Human Services

Menendez Says ‘Bring It On’ to Potential Corruption Retrial
New Jersey Democratic senator has issued mid-January deadline to DOJ to continue prosecution

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., wants the Department of Justice to decide by January whether or not it will retry his corruption case. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Embattled Sen. Robert Menendez is telling the Department of Justice either to try to prosecute him again on corruption charges or drop the case.

The New Jersey Democrat, whose bribery trial was declared a mistrial in November, told reporters Thursday he wants investigators to decide by mid-January whether they will try him in court again.

House Republicans Propose Deal on Congressional Ads
Franking rule change would let lawmakers link to HealthCare.gov

After complaints from Democrats, Franking Commission Chairman Rodney Davis, shown here in 2014, has floated a rule change that would allow lawmakers to link to HealthCare.gov in taxpayer-funded ads. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans are working to resolve a dispute over rules that Democrats say are stopping them from promoting the health insurance exchanges.

Currently, lawmakers are prohibited from linking to any website other than their own in taxpayer-funded advertisements. Rep. Rodney Davis is proposing to allow them to link to other federal government websites, including HealthCare.gov.

HHS Pick Grilled on Drug Prices
Azar pledges to lower cost of prescriptions, but Paul has “doubts”

Alex Azar, nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary, takes a seat for his hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Department, Alex M. Azar, told a Senate panel that his top priority would be addressing the high price of prescription drugs. But there was skepticism from both sides of the dais at Wednesday’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing that Azar, a former pharmaceutical company executive, would live up to that promise.

While it was mostly Democrats who took aim at Azar’s tenure working for and running the U.S. affiliate of Eli Lilly & Co., Sen. Rand Paul said he would also need to be convinced. The Kentucky Republican pressed Azar on whether he would work on a system to safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from places with comparable systems, like Canada and Europe.

Lankford Report Critiques Funds for Trolley, Dating Study
‘Clearly, this is cutting-edge research with shocking results’

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on Federal Labor Relations Authority nominations on November 7, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government has spent billions of dollars since 2015 on items such as a study of refugee services in Iceland, virtual reality puppets, and expired body armor for law enforcement personnel, according to Sen. James Lankford’s third annual “waste report” released Monday.

The Oklahoma Republican used the 86-page report to criticize a variety of departments and agencies for how they used their annual appropriations during the last three fiscal years. 

Opinion: Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Boosts Health Policy
Better integration of health and housing policy should be a bipartisan goal

Activists attend an April rally in New York City calling on the Trump administration to abandon proposals to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Despite partisan fights continuing to play out over various pieces of the tax code, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, has enjoyed decades of strong bipartisan support. This $8 billion in annual federal funding provides incentives for investors to develop, construct and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. It has helped finance more than 3 million affordable rental units serving about 7 million low-income households since it was created in 1986.

Both the House-passed tax bill and the plan approved by the Senate Finance Committee continue LIHTC. Robust evidence links LIHTC investments to positive economic growth for communities, social and educational benefits for families and reductions in homelessness. 

States Face Children’s Health Coverage Uncertainty
Federal funding could soon run out

Oregon governor Kate Brown recently wrote to her state’s two Democratic senators warning that federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will  run out in December. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

About two months after federal funding lapsed for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, state officials still don’t know exactly when they’ll run out of money or when Congress will renew funding — leaving families that depend on the program increasingly anxious about their benefits.

At least a few states say that they could exhaust funds as soon as next month. States are growing more concerned about the program with just a few days left on the congressional calendar until December and no signs that lawmakers plan in the immediate future to renew funding. 

Franking Fracas Hits Open Enrollment Ads
House Democrats accuse commission of playing politics

Democrats have asked Franking Commission Chairman Rodney Davis, shown here in 2014, to address complaints that the commission is unfairly blocking ads. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attempts by House Democrats to promote open enrollment in the health care marketplaces are running up against arcane rules and what they call partisan politics. Lawmakers are seeking to compensate for reduced marketing on the part of the Trump administration with their own taxpayer-funded ads.

The Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year slashed advertising for HealthCare.gov by 90 percent, prompting cries of “sabotage” from Democrats and consumer advocates. House Democrats are trying to fill that gap through their own ads on social media and other outlets, but are being thwarted by Republicans on the Franking Commission who say the advertisements do not comply with congressional rules.

Judge Declares Mistrial in Menendez Case
Jurors said they were deadlocked on all counts

Sen. Robert Menendez has occasionally been at the Capitol while on trial in New Jersey. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A federal judge is declaring a mistrial in the federal corruption case against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, after a New Jersey jury was declared hopelessly deadlocked on all counts.

That’s according to a defense attorney, who informed reporters at the courthouse.

What to See in the New Museum of the Bible
A short walk from the Capitol, the museum opens Saturday

Cary Summers, president of the Museum of the Bible, poses inside the museum in Washington on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Washington’s newest museum, a 15-minute walk from the Capitol, debuts this weekend with a little help from Congress’ chaplains.

The Museum of the Bible opens to the public Saturday, following a black-tie dedication gala Thursday night at the Trump hotel.

HHS Pick at Odds With Trump’s Rhetoric on Drug Prices
Alex Azar previously led Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations

Alex Azar is President Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary. (Screenshot/Veeva Systems/YouTube)

President Donald Trump’s tweet Monday announcing former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services boasted that Azar “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!”

But Azar, who led drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co.’s United States operations from 2012 until earlier this year, has contributed significantly to the pharmaceutical industry political spending that the president has decried.