Mississippi

Administration Pushes Abstinence Promotion
Latest moves alarm reproductive rights advocates

Recording artist Ciara, center, performs in honor of National Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month in New York’s Times Square in 2011. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images file photo)

Recent administrative actions signal a shift from promoting comprehensive sexual health information to abstinence-only education, which concerns reproductive rights advocates who question abstinence promotion’s efficacy at preventing teen pregnancy.

The administration already announced last year the discontinuation of a teen pregnancy prevention, or TPP, program that funded grants to communities that study ways to prevent teens from getting pregnant and run prevention programs. The Department of Health and Human Services has promoted more abstinence-only alternatives and increasingly uses the phrase “sexual risk avoidance,” another term for abstinence, in materials.

NFL Player’s Drive for Social Justice Takes Him to the Hill
Thomas spearheading alliance between ‘athlete activists’ and politicians

Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas poses for photos on the House steps at the Capitol last week during his four-day externship arranged by the NFL Players Association. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the Friday before the first Sunday of the 2016 NFL season, the entire Miami Dolphins team gathered on the field after practice in Seattle.

No coaches. No trainers. No front-office staff. It was a players-only meeting.

GOP Unlikely to Revisit Spending Ban on Gun Violence Research
Congress has restricted such endeavors for more than two decades

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says it was “just not helpful to turn a funding bill into a debate over gun control.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans, at least for now, appear unlikely to allow federal funds for research on gun violence after a nearly 22-year prohibition.

Following yet another mass shooting on Wednesday, at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead, two key Republican appropriators said Thursday they don’t anticipate removing or altering an amendment in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using injury prevention research dollars “to advocate or promote gun control.”

Digital Staffers Focus on Getting on Message
Democrats fighting to catch up to Republicans in numbers and training

GOP Labs brings in companies to train staffers in social media and digital platforms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Breaking through the noise is a typical goal in communications, but this year, staffers just want to speak with one voice. They’re making coordination a priority within their parties.

That coordination is most obvious when multiple congressional offices blast out the same message with the same graphics on the same day. Whether it’s criticizing the Republican tax plan or celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it’s all from the same script.

Bipartisan Praise, and Questions, About Thad Cochran
Omnibus spending measure, future awaits veteran Mississippi Republican

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has bipartisan support and respect, but also faces questions about how much longer he will be in office, even as he begins the task of moving an omnibus spending bill wrapping up the current fiscal year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An omnibus bill wrapping up fiscal 2018 spending could serve as a victory lap for Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who continues to battle questions over his health and stamina in the role.

Rumors have swirled quietly for months about the 80-year-old Mississippi Republican’s future. Those whispers became louder last year after Cochran took a prolonged absence from the Senate due to health issues.

Opinion: The Russians — and the Midterms — Are Coming
U.S. elections are vulnerable, and that needs to change

A march near the Kremlin in 2015 honors Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was fatally shot shortly before a major opposition rally. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Robert A. Brady warn against Russian meddling in future U.S. elections. (Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images file photo)

In November 2016, 139 million Americans cast their votes in the wake of a massive Russian cyber-enabled operation to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

The Kremlin spread disinformation through hundreds of thousands of social media posts. Russian agents hacked U.S. political organizations and selectively exposed sensitive information. Russia targeted voting systems in at least 21 states, seeking to infiltrate the networks of voting equipment vendors, political parties and at least one local election board.

House Adopts Rules to Curb Sexual Harassment
Members are now forbidden to have sexual relationships with their aides

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., says the rule changes, along with the bill passed by the house on Tuesday, empower survivors of harassment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the wake of high-profile resignations over sexual harassment claims, the House on Tuesday approved sweeping changes to its internal rules intended to protect staffers, including a prohibition on sexual relationships between members and their aides. Lawmakers also passed a bipartisan bill to overhaul the process for investigating and resolving complaints by congressional employees regarding sexual harassment.

The House by voice vote adopted the rules change, which goes into effect immediately because it only pertains to the chamber. Representatives also passed by voice vote the bill that would revamp the twenty-year-old Congressional Accountability Act. That bill now heads to the Senate.

House Bill Updating Sexual Harassment Procedures Moves Straight to Floor
Monday markup canceled in favor of accelerating floor action

House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper has canceled a markup of anti-sexual harassment legislation. The measures will now move straight to the floor for a vote Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11:56 p.m. | The House Administration Committee canceled a scheduled Monday markup of bipartisan sexual harassment legislation so that two measures can move straight to the floor for a vote on Tuesday.

The committee had been scheduled to consider one bill and one resolution, both unnumbered.

The Appropriator in Winter: Frelinghuysen’s Last Stand
With re-election out of the way, Approps chairman seeks productive final year

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, left, talks with Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart at a hearing last June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is giving up the throne of what used to be the most sought-after seat at the Capitol after just one year.

The House Appropriations chairman is going out amid a blizzard of Republican infighting; lackluster presidential approval dragging down many of his “blue state” GOP colleagues; the increasing polarization of the electorate; and greater influence of Southern and Western conservatives at the expense of Northeastern moderates like himself.

Thanks, but No Thanks, Bryant Tells McConnell, Trump of Cochran’s Seat
Mississippi governor not interested in potentially replacing ailing senator

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., could step down amid lingering health concerns, many around Capitol Hill believe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is not interested in replacing Sen. Thad Cochran if Cochran steps down due to health concerns.

Bryant will not appoint himself to fill Cochran’s seat, the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson reported Thursday, even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump both broached the idea in separate conversations with the governor.