Adam Smith

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 9
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told senators at a GOP lunch to keep their schedules flexible for the end of next week

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks to reporters during her weekly news conference on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators were told by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at a lunch Thursday to keep their schedules flexible for the end of next week, when they are supposed to leave Washington for a weeklong break that includes the MLK Day holiday on January 20.

According to an attendee, McConnell said that with the possibility that Speaker Nancy Pelosi could soon send over the impeachment articles, senators should be prepared to be at the Capitol for Saturday sessions starting Jan. 18.

Congress unlikely to check Trump’s power to start war with Iran
The recent escalation will likely rekindle the debate over whether Trump has the power to battle Iran without Congress’ consent

President Donald Trump signed into law the sweeping fiscal 2020 appropriations measure on Dec. 20, 2019, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, United States. Language limiting Trump's ability to go to war with Iran, which got support in both chambers, was included in the House version but didn’t make it into the final bill. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Last year, months before the United States killed a senior Iranian commander in a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate voted to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

The language never actually made it into law, marking another defeat for lawmakers in both parties who have clamored to reassert Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war since the sweeping war authorizations of 2001 and 2002 that have been used to justify American military incursions since then.

Thornberry calls for US action to deter Iran aggression
Attacks on Western targets in Mideast likely, says House Armed Services’ top Republican

House Armed Services ranking member Mac Thornberry says Iranian rulers will “lash out and try to find an external enemy” after a month of demonstrations in which hundreds of Iranians are reported to have died. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Iran is likely to attack more Western targets in the Middle East soon, and the United States will need to respond, Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview Thursday.

“I expect Iran will take further provocative actions in the coming weeks,” Thornberry said on a C-SPAN “Newsmakers” program set to air Friday night.

Congress poised to pass paid parental leave for federal workers
Could the measure spur wider action in the private sector?

A provision in the defense authorization bill expected to be passed by Congress would give all federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

About 2 million federal employees are about to be guaranteed 12 weeks of paid parental leave under a bill soon to be signed into law by President Donald Trump, but several experts say the cost of such a benefit may discourage Democrats’ hopes of it spurring broader adoption in private industry.

The provision, folded into a defense bill months in the working, would give all federal civilian employees three months of paid leave for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. Democrats originally pushed for a broader set of benefits to cover family relations and illnesses but praised the measure’s inclusion. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee, touted the provision as “long overdue.”  

Democrats ‘got completely rolled’ in NDAA talks, critics say
Litany of progressive provisions fails to make conference committee report

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan is calling for a national conversation on repeated increases to defense spending. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The final defense authorization measure for the current fiscal year represents a victory for Republicans.

That’s the word from a large number of angry Democrats in Congress, their supporters and, more discreetly, from many Republicans.

As NDAA talks drag on, Inhofe readies pared-down bill
Negotiators have largely stayed mum on unresolved conference issues

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed before the start of a confirmation hearing on July 31, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pentagon caught in a political fight over impeachment inquiry
Defense officials have rejected congressional demands for information on withholding of Ukraine aid

The Pentagon is a key player in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Rather than stay out of the fray, the Defense Department has taken sides in a bitter and historic partisan brawl, choosing to fortify President Donald Trump’s stonewall rather than cooperate with Congress.

The Pentagon is a key player in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. And defense officials, who have until now been largely unscathed by the investigation, have rejected congressional demands for information about their role in the White House decision to withhold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Thornberry retirement latest shakeup on House Armed Services Committee
Former chairman is sixth Republican to announce plans to retire from the committee

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mac Thornberry on Monday became the sixth Republican on the House Armed Services Committee to announce plans to retire at the end of this Congress, creating openings for ambitious younger members but also leaving a significant dearth of experience on the powerful panel.

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal.

Senate Democrats to try blocking Trump’s border wall diversion again
Shifting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds reignites effort to force a termination vote

"This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is poised to say on the Senate floor. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will announce that his caucus will force another floor vote to terminate President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency.

“This rises to a large and vital constitutional issue: does our country truly have checks and balances, particularly important when we have such an overreaching president? This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” the New York Democrat will say on the Senate floor, according to an excerpt provided to CQ Roll Call.