House

Criminal Justice Bill Could Bring Out Drama in Senate
Tom Cotton threatens Christmas showdown, throws gauntlet at colleagues

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the chamber will consider a criminal justice reform measure, but opponents might make it a rough debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is poised to vote on a bipartisan criminal justice bill as soon as this week, the culmination of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a public campaign by lawmakers, the White House and advocates to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor this year. But that does not mean the debate will be free of drama. 

McConnell announced Tuesday that the revised bill would be put on the floor agenda this month “following improvements to the legislation that [have] been secured by several members.” That ended weeks of uncertainty about whether the Senate would have a chance to vote on prison and sentencing changes that would be the first in a generation and could become a signature accomplishment right before the end of the 115th Congress.

Disabilities Internship Renamed for Rep. Gregg Harper and Son
Retiring Mississippi Republican founded the program in 2010

The internship program for students with intellectual disabilities will be named for its founder, Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Capitol Hill internship program is getting a new name in honor of its founder, retiring Republican Rep. Gregg Harper, and his son.

The program will now be called the Gregg and Livingston Harper Congressional Internship Program for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Rep. Rodney Davis announced Tuesday. 

Trump Wants New Chief of Staff Who ‘Believes in What We’re Doing’
Sarah Sanders suggests John Kelly should have hashed out gripes ‘behind closed doors’

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him during a White House briefing in October 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s top spokeswoman suggested her boss grew frustrated with outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly disagreeing with his policies — and sometimes taking disputes public.

“I think he brought a lot of structure to the White House that was needed at the time he came in,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of his second chief of staff. “That being said, I think the president is looking for somebody who believes in what we’re doing.”

Pelosi Opponent Moulton Stares Down Potential Primary Challenge
Massachusetts state senator mulls opposing him in 2020

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., has antagonized some progressive groups with his opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton positioned himself as a chief antagonist to Nancy Pelosi when he joined with other Democrats to oppose her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — rankling party leadership and progressive organizations.

But Moulton might soon be facing down a different kind of political rival: a primary opponent.

Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill
Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promoting industrial hemp language in the farm bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to put himself on the farm bill conference committee was insurance that one of his policy priorities — and a key issue for his 2020 re-election campaign — would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk this year.

“At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future,” McConnell said Tuesday morning. “My provision in the farm bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight.”

3 Takeaways From Trump’s Made-For-TV Oval Office Border Brawl
“You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you,” Pelosi says

President Donald Trump argues about border security with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence sits nearby, silent, in the Oval Office on Tuesday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Vice President Mike Pence looked taken aback, barely moving and saying nothing as President Donald Trump and the top Democratic congressional leaders bickered and moved the country — with each insult and barb — closer to a partial holiday season government shutdown.

The former Indiana congressman’s statuesque performance was a contrast to the kinetic scene unfolding around him, another made-for-television moment that allowed the bombastic Republican president to pick a fight with the two Democrats perhaps most reviled by his conservative base on live cable TV.

Former Tennessee Rep. Van Hilleary Returns as Chief of Staff
Will join small fraternity of lawmakers-turned-staffers

Former Rep. Van Hilleary will head back to Capitol Hill to serve as chief of staff to Rep.-elect John Rose, R-Tenn. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Van Hilleary will head back to Capitol Hill next year, this time as chief of staff to Rep.-elect John W. Rose.

A member of the GOP class that swept to power in the mid-1990s, Hilleary represented Tennessee’s 4th District until 2003. He left office to run for Tennessee governor, but lost to Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen. He ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006.

Senate Releases 2019 Legislative Calendar
Features Include a two-week October recess

The Senate has released its 2019 calendar, which largely comports with their House counterparts. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate schedule for the rest of the year remains in flux, but the Senate calendar for 2019 is firmed out and generally lines up with the schedule outlined across the Dome by the new House Democratic majority.

After returning for a day to convene on Thursday, Jan. 3, the Senate will be back to work on Tuesday, Jan. 8, taking recess weeks that generally coincide with holidays, including two weeks around Easter Sunday.

Google Would ‘Make the NSA Blush,’ Says Republican at Hill Grilling
Tuesday marked the first time a top Google executive appeared at the Capitol since the 2016 election

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, center, is confronted by Infowar's Alex Jones, right, as he arrives to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared for the first time before a congressional panel and batted away questions from lawmakers, who bombarded him about alleged bias against conservatives in search results and the company’s data collection practices.

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte said Google was collecting so much information on its users that it would “make the NSA blush,” referring to the National Security Agency. The Virginia Republican also said the committee was interested in learning more about how Google determines what is objectionable, and allegations that biased ranking of Google’s search results could result in shifting voters’ views.

Nonprofit Head Pleads Guilty in Congressional Travel Plot
Azerbaijan trip has been source of Ethics probe, consternation for years

A former nonprofit head pleaded guilty to charges that he hid the fact that a 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan was funded by that country’s government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).

The former president of a Houston nonprofit pleaded guilty Monday to charges of concealing that a 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan was funded by that country’s government.

The Justice Department indicted Kemal Oksuz, aka Kevin Oksuz, 49, in September, alleging that he lied on disclosure forms filed with the House Ethics Committee prior to and following a privately sponsored congressional trip to Azerbaijan. Oksuz was extradited from Armenia.