Tom Cole

With Tax Deal in the Works, Questions Turn to Timing
Deal could be announced as early as Tuesday, with votes next week

Capitol Hill was relatively calm Tuesday morning, as Washington braced for the results of the Alabama Senate election and timing on a vote on tax overhaul and spending is in flux. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill was relatively calm Tuesday morning, even as the timing on two big-ticket items — voting on a tax overhaul package and what to do about year-end spending questions — hung in the air unresolved and the nation remained fixated on Alabama’s special Senate election, where voting is underway.

House Republicans meeting as a conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters said there was no specific timeline for voting on the tax package, as the formal conference committee is set to meet, perhaps for the only time, Wednesday.

Limiting Sexual Harassment Payouts ‘Complicated,’ Lawmakers Say
Funding limitation could be one response to sexual misconduct scandals roiling Capitol Hill

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said using the appropriations process to restrict settlement payouts was complex. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated, 4:05 p.m. | Lawmakers have been quick to express their disgust with sexual harassment payments that come out of federal coffers to cover the cost of elected officials’ behavior. But members are more guarded when asked whether they would take action by attaching a funding limitation to a spending bill — a common instrument used by lawmakers in appropriations.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a top Republican appropriator, sounded cautious after last week’s revelation that the Office of Compliance has doled out tens of thousands of dollars since 2013.

Some in Congress Still Have a Taste for Pork
For a Republican majority searching for wins, there may be no better time to bring back earmarks

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says “there is plenty of sentiment” in the House for reviving earmarks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the year since Speaker Paul D. Ryan blocked his party’s effort to revive earmarks, a lot hasn’t happened.

There’s been no repeal of Obamacare and no border wall approval. Plans to fund the government are struggling to lift off.

Trump Executive Actions a ‘Disruptive’ Lot
Full effects of president’s unilateral moves still years away, experts say

President Donald Trump after signing an executive order Oct. 12 targeting the 2010 health care law. Experts and lawmakers say his executive actions are among the most “disruptive” of any president. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

The executive actions President Donald Trump has signed have the potential to be among the most “aggressive” and “disruptive” ever issued by a chief executive, according to lawmakers and experts.

Trump and his top aides often describe his use of executive orders, actions and memoranda as the president using his constitutional authorities to “put America first” and plot a policy course to benefit the country’s forgotten men and women. Both were major themes of his 2016 campaign.

House Leaders May Revive Income Tax Deduction for California, McHenry Says
‘We still have some tweaks to do to accommodate California, mainly’

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House GOP leaders are working on a tweak to the state and local income tax deduction to appease California members, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry said Tuesday.

The bill the House passed before Thanksgiving would fully repeal the state and local income tax deduction and retain the property tax deduction with a $10,000 cap. Twelve members from the high-tax states of New York, New Jersey and California voted against the tax bill because of concerns over the so-called SALT deduction.

Hot Start With Trump 'Pep Rally' Burns Out as Tax Bill Cruises
Before passing tax bill, GOP members gush about president

President Donald Trump, accompanied by his chief of staff John Kelly, arrives at the Capitol to speak to House Republicans before a floor vote on a GOP-crafted tax overhaul bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two fireplaces outside the House chamber told the story Thursday a few minutes before members streamed in to vote on a sweeping tax bill. Orange embers were still just visible in both beneath scorched logs and ash. For Republicans, what had started with a white-hot visit by President Donald Trump ended with the anti-climactic passage of their tax plan.

But there was nothing anti-climactic a short time earlier in the basement of the Capitol, where House GOP members gather weekly as a group. They scurried in — mostly on time, with a few notable exceptions — for the presidential visit, and many emerged just before noon strikingly giddy about the scene during the president’s roughly 20 minutes of remarks.

House Rules Committee Adopts Closed Rule for GOP Tax Bill
With last hurdle cleared, measure heads to the floor

House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, center, and Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, seen here with a staffer in March, joined six other Republicans Tuesday night to send the GOP tax bill to the floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Republican tax bill cleared the Rules Committee late Tuesday night with no changes or amendments made in order for floor debate.

The panel adopted a closed rule in an 8-3 party-line vote, the last hurdle for the bill to clear before it reaches the floor.

GOP Tax Overhaul May Bring Back Extenders
Party admits making some tax deductions permanent could be too costly

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady once spoke of making tax extenders permanent, but that may no longer be the case. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Certainty is a word Republicans used repeatedly in 2015 to make the case for permanently renewing dozens of temporary tax incentives known as extenders.

Now, that term has all but disappeared from the GOP vernacular as the party seeks to overhaul the tax code for the first time since 1986.

Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a ‘National Health Emergency’
“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic,” president says

President Donald Trump said addressing the opioids crisis “will require all of our effort.” (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 5:30 p.m. | President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the nations’s opioid crisis a “national health emergency,” saying the country would fight the drug epidemic as a “national family.”

“This is a worldwide problem,” he said, flanked by public health officials, families with small children and first lady Melania Trump in the East Room of the White House. “It’s just been so long in making. Addressing it will require all of our effort.”

On Debt Reduction, GOP Says Wait Till Next Year
Oft-cited deficit concerns thrown by the wayside for fiscal 2018 budget

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is focused on using the budget process to rewrite the tax code, but hasn’t yet committed on what to use the next budget resolution for. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Despite years of calling for reducing the federal debt, House Republicans are voting Thursday on a budget that doesn’t balance and that calls for adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit to finance a tax overhaul. And most of them are fine with that.

Why? Primarily because the fiscal 2018 budget resolution is the vehicle needed to set up the fast-track process for rewriting the tax code and not letting Senate Democrats filibuster the bill. But Republicans say they plan to use that same budget reconciliation process again next year to start chipping away at the deficit.