5 Stories You'll Care About in Politics This Week

PHOTO: Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., wait for the start of their final debate for the Senate election runoff in Baton Rouge, La., Dec. 1, 2014.
Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

We’re hearing Romney rumblings. We’re sensing Bush buzz. We’re catching a smile from Chris Christie, who’s just maybe getting off that bridge. We learned that the likely new defense secretary loves Motown. Washington created something called a “cromnibus,” and it’s just as unappealing as you think it is. And the election season is finally ending – no, really (if you don’t count that one legal fight out in Arizona.)

Here are some of the stories your ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead:

Bayou Bye-bye

The 2014 election came to an official end Saturday, with runoff races in Louisiana for a Senate seat and two House races. Like the contests of a month ago, it was a Republican sweep. Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her job of 18 years to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, a defeat that delivered Republicans a 54th Senate seat next year. The loss also means that there are no more Senate Democrats from the Deep South, ending a decades-long tradition that took the party from utter dominance to near-total disappearance. Landrieu has complained about being abandoned by her party in the stretch, and she’s not wrong. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent precisely $0 in the runoff. Outside groups aired fewer than 100 ads on her behalf over the past month, compared to about 6,000 that have attacked her, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Shutdown Shut Down?

The final week of the congressional session will be something less than lame if GOP leaders succeed in approving a government funding bill – avoiding a shutdown. That’s House Speaker John Boehner’s goal, made slightly easier by the symbolic vote he had his members take this past week to rebuke President Obama’s move on immigration. The mechanism Congress is using to avoid a shutdown has been dubbed a “cromnibus,” silly DC speak that combines a “continuing resolution” for stopgap spending with an “omnibus” bill that funds all government agencies. It brings the calories of federal spending with none of the nutrition that comes with certainty that it will last all year for all of the government. (Just in case you thought bipartisanship was about to break out before Christmas, there’s a Benghazi hearing on Wednesday.)

Tortured Times

It’s coming, finally. The long-awaited “torture report” prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to be released early next week, after lengthy negotiations between the CIA, congressional staff, and even a group of Democratic senators who were threatening to read from the report aloud on the Senate floor. The report is an accounting of the Bush-era use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as well as details about foreign countries that provided the CIA so-called “black site” secret prisons. It is expected to include heavy redactions, and only the 600-page executive summary – not the more than 6,300-page full report – is expected to be released. But the release is likely to reignite a simmering debate about anti-terrorism tactics that’s become freshly relevant with the rise of ISIS and revelations about other secret government programs. Expect fierce pushback from the intelligence community and veterans of the Bush-Cheney administration.

No Breather

Three’s a trend, though any of these would have been more than enough standing alone. Grand jury no-bills in Ferguson and Staten Island, followed by a stunning Justice Department announcement about Cleveland’s police force, have brought back terms like “national debate” and “serious conversation” into the mix as it relates to police tactics and the justice system. With protests continuing across the country, recent events have made it harder for politicians to dismiss the fallout along party lines. All eyes will turn to federal civil rights investigations, and potential legislative responses. It’s even possible that a presidential task force will do something presidential task forces rarely do: get action.

Manic Monday

Choose your highlight from President Obama’s Monday schedule. If you’re a royals fan, Prince William’s visit to the White House will mark the day with history and pageantry. If you’re looking for news, a BET interview on Ferguson, Eric Garner, and the fallout could cover you there. But history and news could both be one-upped with the president’s appearance on “The Colbert Report,” for his first interview with the comedian he’s somewhat famously avoided doing a sit-down with. It’s part of Colbert’s farewell tour as he closes out his Comedy Central program. “Washington has been the Report’s second home,” Stephen Colbert said in a statement, “and I will be returning on Monday to show it the same affection the British did in 1812.” (Let’s see him use that joke with Prince William in the room.)

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