Homeland Security

Omar’s office facade gets covered with notes of support
Notes offer messages of support after a Trump rally crowd chanted ‘send her back!’

Visitors write inspiring notes outside of the office of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., after attacks from President Trump days before at the Longworth Building at the Capitol on Friday, July 19, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s congressional office facade grew more colorful as people walked by her office Friday and posted blue, purple, pink and yellow notes of encouragement in the form of a heart. It’s a show of support after a long week of back-and-forth with President Donald Trump and his supporters, who chanted “send her back” at a rally earlier this week.

As a response to the rally chants and rhetoric from the president widely seen as racist, the anti-war group Code Pink organized a day of solidarity outside the Minnesota Democrat’s office. The group’s organizers were outside the office asking people to sign a note for Omar and gathering notes from those in the House office building cafeterias.

Senators roll out pilot program to speed asylum claims
Plan would streamline process for migrant families who have legitimate claims

Republican senators behind the asylum proposal include Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of nine senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — is proposing a new pilot program to better manage the influx of families seeking asylum at the southwest border.

“Operation Safe Return,” as the group calls it, would be the first bipartisan step to address the situation at the border, the senators said in a letter Thursday to Trump administration officials. Their plan would streamline the process by which migrant families who have legitimate claims for asylum are processed at the border, and swiftly weed out those who do not.

Cummings on migrant child detention: ‘None of us would have our children in that position.’

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., talks with an aide during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building where members of Congress testified about their trip to the border of the U.S. and Mexico on Friday, July 12, 2019. The hearing was titled "The Trump Administration's Child Separation Policy: Substantiated Allegations of Mistreatment." Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform convened Thursday to question acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan about children held in migrant detention facilities and border security.

Senators press census chief on cyber, outreach fears
After citizenship question abandoned, worries continue

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., arrives in the Capitol building for a vote on April 10, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Census Bureau’s chief on Tuesday pushed back on concerns about cyberattacks and outreach in rural areas in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

In the first congressional testimony by a bureau official since the Trump administration dropped a citizenship question from the 2020 census, the issue was only briefly addressed. Senators instead focused on the implementation of the count next year, which will be the first to rely primarily on online responses. That change has raised fears of cyber intrusions and technology shortfalls.

Threats against members increasing, Capitol Police chief says
Rep. Bennie Thompson calls for police to reexamine safety following Trump attacks on Democrats

Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund said threats against members of Congress are increasing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Threats against members of Congress continue to grow, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund said Tuesday at his first appearance as head of the department before the House Administration Committee.

“We continue to see the threat assessment cases that we’re opening continue to grow,” Sund said. “For fiscal year 2018, we had approximately 4,894 cases. So far, for this year, we have 2,502 cases. So we’re on par to probably break last year’s.”

Road ahead: Pressure rising for debt limit deal
Lawmakers face deadline on debt even as other priorities come to floor

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional leaders and the administration only have a few legislative days to strike a deal  on raising the debt limit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is set to consider several high-profile measures this week, including holding two Cabinet officials in contempt, raising the minimum wage and ratifying tax treaties, but lawmakers will be unable to avoid the contentious issue of raising the federal debt ceiling. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been speaking by phone, trying to reach agreement on avoiding a potentially calamitous debt default.

House Oversight Dems call on Trump to pay D.C. for Independence Day, inauguration
Cummings, Norton lead charge seeking to replenish D.C. security fund

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., holds the gavel during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are calling on President Donald Trump to commit to paying the District of Columbia back for providing public safety support for federal events in the city after Mayor Muriel Bowser said that Trump’s “Salute to America” drained it.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland, and D.C. Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote to the White House Friday asking Trump to reimburse the district’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund for his inauguration and Fourth of July celebration. Bowser has said the account is expected to not only be empty before the end of the year, but will incur overages of $6 million.

Flatware gets its day in NDAA
House amendment would require Defense Department to buy from domestic manufacturers

Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s amendment is aimed at a flatware manufacturer in his upstate New York district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the House slogs through more than 400 amendments to the annual Pentagon policy bill, debate has centered on the deployment of U.S. troops to the southern border, a potential ban on some lower-yield nuclear weapons, war authorizations and … flatware.

Yes, flatware. Cutlery. Knives and forks and spoons. One of the 439 amendments put forth would require the Defense Department to buy “stainless steel flatware” and “dinner ware” from domestic, rather than foreign, manufacturers.

No new legislative momentum after election security briefings
House has passed legislation, but there is no plan for moving a Senate bill

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks with reporters as he leaves the closed briefing on election security in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio emerged from a closed briefing on the Trump administration’s efforts to secure elections and made a renewed push for his own bipartisan deterrence legislation, even as he acknowledged there has not been momentum.

“In my view, they’re doing everything you can do,” Rubio said of the administration efforts. “Election interference is a broadly used term, and understand this is psychological warfare. It’s designed to weaken America from the inside out, to drive divisions internally so we fight with each other, to undermine our confidence in the elections and in our democracy and particularly to undermine individual candidates either because they don’t like that candidate or because they know someone else.”

No one argues for keeping marijuana illegal, but next step divides House panel
As Democrats focus on racial impact, Republicans argue for incremental steps

Rep. Karen Bass said decades of marijuana prosecutions have given millions of citizens second class status. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At a hearing on marijuana Wednesday, no one on the House subcommittee who helps write the criminal code spoke out in clear support of continuing the prohibition that has been part of federal law for decades.

“Personally I believe cannabis use in most cases is ill advised, but many things are ill advised that should not be illegal,” said California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, the panel's acting ranking member.