Jim Cooper

Nuclear Weapons, Border Wall, Military Parade Among NDAA Issues
Trump’s priorities are driving unusually partisan debate on this year’s defense authorization act

President Donald Trump reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego in March. His priorities are driving much of the discussion around this year’s NDAA. (Evan Vucci/AP file photo)

The House Armed Services Committee will debate dozens of amendments to the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill during its marathon markup on Wednesday, when lawmakers could introduce a wide variety of proposals, such as authorizing the Pentagon to develop new nuclear weapons and allowing transgender troops to serve in the military.

The legislation, commonly referred to as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, typically draws broad bipartisan support. But the markup is likely to include debate on some of the most controversial defense issues, including transgender troops, low-yield nuclear weapons and downsizing the Pentagon’s civilian workforce.

Opinion: Will the Marches Make a Difference?
Marches are where change can start, but elections are where the change happens

A group from Pittsburgh marches down the West Front of the Capitol on Saturday to join the student-led “March for Our Lives,” calling for action to prevent gun violence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The National Rifle Association went into the 1994 midterm elections with a plan: Target politicians who had voted for that year’s crime bill.

A Washington Post story just before Election Day detailed a granular and aggressive plan inside the NRA to unseat anyone who had failed to support the group’s position on the landmark legislation pushed by President Bill Clinton that included a ban on new sales of some assault weapons.

House Republicans Propose Deal on Congressional Ads
Franking rule change would let lawmakers link to HealthCare.gov

After complaints from Democrats, Franking Commission Chairman Rodney Davis, shown here in 2014, has floated a rule change that would allow lawmakers to link to HealthCare.gov in taxpayer-funded ads. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans are working to resolve a dispute over rules that Democrats say are stopping them from promoting the health insurance exchanges.

Currently, lawmakers are prohibited from linking to any website other than their own in taxpayer-funded advertisements. Rep. Rodney Davis is proposing to allow them to link to other federal government websites, including HealthCare.gov.

Bipartisan Group Wants to End Taxpayer Money for Harassment Settlements
Members led by Rep. Ron Desantis also aim to disclose settlements dating back to 1995

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., is interviewed by a TV news crew outside of the House chamber. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of members announced legislation that would end the practice of using taxpayer money to settle claims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

Republican Reps. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn were joined by Democratic Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Jim Cooper also of Tennessee and Kathleen Rice of New York. 

Franking Fracas Hits Open Enrollment Ads
House Democrats accuse commission of playing politics

Democrats have asked Franking Commission Chairman Rodney Davis, shown here in 2014, to address complaints that the commission is unfairly blocking ads. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attempts by House Democrats to promote open enrollment in the health care marketplaces are running up against arcane rules and what they call partisan politics. Lawmakers are seeking to compensate for reduced marketing on the part of the Trump administration with their own taxpayer-funded ads.

The Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year slashed advertising for HealthCare.gov by 90 percent, prompting cries of “sabotage” from Democrats and consumer advocates. House Democrats are trying to fill that gap through their own ads on social media and other outlets, but are being thwarted by Republicans on the Franking Commission who say the advertisements do not comply with congressional rules.

Top Republicans Pursue Blue Dogs to Back Tax Bill
Cuellar says details will be key in nailing down his support

Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar is among the fiscally conservative Democrats being wooed by Republicans seeking to pass their tax overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady are trying to woo fiscally conservative Democrats, as Republicans seek consensus for an ambitious overhaul based on the GOP’s tax framework.

Passing a tax bill with just Republican votes in the House is far from a sure thing, as some GOP lawmakers have said they want more details about the size and reach of tax cuts and the impact of contentious offsets such as the elimination of the popular deduction for state and local taxes.

Word on the Hill: Ayotte Joins Bono’s Board
Weekend plans?

Former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who helped shepherd the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this year, has joined the ONE Campaign. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., joined the board of the ONE Campaign, an organization co-founded by U2 frontman Bono

The ONE Campaign bills itself as focusing on fighting poverty and extreme diseases. 

Space Corps Proposal Has Military Brass Going Orbital

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, center, seen here with Gen. David L. Goldfein, right, chief of staff of the Air Force, is opposed to the creation of Space Corps, seeing it as within the purview of her service branch. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It was, to be sure, a bold and audacious move from a relatively unknown member of Congress, who moved forward despite fervent objections from both the Defense Department and the White House and not so much as a full committee hearing or debate.

Alabama Republican Mike D. Rogers nevertheless used his perch atop a House Armed Services subcommittee to slip language into the annual Pentagon policy bill to create an entirely new military service focused on space.

Lawmakers Want Trump’s Tax Returns, but Won’t Release Their Own
Only a handful willing to release documents to Roll Call

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján has called on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Ben Ray Luján — like many in Congress — wants President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

Transparency, the New Mexico Democrat said recently in a Facebook post, “is a cornerstone of democracy.”

House Defense Panel Would Create Space Force

Next stop for the military, outer space? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A House Armed Services panel intends to create a new fighting force called Space Corps within the Air Force to improve the U.S. military’s ability to address threats in space, according to a summary of the Strategic Forces panel’s forthcoming fiscal 2018 mark.

“There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding,” said a joint statement from Mike D. Rogers of Alabama and Jim Cooper of Tennessee, the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively. “We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems. Thus, Congress has to step in.”