Congress

Health care riders, farm payouts slow stopgap deal
Bill pulled from House Rules agenda late Tuesday afternoon

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among those objecting to potential provisions in a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trade assistance for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs and the details of several health care program extensions were standing in the way of agreement on a stopgap funding measure Tuesday, sources said.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the bill was likely to include an increase in the Commodity Credit Corporation’s $30 billion borrowing cap that the Trump administration asked for earlier this month. But provisions on “accountability and transparency” were still under discussion, the aide said.

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg joins senators, advocates seeking climate action
Appearance is first of several on Capitol Hill to promote global strike effort

Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, center, makes her way to a press conference to discuss climate change. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Ahead of a global strike for climate action, Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg joined fellow young advocates and Senate Democrats to draw attention to the peril of global warming.

Although she did not speak at a Tuesday news conference organized by Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey and other Democrats, a representative for Thunberg said the 16-year-old was there to lend her support. She has, however, planned a blitz of activity around the Capitol this week that will culminate in the global climate strike.

First impeachment hearing becomes test of Judiciary Committee sway
Hearing looks unlikely to produce much, other than once again demonstrating White House resistance to congressional oversight

Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler launched a series of hearings Tuesday highlighting President Donald Trump’s actions to educate the public and other lawmakers on reasons for impeachment — but the witnesses and the White House had other plans.

Two of the three witnesses don’t plan to show up on the orders of the White House, part of the Trump administration’s fight-all-the-subpoenas approach that leaves the committee to either file lawsuits to enforce the subpoenas or hold the witnesses in contempt.

Senate Democrats prepare marathon floor session on gun violence
Late night is expected as 22 senators are prepared to call for legislation

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., will lead nearly two dozen senators in a marathon of floor speeches on gun violence Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats plan to make it a late night on Tuesday, speaking out on the Senate floor about the impact of gun violence and legislative proposals Congress could explore.

The speeches are expected to begin around 5:30 p.m. and run late. Connecticut Democrat Christopher S. Murphy is leading the effort, spurred by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio during the August recess and the lack of clear response from the White House on what, if any, gun control measures they could agree to.

China trade war has Massachusetts lawmakers wanting new export markets for lobsters
China has imposed a 25 percent tariff, hurting exports from New England

Lobsterman Jason Grindle unloads his catch from the Gulf of Maine at the Stonington Lobster Co-op in Stonington, Maine, in July. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

New England lobster trappers have been among victims of the trade tensions between the United States and China.

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation want the Trump administration to help their home state lobster industry by seeking new export markets for the crustaceans.

Committee launches probe of Chao’s ties to family’s business
Seeks information about media reports that Chao appeared alongside her father in Chinese media interviews

A House committee seeks information from Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao about ties to her family's company by the end of September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Monday said the committee was launching an investigation into whether Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao used her office to help the shipping company owned by her father and sisters.

In a letter to Chao, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Maryland, requested information and documents about media reports that Chao had appeared alongside her father in at least a dozen Chinese media interviews, sometimes behind the official seal of the Department of Transportation, in order to benefit Foremost Group, the family shipping company.

With 5G in mind, senators plan big boost for Pentagon cybersecurity
Much of the future infrastructure is being developed by China

The Trump administration has sought to stop close U.S. allies from adopting Huawei’s 5G technologies. Above, monitors at a Huawei campus in Shenzhen, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers are proposing to add more than half a billion dollars to the Pentagon’s 2020 budget for cybersecurity measures, in particular asking the department to include security features enabling its weapons and information systems to safely operate on future 5G worldwide wireless networks.

Much of that future infrastructure is being developed by China and could become the global standard.

Nadler revs up Trump inquiry
Lewandowski scheduled Tuesday; no time for probe of Kavanaugh

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said his committee could not prioritize an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to testify at an impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, but Chairman Jerrold Nadler expects he will try to “improperly exert” executive privilege on some questions.

Lewandowski — the scheduled star witness at the committee’s first hearing related to its impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump — played a lead role in an episode laid out in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on the president’s efforts to interfere in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Senate panel backs special $1 billion military ‘readiness’ fund
Some experts are skeptical that the Defense Department will spend the funds effectively.

The new military readiness fund in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense spending bill would come with very few strings or stipulations attached. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s new Defense spending bill would create a $1.1 billion fund for yet-to-be-determined programs that build military “readiness,” a word that has come to mean just about anything in the Pentagon budget.

The fund, created at a time when military preparedness levels are on the rise after nearly two decades at war, would come with very few strings or stipulations, an unusual move for appropriators who typically guard their power of the purse.

House Republicans’ 2020 strategy is all about Trump
At retreat, GOP hypes up president as key to their effort to win back the majority

President Donald Trump greets House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday at the House GOP retreat in Baltimore. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — House Republicans are embracing President Donald Trump as a critical asset in their effort to win back the majority in 2020 and are building their policy agenda and campaign strategy around him.

During a 48-hour retreat here Thursday through Saturday, GOP lawmakers lauded Trump for helping them win a North Carolina special election and said they looked forward to riding his coattails in districts across the country next year.

Road Ahead: House to consider stopgap measure to fund government, Senate plays catch-up
Appropriations could be a focal point this week

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer touted his chamber passing 10 of its annual spending bills, but final House-Senate products are nowhere in sight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate rushes to move fiscal 2020 spending bills, the House will consider a continuing resolution to keep the government running before the Oct. 1 fiscal year deadline hits.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said the chamber would consider a stopgap measure to fund the federal government this week.

McCarthy ‘not concerned about any retirement’ except Hurd’s
Minority leader predicts Trump will carry more districts held by Democrats than he did in 2016

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to the media at the U.S. House Republican Member Retreat in Baltimore on Friday. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the only Republican seat that will be open in 2020 due to a member of his conference retiring that he’s worried about losing is Rep. Will Hurd’s in Texas’ 23rd District. 

“That’s a tough seat. Will Hurd is an exceptional person,” the California Republican told reporters Friday morning as House Republicans kicked off the second day of their conference retreat here. 

Census falling further behind in hiring outreach staff
Partnership specialists are critical to reach hard-to-count populations

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in July that the “the bricks and mortar [strategy] wasn’t working” to protect the agency’s shrinking number of area Census offices and closure of its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Census officials continue to fall behind their goals for hiring local outreach staff, a critical component in promoting the 2020 census among the hardest-to-count populations in the country, agency officials told an advisory committee.

While several aspects of the preparations, including address verification, are on or ahead of schedule, the U.S. Census Bureau said it remains more than 200 people short of its goal of hiring 1,500 local partnership staff ahead of next year’s count. The hiring problems have come as the agency ramps up for the 2020 enumeration that will be used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, how federal funds are allocated, and to structure economic surveys.

Bipartisan group urges FDA to go beyond vaping flavor ban
Senators call for more action to curb e-cigarettes

Last week, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., called on Sharpless to resign if the FDA did not restrict flavored e-cigarette sales, but Durbin said Thursday that Sharpless “responded to my letter in a positive way and I want to give him a chance to show that he’s serious.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators from both parties emphasized to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday that more should be done to curb youth vaping beyond the Trump administration’s decision a day earlier to ban e-cigarette flavors.

Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless briefed the senators in a morning meeting that the organizer, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Illinois, described in positive terms. Last week, Durbin called on Sharpless to resign if the FDA did not restrict flavored e-cigarette sales, but Durbin said Thursday that Sharpless “responded to my letter in a positive way and I want to give him a chance to show that he’s serious.”

Two top Architect of the Capitol employees have left the agency after investigation
Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left in July

Acting Architect of the Capitol Thomas Carroll. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two top employees at the Architect of the Capitol who oversaw building operations in the House and Senate are no longer working there, months after they were put on administrative leave while they were investigated for emails critical of Christine Merdon, the former head of the agency.

Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left the agency in July. Tzamaras said he resigned and Weidemeyer said he retired.