Emily Kopp

HHS cheers overdose drop but urges states to cap Medicaid
Administration proposes capped Medicaid funding in exchange for added flexibility

The White House announced the first decline in overdose deaths since the earliest days of the opioid crisis and attributed it to administration actions, even as officials simultaneously said they would let states cap funding for Medicaid, a common way for patients to get treatment.

A 4 percent dip in the number of overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018 could indicate that the crest of the opioid crisis has passed, said White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway, who called the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data a “turning point.”

Momentum on marijuana moves to statehouses
With Congress stalled and state ballot initiatives scarce, legislatures will become main arena for debates

Marijuana legalization campaigns will increasingly run through state capitols as Congress remains stalled, advocates say.

A bill in the House to legalize marijuana faces an uncertain future, and the Senate has not moved legislation that would allow marijuana businesses to bank. Meanwhile, opportunities to legalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives have winnowed; while nine other states and the District of Columbia approved commercial sales through ballot initiatives, just 23 states and the district allow such initiatives.

Marijuana criminalization could be clouding info on vaping deaths
Restrictions on THC-related research collide with a public health emergency

In late October, as the number of people sickened with a mysterious vaping-related illness grew, federal officials turned to the nation’s leading academic researchers for help.

“They wondered what, in our opinion, they should be taking a look at,” said Robert Tarran, director of the University of North Carolina Center for Tobacco Regulatory Science and Lung Health.

Senator talks about personal experience with CBD oil
Cannabidiol oil ‘doesn't work’ for Sen. Pat Roberts‘ ‘football knees’

Federal regulation of CBD products briefly became the focus of a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, as senators questioned Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration. One lawmaker described his own experience with the unregulated market for the hemp-derived product.

“I have football knees” Sen. Pat Roberts told Stephen Hahn, the nominee, before describing his “personal interest” in cannabidiol regulations.

FDA nominee faces bipartisan grilling on Trump's vaping plan
Stephen Hahn pressed on whether he would work to curb spike in youth vapers

Medical executive Stephen Hahn faced a bipartisan grilling in his nomination hearing Wednesday about whether he would, if confirmed to lead the Food and Drug Administration, challenge the president to release a promised tobacco flavor ban.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., pressed Hahn on whether he would “stand up” to the White House in order to curb a sharp spike in young people's exposure to nicotine through the growing vaping industry, including the rise of Juul Labs Inc. 

Scope of drug pricing bill could thwart Democrats’ hope for political win
Patients raise concerns that legislation impacts limited number of medicines

Democrats are betting their legislation to lower drug prices will be a political winner — but some patients learning the details are skeptical it will help them.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in late September that her signature drug pricing bill received “rave reviews from everyone but the pharmaceutical industry.” And lawmakers tried to tout the bill during the October recess. Two House committees will markup the measure on Thursday.

Rep. Tom Reed leaves hospital ‘with a prescription for a few days rest’ after collapse
Reed says he had an undiagnosed case of pneumonia after release from hospital

Rep. Tom Reed was discharged from a Washington hospital Thursday evening a few hours after collapsing in the Cannon House Office Building.

The Republican congressman from New York said in a statement Friday that he had an undiagnosed case of pneumonia.

Beto O'Rourke hits back at Texas lawmaker in AR-15 dispute by raising money for his opponent
‘My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,’ state Rep. Briscoe Cain said after O’Rourke’s assault rifle comments in debate last week

A  long-shot Democratic candidate for the Texas legislature may have outpaced his opponent in fundraising over the weekend with the help of Beto O’Rourke.

Josh Markle, a Democratic candidate for the 128th District in Texas, raised $68,000 following an endorsement from O’Rourke, possibly surpassing incumbent state Rep. Briscoe Cain’s $56,000 war chest, the Houston Chronicle reported

Local GOP groups seek to galvanize opposition to Riggleman for officiating same sex wedding
Congressman suspects political opportunism as the effort is being led by a consultant to former opponent

Three Republican groups in Rep. Denver Riggleman’s district have voted to reprimand him in the weeks since he presided over a same sex wedding in July, triggering a strained debate about the Republican Party’s stance on same sex marriage in his Virginia district.

The efforts to censure Riggleman have been led in part by a consultant to an opponent to his 2018 nomination, a far-right social conservative, fueling speculation that some Republicans in his district are already laying the groundwork for a primary challenge in 2020.

Former Rep. Darrell Issa launching an exploratory committee for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s seat
Onetime wealthiest member of Congress will be able to tap his fortune to fund his campaign

Former California Rep. Darrell Issa is likely to launch an exploratory committee Thursday in a challenge to embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter, according to a not-yet-unveiled website

“I have formally launched an exploratory committee for the 50th Congressional District in California,” the site reads. “I have received such a tremendous outpouring of encouragement from supporters inside the district, and around the state and across the Nation.”

Rep. Jahana Hayes scolds hometown press, leaving some in doubt about her strategy
Typically members of Congress court positive relationships with local media outlets

Rep. Jahana Hayes issued a scathing response last week to stories in Connecticut newspapers, leaving some media observers in the state in doubt about the soundness of her strategy.

Typically members of Congress court positive relationships with their hometown media outlets.

House Democrats: Congress should open investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s death
Letter asks several outstanding questions, including circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death

Dozens of House Democrats have called on the leaders of the chamber’s powerful investigative committees to launch an inquiry into the case of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.  

“While we cannot undo the damage Epstein has caused the victims of his abuse, the survivors of Epstein’s exploitation and manipulation deserve a forum to be heard and both they and the public deserve transparency and answers to unresolved questions,” forty-five Democrats said in a letter addressed to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee.

Republican congressional candidate denies tweet calling Rep. Ilhan Omar ‘illegal’
Maryland state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling deleted tweet after inquiry from newspaper

A Maryland state senator and congressional candidate has denied writing a tweet posted to his account that referred to Rep. Ilhan Omar as “illegal.”

Republican Johnny Ray Salling, who announced last week that he will challenge Maryland Democrat Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in 2020, said in a statement Monday that the tweet “was not from me.”

FEC documents: Rep. Joe Kennedy III may be serious about challenge to Sen. Ed Markey
Markey enjoys the support of both the party establishment and influential progressives with the Sunrise Movement.

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III wrote today that he hasn’t made up his mind about running for the Senate in 2020, but he has filed documents with campaign finance regulators indicating that he is serious about a possible bid. 

Kennedy filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, which could set up a Democratic primary race against Sen. Ed Markey. But, also Monday, Kennedy posted a statement to Facebook saying he had not reached a decision about the race yet. 

Former Rep. Gary Ackerman faces sexual assault allegation from the 1960s
Plaintiff sued under state’s new Child Victims Act, which lifted statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases

A man identified in court records as “John Doe” alleges in a new lawsuit that former New York Rep. Gary Ackerman sexually abused him when he was a teenager. 

The plaintiff says Ackerman exploited him in 1966 when the former Democratic congressman was a director at Ten Mile River Scout Camp, a 12,000-acre Boy Scout reserve, according to the complaint filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The suit also names the camp and the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America as defendants. 

Democratic challenger taunts congressman as ‘Devin Nunes’ Cow’ hearing starts
‘Devin, if you want to sue someone, sue me,’ Phil Arballo says in digital ad

A Democratic challenger to Rep. Devin Nunes released a digital ad Friday taunting the California Republican for the string of lawsuits he has launched against his perceived political enemies, including parody Twitter accounts. 

The campaign unveiled the ad to coincide with Nunes reporting to court in his lawsuit against two parody accounts pretending to be his mom and a fictional cow on Twitter, according to a spokesman for Democrat Phil Arballo.

Former Republican congressman and inflammatory radio host Jason Lewis to run for Senate
Trump team hopes running ‘Mini Trump’ candidate will ramp up turnout in a key presidential state

A former Republican congressman and conservative radio personality with a history of inflammatory remarks will challenge Minnesota Democratic Sen. Tina Smith

Former Rep. Jason Lewis, who served one term in Congress and worked for 25 years as a radio personality, will run against Smith, he announced Thursday. 

Hickenlooper enters Colorado Senate race, but he will have competition
Former governor announced his withdrawal from the presidential race a week ago

After spending a week off the campaign trail, former presidential candidate John Hickenlooper announced Thursday that he will run for Senate in Colorado. 

The former two-term Democratic governor said he wants to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in next year’s election. Hickenlooper will face several challengers for the Democratic nomination, and will have to address statements he made earlier this year that he was not interested in the job.

First House Republican backs renewed assault weapons ban
Rep. Peter King has broken with party leadership on gun violence prevention measures before

New York Rep. Peter King is the first Republican in Congress to back a renewed federal ban on assault rifles.

The development reflects calls for action on Capitol Hill after gunmen armed with assault weapons killed scores of people in California, Texas and Ohio in the span of a few days. 

FEC chairwoman: Penalty ‘slashed’ for ex-congressman who used leftover campaign money to lobby
The law forbids former members of Congress from using old donations like ‘an illegal pension fund’

An ex-congressman who diverted leftover campaign money towards dinners and dues at a private club outside of the Capitol just as he began to lobby his former congressional colleagues will only have to pay back a fraction of the campaign funds he misused. 

The Federal Election Commission stalemated in a 2-2 vote over whether to issue a more severe fine to Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, one that would hold him personally liable, an FEC memo shows.