republicans

Judge questions whether House can sue over border wall funding
The judge was skeptical whether federal courts should jump into the ‘ugly dispute between the political branches’

The border barrier between the U.S. (L) and Mexico runs down a hillside on May 20, 2019, as taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. A federal judge heard arguments Thursday over whether to block the Trump administration from transferring Defense Department funds to pay for border wall projects. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A federal judge in Washington expressed skepticism Thursday about whether the federal courts should jump into the middle of an “ugly dispute between the political branches” over the Trump administration plan to move around federal funds to build a border wall.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden said that a House lawsuit to block the Trump administration’s spending was in “unusual territory,” since higher courts have never ruled on whether the legislative branch could sue the executive branch.

Alexander, Murray outline plan to lower health costs
Alexander he hopes it will get a committee mark up next month and the Senate will debate a bill in July

Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., conduct a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?" on March 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two influential senators released draft health care legislation Thursday, a package of narrowly tailored proposals that will likely be part of a measure to lower health care costs that lawmakers hope to pass this year.

The draft bill, from Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., targets five areas: banning surprise medical bills; speeding low-cost generic drugs to market; increasing transparency; improving public health; and enhancing health information technology, according to a summary.

Senate passes long-stalled disaster aid bill with Trump support
Negotiators agreed to revisit stripped border funding-related funding after the Memorial Day recess

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and chef Jose Andres talk after running into each other in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Andres was on Capitol Hill for a briefing held by the Power 4 Puerto Rico Coalition, calling on Congress to help Puerto Rico achieve future growth and prosperity after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. On Thursday the Senate approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid deal which included $600 million in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico to help restore funding that ran dry in March. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After months of negotiations, Congress and the White House on Thursday reached agreement on a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that will help communities recover from a series of deadly storms and wildfires. 

The draft bill does not include the humanitarian aid for migrants at the southern border sought by the Trump administration, the last hurdle that had been preventing a deal on the package.

Senate backs bill to stem flood of robocalls plaguing cell phones
Bipartisan effort would increase civil penalties to $10,000 per call

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., sponsored the bill to tackle illegal robocalls. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers are fed up with the barrage of scam and nuisance calls plaguing them and their constituents and on Thursday, the Senate passed a bipartisan measure to combat robocalls.

Senators voted, 97-1, to pass a bill (S 151) designed to authenticate and block robocalls and enforce penalties on scammers who use automated equipment to pump phones full of bogus calls.

Senate to take one last shot at disaster, border aid bill
The remaining sticking points are over immigration and oversight provisions related to Trump’s border funding request

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for a news conference after the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon on May 14, 2019. On Thursday McConnell said on the Senate floor, that his colleagues need to come up with a disaster aid compromise “today, because one way or another the Senate is not leaving without taking action.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans were huddling behind closed doors Thursday morning to discuss their next move on supplemental aid for disaster victims and handling a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

One emerging possibility was to drop billions of dollars in aid the White House is seeking for border-related agencies, including Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

Reps. Crenshaw, Gallagher, Waltz urge more GOP veterans to run for Congress
Republicans cite Democratic successes in 2018 midterms, and seek to recruit more veteran GOP candidates

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and two other Republican House members are making a push to elect more GOP military veterans to Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Republican congressmen who served in the military are relaunching a PAC to help recruit more GOP veterans like themselves to run for Congress.

Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Michael Waltz of Florida announced Wednesday they are forming the War Veterans Fund PAC this cycle, which aims to recruit Republican veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to run in their home districts and assist them with funding.

Trump calls Dems ‘DO NOTHING PARTY’ after Pelosi says he ‘took a pass’ by storming out
White House official walks back president’s threat, signals shutdown-averting talks will continue

Marine One, with President Trump aboard, departs the White House earlier this week. Trump and congressional Democrats are trading barbs again after yet another contentious meeting. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump, increasingly in re-election mode, on Thursday labeled Democrats the “DO NOTHING PARTY!” a day after their leaders accused him of being unprepared for a meeting on an infrastructure plan and simply “taking a pass” on the issue.

But even as the president suggested dealmaking on major legislation is frozen until House Democrats’ probes end, a White House official signaled talks on bills that must pass to avert another full or partial government shutdown will continue.

Retirement savings bill seeks small business buy-in
Bipartisan momentum for change comes as retirement crisis looms

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s retirement savings bill would create incentives for businesses to provide access to workplace savings plans for some of the most underserved groups. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Thursday will take up what could be the most significant changes in retirement savings policy in more than a decade.

But the bill’s backers acknowledge it’s just an initial step in addressing what critics call a huge hole in Americans’ nest eggs, at a time when traditional pension plans are increasingly rare and Social Security is facing financial headwinds.

Get used to talking about Pennsylvania
Political Theater, Episode 74

Hello, Pennsylvania! Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump for a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on Monday, May 20, 2019. The perennial battleground state will go a long way to determining the next president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For pure Political Theater, it will be hard to beat Pennsylvania during the 2020 campaign. The Keystone State will be, well, key to an Electoral College victory. President Donald Trump knows it. That may be why he has visited it six times since taking office, including to Montoursville in the north central part of the state on May 20.

He won’t be alone, though, because the current Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was born in Scranton, represented neighboring Delaware in the Senate for decades and opened his official campaign headquarters in Philadelphia on May 18. Pennsylvania has long been a swing state in presidential politics, and Democrats’ ability to flip several Republican seats in 2018 paved the way for them retaking the majority in the House.

Abortion-rights groups lay out 2020 races they plan to target
The moves come on the heels of recently passed state restrictions on abortion in six states that will all face court challenges

Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, speaks at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. On Wednesday, abortion-rights groups outlined the races they plan to target in 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Abortion-rights groups outlined the political races they plan to target Wednesday, a day after the groups organized 500 events across the country. Anti-abortion groups countered with plans to sharpen the Republican platform with stricter anti-abortion language, a day after some groups met at the White House.

The moves come on the heels of recently passed state restrictions on abortion in six states that will all face court challenges.