Health Care

Ayanna Pressley’s ‘Squad’ Attends Tearful City Council Farewell
Members-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib observed from the gallery

Boston City Council members were effusive in their goodbye remarks to colleague and Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., bid a touching goodbye to her colleagues on the Boston City Council Wednesday, her fellow members-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., observed from the gallery — a show of kinship between the women of color at the forefront of the Democratic Party’s newly emboldened left flank.

Council members were effusive in their praise of Pressley, who was the first woman of color to be elected to the council in 2009 and has in the years since championed diversifying its makeup. 

Pro-Choice Caucus Preps for Democratic Majority
Members hope to push back on abortion

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., leads the Pro-Choice Caucus with Barbara Lee, D-Calif. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An influential House caucus hopes to use the Democrats’ majority next year to counteract Republican efforts to restrict abortion and family planning, although the group still faces an uphill battle against a Republican Senate and administration with strong ties to the anti-abortion lobby.

The Pro-Choice Caucus has been recently overshadowed by its conservative rival, the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, which counts Republican leadership and lawmakers from the influential Freedom Caucus among its members.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill
Reid name change tabled, Faso says no, and members pay their respects to Bush

NBC’s Chris Matthews, center, and Bret Baier of Fox News pay their respects to George H. W. Bush in the Capitol Rotunda as the former president lies in state on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see, too.

A Contrast in Styles as Trump, Country Bid Farewell to George H.W. Bush
41st president’s 1992 defeat could offer lessons for 45’s expected re-election bid

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay their respect at former President George H.W. Bush's casket in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The late President George H.W. Bush will leave the Capitol for the final time Wednesday morning and make one last pass by the White House before his flag-draped casket is placed at the front of the National Cathedral for his state funeral farewell. Seated a few feet away will be a very different president, Donald Trump.

The late Republican president’s four years in office and 1992 defeat to an upstart Democratic governor from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, offer contrast to the incumbent’s raucous two years and lessons for his expected re-election bid. The two presidents’ work with Congress and legislative histories differ sharply, as do how they comported themselves — from Bush’s thoughtful letter-writing to Trump’s off-the-cuff tweeting.

The Youngest Victims of the Opioid Crisis Deserve Better
Policymakers must extend services for infants beyond the first weeks of life

A new law that improves care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome is a step in the right direction, Smith writes. Above, Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, who introduced the bill, and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., a co-sponsor, put their heads together in 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The opioid epidemic has hollowed out communities across the country and touched the lives of Americans of all ages. But we know disturbingly little about the youngest victims of this crisis: babies born with a type of opioid withdrawal called neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.

One in five pregnant women fills a prescription for opioids, and while not all their babies will be born with the syndrome, all are at an increased risk. Just how prevalent is NAS? One government fact sheet noted that more than 21,000 babies were born with it in 2012 alone, and a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the incidence of the condition spiked dramatically between 2000 and 2012. But from there the trail seems to go cold.

Rep. Ralph Abraham Tiptoes Closer to Louisiana Governor Run
Republican primary might include Sen. John Kennedy too

Democrats have characterized the gubernatorial ambitions of Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., as a way to “quit” the House given Republicans will soon be the minority party in the lower chamber. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Louisiana Rep. Ralph Abraham signaled he will likely run for governor next year but stopped short of fully committing to the race.

“If I had to make a decision today, it would be that I was running,” the 5th District Republican said in an interview with the Monroe News Star, pledging to make a final decision by Jan. 1. “The focus always needs to be how Louisiana can be a better place and we just aren’t getting there with the current governor.”

Paul Ryan Offers Nancy Pelosi Congratulations and Condolences on Speaker Race
Wisconsin Republican says it’s ‘regretful’ Pelosi can’t set her own terms like he did

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has some sentiments and advice to share with Nancy Pelosi, the person likely to succeed him as speaker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As outgoing Speaker Paul D. Ryan ran into Nancy Pelosi, the person most likely to take the gavel from him in January, at an event Wednesday evening, he had two sentiments he wanted to share.

“I congratulated her on her caucus vote, and I offered my condolences,” the Wisconsin Republican said Thursday at a Washington Post live event.

Mueller Probe, Wall Funding Could Trip Up Spending Plan
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 88

A man demonstrates in front of the Capitol in September. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

With just eight legislative days remaining to avoid a partial government shutdown, lawmakers will confront a slew of prickly issues, including Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation, in their government spending talks, says CQ's senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak. He games out what might happen to the seven pending bills that need to pass by Dec. 7.

Grassley’s Move to Finance Committee Could Bolster Drug Price Efforts
Advocates anticipate bipartisan cooperation on lower prices

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is expected to be the next chairman of the Finance Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s return to the helm of the Finance Committee could put him in a position to address high prescription prices, although former aides say his biggest initial contribution to the drug debate will be his zeal for accountability.

Mark Hayes, a former Finance chief health counsel under Grassley, said the Iowa Republican’s well-earned reputation for oversight can be a catalyst for action.

Nearly 150 Separated Migrant Children Remain in U.S. Custody
Parents of most of the children are no longer in the country

A young girl participates in a CASA in Action rally on June 27 in downtown Washington to protest the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that separated children from their families at the southern border. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One-hundred and forty-seven undocumented migrant children separated from their parents because of President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance border security policy remained in government custody as of Nov. 6, a new government report said.

Thirty of the children are currently ineligible for reuniting because their parents were deemed unfit for posing a threat to the child or having a criminal record, said the report to Congress by the Health and Human Services Department.

Pelosi Moves Closer to Speaker’s Gavel After Higgins’ Abrupt Reversal
N.Y. Democrat is promised action on infrastructure, Medicare legislation

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., announced Wednesday he will support Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become speaker in January after the two struck a deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In an abrupt reversal after signing on to a letter Monday opposing Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker, New York Rep. Brian Higgins announced he will support her after striking a deal with the California Democrat.

Higgins’ decision is a major blow to a group of House Democrats who want Pelosi to drop her pursuit of the speaker’s gavel so a new generation can emerge just as the party is returning to partial power in Washington. On Monday, Higgins was among 16 Democrats who signed a letter addressed to their colleagues, saying that the midterms showed voters “want to see real change in Washington” and that Democratic candidates “promised to change the status quo.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Once Staunchly Anti-Marijuana, Changes His Position
6 in 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana, including a majority of Republicans, recent polling shows

Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., expressed support for descheduling marijuana in an editorial in the Boston Globe's health vertical STAT News on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One of the staunchest opponents of marijuana decriminalization in Congress, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, changed course on Tuesday, endorsing nationwide legalization in a Boston Globe editorial.

“I believe we must implement strong, clear, and fair federal guidelines. To do that requires us to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and legalize it at the federal level,” the Massachusetts congressman wrote, citing its value to public health and racial inequities in how laws on pot are enforced. 

On ‘Medicare-for-All,’ Democrats Tread Lightly
It polls well. But Dems say the proposal isn’t ready for floor action

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., founded the Medicare-for-All Caucus earlier this year. She pushed back on the idea that single-payer health care is unpopular in suburban parts of the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the House are calling for a vote on a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill in the next Congress, but the expected chairmen who will set the agenda for next year say they have other health priorities.

Still, the progressives’ push could earn more attention over the next two years as Democratic candidates begin vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. A handful of potential presidential candidates expected to declare interest have already co-sponsored “Medicare-for-all” legislation, an issue that was also a flashpoint in Democratic primaries over the past year.

On Health Care, Dems Go From Running to Baby Steps
Incremental measures will dominate action on the health law in a largely gridlocked Congress

House Democrats plan to bring administration officials to Capitol Hill to explain what critics call “sabotage” of the law’s insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterm elections all but ended the Republican push to repeal the 2010 law known as Obamacare, but as a defining issue for Democrats in their takeover of the House, health care will likely remain near the top of lawmakers’ policy and political agenda.

Newly emboldened Democrats are expected to not only push legislation through the House, but use their majority control of key committees to press Trump administration officials on the implementation of the health law, Medicaid work requirements, and insurance that does not have to comply with Obamacare rules.

House Democratic Factions All See Gains After Midterms
Progressive Caucus, New Democrats, Blue Dogs tout their expanding ranks

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Pocan expects his group to see a net gain of 13 members, not counting the uncalled races. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two largest ideology-based Democratic factions in the House — the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition — are both projecting they’ll have more than 90 members next year after the party picked up over 30 seats in last week’s midterms.

The growth comes at a time when numbers will matter for these groups, more than they have for the past eight years when their party has been in the minority. With the House in their hands next year, Democrats will get to set the legislative agenda and control what bills come to the floor.