Tom Cole

House GOP Renews ‘Holman Rule’ Targeting Federal Pay
Provision allows cuts to individual employee salaries

Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, shown here in 2015, proposed a Holman rule amendment in July that aimed to slash a section of the Congressional Budget Office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders on Tuesday re-upped a rule that lets lawmakers slash the salaries of individual federal employees, in a move that some Democrats condemned as an attempt to dismantle the federal workforce.

Tucked into a floor rule that teed up consideration of two unrelated bills on financial services and health policy is a provision that extends the “Holman rule,” a standing order whose revival has sparked controversy in recent years. 

Members Caught Off Guard on News of DACA Fix On Omnibus

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was among the members who thought the ball was in the administration's court adding a DACA fix to the omnibus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House has held some discussions with Congress about addressing immigration in the pending fiscal year 2018 spending bill, according to GOP senators and aides, but members are skeptical that such a provision will be included in the omnibus package.

Lawmakers in both parties have sought a solution to the situation surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which covers undocumented immigrants who come to the country as children. President Donald Trump targeted it for expiration on March 5, which has been halted by court actions. The chamber voted on a series of different DACA proposals in February, but none garnered the necessary 60 votes to advance.

Omnibus Action Next Week Possible, but Obstacles Still Exist
‘For the moment we have a lot of work to do to iron these out,’ Pelosi said

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said much work remains to iron out issues on an omnibus spending bill that House GOP leaders hope to bring to the floor next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The nearly six-month delayed fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill could be brought to the House floor next week, but appropriators are still encountering major obstacles in drafting a bipartisan bill — even with unrelated landmines cleared. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he would like to bring the omnibus to the floor next week, but during a week-end colloquy with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, he did not announce it as a definite part of the upcoming floor schedule. Rather, he noted action on the spending package was “possible.”

The Never-Ending Crisis at the Indian Health Service
As the chronically under-funded agency struggles, American Indians are getting sicker and dying sooner

Patients wait at an Indian Health Service clinic on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. (Will Kincaid/AP)

The health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the United States population are stark. American Indians are 50 percent more likely than others to have a substance use disorder, 60 percent more likely to commit suicide, twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to die during childbirth, three times more likely to die from diabetes and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. They die on average five years sooner than other Americans.

The Trump administration has pledged to make tribal health care systems more effective. During one of his confirmation hearings, new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators the administration would welcome opportunities to improve the $5 billion Indian Health Service, which provides care for 2.2 million American Indians. “It’s unacceptable for us to not be providing high-quality service,” Azar said.

GOP Unlikely to Revisit Spending Ban on Gun Violence Research
Congress has restricted such endeavors for more than two decades

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says it was “just not helpful to turn a funding bill into a debate over gun control.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans, at least for now, appear unlikely to allow federal funds for research on gun violence after a nearly 22-year prohibition.

Following yet another mass shooting on Wednesday, at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead, two key Republican appropriators said Thursday they don’t anticipate removing or altering an amendment in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using injury prevention research dollars “to advocate or promote gun control.”

House Budget Being Drafted Despite Nearly Insurmountable Obstacles
Topline spending levels, no path to reconciliation among reasons lawmakers to oppose

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack is writing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution despite major obstacles to passing it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Obstacles to House Republicans passing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution appear insurmountable and have some members questioning why the Budget Committee is even planning to write one. 

Exactly half of the 22 Republicans on the Budget panel — more than enough to block a partisan budget resolution — voted against last week’s budget deal that set fiscal 2019 topline spending levels of $647 billion for defense and $597 billion for nondefense. Under the agreement, House and Senate leaders committed to those topline numbers if their chambers decide to advance fiscal 2019 budget resolutions.

House Republicans’ Immigration Bill Not Ready for Floor Action
Whip team says they will continue to refine the legislation

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and his team did a whip count on a GOP immigration bill, and it showed the measure wasn’t quite ready for a floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans’ preferred immigration bill is not ready for a floor vote, a Wednesday whip check showed, but leadership is expected to continue working it.

The bill by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul is the most conservative of the proposals House and Senate lawmakers and the White House have floated for addressing the coming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Cole’s Chief of Staff Dies Suddenly
Sean Murphy worked for Cole since 2007

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., put out a statement honoring his chief of staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tom Cole announced Monday the death of his longtime chief of staff, Sean Murphy.

The Oklahoma Republican put out a statement saying Murphy died suddenly of natural causes.

Train Carrying GOP Lawmakers to Retreat Hits Truck
Reports: At least one dead, others injured

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash involving a garbage truck in Crozet, Va., on Wednesday. An Amtrak passenger train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck south of Charlottesville, Va. No lawmakers were believed injured. (Zack Wajsgrasu/The Daily Progress via AP)

Updated 2:51 p.m. | A train transporting Republican lawmakers to the GOP retreat in West Virginia was involved in an accident with a truck late Wednesday morning.

Representatives were seen attending to injured people from the truck, according to a source on the train. At least one person was reported dead. 

In Budget Talks, the ‘Dreamer’ Tail Wags the Spending Caps Dog
Immigration has been a major drag on wrapping up appropriations bills, members say

Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva says budget and immigration talks should be split up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are hurtling toward a Feb. 8 spending deadline, when the fourth stopgap of fiscal 2018 expires, with little demonstrable progress toward agreement on new spending caps they have known would be necessary since the last two-year budget deal was reached in October 2015.

“Anybody would be very, very optimistic or unrealistic — take your choice — if they said by next Tuesday we’re going to have a global agreement. As a matter of fact, we appear to be moving in the opposite direction, which is sad,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer told reporters Tuesday.