New Mexico

Flashback Friday: Christmas Tree Bill
When there’s something in a measure for nearly everyone

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree stands in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For less astute observers of Capitol Hill, the term “Christmas tree bill” might conjure up festive images of twinkling lights and tinsel, candy canes and cookies. But in reality, the term refers to seasonal indulgence of a different sort. A Christmas tree bill is a piece of legislation, loaded with “ornaments” — unrelated, and often, excessive amendments.

The term is said to date back to a March 1956 Time magazine article on the debate over the farm bill. New Mexico Sen. Clinton P. Anderson, frustrated by the number of amendments added to the measure, was quoted as saying, “This bill gets more and more like a Christmas tree; there’s something on it for nearly everyone.”

Informal Nature of Border Wall Request Roils Spending Debate
Trump still hasn’t submitted “budget amendment” on $5 billion demand

President Donald Trump still hasn’t put details of his $5 billion request for border wall funding on paper in any official capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has held up the entire spending wrap-up for fiscal 2019. Yet Trump still hasn’t put the details of that request on paper in any official capacity, a departure from precedent that is in keeping with this president’s unconventional style.

The fact Congress hasn’t gotten a formal letter to change the border ask seems technical. But it has set a stage for debate where no one’s arguing on the same terms. And this has arguably let lawmakers and the White House escape a broader debate on the substance by simultaneously referring to an outdated budget request or a dollar figure that doesn’t exist formally on paper.

House Democrats’ New Elected Leadership Team Is More Progressive and Diverse
On average, new leadership team is also younger in terms of age and length of service

The incoming House Democratic leadership team poses for a group photo in the Rayburn Room in the U.S. Capitol on Friday. Front row, from left: Katherine M. Clark, D-Mass., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. Back row, from left: Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., David Cicilline, D-R.I., Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Katie Hill, D-Calif. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The newly elected House Democratic leadership team for the 116th Congress will be more progressive, diverse and younger in terms of both age and length of service compared to the current one. 

That should generally please Democrats who called for changes in their leadership team, despite the top three long-reigning leaders remaining in charge. 

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Selects Joaquin Castro As Next Chairman
Gallego, Barragán, Espaillat and Rep.-elect Escobar round out CHC leadership team

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, will chair the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 116th Congress. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro was elected Friday as the next chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which will begin the next Congress with its largest membership since the group’s founding. 

The CHC had 31 members this Congress and will grow to 39 members next year — two senators and 37 House members.

Sweet Smell of Succession, House Democrats Edition
The upward mobility of people who played the leadership game

From left, Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, arrive Thursday for the House Democrats’ leadership elections in the Longworth Building. Bustos went on to win the race for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For those House Democrats frustrated that Nancy Pelosi won’t provide them (Seth Moulton, Kathleen Rice, Tim Ryan) with a succession plan that entails her leaving and someone, anyone else taking over, consider — wait for it — this week’s House Democratic Caucus leadership elections

Let’s back up for a second. 

House Democrats Elect 4 Members to Run Messaging Arm
Cicilline will chair DPCC, and Lieu, Dingell and Cartwright will serve as co-chairs

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., will lead House Democrats’ messaging arm next Congress as chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline will again lead House Democrats’ messaging arm next year, after being elected Thursday by acclamation to a newly created top position at the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. 

Cicilline will be the new DPCC chair, ranking higher than three DPCC co-chairs the Democratic Caucus also elected Thursday. He had served as one of the three co-chairs for the 2018 cycle. 

Cheri Bustos Elected DCCC Chair
Illinois Democrat was in charge of ‘heartland engagement’ during 2018 cycle

Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, center, is the new head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats elected Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos on Thursday to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2020 election cycle.

Bustos won in the first round of voting, finishing ahead of Washington Reps. Denny Heck and Suzan DelBene. The tally was 117 votes for Bustos, with Heck at 83 and DelBene at 32. 

Rep. Ben Ray Luján Elected Assistant Democratic Leader
Outgoing campaign chairman moves up to No. 4 leadership post

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., will be the new assistant Democratic leader in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján is moving up a few leadership rungs after he was elected by acclimation Wednesday to serve in the No. 4 post of assistant Democratic leader next Congress. 

The New Mexico Democrat ran unopposed but had initially faced two challengers for the position.

Hakeem Jeffries Wins Democratic Caucus Chair Race Against Barbara Lee
Current DPCC co-chair moves up to No. 5 in leadership

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., won the House Democratic Caucus chairmanship on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, whom several Democratic colleagues view as a potential future speaker, narrowly won an intraparty contest for House Democratic Caucus chair Wednesday against California Rep. Barbara Lee

The vote was 123-113. 

Trump Retweets Supporter’s Call for GM to Return Bailout Funds
President is angry with U.S. automaker for cutting jobs in key battleground states

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House earlier this month. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump retweeted a supporter’s call for General Motors to repay billions to the federal government it received as part of last decade’s auto industry bailout. He also warned GM the White House is studying moves he can take using his executive powers to punish the company.

The president shared with his 56 million Twitter followers a tweet by an account with the handle @The_Trump_Train that criticized GM for cutting jobs and production at facilities in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. It also suggested the automaker return over $10 billion in federal monies it received in the late 2000s to stay afloat.