Lloyd Doggett

The change-makers: Roll Call’s people to watch in 2019
A surge of energy from activists has defined the Trump era. What’s the end game?

Varshini Prakash co-founded the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group, in 2017. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images file photo)

Several activists who will be on the front lines of some of the biggest policy battles in the year ahead rank among Roll Call’s People to Watch in 2019. 

They include the leader of a fledgling environmental group pushing for aggressive action on climate change; the new president of Planned Parenthood, the lightning rod in the raging debate over abortion; and an expert on transportation safety who will be insisting on strong regulations to prevent deaths and injuries from driver-less vehicles. 

Democrats kick off push for Medicare drug price negotiations
The measure includes tactics to urge drugmakers to reach an agreement with Medicare on a price

Reps. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, left, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., attend a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center with House and Senate Democrats on a report which they say shows prescription drug prices have risen under President Trump on May 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The leader of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee on Thursday offered a proposal to require the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices for drugs covered by the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, is set to formally introduce the bill later Thursday with more than 100 House co-sponsors. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate backed by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Democrats and Republicans clash over health care goals in Ways and Means
In between partisan comments, lawmakers mentioned health policies the panel could consider this year

Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, talk during the House Ways and Means Committee organizational meeting for the 116th Congress on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means Committee members hinted at health policy areas that could earn their attention this year during a Tuesday hearing on pre-existing conditions protections, but past disagreements will be difficult to move beyond if the meeting was any indication.

Essentially every committee Republican expressed support for guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and called on Congress to lower health care costs.

On ‘Medicare-for-All,’ Democrats Tread Lightly
It polls well. But Dems say the proposal isn’t ready for floor action

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., founded the Medicare-for-All Caucus earlier this year. She pushed back on the idea that single-payer health care is unpopular in suburban parts of the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the House are calling for a vote on a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill in the next Congress, but the expected chairmen who will set the agenda for next year say they have other health priorities.

Still, the progressives’ push could earn more attention over the next two years as Democratic candidates begin vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. A handful of potential presidential candidates expected to declare interest have already co-sponsored “Medicare-for-all” legislation, an issue that was also a flashpoint in Democratic primaries over the past year.

On Health Care, Dems Go From Running to Baby Steps
Incremental measures will dominate action on the health law in a largely gridlocked Congress

House Democrats plan to bring administration officials to Capitol Hill to explain what critics call “sabotage” of the law’s insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterm elections all but ended the Republican push to repeal the 2010 law known as Obamacare, but as a defining issue for Democrats in their takeover of the House, health care will likely remain near the top of lawmakers’ policy and political agenda.

Newly emboldened Democrats are expected to not only push legislation through the House, but use their majority control of key committees to press Trump administration officials on the implementation of the health law, Medicaid work requirements, and insurance that does not have to comply with Obamacare rules.

14 Democrats Push Back on Raising Caucus Threshold for Speaker Race
Caucus threshold should remain simple majority; members should unite behind winner, they say

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to run for speaker again. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A group of 14 Democrats who support Nancy Pelosi for speaker are pushing back on a proposal from some of their anti-Pelosi colleagues to raise the caucus threshold for nominating a speaker candidate. 

House Democratic Caucus rules make all of their elected leadership positions subject to a simple-majority vote. Then, under House rules, the speaker nominee chosen by the caucus needs to win votes from a majority of the entire chamber — 218, if everyone is present and voting. 

Three-Way NAFTA Trade Deal Headed to Congress
U.S. would get greater access to Canada’s dairy market

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has announced a three-country “modernized” NAFTA agreement.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced a three-country ″modernized″ NAFTA agreement, clearing away one potential objection from key lawmakers who appeared ready to challenge a trade pact without Canada.

Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the agreement late Sunday night after frenzied negotiations over the weekend to resolve outstanding issues. If the preliminary accord is approved by Congress it will be renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The United States and Mexico reached an agreement in late August.

Democrats Line Up on Floor to Call Attention to Election Security
Maneuver has been used before on other hot-button issues

Rep. Mike Quigley is among the House Democrats trying to restore election security funding to a key program. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats took turns Wednesday requesting a vote on an amendment to fund election systems protection, saying the money is needed to “prevent Russian interference” in future elections.

The procedural moves from Democrats come ahead of a vote on a Republican-led spending bill (HR 6147) that would zero out election security grants that help states to fortify their systems against hacking and cyber attacks. The Election Assistance Commission is funded at $380 million under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this year. 

Supreme Court Maintains District Maps in N.C., Texas
Voter dilution, racial and partisan gerrymandering at issue in court actions

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court ruled Monday to keep the current congressional maps in Texas and North Carolina, in separate cases that dealt with voter dilution and racial and partisan gerrymandering.

In the Texas case, a sharply divided court overturned a lower court ruling that found intentional voter dilution in the 27th District and racial gerrymandering in the 35th District. The 27th District is currently vacant, after Republican Blake Farenthold resigned in April, while the 35th is held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett.

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny
Voter rights advocates worry the court could hand states a shield

Texas’ 35th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, is at the center of a gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could not only require Texas to redraw its congressional districts, but give states a way to defend against claims of gerrymandering.

This is the third case the justices will hear this term about how states draw legislative maps to gain a political advantage. Cases from Wisconsin and Maryland focus on whether those maps can be too partisan. The Texas case is a more traditional challenge to how state lawmakers draw the lines using voter data.