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Surprise billing fight highlights hurdles for bolder health care changes
Disagreements over payments foreshadow difficulty of moving overhaul like ‘Medicare for All’

National Nurses United union members wave "Medicare for All" signs during a rally in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington on April 29. A September poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 30 percent of people consider implementing a national Medicare for All plan a top priority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The challenge of passing legislation to stop surprise medical bills is underscoring just how hard it is in Washington to change the health care system, even in small ways, and raising questions about Democrats’ far more ambitious overhaul plans. 

Stopping surprise medical bills wasn’t supposed to be this difficult. Lawmakers in both parties want to protect patients from certain unanticipated out-of-pocket costs, and industry groups say they agree with the broad goal. But fights over payments to doctors and other medical providers that so far have stalled the legislation foreshadow the hurdles of moving a major overhaul, such as a “Medicare for All” government-run health care plan, after the 2020 elections.

EPA’s use of science to come under committee’s microscope
Critics say Trump administration proposal will undermine government research

EPA headquarters in Washington. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A House committee may take aim Wednesday at the EPA’s plan to censor the science it uses in its policies by forcing the disclosure of private medical and health records, a step science advocacy groups say would undermine government research.

Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are expected to broach the proposal at the hearing and will likely question Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, a medical doctor and EPA science adviser, over the proposed rule and how the agency uses science broadly.

Hill staffers in both parties overwhemingly believe Trump headed for impeachment
But both sides also agree the Senate won't remove the president from office

Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks during a news conference just before the House vote on a resolution to formalize the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on Oct. 31. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Donald Trump’s presidency feels like a roller-coaster ride, with each hair-raising turn of events quickly giving way to a new one — and opinions about him constantly in motion — the results of CQ Roll Call’s Capitol Insiders Survey in 2019 buttress that view.

Few congressional staffers thought, at the beginning of the year, that Trump was headed for impeachment. But the results of CQ Roll Call’s October poll are unambiguous: Staffers in both parties overwhelmingly believe Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Florida senators want federal help on their red tide problem
Algal blooms driven by chemical runoff and a warming climate killed aquatic life, slammed the state's tourism industry

A sign warns of possible airborne irritants after Palm Beach County closed its beaches because of a red tide algal bloom in October 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As Florida grapples with so-called red tides of algal blooms along its coasts and waterways, the state's senators are pushing the federal government to come up with a plan to help control them.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will on Wednesday mark up a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott aiming to find a solution to the toxic algae that cost the state's tourism industry millions of dollars each year. 

House Democrats have aggressive schedule of impeachment hearings before Thanksgiving
Intelligence panel will hear from eight witnesses over three days

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, is among the witnesses scheduled to testify in open session next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Intelligence Committee announced an aggressive public hearing schedule for next week with a plan to have eight witnesses testify over the course of three days.

Half of those witnesses are scheduled to appear next Tuesday. A morning hearing will feature testimony from Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council.

Kamala Harris discusses campaign struggles with Cosmo
Democratic presidential hopeful also talks women’s issues, climate change and skin care

California Sen. Kamala Harris is latest presidential contender to sit down with Cosmopolitan magazine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s still five women in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and after three men beat them to it, one stopped by the headquarters of the magazine that bills itself the “biggest media brand in the world for young women” for an interview.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, in the latest entry for Cosmopolitan magazine’s “The Candidates Come to Cosmo” series, discussed tough decisions to pare her campaign staff, issues such as climate change, and even her skin care regimen.

‘Dreamers,’ Democrats push for DACA
While Dreamers await Supreme Court decision, Democrats push Senate leadership to pass DACA bill

DACA recipients, including Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn (left) Carolina Fung Geng, (3rd from left), plaintiff Martin Batalla Vidal (center) and Eliana Fernández (3rd from right) pump their fists before entering the U.S. Supreme Court before Tuesday’s arguments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Waving American flags and holding up signs that read “Defend DACA” and “Make SCOTUS great again,” hundreds of young immigrants, activists and their supporters demonstrated Tuesday outside the Supreme Court steps as justices inside heard arguments regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Just a few blocks away at the Capitol, meanwhile, congressional Democrats urged Senate leadership to take up House-passed legislation that would ensure protections for this population.

Report: Puerto Rico’s infrastructure failing as federal aid remains on hold
Engineers group says hurricane-ravaged island needs up to $23 billion investment over 10 years

A downed electric pole sits in mud more after Hurricane Maria hit the island in October 2017. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

More than two years after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s bridges, dams, drinking water, ports, roads and power grids are at a breaking point — and the federal dollars to fix that infrastructure remains out of reach.

So says the American Society of Civil Engineers in a report released Tuesday that assigned the island’s infrastructure an overall grade of D-.

Trump declares economic ‘boom’ underway as CBO sounds slowdown alarms
Congressional analysts predict slower GDP growth, lower labor force participation

A worker boxes orders at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy is in a “boom” under his watch, but the Congressional Budget Office projects lower labor participation rates and slower GDP growth. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Despite warning signs of an economic slowdown, President Donald Trump on Tuesday told an audience of wealthy and influential New York players that the U.S. economy is booming — almost exclusively because of his stewardship.

“Today, I am proud to stand before you as President to report that we have delivered on our promises — and exceeded our expectations. We have ended the war on American Workers, we have stopped the assault on American Industry, and we have launched an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen before,” Trump said at a lunch hour address before the Economic Club of New York, the word “boom” in all capital letters on the White House-released excerpts.

Watch: With DACA on the line, protesters raise voices at Supreme Court

DACA recipients, including Jirayut "New" Latthivongskorn (left) Carolina Fung Geng, (3rd from left), plaintiff Martin Batalla Vidal (center) and Eliana Fernández (3rd from right) hold their fists in the air as they enter the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arguments over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program began in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Protesters gathered before the white stone steps surrounded by major news organizations and joined by politicians and actors.