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Q&A with Sen. Tom Cotton
Q&A with Sen. Ron Wyden
Q&A with Rep. Louie Gohmert
Q&A with Rep. Ted Lieu
Q&A with Sen. Tim Scott


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Rudy Takala's Columns

Q&A with Sen. Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton is a rare member of Congress. He's one of just over a dozen who served on the front lines of either Iraq or Afghanistan, and one of just four in the Senate. The 39-year-old Harvard Law alumnus is also the upper chamber's youngest member.

For perspective, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch had been a senator for four months when Cotton was born in 1977, while the Senate's oldest member, 82-year-old California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, was already on her second marriage.

Q&A with Sen. Ron Wyden

Ron Wyden has spent more than 35 years in Congress, the last 20 of which as a senator. Members with that long of a track record often seem to have an unusually high degree of trust in the inherent virtue of government, and they are sometimes more dismissive of checks and balances on government power.

Wyden, who was born to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, represents an exception to that rule. The senior Democrat from Oregon, who sits on his chamber's Select Committee on Intelligence, is often the most persistent thorn in the side of his colleagues.

Q&A with Rep. Louie Gohmert

When Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert first ran for Congress in 2004, the former Texas judge was hoping to make a difference for those who entered his court. Too many federal laws, he believed, were preventing them from reaching their potential.

Since that time, Gohmert said, he has found that the design of Congress makes it hard for those laws to change, and that even his own party is often unhelpful. "Too often we go along to get along, and we keep doing the same thing," he told the

Q&A with Rep. Ted Lieu

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., is in his first term as a member of Congress, but he's quickly gained national attention for his work on cybersecurity. The Stanford graduate is one of just four members with a degree in computer science, and he believes Congress is in the "dark ages" on certain related issues.

"With 10 being very secure and one being not, I would say about a two," Lieu said when asked to rank how secure the average member was from hackers.

Q&A with Sen. Tim Scott

For a member of the United States Senate, Tim Scott comes from an unusual background. Instead of the affluence or familial political legacy that characterizes members of the chamber, he recalls growing up in poverty. And he says that experience, coupled with his Christian faith, define who he is today.

"I do think that my experience growing up in poverty, a single-parent household, living with my grandparents in a very small house, sharing a bedroom with my mother and my brother for a couple years, all of that informed me and sensitized me to the average person in the average place in our country today," Scott told the 

FCC's Ajit Pai: Something changing in America about the First Amendment

Ajit Pai, the son of immigrants from India, grew up in Parsons, a city of 10,000 in rural Kansas, before going to Harvard University and the University of Chicago for law school. His parents came to the United States with "about $10 in their pockets, a willingness to work very hard, and a belief in the American Dream."

Appointed to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in 2012, Pai is one of the most outspoken proponents of free speech on the Internet in Washington.

Q&A with Rep. Dave Brat

Only one person can say he defeated a sitting majority leader in the House of Representatives: Republican Rep. David Brat, currently in his first term representing the 7th district of Virginia.

Brat shocked the nation when he beat former Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a June 2014 Republican primary. Brat focused almost exclusively on doing something about illegal immigration and reducing federal debt. He won comfortably, 55.5-45.5 percent. Before the election, pollsters projected he would lose by up to 40 percent.

Q&A with Rep. Will Hurd

Rep. Will Hurd, in his first term representing a western Texas district that includes San Antonio, is unique to Congress in several ways. Most notably, he is the only member to have worked as a case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency during the war on terrorism.

That service included tours in Afghanistan and India, in addition to time undercover in Pakistan. The experience gave him a national security focus, especially when it comes to American policies in the Middle East that he believes are misguided.

Q&A with Rep. Mike Pompeo

Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, elected to Congress out of Kansas in 2010, serves as a relatively stalwart conservative in the House. The political action arm of the Heritage Foundation gave him an 83 percent rating, and he gets a 91 percent rating from the conservative FreedomWorks.

Pompeo shares at least one more quality with one of his conservative colleagues in Congress: He served on the Harvard Law Review with Sen. Ted Cruz, though they didn't become acquainted at the time.

FEC's Lee Goodman: Federal power grabs are the real 'dysfunction'

In the  Washington Examiner.

The Federal Election Commission was formed by Congress in 1975 to regulate federal campaign spending limits. As Supreme Court decisions have loosened limits on campaign spending over the past decade, the role of the agency in regulating political speech has become an increasingly contentious issue.

By law, the commission is divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, which means that any action the commission takes must receive bipartisan support. Yet over the past couple of years, liberals on the commission have proposed creating new, unprecedented authorities for the agency to engage in regulatory activity.
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