Congress

Campus Notebook: Idahoans in Africa highlight congressional travel
The latest travelogue and interesting disclosures

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo, left, and James Risch  traveled to a well-known national park in Mozambique. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

This week’s Campus Notebook highlights senators who recently jetted off to Mozambique, Israel and France and a staffer who sold a bunch of stocks, including from the tech industry. 

Idahoans in Africa: Sen. Mike Crapo and his wife Susan joined Sen. Jim Risch and his wife Vicki for a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa and Mozambique. Crapo and his wife’s trip, paid for by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, cost $14,113. Risch and his wife’s trip, paid for by the same group, cost $13,758.

Elijah Cummings to lie in state in Statuary Hall ahead of Friday funeral
Memorial services set for Thursday in Washington and Friday in Baltimore

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. listens to testimony before Select Committee on Intelligence hearing involving allegations of CIA involvement in the crack cocaine epidemic on Oct. 23, 1996. (Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings will lie in state in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall Thursday before a Friday funeral in his home district of Baltimore. 

Many lawmakers are expected to attend the memorial service for the House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, which will be held Thursday morning. The ceremony will be held Thursday morning and will be open to members of Congress, the Cummings family and invited guests. 

Some Republicans inch closer to Trump impeachment after Mulvaney comments
Possible support for the ongoing probe comes as 2016 presidential candidate Kasich supports impeachment outright

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney, who is weighing retiring from Congress, has broken with his Republican colleagues on impeachment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several Republicans grew more receptive this week to the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump after acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday said in a televised briefing that seeking help to investigate Democrats was part of the reason military aid to Ukraine was temporarily withheld.

While Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have signaled they’re eager to learn more from the impeachment investigation led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, 2016 GOP presidential candidate and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Friday that he is “across the Rubicon” and Trump should be impeached.

Turkey sanctions bills likely to move despite ceasefire
Shaky ceasefire agreement halting Syrian Kurd attacks appears to not appease lawmakers, who may still vote to impose sanctions

This picture taken on October 18, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa shows fire and smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces. The shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally. (OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

A shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally.

President Donald Trump was quick to declare victory Thursday after Ankara agreed to a five-day ceasefire in its attacks on Kurds in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters are supposed to use that window, which the Turkish government is describing not as a ceasefire but as a “pause,” to withdraw to roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border.

Commerce watchdog will monitor efforts to keep 2020 census secure
GAO and lawmakers have raised security concerns over Census Bureau’s IT systems

The Commerce Department inspector general will be monitoring the Census Bureau’s efforts to keep the 2020 census secure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Commerce Department’s internal watchdog will take a look at the Census Bureau’s efforts to keep the 2020 census secure, the inspector general said in a letter Thursday.

The announcement follows a trail of security concerns about Census Bureau systems for next year’s count from the Government Accountability Office and members of Congress. Next year’s census will allow an online response option for most of the country for the first time, along with traditional mail and phone response.

Congress has long sought to bar foreign campaign contributions
From the early days of the republic to cracking down on Nazis, a longtime consensus

Rep. Zoe Lofgren has legislation that looks to close campaign finance loopholes. But she is not looking to specify that the measure define a “thing of value” more narrowly in light of the impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the decades before President Donald Trump asked Ukraine to launch an investigation into his main political rival in the upcoming presidential election, Congress tried again and again to keep foreign nationals out of American elections and government decisions.

The lawmakers’ adversaries over the years sound as if they come straight out of Hollywood scripts: the Nazi party in the 1930s, the Philippine sugar industry in the 1960s, a Greek industrialist in the 1970s, an international businessman turned Chinese government agent in the 1990s.

Survey: Young adults, minorities less likely to participate in the census
Pew survey finds blacks, adults under 30 and people with less money aren’t as likely to respond to the 2020 count

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the court hears oral arguments in a case highlighting a proposed question about U.S. citizenship in the 2020 U.S. census. A new poll finds some groups do not plan to participate. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A significant portion of Americans said they may not participate in next year’s census, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Friday that has implications for the 2020 count’s cost, as well as its uses for redistricting and distribution of federal funds.

More than one in five younger adults, those making less than $30,000 and those identifying as black said they definitely will not, probably will not or might not participate in the census, according to the Pew report. Its results reflect similar outcomes to surveys conducted before and during the 2010 census, said one of the authors of the report, D’Vera Cohn.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 18
Cleaning up after Mulvaney; Perry won't comply with subpoena; former ambassador blames Giuliani

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions from reporters at the White House on Thursday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

After weeks of “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine replacing “no collusion” with the Russians in President Donald Trump’s responses to the investigations into his administration, Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, said there was a quid pro quo.

Then he and the White House spent the following hours Thursday trying to put that genie back in the bottle. But, in true Trump-style, his 2020 campaign decided to capitalize on the press conference by selling a T-shirt emblazoned with one of the more memorable lines from Mulvaney’s press conference.  

Hill staffers worried about expenses turn to student loan benefit
Repayment program helps staffers keep costs down and remain on Hill

Congressional workers say the loan repayment program provides an opportunity for those trying to manage the cost of education while embarking on a Capitol Hill career. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kendra Horn was a recent law school graduate in 2004 when she took a job as press secretary to fellow Oklahoma Democrat Brad Carson. Fourteen years before her own election to the House, she made the move from Oklahoma to Washington and almost immediately felt the pressures of a tight budget.

With a pile of student loans and a low starting salary, she tried to keep her expenses to a minimum. She kept her food costs low, scoping out the cheaper places to eat, and paid for groceries on her credit card. But with all of her budgeting, she wasn’t making enough to make payments on her student loans.

Democrats seeking votes in Trump country tout miners’ benefits
As Republicans prepare a coal pension fix proposal, Democrats push for more

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Sherrod Brown, right, called for action on Democratic pension proposals this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans say they’re close to unveiling a plan to address a $66 billion funding shortfall affecting coal miners’ and other union pension plans, an issue Democrats see as advantageous politically and as a possible bargaining chip in trade talks with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump championed manufacturing and coal industry jobs during his 2016 campaign, including in critical swing states he won like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the 2020 campaign, Democrats have been touting “broken promises” to workers in those states and others, including more traditional GOP bastions like Kentucky where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection next year. 

Partisan divide reaches into views of higher education
After years of similar views, a divergence in the last decade

Among the issues House Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. Scott must navigate with is a growing partisan divide on the value of higher education. Scott introduced the College Affordability Act on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Once, American colleges and universities enjoyed bipartisan support, and Republicans and Democrats alike believed in the value of higher education.

Today, not so much. And that could be a big issue as Congress considers reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, a version of which House Democrats unveiled Tuesday. 

John Yarmuth went from Roll Call pinup to Budget chairman
Kentucky Democrat started on the Hill as a staff replacement for Mitch McConnell

Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth holds a photo of himself as a staffer that was printed in Roll Call in 1971 as an April Fools’ joke. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

John Yarmuth got his start on Capitol Hill in 1971 after another young future lawmaker — Mitch McConnell — called and asked him to take his slot on the staff of their home-state senator, Kentucky’s Marlow Cook.

Now a Democratic congressman who represents Louisville, Yarmuth spoke to Roll Call recently about his early days as a Rockefeller Republican and his experience as an April Fools’ pinup for our publication.

Educating K Street: Colleges and universities seek influence in Congress, executive branch
Schools are in the midst of heated immigration, health care and technology debates

Stu Van Scoyoc is president and CEO of Van Scoyoc Associates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lobbyist Stu Van Scoyoc began working for the University of Alabama system three decades ago, helping the school smooth over a problem the 1986 tax overhaul created for its pension program. It’s still a client.

Lobbying on behalf of colleges and universities has been a mainstay of K Street work for years for firms like Van Scoyoc Associates. And many of the biggest spending university systems maintain their own lobbying outposts in Washington with in-house employees who monitor Capitol Hill and executive branch debates and look for federal funding opportunities, relying often on home-state and alumni connections.

Cummings unites lawmakers, for the moment, as impeachment inquiry trudges forward
Probe that late Maryland Democrat helped lead continued with witness depositions Thursday

A memorial for the late House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings is seen in the committee’s Rayburn Building hearing room on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House lawmakers dialed down the partisan rancor, at least for a day, as they honored the life of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who died early Thursday at age 68. But the impeachment inquiry, of which the Maryland Democrat was a key leader, is forging ahead.

The investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has stoked anger among Republicans who view the probe as illegitimate. Democrats’ frustrations with the president’s conduct and his supporters in Congress are only growing. The death of Cummings, held in deep respect on both sides of the aisle, didn’t put the partisan fighting completely to rest, but it did quell the most inflammatory elements for the moment.

House Dems move forward with drug pricing bill
Committee approved a new plan that would limit drug prices — a top priority for the party

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters in June. The Washington Democrat proposed an amendment during a markup of a bill designed to limit drug prices Thursday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House committee on Thursday approved a Democratic bill designed to limit drug prices, a top priority for the party, as another panel’s debate on the measure was poised to last for hours.

House leaders produced the 141-page bill after months of deliberations among various party factions, as progressives urged their colleagues to be bold despite GOP criticisms that the measure could hamper research into future cures. The bill, numbered HR 3, includes requirements for the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate Medicare prices for the most expensive drugs, with commercial health plans also having the option of adopting those prices.