Rep. Ilhan Omar and ‘squad’ school House Democrats in social competition
The Minnesota Democrat is the first freshman to win ‘Overall MVP’ in the three-week internal contest

Rep. Ilhan Omar won House Democrats’ 2019 Member Online All-Star Competition. The results couldn’t have come as a surprise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Ilhan Omar stole the social spotlight in House Democrats’ tenth annual Member Online All-Star Competition. The Minnesota Democrat is the first freshman to win the overall popularity contest, cleaning up with nearly 150,000 new followers.

Following oh so closely behind? The rest of Omar's “squad,” of course: freshman Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who rounded out the top five, along with Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.

Urgency of marijuana policy was on full display Tuesday
Senate Banking hearing and bills unveiled give an early look at key 2020 issue

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., left, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., testified before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on marijuana and banking. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

“In short, the sky is not falling in Colorado.”

That is how Republican Sen. Cory Gardner summed up his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday morning, where he was advocating for legislative action to give legal marijuana businesses access to banks and protection for banks from being viewed as money-launderers under federal law for handling their money.

Judge weighs New Hampshire work requirements for Medicaid
The requirements were delayed for an additional 120 days due to state outreach problems

Federal district court Judge James E. Boasberg heard oral arguments Tuesday regarding the Trump administration's approval of work requirements in relation to New Hampshire's Medicaid program. Boasberg will decide whether states can enforce 100-hour-a-month requirements. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal district court judge seemed skeptical during oral arguments Tuesday of whether the Trump administration’s approval of work requirements advances the mission of New Hampshire’s Medicaid program. The same judge ruled against two other state work requirements earlier this year.

The New Hampshire requirements, which could have resulted in thousands losing coverage in August, were delayed earlier this month for an additional 120 days due to state outreach problems in educating enrollees about the requirements.

9/11 victims bill heads to Trump‘s desk after clearing Senate
Final action on the measure came after months of emotional lobbying by ailing first responders and their families

Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks by at the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The Senate will be voting later today on HR 1327: Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate cleared a measure Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

By the lopsided vote of 97-2, the Senate agreed to a House-passed bill that would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims filed by Oct. 1, 2090.

Trump sues House, New York to block his state tax return disclosure

President Donald Trump is suing the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., pictured here, and New York state, to prevent disclosure of his state tax returns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is suing the House Ways and Means Committee and New York state officials in an effort to block the disclosure of his state tax returns.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, seeks an injunction that would block the application of a new New York state law that could allow the Ways and Means panel, chaired by Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., to obtain the president’s state tax records.

Amazon, Facebook up their K Street spending; other players dip

Facebook spent the most in its history on lobbying in this year’s second quarter. Above, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House hearing in April of last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tech powerhouses Facebook and Amazon spent the most in their histories on lobbying in this year’s second quarter, propelling them into the top tier of K Street spenders, while other big players reported a decline in their lobbying investment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long the dominant big spender, continued its reign, despite recent turmoil in staffing and a leadership change that has raised questions about the organization’s future. The chamber, drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and Northrop Grumman reported a dip in spending in the second quarter when compared with the first three months of the year, according to just filed lobbying reports.

White House officials fan out to sell budget, debt limit pact
Fiscal hawks blast agreement: ‘Washington has all but abandoned economic sanity’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives to attend the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Senate Republicans Tuesday to try to shore up support for the two-year spending caps and debt limit accord, amid bipartisan concern with tacking another $324 billion onto deficits — a figure that could more than quintuple when spread out over a decade.

Mnuchin sought to reassure Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon that President Donald Trump in fact supports the deal he reached Monday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby and others.

Senate confirms Esper to be Defense secretary
The vote ends an eight-month period during which the massive bureaucracy was led by a series of acting leaders

Chiarman Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, shakes hands with Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper before the start of Esper’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 16, 2019. He was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Mark Esper to be the next Defense secretary, 90-8, bringing to an end an eight-month period during which the massive bureaucracy was led by a series of acting leaders.

Esper, who has served as Army secretary since 2017, follows James Mattis as President Donald Trump’s second Senate-confirmed Defense secretary.

Kyrsten Sinema invokes memory of John McCain in maiden speech
Arizona Senator uses address to advocate for her legislation to combat veteran suicide

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., delivered her maiden speech on the floor on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In her maiden speech on the Senate floor, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema invoked the courage of the late Sen. John McCain and recounted the tragic story of a veteran’s suicide that might have been prevented with better access to appropriate mental health care.

Sinema, a Democrat, said she is committed to making sure veterans don’t feel trapped, as Sgt. Daniel Somers did when he committed suicide in 2013, and shining a light on the 20 veterans who die everyday as a result of suicide.

The Democrats who voted to keep impeachment options open
Why those who do not yet favor an impeachment inquiry voted against blocking Green’s articles

Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., voted against tabling Rep. Al Green's impeachment articles to keep the option on the table but she does not yet support opening an impeachment inquiry. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House vote last Wednesday to block Texas Rep. Al Green’s articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump led to some contortions from Democrats yet to support impeachment or opening an inquiry, but it mostly came down to this: keeping those options open. 

About two dozen Democrats who had not been on the record in favor of impeachment proceedings voted with Green against tabling, or basically killing, his articles. A total of 95 Democrats voted that way, but most of those members had previously called for Trump’s impeachment or an inquiry. 

House Democrats apologize to India ambassador for Trump’s ‘amateurish’ claim about Kashmir
Trump claimed Indian prime minister asked him to mediate Kashmir dispute between his country and Pakistan

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., attend a committee markup in the Rayburn Building on May 17, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee spoke with India’s ambassador to the U.S., Harsh Shringla, on Monday to apologize for President Donald Trump’s claim that he was asked by the Indian prime minister to mediate the Kashmir territorial conflict between his country and Pakistan.

“Everyone who knows anything about foreign policy in South Asia knows that India consistently opposes third-party mediation [regarding] Kashmir,” Rep. Brad Sherman of California tweeted Monday. “Everyone knows [Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi] would never suggest such a thing. Trump’s statement is amateurish and delusional. And embarrassing,” he wrote.

USDA seeks to narrow eligibility for food stamps
Proposal looks to tighten eligibility for people who receive noncash benefits

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule will close a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration will push ahead with a proposal to tighten food stamp eligibility for people who receive certain noncash benefits from a federal welfare program, a move that could end aid for up to 3 million people.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the draft rule published in Tuesday’s Federal Register will end what he and congressional Republicans say is a loophole that allows people with gross incomes above 130 percent of the poverty level to become eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and potentially qualify for food stamps through the program.

Finance drug price bill faces GOP resistance before markup
Proposals target Medicare drug prices

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, on Tuesday offered a details on a drug price bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday outlined a long-anticipated drug price bill, but a planned Thursday markup may not go smoothly because of Republican discontent with the measure.

The bill is meant to slow the growth of Medicare’s prescription drug spending, limit cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries, and make it easier for state Medicaid programs to pay for expensive treatments, according to a summary.

Where are the members of the 115th Congress that left under scandal?
Only two scandal-tarred lawmakers from last Congress are still serving

Montana Republican Ryan Zinke, who was Interior secretary until last December, is now a managing director at cybersecurity and blockchain company Artillery One. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the #MeToo movement took hold in the past two years, nine members of the 115th Congress relinquished their seats amid allegations of sexual misconduct. That’s more than any Congress since at least 1901, based on an analysis of congressional departures by FiveThirtyEight.

Two other lawmakers left under scrutiny for financial or ethical improprieties, two who joined the Trump administration were later forced to resign their Cabinet posts, and two representatives indicted last year are still in office fighting the charges.

Mobile technology may serve underbanked with no cryptocurrency
As Facebook touts a new cryptocurrency, mobile technology companies may provide the same path with dollars

The T-Mobile logo is displayed outside of a T-Mobile store. Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra, could provide banking services to underbanked populations. But some say mobile technology companies may be able to provide those services with government-backed currencies. T-Mobile teamed up with BankMobile, a division of Customer Bank, earlier this year to allow people to bank on their phones through a service called T-Mobile Money. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Facebook touts a new cryptocurrency as a way to serve people who are underbanked, mobile technology companies may provide the same path to financial services using good old-fashioned dollars.

The technology would avoid many risks worrying lawmakers and regulators, such as money laundering and undermining the Federal Reserve’s ability to set monetary policy. But some who track these technologies say allowing tech companies to become the bankers for the underserved carries risks of its own.