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Pelosi and Pence eye voters with USMCA agreement
Democrats and Trump appear to see the agreement as a rallying issue as they head into 2020 elections

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal agreement on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed victory for House Democrats Tuesday, saying they had reshaped a trade agreement designed to replace the long vilified 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement that organized labor has blamed for manufacturing jobs lost to Mexico.

In a sign of the potential political importance of the agreement to a core constituency, Pelosi and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., repeatedly thanked Richard Trumka, president of the influential AFL-CIO, for prodding Democrats to get the best deal possible for enforcement of new ambitious labor laws in Mexico that include workers’ right to form unions to negotiate for better pay and work conditions.

Dropped from NDAA, 'forever chemicals' fight to linger into 2020
Getting the EPA to regulate the chemicals could emerge as an issue in next year's elections

Kildee spoke at a Fight Forever Chemicals Campaign kick off event on Capitol Hill on Nov. 19ember 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

House and Senate negotiators dropped from the final defense policy bill language to force the federal government to regulate so-called forever chemicals, pushing into 2020 a partisan debate over how to regulate the toxic legacy of products such as Teflon and fire-resistant clothing.

In a bipartisan summary released Monday night, lawmakers included a provision that would ban the Pentagon from using firefighting foam made with the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS,  after Oct. 1, 2024, except aboard military ships, and would immediately prohibit its use in training exercises at military bases. 

EPA IG: Top official illegally blocked interference probe
Administrator's chief of staff refused to provide information sought by the agency's Office of Inspector General. The agency said the action was within the law

The EPA contends the official's actions were within the law. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The EPA Administrator’s chief of staff illegally blocked an inspector general’s investigation into whether he interfered with a private citizen’s testimony before Congress, the agency’s internal watchdog said Tuesday.

In a response appended to the IG’s report, the agency disputed any wrongdoing by the staff chief, Ryan Jackson, contending that he reviewed the individual’s testimony in a manner “consistent” with past practices. An agency spokeswoman called the report “hyperbolic.”

Florida lawmakers seek assurance offshore drilling plan is dead
Scott and Rubio try to leverage Trump's nominee as deputy Interior secretary to extract a no-drilling commitment from administration

Scott and others in the Florida delegation are seeking assurances that the Trump Administration won’t revive a proposal to allow oil and gas drilling off their state’s coasts. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rick Scott plans to meet this week with Katharine MacGregor, who is nominated to become Interior deputy secretary, as his fellow Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has a hold on her nomination, all to seek assurances that the Trump administration won’t move to allow oil and gas drilling off their state’s coasts.

Although the Interior Department said it was suspending its offshore drilling plan after widespread outcry, including from a bipartisan coalition of Florida lawmakers, Scott and Rubio’s actions show the delegation is not leaving anything to chance.

NDAA provision targets Chinese rail cars and electric buses
Defense bill bars spending federal dollars on vehicles made by state-owned or controlled companies

While other transit systems have two years to implement the spending provision, Washington's Metro system would have to abide by it immediately.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tucked in the conference report of the NDAA is a provision aimed at blocking Chinese companies from building rail cars or buses used in U.S. transit. 

The final version of the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act released Monday night would bar federal dollars from being used to purchase passenger rail cars or buses from state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, such as those from China.

Do points of order eat up all of a committee’s time?
There are rules in the House Judiciary Committee to ensure that both parties get their allotted time

Rep. Jamie Raskin reads a copy of “The Federalist Papers” during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

While there were a number of them in Monday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, points of order do not take up the opposing party’s time in House Judiciary committee proceedings, according to Communications Director Shadawn Reddick-Smith, and there are several rules in place to ensure that. 

Drug prices are too high. What is Congress trying to do about it?

Chairman Charles E. Grassley, right, and ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden are seen before a Senate Finance Committee on drug pricing in America on February 26, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Both the House and the Senate have competing bills aimed at addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs, a legislative priority backed by President Donald Trump.

Final defense authorization authorizes epic spending and puts guardrails on Trump
Agreement creates new branch of military with Space Force within Air Force

An F-35 flies past the U.S. Capitol dome in June. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House-Senate conference committee has filed a $735.2 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2020 that creates a new branch of the military and erects guardrails to keep the president from straying too far afield in foreign policy.

According to a bipartisan summary of the bill by the House and Senate Armed Services committees made public Monday night, the measure would authorize $658.4 billion in so-called base budgets, mainly at the Defense and Energy departments, plus an additional $71.5 billion for overseas campaigns and $5.3 billion for disaster relief.

McConnell warns of need for cooperation to complete Christmas wish list
There already may not be enough time if senators object to defense policy, spending measures

There is a backlog of legislation to move before Christmas. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The clock is ticking toward Christmas, and in one of the longest-lasting holiday traditions, a Senate majority leader is warning that without bipartisan cooperation there won’t be enough time to get all the work done before the holidays.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Tuesday’s session with the 2019 version of the regular holiday warning.

Here are the articles of impeachment released by House leaders
Charges accuse President Donald Trump of abusing his office and obstructing Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at a news conference on Tuesday to unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call