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George Norcross’ corruption charges have top Democrats in New Jersey rushing to distance themselves from the scandal-ridden power broker. His money trail through the federal campaigns machine is more murky, however.

Norcross has not directly donated to any candidates in Congress in recent years besides his brother, Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), according to FEC records.

So while indictments of prominent officials usually prompt one party to prod the opposition’s lawmakers to return donations, Republicans will have a harder time yoking any Democratic members of Congress to Norcross.

Instead, his more direct efforts have largely focused on New Jersey politics, with some attention to neighboring Pennsylvania. There is a network of groups, including super PACs, that are aligned with Norcross and his allies and support his favored candidates at state and local levels, though largely they are not formally associated with him.

He’s given millions of dollars over the years to Democratic campaigns, state and local parties, and other committees. And allied groups such as General Majority PAC and the super PAC American Representative Majority have taken in tens of millions of dollars that they spend boosting allied candidates at the state and local levels. General Majority PAC sent $200,000 to House Democrats’ super PAC, House Majority PAC, in the 2018 cycle.

Norcross was an active figure in the Democratic Party for decades. But after losing a grip on state politics in recent years, told POLITICO he’d step back from the spotlight. Norcross’ spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Although he’d reportedly attended a fundraiser for his brother Donald Norcross with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi as recently as 2020, a Pelosi spokesperson said he never gave directly to her.

But he’s already becoming a flashpoint among the Democrats jockeying for power. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who’s running for governor next year, posted Monday afternoon on X: “Bueller…. Bueller…. I know Monday can be a slow day in Congress but weird only two comments in the entire state??” He tagged New Jersey Democratic Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer.

Gottheimer responded: “Jersey Values is straight talking, not flip-flopping.” Both Sherrill and Gottheimer are expected to mount gubernatorial bids next year.

Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), who’s running to replace indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), took an optimistic line on X: “As you read about scandals/corruption, don’t disengage. Let’s step up.”

And Kim’s ally, Sue Altman, who’s running to flip a GOP-held seat (and has called for a criminal investigation into Norcross), also hailed the news: “It is a new day for New Jersey politics. We are replacing our culture of corruption, misuse of public funds, and self-dealing government with a new one — one that prioritizes public service, the greater good, and functional government where BOTH parties are held accountable.”

Congress’ nonpartisan budget scorekeeper on Tuesday significantly increased its estimate of the U.S. budget gap, predicting that the nation will run a $2 trillion deficit this year.

The latest forecast from the Congressional Budget Office is up from its estimate of $1.6 trillion earlier this year. Four main things are driving that $400 billion increase, CBO said — citing President Joe Biden’s student loan relief policies as the No. 1 cause of the bigger gap between the amount of money flowing into federal coffers and cash going out this year.

New student loan policies will cost about $145 billion during the current fiscal year, which runs through September, CBO predicted. That includes higher subsidies for student loans and the Biden administration’s plan to reduce balances for many borrowers.

The budget office also increased its longer-term deficit forecast, predicting that the budget gap will be $24 trillion over the next decade. That’s an increase of $2.1 trillion from its estimate earlier this year. Bills enacted in recent months — including the $95 billion foreign aid package Congress cleared in April for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — are the single largest driver of that multi-year growth in the budget gap, adding $1.6 trillion in projected deficits.

Interest payments on the nation’s nearly $35 trillion debt, as well as the deficit, are both “large by historical standards,” CBO Director Phillip Swagel said.

Among other drivers of the bigger projected deficit, spending is also projected to be about $50 billion higher during the current fiscal year because Medicaid payments are exceeding earlier estimates. Another $70 billion of the increased deficit projection for this year is attributed to delays following recent bank failures, since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation isn’t recovering payments as quickly as expected.

But that bank-related money will flow in later, “almost entirely” making up for the growth in this year’s deficit, CBO said.

In addition, the budget office hiked its projections for the national debt over the next decade, estimating that debt held by the public would rise to 122 percent of GDP by 2034 — the highest level ever recorded.

CBO predicted that economic growth would slow from 3.1 percent in 2023 to 2 percent this year amid higher unemployment and lower inflation. Short-term interest rates will change little this year, CBO forecast.

The Senate is moving ahead on annual spending bills despite lacking a bipartisan agreement on funding totals — starting markups next month, Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray said Tuesday.

The committee will hold its first fiscal 2025 markup when the upper chamber returns from the July Fourth recess, she said in a floor speech.

The Washington Democrat added that she hopes both sides will resolve their weekslong impasse over funding totals, which has affected all 12 spending bills for next fiscal year. Democrats and Republicans have been feuding over whether defense and domestic programs should receive equal budget boosts.

And with federal cash set to expire on Oct. 1 and a presidential election approaching, Congress will almost certainly have to pass a so-called continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown later this fall. That would punt current funding levels and buy more time for bipartisan, bicameral government funding talks after Nov. 5.

“Last year, we were able to produce strong, bipartisan bills in committee, and I am hopeful we will be able to do the same again this year,” Murray said, according to prepared remarks.

The parity problem: Democrats and Republicans have been at a stalemate over whether lawmakers should blow through funding caps established by last summer’s debt deal in order to provide equal funding increases for the Pentagon and domestic programs, allowing agencies to keep pace with inflation.

The budget deal struck by President Joe Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last summer allows for a 1 percent budget hike for both defense and non-defense programs. Republicans argue that’s woefully inadequate for the military, while Democrats have been firm that any significant funding increase for defense above the caps must be met with an equal increase for non-defense programs.

“Now, I am glad so many of my Republican colleagues are in strong agreement — at least when it comes to defense,” Murray said. “But every senator calling to boost defense spending alone is seriously missing the point, and any senator who thinks I will let us leave non-defense spending behind is seriously misreading the situation.”

Consequences of the caps: Murray stressed that a mere 1 percent increase for domestic programs means families on federal food assistance will suffer, rural families could lose their homes, federal law enforcement agencies will slash positions, federal firefighters will see a pay cut, and more.

“I can’t emphasize enough that, under the caps for non-defense, everything struggles to keep up with rising costs,” Murray said. “Programs our kids, the future of our country, depend on — public schools, public health and nutrition assistance to name a few — can’t get by on 1 percent.”

Key context: Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, has already proposed tweaking annual defense policy legislation to reflect a $55 billion boost for the military next fiscal year. But any extra money will ultimately be delivered through the Pentagon’s annual spending bill.

Last year, Senate appropriators approved their funding totals for a dozen spending bills along party lines before passing all of their bills in committee, with mostly bipartisan support, for the first time in five years.

The upper chamber could still manage to reach an agreement that allows the committee to mark up and pass bipartisan bills in the coming weeks. But time is running short before August recess.

The House Ethics Committee on Tuesday provided new details on its ongoing investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz — a day after the Florida Republican publicly lashed out at the secretive panel.

The bipartisan committee, in a statement, defended its long-running probe — saying it was “confident in the integrity of the process” — and disclosed that it had conducted more than a dozen interviews, issued 25 subpoenas and received thousands of pages of documents as part of the investigation.

“Based on its review to date, the Committee has determined that certain of the allegations merit continued review. During the course of its investigation, the Committee has also identified additional allegations that merit review,” the committee said.

The committee said it is reviewing a long list of allegations against the Florida Republican, including sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, accepting improper gifts and obstructing investigations into his conduct. And it added that it’s not taking further actions “at this time” on some allegations, including that Gaetz shared inappropriate images on the House floor and accepted a bribe or “improper gratuity.”

It’s the most comprehensive accounting to date on what the notoriously private panel, which is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, has been doing behind the scenes on Gaetz. Typically, the committee gives only sparse details on its investigations until after they have concluded. But Gaetz had lashed out at the panel publicly the day before in a social media post, saying that it had opened “new frivolous investigations” into him.

The Ethics Committee declined to comment on the timing of the statement, including whether it was drafted specifically as a response to Gaetz or had already been in the works. Asked about the Ethics Committee statement, a spokesperson for Gaetz referred back to the Monday post on X, noting that it “speaks for itself.”

Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Instead, he has characterized the House panel’s investigation as an attempt by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his allies to get back at him for leading the California Republican’s ouster. Some of McCarthy’s allies have privately suggested trying to expel Gaetz from the House, depending on the panel’s ultimate findings.

The House Ethics Committee opened its investigation into Gaetz in 2021. It restarted its probe in May 2023 after the Justice Department concluded its own investigation into the Florida Republican without bringing charges.

Since then, there have been signs of momentum behind the scenes. POLITICO first reported in May that the committee had subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents and records.

One Nation, a top conservative group, is pushing a new ad against Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) as it gears up for a campaign running through Labor Day against the Democratic incumbent.

The advertisement, part of a nearly $6 million buy, implores Rosen to “vote against reckless spending and for struggling Nevada families,” citing her votes for the infrastructure law and the Democratic social spending package.

Rosen faces GOP nominee — and Army veteran — Sam Brown in a competitive reelection bid in her swing state. Brown won his bid to take on the incumbent a week ago.

Outside money is flowing into the Silver State. Senate Majority PAC, Democrats’ largest outside group, placed $36 million in ad buys earlier this year to support Rosen.

The incumbent, a first-term senator from the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, reported having more than $10 million in campaign cash on hand as of late May, compared with $2.5 million for Brown.

LOUISA, Virginia — No matter who wins Tuesday’s GOP primary battle between the leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus Rep. Bob Good and Virginia state Sen. John McGuire, the results will reverberate among House Republicans.

If Good goes down, he would be the first sitting chair in the influential group’s nearly decade-long history to be defeated — a loss that would embolden critics of the increasingly fractious bloc.

But if he wins, he’ll have done it despite strong opposition from former (and possibly future) President Donald Trump and only mild backing from Republican leaders, including House Speaker Mike Johnson — signaling friction ahead. “Mike Johnson has done nothing to help me in my race,” Good said in a Friday interview after campaigning outside the Louisa County courthouse.

McGuire boasts the backing of more than a half-dozen high-profile colleagues of Good’s in the House GOP. And after telling supporters outside the courthouse on Friday that McGuire and his backers misled Trump to win the former president’s support, Good said in an interview: “There’s people in the [former] president’s ear who have their own agenda, and they’re dishonest, and they’ve lied to him about me.”

He wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of those alleged lies beyond claiming he’s consistently supported Trump since 2016; Trump has made clear that Good’s early backing of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) in the presidential primary helped prompt his endorsement of McGuire.

Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), a Freedom Caucus member who’s backing Good, said that if Good’s opponents are “able to take out the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, it will send a definite message to other conservatives that want [to] challenge the status quo and make big moves.”

But if Good survives McGuire’s challenge, his allies predict he’ll emerge from the fight even more emboldened. Good may even have time to exact revenge should McGuire win the primary — there’s still a lot of legislating left to do this Congress and a lot of opportunities for him to cause trouble for the party’s fractured two-vote House majority.

In the run-up to primary day, the district was blanketed by competing Good vs. McGuire events. More than two dozen Hill GOP staffers led by Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.) chartered a bus from Washington on Saturday to meet with and campaign for McGuire, a former Navy SEAL.

It was an unorthodox move by Timmons, but a clear revenge play. Good had backed the primary challenger Timmons defeated just a few days prior, so the South Carolina lawmaker decided to personally tell Virginia voters about their representative’s polarizing reputation within his party.

Among quite a few GOP colleagues, Good is nicknamed “Bob Bad” for what they call his abrasive criticism of fellow Republicans, and the blowback he’s received lately is a testament to the number of colleagues who consider themselves enemies. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy — whom Good voted to oust last fall — and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) are among the Republican players backing McGuire.

The most talked-about McGuire endorser, of course, is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Trump’s campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter last month seeking to block Good’s campaign from putting the two men’s names together on signs. But the Good team kept using and touting signs with Trump’s name — to criticism from McGuire, who said in an interview that Good is trying to “trick people.”

Asked about the flap over his Trump-themed signs, Good replied: “I’m not talking about stupid topics. That’s a stupid topic.”

He may be onto something among his local base. Three Good supporters at his event, including Louisa Mayor Garland Nuckols, lauded the incumbent’s willingness to fight for conservative principles and largely shrugged off the attacks on Good from the former president they support. Good’s supporters in the district include a strong contingent of local elected officials in the district McGuire represents in the state Senate.

A group of 24 Virginia GOP leaders led by Rick Buchanan, chair of the 5th District Republican Congressional Committee, have “strongly urged” Trump to reconsider his backing of McGuire over Good.

McGuire countered that some of those Good endorsements are retribution from state officials he hadn’t supported during their own contested races.

“I have focused more on getting the people to endorse me,” McGuire said in a Saturday interview. “Like Trump — he goes for the common man.”

The list of recriminations between the two Republican campaigns gets longer still: Good supporters ding McGuire for declining to debate and accuse him of being a ladder-climber who jumped quickly from his state Senate seat to challenging Good.

McGuire, who ran for a House seat in 2020 against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) before dropping out, said he was encouraged to take on Good while on the campaign trail for state Senate.

“The whole time I’m campaigning, people are like this,” McGuire said, pulling on his own shirt sleeve for effect. “‘I know you are running for state Senate, but you are the only guy who [can] beat that guy. He’s a tyrant. He’s really mean.”

The race for the south central Virginia district has drawn a whopping $14.5 million in ad spending, mostly from super PACs. That includes some tied to allies of McCarthy, who went after Good as part of a nationwide vengeance push against the fellow Republicans who voted to end his speakership.

Good’s allies have spent roughly $5.4 million, while pro-McGuire forces have spent $7.5 million, according to data from the media tracking firm AdImpact. McGuire’s campaign has spent nearly $1.5 million on ads, while Good has spent only a few thousand dollars on radio spots.

McGuire has tried to leverage his big advantage on TV to stress his Trump endorsement in a district that the former president won by more than 8 points in 2020. It is also mentioned often on his campaign materials, including T-shirts and signs.

And while Good is trying to portray the race as the establishment “swamp” attacking a conservative who fought it, he’s also avoided acknowledging his own role in his current predicament — specifically, his repeated willingness to do the exact sort of Republican-versus-Republican campaigning that he’s criticizing his own colleagues for.

Good has also sought to portray any attacks on him as attacks on the Freedom Caucus and its policies.

Members like Timmons disagree. To them, it’s personal.

“It is not because I don’t agree with Bob Good on policies,” Timmons said last week, ahead of his door-knocking trip to Good’s district. “It is because of his tactics. Such a critical part of this job is earning your colleagues’ respect and their trust. And he is a bad advocate because of his tactics, not because of his policies.”

Ally Mutnick contributed to this report.

SEATTLE — Former Rep. George Nethercutt, who was a Spokane lawyer with little political experience when he ousted Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley as part of a stunning GOP wave that shifted national politics to the right in 1994, has died. He was 79.

Nethercutt died Friday near Denver of progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare, neurodegenerative brain disease, his son said in an email Monday.

“He lived a life based in faith, family, community, and service, never sacrificing his principles as a statesman,” Elliott Nethercutt wrote.

The 1994 midterm elections, which came halfway through President Bill Clinton’s first term, were a resounding victory for Republicans, who won control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the early 1950s.

Nethercutt was the chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party and had served in the 1970s as chief of staff to Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens but had not run for office before challenging Foley.

Foley had represented the district for 30 years — the last five as speaker of the House. Nethercutt’s campaign ads focused on Foley’s opposition to term limits and pointed out that Foley had been in office since “Bonanza” was the top show on television.

Foley was the first speaker to lose a reelection bid since 1860.

Nethercutt joined other 1994 GOP candidates in signing the Contract With America, a list of conservative priorities promoted by Rep. Newt Gingrich and others. Among those priorities was adopting term limits; Nethercutt said he’d serve no more than three terms but broke that promise and served five before he gave up the seat to make an unsuccessful run against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2004.

“George Nethercutt was a giant amongst men who served the people of Eastern Washington with honor and patriotism for a decade,” Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who now holds Nethercutt’s former seat, said in a Facebook post. “George was a man of character who led with kindness and conviction, and he was a person I proudly looked up to long before the day I was sworn in to represent the Fifth District we shared such a love for.”

Among his priorities in office were finding new international markets for farm products from eastern Washington, securing federal money for Fairchild Air Force Base, and supporting research grants to Washington State University.

Like many other Republicans elected in the 1994 wave, he had a conservative voting record and supported impeaching Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

He became a lobbyist following his tenure in Congress and worked with his George Nethercutt Foundation, which advanced civics education through scholarships, competitions and educational trips to Washington.

Nethercutt attended memorial services for Foley when he died in 2013, and two years ago, he joined the advisory board of Washington State University’s Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service.

He also established a fund at the university to create the George Nethercutt Endowed Lecture Series on Civic Engagement.

“Since 2008, my foundation has promoted civic education among students, so they are prepared to engage with our democratic system — a system that depends on the participation of informed citizens, open dialogue, and compromise to function properly,” Nethercutt said at the time.

Nethercutt was born in Spokane in 1944 and graduated from Washington State University before graduating from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1971. As a law school student, he briefly clerked for Foley’s father, Ralph Foley, who was a Spokane County Superior Court judge.

Nethercutt is survived by his wife, Mary Beth Nethercutt, whom he married in 1977; two children, Meredith Nethercutt Krisher and Elliott Nethercutt; sister Nancy Nethercutt Gustafson; brother John Irving Nethercutt; and granddaughter Holly Beth Krisher.

The bruising primary for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is finally coming to an end on Tuesday.

But one month before that, House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) and his GOP rival John McGuire found themselves face-to-face in New York with the former president himself.

Both men had traveled to the Big Apple on May 16 to support Trump in his criminal trial. Once they were close to Trump, they used their access to try to curry favor with the presumptive presidential nominee — who at that point had yet to endorse in the primary.

Here’s how it went down, according to five people present in the room, including some who spoke on condition of anonymity: When Trump mentioned a debate with Joe Biden, Good seized an opportunity to needle McGuire for declining to debate him. Good told Trump that he knows the feeling of an opponent who would not debate.

“It kind of sucked all the air out of the room, because McGuire was on the other side of the table and it was just super-awkward,” recalled Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), a Freedom Caucus member who is backing Good.

Crane, who called McGuire “weak” for not debating, also remembered the Virginia state senator shooting back in front of Trump that Good would “rig it.” Good quickly asked how one would rig a debate.

McGuire then openly questioned why he should debate Good when his internal polling shows him up 14 points over the incumbent. Good shot back that his internal survey showed him up 25 points, according to two of the five people present in the room. Others in the room more generally recalled a back-and-forth about polling, including the two men talking over one another.

Trump cut through the lingering tension, according to two people in the room, where he spent most of his time complaining that his criminal trial was unfair and rigged.

Here’s where Trump telegraphed the McGuire endorsement he later offered. Trump ribbed Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Good, the two people in the room who initially endorsed his primary challengers in the 2024 presidential race.

As four people in the room recalled, Trump asked about Norman’s endorsement of Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s former governor. Some Republican lawmakers present responded: “Nikki who?” Norman said he acknowledged to Trump that she’d lost in the race.

Then Trump turned to Good, as confirmed by Crane and Norman, and asked how his endorsement of “Ron DeSanctimonious” (read: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) was working out.

Crucially, Norman painted the entire exchange as more lighthearted than the Good-McGuire animosity might suggest.

“Everything was pretty quick. And it was really — Trump was laughing about it,” Norman said, adding: “The back and forth with Good really just wasn’t that much.”

Trump endorsed McGuire less than two weeks later. The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on the May 16 back-and-forth.

Rep. Matt Gaetz claimed Monday the House Ethics Committee has opened “new” investigations into him, which he called “frivolous.”

Earlier this year, the Ethics panel subpoenaed the Justice Department for information tied to an existing investigation into the Florida Republican by the committee. That probe began in 2021 and was examining allegations including sexual misconduct and illicit drug use.

Gaetz has maintained his innocence through multiple ethics inquiries and alleges the panel is using investigations against him as retribution for spearheading the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last fall.

“This is Soviet,” Gaetz posted on social media Monday.

The Justice Department closed its long-running sex trafficking investigation into Gaetz and declined to charge him back in early 2023. Gaetz was admonished in 2020 for a threatening 2019 tweet directed at Michael Cohen, then-President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, but the situation “did not violate witness tampering and obstruction of Congress laws,” according to the panel’s report at the time.

The Ethics Committee, which is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gaetz’s disclosure.

Speaker Mike Johnson’s meeting with former President Donald Trump on Monday ended with a thumbs up and a photo op — the latest sign of bonhomie between the party’s top leaders.

“Our Party is united, and working together, I am confident we will send President Trump back to the White House, win back the Senate, and grow our House Republican majority!” Johnson wrote on social media.

Johnson and his party’s House campaign chief, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate to discuss the party’s election strategy.

Trump has already played kingmaker in many GOP contests this year. But this sit-down — the speaker’s second meeting with the president in a week — shows party leaders are working toward further collaboration as November approaches.

Just last week, Trump told a crowd of House Republicans he would devote his own time to keeping their majority in November. While Republicans are optimistic about flipping the Senate and hopeful about winning the White House, the battle for the House is expected to be a tough climb. Trump, though, vowed to do 100 virtual town halls with GOP members ahead of the election.

House Democrats, meanwhile, mocked the Republican leaders’ Florida visit, with their campaign arm accusing Johnson and Hudson of attending to “bend their knee” to Trump.

“Vulnerable House Republicans are so obsessed with their wannabe dictator that they are going to Mar-a-Lago to get tips from him on how to remind voters that they’re to blame for ripping away reproductive freedom and overturning nearly 50 years of fundamental rights under Roe. Voters will remember come November,” DCCC spokesperson Viet Shelton said in a statement.