congressional-operations

These Democratic women don’t want to be ‘show ponies’
Political Theater: Episode 73

Democratic House freshmen banding together to help each other raise money to keep their seats in 2020 are, from left, Reps. Mikie Sherrill, Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, and Chrissy Houlahan, along with Rep. Elaine Luria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Five Democratic freshmen, all women with military or intelligence backgrounds, are banding together to help each other fundraise for their 2020 races. They all flipped Republican districts in 2018, and they know winning districts like theirs is the key to holding and expanding the House majority in 2020. 

After a few months in Congress, they’ve figured out who are the “workhorses” and who are the “show ponies,” in the words of Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and they’re tired of the latter getting all the attention. Along with Slotkin, Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania are fighting to hold the majority.

House Democrats telegraph policy priorities in Capitol Hill funding
Comparison of previous GOP, current Dem spending choices show differences

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a news conference with House Democrats on March 12 to introduce the “Dream and Promise Act.” The new majority’s Legislative Branch Appropriations bill would allow Dreamers to get jobs on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Empowered by their control of the House, Democrats are telegraphing their policy priorities in how they plan to spend taxpayer dollars on Capitol Hill, including exploring student debt relief options and employing Dreamers in Congress.

The fiscal 2020 House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill is signaling what types of issues Democrats want to be talking about and working on, both for their constituents back home and right here on Capitol Hill.

Just where is this secret House jail located?
A Capitol basement investigation yielded some answers

The Lincoln catafalque is seen Wednesday through bars in a chamber below the Capitol Crypt. Contrary to many a rumor, this is not the House jail. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi resurfaced one of the Capitol’s most enduring mysteries when answering a question about whether Democrats might imprison Trump administration officials who defy Congress: the House jail. But where is this mysterious cell?

“We do have a little jail down in the basement of the Capitol, but if we were arresting all of the people in the administration, we would have an overcrowded jail situation. And I’m not for that,” Pelosi said Wednesday at a Washington Post live event.

Lawmakers explore House-wide paid family leave policy
Appropriators request study of cost and feasibility

House lawmakers are exploring a paid family leave program for House employees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House lawmakers are interested in what a chamber-wide paid family leave policy would look like and how much it would cost. And staffers are likely  curious, too. Currently, paid maternity and paternity leave for congressional staff remains entirely at the whim of individual members.

“There is interest among Members of Congress to investigate the feasibility of implementing a standard House-wide paid family leave policy,” reads the committee report to accompany the fiscal 2020 House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.

Native American representation on Capitol Hill concerns House lawmakers
Appropriators take aim at what they call offensive art and disrespectful tours

House Appropriators are urging the Architect of the Capitol to work with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to contextualize portrayals of Native Americans on Capitol Hill. Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and pictured here, spoke at the opening of the museum in 2004. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

House lawmakers are raising issues about Native American representation in and around the Capitol — and they aren’t talking about the record number of Native American women in the 116th Congress.

A House Appropriations Committee report released Wednesday highlights disrespectful descriptions of Native Americans on Capitol tours and depictions in artwork around the Capitol campus, which “do not portray Native Americans as equals or Indian nations as independent sovereigns.” 

Lobbyists to Congress: Pay staffers better
Six ex-lawmakers offer recommendations on making Capitol Hill great again

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress heard from lobbyists and former colleagues at a hearing Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street denizens and former members of Congress offered tips on Wednesday for making Capitol Hill great again to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including recommendations to help Congress keep pace with lobbyists like themselves.

Six ex-lawmakers — including Virginia Republican Tom Davis — suggested that Congress pay its staffers more money to better hold their own with experts from K Street and the executive branch. They also called for more civility on Capitol Hill, less emphasis on fundraising, and to invest more in technology and technological savvy within the legislative branch.

Barr will be a no-show at House Judiciary Committee
AG objects to staff asking questions about special counsel probe

Attorney General Bill Barr testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the “Department of Justice’s Investigation of Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election” on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr will not appear as scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee about the special counsel probe Thursday, as he objects to a format that would allow committee staff to ask questions, the Justice Department announced.

Earlier Wednesday, the House panel approved a plan to allow an extra hour of time — divided into equal 30-minute, unbroken segments for each party — for either lawmakers or committee staff to ask questions.

Legislative Branch spending bill opens door for employing Dreamers on Capitol Hill
$3.9 billion measure would boost funding for interns, revive defunct technology office

House appropriators released a $3.9 billion House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill Tuesday ahead of subcommittee action set for Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats touted the revival of the defunct Office of Technology Assessment and the legal employment of so-called Dreamers in the $3.94 billion House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill they released Tuesday.

The fiscal 2020 proposal includes an overall proposed increase of $135 million, or 3.6 percent more than the current funding level, according to a summary. The Legislative Branch subcommittee is set to take up the bill at a markup on Wednesday.

Chairman Nadler subpoenas fully unredacted Mueller report
DOJ calls New York Democrat’s request ‘premature and unnecessary’

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is seeking to obtain the full, unredacted report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 5:26 p.m. | House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler issued a subpoena Friday demanding Attorney General William Barr release a full, unredacted version of the report authored by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence with past practice. The redactions appear to be significant,” Nadler wrote in a statement released Friday.

Johnny Cash is replacing one of the Capitol’s Civil War statues
The country music legend and civil rights leader Daisy Gatson Bates will replace controversial Civil War figures

A statue of Uriah Milton Rose of Arkansas is seen in the Capitol's Statuary Hall on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The times are changing, and so is the marble. Arkansas is leaving behind statues of the old guard and sending a few new faces to the U.S. Capitol.

Civil rights icon Daisy Gatson Bates and musician Johnny Cash will join the Statuary Hall collection in D.C., replacing 19th-century attorney Uriah Milton Rose and statesman James Paul Clarke. The governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, made the plan official by signing a bill last week.