Trade

9/11 victims bill heads to Trump‘s desk after clearing Senate
Final action on the measure came after months of emotional lobbying by ailing first responders and their families

Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks by at the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The Senate will be voting later today on HR 1327: Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate cleared a measure Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

By the lopsided vote of 97-2, the Senate agreed to a House-passed bill that would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims filed by Oct. 1, 2090.

Amazon, Facebook up their K Street spending; other players dip

Facebook spent the most in its history on lobbying in this year’s second quarter. Above, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House hearing in April of last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tech powerhouses Facebook and Amazon spent the most in their histories on lobbying in this year’s second quarter, propelling them into the top tier of K Street spenders, while other big players reported a decline in their lobbying investment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long the dominant big spender, continued its reign, despite recent turmoil in staffing and a leadership change that has raised questions about the organization’s future. The chamber, drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and Northrop Grumman reported a dip in spending in the second quarter when compared with the first three months of the year, according to just filed lobbying reports.

Finance drug price bill faces GOP resistance before markup
Proposals target Medicare drug prices

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, on Tuesday offered a details on a drug price bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday outlined a long-anticipated drug price bill, but a planned Thursday markup may not go smoothly because of Republican discontent with the measure.

The bill is meant to slow the growth of Medicare’s prescription drug spending, limit cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries, and make it easier for state Medicaid programs to pay for expensive treatments, according to a summary.

Trump says ‘thousands’ of companies are leaving China. It’s not that simple
President routinely exaggerates situation, which also has roots in rising wages for Chinese workers

President Donald Trump listens to adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner speak during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (John T. Bennett/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump repeatedly asserts that “thousands” of companies are scurrying to flee China because of his tariffs. But Asia and trade experts say he is exaggerating data for political gain.

As the president tells it, U.S. and other firms have either moved or will move their production operations and supply chains off Chinese soil because he has slapped $250 billion worth of import duties on Chinese products. As recently as last Tuesday, Trump threatened further tariffs of $325 billion on goods from the Asian superpower. Experts, however, say the situation is not that black and white.

Road ahead: All eyes on the budget and debt limit deal, except when Mueller testifies
House to tackle border issues, while Senate will confirm Defense secretary, clear 9/11 compensation bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to clear the debt deal this week before the chamber departs for the August recess. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

All eyes this week will be on whether House lawmakers are able to pass a deal to raise the debt limit and set spending levels for the next two years before leaving for the August recess on Friday.

That is except, of course, when former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III seizes all the attention when he testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Rep. Derek Kilmer: Disputes among Democrats amount to ‘false divisions’
On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control, Democrats are more unified than divided, congressman says

Democratic Rep Derek Kilmer, right, seen here with GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, also of Washington, says Democrats are more united than divided. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat who chairs the moderate, business-friendly New Democrat Coalition, sought to downplay disputes within his own party, calling them “false divisions within the caucus.”   

On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control matters, Democrats are more unified than divided, Kilmer told C-SPAN “Newsmakers” in an interview that airs on July 28, despite recent intraparty conflicts on such matters as the border crisis and legislation to raise the minimum wage, leading to heated rhetoric, particularly between progressives and moderates.

Envoy says Mexico ready for Congress’ questions on trade deal
Mexico is committed to enforcing labor and environmental protections

Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., is scheduled to meet Friday with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss enforcement of labor provisions that Mexico enacted into law earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mexican officials believe they have strong arguments to assure Congress that their country is committed to enforcing labor and environmental protections in the proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican Ambassador Martha Barcena Coqui said Thursday.

Mexico is willing to take on the role of answering lawmakers’ questions, but Barcena said at an event hosted by CQ Roll Call that the Trump administration has the ultimate responsibility for winning congressional approval for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Clete Willems is trading in the White House for K Street
“My biggest joke now is I went to become a partner in a law firm, so I can work less”

Clete Willems has gone from chauffeuring Rep. Paul D. Ryan to working on trade policy at the White House to partnering at the Akin Gump law firm on K Street. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The timing of Clete Willems’ recent departure from the White House seemed a bit inopportune what with negotiations over trade disputes with China hitting a pivotal point. But the international economics adviser to the president says he had other commitments to keep.

Though the Trump White House has a reputation for unpredictability and plenty of staffing drama, Willems says the reason for his departure was more personal. When he took on the new gig at the beginning of the Trump administration, he made a pact with his wife: When they had a second child, he would head for the exit. His daughter was born in March.

N.C. crowd chants ‘Send her back’ as Trump criticizes Omar and House ‘squad’
President also mocks Buttigieg’s last name, painting South Bend mayor as foreign policy lightweight

President Donald Trump greets Blake Marnell of San Diego during a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday night criticized the House Democratic women known as “the squad,” zeroing in on Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota as his supporters at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, chanted “Send her back!”

He contended that Omar “blamed” the United States for the 9/11 attacks and “smeared” U.S. soldiers involved in the so-called Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia in 1993.

House passes repeal of Obamacare tax on high-cost plans
‘Cadillac tax’ never took effect under intense lobbying against it by employers and unions

“If we fail to repeal the Cadillac tax, we will leave working families with less health care coverage, higher out-of-pocket health care costs and little to no wage increases,” says Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed, 419-6, legislation Wednesday to repeal the so-called Cadillac tax, pleasing health insurers, unions and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who have long pushed to scrap the levy.

The measure would permanently repeal the 40 percent excise tax on high-cost employer-provided health insurance, which was envisioned as a key way to pay for the 2010 health care law. The tax, which Congress twice delayed from taking effect, is set to go into effect in 2022.