Shawn Zeller

Colleges squawk over endowment tax
Universities push to reduce impact — or scrap levy altogether

A provision in the 2018 budget law aimed at shielding a college in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky from new taxes hasn’t actually done that.

In comments filed on a Treasury Department-issued guidance on the new endowment tax last month, Berea College said it believed Treasury’s interpretation of the tax would force it to pay $1 million a year. The college is asking Treasury to reconsider before finalizing the rules.

Closed-door impeachment inquiry irks the GOP
CQ on Congress, ep. 173

Gary Abernathy, a former staffer for Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, assesses the impeachment inquiry from the GOP heartland and finds it wanting. And CQ Roll Call reporter Katherine Tully-McManus describes how House Republicans protested the inquiry in dramatic fashion this week. They find the closed-door style of the inquiry unsavory. 

Polling impeachment and remembering Elijah Cummings
CQ on Congress, Ep. 172

Polls now show a majority of Americans favor impeaching President Donald Trump and removing him from office. Democratic pollster Brad Bannon explains how people should read the rush of new surveys coming in. We also remember Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who passed away this week, by reprising his 2017 interview with CQ Roll Call.

‘We’re trying to protect children’: Donna Shalala on e-cigarettes
Florida Democrat touts bill that would raise the age to buy e-cigarettes from 18 to 21

Hundreds of Americans have become sick and eight have died after using electronic cigarettes, prompting a bipartisan response in Washington. President Donald Trump last month called for a ban on the flavorings believed to attract young people to the devices.

But Florida freshman Rep. Donna E. Shalala says Congress needs to do more. Shalala, who was Health and Human Services secretary under President Bill Clinton, has teamed with a fellow House Democrat, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, on a bill that would raise the age to buy e-cigarettes, and any tobacco product, from 18 to 21, and add other restrictions aimed at keeping young people from getting hooked on nicotine.

White House staff on the hot seat
CQ On Congress episode 171

Capitol Insiders Survey: Democratic congressional aides prefer Warren
Biden may be ahead in many polls, but he’s trailing among Capitol Hill aides

In almost every poll, former Vice President Joe Biden has led the Democratic presidential field. But among the Democrats who work for representatives and senators, he’s behind.

Queried earlier this month by CQ Roll Call, those aides said by a margin of 45 percent to 39 percent that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the Democrats’ best shot at beating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Trump upends bipartisan consensus on homelessness
CQ On Congress, Episode 170

Donald Trump has challenged the idea, pioneered in George W. Bush’s administration, that the best, and most cost-effective way to end homelessness is to offer people living on the streets homes, no strings attached, and to service their needs in a home setting.

A new report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers says that has neither reduced homelessness, nor lowered costs. Richard Cho, who served in top positions at the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness during the Obama administration and now heads the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, joins the program this week to discuss how “Housing First” has worked and how it hasn’t.

Congress returns for a bleak fall session
CQ on Congress, Episode 168

Democrats weighing new gun legislation in wake of mass shootings
CQ on Congress, episode 167

Updated 7:33 p.m. | The House Judiciary Committee had planned to return early from Congress’ summer break next week to mark up gun safety legislation. After this podcast previewing the proceedings was recorded, the committee announced it was postponing the markup until the week of Sept. 9 due to Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to hit Florida. Five of the panel members represent districts in the state. 

Will any House bills pressure Senate Republicans to respond to recent mass shootings? At a time when a majority of the country supports enhanced background checks and other measures to curb gun violence, House Democrats hope so.

Google under pressure from Congress, activists, shareholders
CQ on Congress, Episode 165

In the face of gridlock in Congress, investors, pension funds, and some states are pushing public companies to do more to diversify their boards, combat climate change, stamp out sexual harassment and give workers a voice.

CQ Roll Call's Laura Weiss talks about what happened at Google's annual shareholder meeting where board members were confronted with protests and calls for change. 

Obamacare takes another hit, this time from Democrats
CQ on Congress, Episode 164

Democrats were nearly unanimous in voting to end the so-called "Cadillac tax" on high cost health insurance plans that was the principal mechanism in the Affordable Care Act aimed at reducing health care costs. Josh Gordon, policy director for the Concord Coalition, a group that seeks to restrain budget deficits, says that's regrettable. And CQ Roll Call health care reporter Mary Ellen McIntire explains why Democrats are willing to weaken the financing of the 2010 law.

Why the US is behind in the 5G race
CQ on Congress, Episode 163

Poor allocation of airwaves and the absence of a domestic telecom supplier could delay U.S. mobile carriers from deploying 5G as effectively as some other countries and thus cede leadership to China, says CQ Roll Call's senior technology reporter Gopal Ratnam. He explains how the U.S. is hoping to respond and why the trade war between Washington and Beijing may be complicating those efforts.

Did the Pentagon weaponize ticks?
CQ on Congress, Episode 162

Immigrant raids could lead to more family separations
CQ on Congress, Episode 161

The Trump administration says it will round up undocumented immigrants who have missed a court date in an effort to deter others migrants from seeking refuge in the United States. But raids could exacerbate family separations, report CQ Roll Call’s Tanvi Misra and Jinitzail Hernandez, who just returned from visiting one of the largest migrant detention centers in Homestead, Fla., where the government is holding 2,000 teenage immigrants.

How the GOP won by losing on census citizenship question
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 159

GOP-held states with growing immigrant populations, Texas, Florida and Arizona, are more likely to gain House seats following the 2020 Census, as well as additional federal funding, if a citizenship question remains off, as the Supreme Court ordered on June 27. In this episode of the CQ on Congress podcast, CQ Roll Call reporter Michael Macagnone and Bryce Dietrich, a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School, discuss why Republican lawmakers continue to back President Donald Trump's plan to add it.  

Some Republicans snubbed the many Dreamers in their districts
GOP lawmakers with sizable DACA constituencies voted against a bill to help them

Most Republican representatives with a lot of beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program lost their seats in November, among them Texas’ Pete Sessions and John Culberson and California’s David Valadao and Jeff Denham.

So there was pressure on those remaining when the House voted June 4 on HR 6 which would codify and expand Obama’s DACA program. Still, the bill, which offers a path to citizenship not only for those immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children but also those already granted temporary protected status because of unsafe conditions in their homelands, drew only seven Republican votes in passing 237-187.

When it comes to Facebook, breaking up is hard to do
2020 Democratic hopefuls rail against social media giant, but rely on it for fundraising

Most of the current lawmakers spending big on Facebook advertisements are Democrats running for president. That’s no surprise, given the effectiveness the social media giant gives them in reaching the slice of the electorate they need to raise money and qualify for primary debates.

Still, it’s notable that the one using the platform the most is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has called for breaking up the tech giant.