Mary Lynn Jones

Mary Lynn F. Jones is a Washington-based writer. Her work has also appeared in The Chicago Tribune, National
Journal
, the Washington Business Journal and Barron's Guide to the Most
Competitive Colleges
. A native Washingtonian, Jones has been a regular
political commentator for WMAL-AM and has made numerous radio and television
appearances, including on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation"
and Fox
News Channel. Mary Lynn received her master's degree in journalism from
Columbia University and her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College.

Recent Articles

Byrd's-Eye View

The Senate used to be a place where members argued eloquently -- and at length -- about important issues. Not anymore, according to the man who wrote the chamber's four-volume history. “I've never seen a time as partisanly political as the age in which we live,” Senator Robert Byrd told me on October 6 as he was promoting his book, Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency . “Congress, it seems, is governed by the theme we've got to win. The whole thing is built around winning, not around great service, not around great debates.” Byrd, who has served in Congress for 51 years and in the Senate for 46 of those years, went on: “Here in the Senate, I see a falling away from debates, and I'm so concerned about this. I've never seen the Senate so mute, so timid, so silent when the greatest issue of all, the issue of war and peace, was before the Senate. I've never been ashamed of the Senate until that time. We failed the people, we failed to ask questions, but we're not...

DeLaying the Inevitable

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has Ronald Reagan beat by a mile when it comes to being a Teflon politician. Last month, three of DeLay's aides were indicted on charges of money laundering related to DeLay's successful efforts to redistrict Texas -- although DeLay has distanced himself from the ruling. And on Sept. 30, the House Ethics Committee gave DeLay its least severe punishment even as it revealed that he offered to support Republican Representative Nick Smith's son's congressional campaign if Smith supported the Medicare bill during the marathon vote in November. Smith voted against it, and his son, Brad, never got DeLay's support, according to a list of endorsements on Brad Smith's website. Brad Smith lost his primary race in August. The ethics committee still has not taken action on Democratic Representative Chris Bell's formal ethics complaint against DeLay, which was filed in June. Bell's complaint charged that DeLay may have illegally solicited and accepted political...

No Rest for the Wicked

As far as Karl Rove is concerned, George W. Bush just about has the presidential race wrapped up and the Democrats have no chance of regaining a majority in the Senate. Rove told The Washington Times , in a September 23 interview, that he thinks Republicans will gain as many as four seats to hold a 55-to-45 majority in January. That's exactly the same prediction National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen made last month on Meet the Press . Rove added, "And even a gain of a couple of seats is going to work a sea change on their ability to obstruct these judges." But the poll numbers don't support the idea of such a large GOP pickup. More than a month from election day, many of the races are too close to call, according to recent polls. These include seats held by retiring Democrats and Republicans. “It is way too early to tell,” Democratic political consultant Brad Bannon told me. “In 2002, a lot of close Senate races broke in the last five days of the campaign.”...

Midnight Express

The wee hours of a Friday morning tend not to be a busy time for most people. But it's been a very productive period for House Republicans, who passed six bills during that time in 2003. Democratic Representative Sherrod Brown cataloged the list of legislation passed between midnight and 6 a.m. on Fridays last year for a St. Louis Post-Dispatch column recently. Many of these bills passed by just a handful of votes. The measures cut veterans' benefits as well as Head Start funding and secured $87 billion for Iraq. At 5:55 a.m. on a Saturday, the House passed a prescription-drug bill. As Brown noted, it's convenient to approve measures in the first hours of a Friday morning because coverage is relegated to the Saturday morning papers. Brown told me that it wasn't this way when Democrats ran the House, or even when Newt Gingrich was speaker. But, he added, “None of this is a surprise -- it's taken to a level no one has ever seen.” And it certainly didn't end in 2004. On September 15,...

Boundless Ambition

While voters are focused on the presidential race, there's another election a few years away that deserves notice, too. It's the campaign to succeed Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has pledged to retire from the Senate at the end of 2006. And while it may seem early to think about this next contest, six senators are already reportedly in the running. The list, according to Roll Call , includes former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who criticized Senate leaders on the floor this month for not passing legislation more quickly and for virtually guaranteeing a lame-duck session in November. But Lott stands almost no chance of getting his old job back. While he may have understood the legislative process better than Frist does, Senate Republicans aren't anxious to return him to their most powerful position. That's not because of Lott's racially insensitive remarks, mind you, but because many conservatives believe he compromised too often with Democratic leader Tom Daschle...

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