaches in recent years. Becca Stanek

3:34 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump bragged that "no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days" than his, although Amnesty International's new list is probably not what he had in mind. The non-governmental organization published 100 ways Trump has threatened human rights in the U.S. and around the world, ranging from "closing borders and shutting the door to refugees" to "emboldening and arming human rights abusers" to "hostility toward LGBT rights."

"These first 100 days show how dangerous Trump's agenda is, and they’re also a roadmap for how to stop it and protect human rights in the U.S. and around the world," said Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. "When we sat down to document the first 100 days, it didn't take long to identify 100 ways this administration has tried to violate people's human rights. What's incredible isn't just all the ways the Trump administration has tried to deny people freedom, justice, and equality — but all the ways that the public has pushed back and refused to let it happen."

See the full list, with informative drop-down explanations, at Amnesty International. Jeva Lange

3:09 p.m. ET

As much as he hated to say it, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh admitted Tuesday on his national radio show that he has an inkling President Trump is "caving" on his promise to use the spending bill to get his funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. "I'm very, very troubled to have to pass this on. And I want to say at the outset that I hope my interpretation is wrong, and I hope this is not the case," Limbaugh said. "But it looks like, from here — right here, right now —it looks like President Trump is caving on his demand for a measly $1 billion in the budget for his wall."

Limbaugh argued that Trump should not be intimidated by Democrats' "stupid silly threat of a government shutdown to get their way," which in this case is not funding Trump's border wall. If the government does not pass a budget by its Friday deadline, the government will shut down. However, Limbaugh warned that if Trump forgoes his plan to risk a government shutdown for his proposed border wall, then Democrats "will have just learned that this threat works on Trump too, not just all the other Republicans."

Trump said Monday that he would consider getting his funding for the wall in the fall, instead of as part of the spending bill. On Tuesday, however, Trump tweeted that he has not changed his position on getting the wall built.

Listen to the Limbaugh segment below. Becca Stanek

2:59 p.m. ET
Al Bello/Getty Images

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and retired New York Yankees star Derek Jeter have won the auction to purchase the Miami Marlins baseball team, a person familiar with the deal told Bloomberg. The sale contract has not yet been signed, and the person with knowledge of the situation did not reveal how much Bush and Jeter will pay for the team.

The family of President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly had a "handshake agreement" to buy the Marlins from the current owner, Jeffrey Loria. Only, for a series of reasons including a rumored ambassadorship for Loria and the potentially thorny nearness of the baseball stadium to the president's preferred residence, the Kushner family dropped out.

Jeter has dreamed of owning a baseball team since he retired in 2014, Bleacher Report writes. "In my mind, this is the greatest sport in the world," Jeter said. "I think baseball is taking somewhat of a back seat to some of the other sports. Some of the other sports are the sexy sports." Bush, on the other hand, wanted to be president but apparently owning a baseball team is the next best thing.

Loria purchased the Marlins for $158 million in 2002. On Tuesday, Forbes reported the Bush-Jeter team have enough money to put down "about $200 million of equity and are currently 'running around looking to raise money.'" Jeva Lange

2:46 p.m. ET

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Tuesday that Mexico considers President Trump's proposed border wall a "hostile" act and he emphasized again that the country will not contribute to the cost of the wall in any way, Reuters reports.

Earlier in April, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Videgaray, but admitted they did not have a conversation about the wall. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who supports the wall, has said flatly that "Mexico's not going to pay" despite Trump's repeated promises.

Trump's wall is expected to cost between $21 billion and $70 billion. His insistence that Congress include an early $1.5 billion for the wall in a spending bill this week threatened to upend budget negotiations. Trump has since said he is open to postponing the demand. Jeva Lange

2:20 p.m. ET

Scientists have managed to keep prematurely born baby sheep alive for four weeks in an "artificial womb" known as a "biobag." The womb, which STAT described as a "plastic bag filled with fluid to mimic the conditions of the inside of the uterus," is being developed and tested with the hope of eventually being used to help keep prematurely born human babies alive.

Currently, infants born before 24 weeks into a pregnancy only have about a 50 percent chance of survival, and the technology used to keep them alive can cause damage. The Atlantic reported as many as 30,000 American babies are born annually before they're 26 weeks.

The lambs were delivered from the artificial womb with lung function comparable to that of lambs born naturally. "The duration of support is outstanding," said Dr. George Mychaliska, a pediatric and fetal surgeon at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Watch the astounding invention in action below. Becca Stanek

2:11 p.m. ET
Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Breitbart News has been denied a request for permanent press passes to cover Congress and its current temporary passes, which expire May 31, will not be extended, BuzzFeed News reports. Breitbart has spent the last month petitioning the standing committee of the U.S. Senate Daily Press Gallery for the passes, which serve as a symbol of legitimacy for reporters covering the Hill.

In late March, the committee denied Breitbart's initial request for permanent passes, citing a need for "more answers" regarding Stephen Bannon's role with the company. Bannon served as the organization's former executive chair, and now works as the White House chief strategist. The committee expressed concerns about Bannon's potentially ongoing involvement in Breitbart, which sparked CEO Larry Solov to send the committee a written masthead purporting to show that Bannon severed ties with the media organization in November. But beyond "us trusting Larry," a committee member noted that there was no actual evidence proving Bannon had divorced himself from Breitbart.

The committee's concerns remained upon review in April. The members noted that Bannon's date of departure, disclosed on White House financial forms, was different than the date suggested by Solov. Additionally, the committee was concerned with the masthead's ties to outside groups, such as the conservative nonprofit Government Accountability Institute. What's more, Breitbart does not have an office that is zoned for commercial use. Solov told the committee he is looking for a new office, but the issue has not been resolved and he offered no update.

"The whole thing suggests to me they are not ready for a credential," a committee member said. Jeva Lange

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