Chris Marquette

New hearing on D.C. statehood, same old partisan lines
Effort to provide D.C. residents with full congressional representation gains steam in House

In the first House hearing on D.C. statehood in nearly 26 years revealed old battle lines over giving the District of Columbia’s 702,000 residents full representation in Congress with House Oversight Committee Democrats applauding statehood as a long-overdue correction of an anomaly and Republicans claiming corruption in D.C. made it unfit for full voting rights, and saying the whole thing was unconstitutional anyway. 

Thursday’s  hearing grappled with HR 51, a bill to would admit the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, into the Union as the country’s 51st state, and provide it one House representative and two senators. D.C. is currently represented by a non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who introduced the bill.

Smithsonian has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance, committee told
Buildings with outstanding repair needs include the Castle and the National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Institution has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance needs across the more than 600 facilities it oversees, an issue that concerned lawmakers at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing and one that the recently appointed head of the museum complex pledged to address.

Prominent Smithsonian buildings in need of deferred maintenance — maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been — include the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, the Arts and Industries Building and the National Air and Space Museum. The $937 million backlog for fiscal 2017 is an assessment of every building it oversees, according to to Cathy Helm, inspector general for the Smithsonian Institution.

Road Ahead: House to consider stopgap measure to fund government, Senate plays catch-up
Appropriations could be a focal point this week

As the Senate rushes to move fiscal 2020 spending bills, the House will consider a continuing resolution to keep the government running before the Oct. 1 fiscal year deadline hits.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said the chamber would consider a stopgap measure to fund the federal government this week.

Two top Architect of the Capitol employees have left the agency after investigation
Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left in July

Two top employees at the Architect of the Capitol who oversaw building operations in the House and Senate are no longer working there, months after they were put on administrative leave while they were investigated for emails critical of Christine Merdon, the former head of the agency.

Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left the agency in July. Tzamaras said he resigned and Weidemeyer said he retired.

All-day protest draws attention to opioid crisis, 'Medicare for All'
Liberal group makes rounds in lawmaker offices with personal stories

On an early morning in May, Freddie Henderson III’s heart stopped from a fentanyl overdose, a story his sister Jasmine shared Wednesday in the office of Republican Sen. Rob Portman, as part of a larger push by progressive activists to pressure lawmakers into supporting "Medicare for All" legislation and signing onto a separate measure that would inject $100 billion of federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic.

“My brother is now a statistic,” Henderson said. “And even though I do this work for a living, I couldn't save him. And that’s why I’m here.”

Final price tag unknown for Cannon House Office Building renovation
Asbestos, PCBs among the hazardous materials found in the project

The final price tag for renovations at the Cannon House Office Building, already potentially more than $100 million over budget, remains unknown as the project attempts to meet its scheduled 2024 completion date, the acting Architect of the Capitol told the House Administration Committee on Tuesday.

New mitigation efforts after hazardous materials were found in the building would require more money from Congress, and the project may need to combine phases, push deadlines and move additional offices out of the building for a longer period of time, acting Architect of the Capitol Thomas Carroll III said.

Cannon renewal could be $100 million over budget; hazardous materials found
Project has not yet fully completed Phase 1 yet

The project to renovate the Cannon House Office Building could climb more than $100 million over budget, a process that has, in part, been delayed by the discovery of hazardous materials and a fluid list of changes requested by the Architect of the Capitol that deviates from the original plan.

Terrell Dorn, managing director for infrastructure operations at the Government Accountability Office, notes in testimony submitted for Tuesday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Cannon project that the Architect of the Capitol expects the total building renovation cost to increase substantially from the initial estimate.

Regardless of Rep. Collins’ appeals, government plans to proceed with trial against co-defendants
Trial for New York Republican and his son scheduled for February

Even if his appeal is unresolved by the time Rep. Chris Collins’ securities fraud trial is set to begin in February, the government still wants to proceed with the trial of his co-defendants.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman wrote in a letter filed Tuesday to Judge Vernon Broderick that regardless of how any appeal filed by the New York Republican proceeds, the appeal would have no bearing on the Feb. 3 trial date for Collins’ son, Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of his onetime fiancee who bought stock in part based on Cameron Collins’ recommendation.

Rep. Duncan Hunter has almost depleted his legal expense fund
California Republican faces mounting legal bills as his team prepares for trial in January

Rep. Duncan Hunter has spent almost all of his money from a legal expense fund, a potentially bleak harbinger leading up to his fast-approaching trial in January for allegedly using campaign money for personal use, financial filings show.

The Duncan D. Hunter Legal Expense Trust has spent $60,562.41 as of the most recent filing, which was received by the Legislative Resource Center on July 26. Hunter’s legal expense fund has received $68,800 total, some of which is from powerful donors who have also contributed to Hunter’s reelection efforts.

Sen. Ted Cruz gifted Houston Rockets tickets worth $12K
Texas Republican was criticized for cursing the team in last year’s Game 7 loss to the Warriors

Sen. Ted Cruz stood courtside, gleefully grinning during pregame on the night the Houston Rockets were bounced from the 2018 NBA playoffs in a devastating Game 7 Western Conference finals home loss to the Golden State Warriors, a marquee matchup the Texas Republican was able to watch for free thanks to a powerful Republican donor.

Cruz attended the May 28, 2018, game with a ticket gifted to him by Robert Marling, the CEO of Woodforest National Bank and a financial supporter who contributed to his Senate and presidential campaigns.

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s trial pushed to 2020
California Republican accused of misusing more than $250,000 in campaign funds will go to court just weeks before primary

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s trial on charges that he improperly spent hundreds of thousands in campaign funds on lavish vacations, golf outings and copious amounts of alcohol has been moved to Jan. 14.

The California Republican’s trial was originally scheduled to start Sept. 10.

Duncan Hunter’s trial appears on track to be postponed
California Republican faces avalanche of charges relating to alleged misuse of campaign cash

Lawyers involved in Rep. Duncan Hunter’s trial on charges that he inappropriately spent $250,000 in campaign funds for massive bar tabs and elaborate vacations to Hawaii and Italy are asking a California judge to have the proceedings delayed until Oct. 29.

A joint status report filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California seeks to move the trial, currently scheduled to begin Sept.10, to October. But the date proposed by lawyers for both the California Republican and the government could change based on court schedules and the status of appeals. More will be known after a district court hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Seven Republicans call for Ethics Committee investigation into Castro
Texas Democrat posted names and employers of Trump donors on Twitter

Seven Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus are calling on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro for publicly posting on Twitter the names and workplaces of constituents who donated to President Donald Trump.

“Posting a target list of private citizens simply for supporting his political opponent is antithetical to our principles and serves to suppress the free speech and free association rights of Americans,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent to the Ethics panel Friday.

Ohio author of Facebook post saying AOC ‘should be shot’ arrested on gun charges
Toledo man allegedly told Capitol Police he was very proud of the post

An Ohio man who allegedly told Capitol Police he was proud of a Facebook post suggesting New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “should be shot” was arrested at his Toledo residence Thursday. 

Timothy James Ireland Jr., 41, was charged in U.S. District Court in Toledo with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of being a fugitive in possession of a firearm and one count of making interstate threats.

Rep. Chris Collins, son get some securities fraud charges dropped
New York Republican still faces decades of potential jail time

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is dropping three securities fraud charges against Rep. Chris Collins and two against his son, Cameron, in order to avoid unnecessary pretrial litigation that could delay the case, according to a court filing submitted Tuesday.

The government’s decision still leaves both father and son facing a tsunami of remaining charges stemming from the New York Republican congressman’s alleged role in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics. Chris Collins served on the company’s board of directors and allegedly gave material, nonpublic information to his son about confidential drug test results so that his son, and others, could trade on the news before the results were announced to the public. They were able to avoid approximately $768,000 in losses, according to the Justice Department.

El Paso, Dayton shootings prompt protest outside White House
Groups condemn Trump's remarks on immigrants, lack of action on gun legislation in Senate

Protesters chanted “white supremacy has got to go” and “immigrants are welcome here” across from the White House on Tuesday at a rally sparked by mass shootings over the weekend that killed 31 people and injured many more.

Organized by a coalition of civil rights and gun reform groups, the rally demanded that President Donald Trump stop denigrating immigrants and that the Senate pass gun control legislation, including a bill that passed the House months ago requiring a background check for every gun sale.

Mail bomber who targeted Biden, Harris, Booker and other notable Democrats gets 20 years in prison
Cesar Sayoc Jr. sent 16 explosive devices to those he saw as enemies of Trump

A Florida man who tried to harm influential Democrats — including members of Congress — by sending them homemade pipe bombs was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison by a federal district court judge in Manhattan.

Cesar Sayoc Jr., a supporter of President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty in March to mailing 16 explosive devices to those he saw as enemies of Trump. The targets included four current 2020 presidential hopefuls — former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, and billionaire Tom Steyer — as well as former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

No property was stolen from Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore residence, debunking Trump’s claim
Maryland Democrat confronted and yelled at intruder, causing him to flee on bicycle

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings confronted and yelled at an intruder attempting to break into his Baltimore residence last week, causing the man to flee on a bicycle, an incident that President Donald Trump incorrectly tweeted about in a disparaging manner.

A report from the Baltimore Police Department debunked Trump’s claim that the Maryland Democrat’s house had been robbed. The report noted that no property was stolen. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings scared off intruder at Baltimore residence
Maryland congressman and city were criticized by President Trump several times over the past week

The Baltimore Police Department is investigating an early-morning burglary at the home of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, according to CBS Baltimore.

A person tried to break into the Congressman’s Baltimore residence last Saturday, but Cummings scared the intruder off.

Chief administrative officer warns employees: Shape up or risk being outsourced
Congress is not looking to outsource CAO services — yet, Philip Kiko says

The House chief administrative officer struck an ominous tone in a staff meeting Wednesday, warning employees that Congress could eventually look to outsource many of their services to private sector vendors if they don’t step up and meet member demands.

In an all-hands meeting broadcast on YouTube, Philip Kiko focused on a set of recommendations approved by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress last week and his appearance before that same committee on July 11, both of which yielded criticism of his office’s performance.