Texas

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.

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.

Beto O’Rourke Gauging Potential Presidential Support from Obama, Gillum
Texas Democrat is weighing a 2020 bid for the party nomination

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is considering a 2020 presidential bid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Beto O'Rourke has continued to put out feelers for a possible run for the presidency in 2020 — most recently gauging interest from prominent black Democrats like former president Barack Obama and Florida governor candidate Andrew Gillum.

O'Rourke, the lame-duck Democratic congressman who narrowly lost to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race in November, has spoken with Obama, Gillum, and Rev. Al Sharpton over the last few of weeks.

Kevin Brady Drops Extenders, Adds Health Care Tax Rollbacks
House Ways and Means chairman deleted almost $30 billion in tax provisions

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is eyeing two possible lame-duck tax vehicles. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady has refashioned his year-end tax package to try to maximize GOP votes for a stand-alone bill, while dropping provisions the Senate could still pick up and pass this year, possibly as part of a huge wrap-up spending bill.

Brady, R-Texas, deleted $29.9 billion worth of tax provisions, collectively known as “extenders” because they are continually revived for a year or two at a time, that faced GOP opposition in the House. That includes one revenue-raiser disliked by the coal mining industry, which would extend the current tax they pay to support disabled miners with black lung disease; the tax would otherwise be slashed substantially next year.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Fudge on Trump’s hush money, Love on women in the GOP, and staffer shuffle

Onetime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, left, and InfoWars host Alex Jones hold a news conference before attending the House Judiciary Committee hearing on political bias and Twitter on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/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.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Administrative Power
At heart of case is deference courts have given to federal agencies

The justices agreed Monday to take up a case about overturning two Supreme Court rulings at the heart of administrative law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will decide whether federal agencies should stop getting such a strong voice when interpreting their own regulations, in a case that could significantly influence how judges decide challenges to environmental, health care, immigration, veterans benefits and other rules.

The justices on Monday agreed to hear arguments about overturning two Supreme Court rulings at the heart of administrative law, Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. in 1945 and Auer v. Robbins in 1997. In the case, the court could accomplish part of what some conservative members of Congress have sought to do legislatively.

Public Health Should Be as Reliable as Our Highways
Health protection should not depend on local decisions or stop abruptly at political borders

Epidemics don’t recognize state or city boundaries, the authors write. So why should our public health system? Above, traffic moves across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge along the Capitol Beltway in July. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Check your morning news and you are likely to read distressing stories about the threat of a bad flu season, the consequences of natural disasters like wildfires in California, unacceptably high maternal and infant death rates, or the opioid epidemic.

All these emerging challenges occur on top of our nation’s chronic public health issues, like heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS, which continue to take a toll on the length and quality of life for people in the United States. This also takes a toll on the health and vitality of our communities and comes at great cost to our federal and state health care budgets.

Voting Rights Piece May Take More Time in Ethics Overhaul
“We’re not going to put any fixed deadline on that,” Sarbanes says

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., says work on a voting rights component of the Democrats’ planned ethics overhaul may require more time. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats who are preparing an overhaul of political and ethics laws, a top priority of the incoming majority, have acknowledged that a component aimed at restoring a key section of the Voting Rights Act may take longer than their speedy timeline for the bill.

Other pieces of the overhaul, which Democratic leaders have said they will designate as House bill 1 in the new Congress, could also run parallel to the main package as a way to garner bipartisan support in the Senate, said Rep. John Sarbanes, the Maryland Democrat who is crafting the bill.

9 New Members Who Previously Served at the Pleasure of a President
Newcomers to 116th Congress bring bevy of executive branch experience

There’s a group of new members of the 116th Congress who have served former presidents, including Reps.-elect Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and Colin Allred, D-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of newcomers to Capitol Hill is bringing experience from the executive branch to the 116th Congress. 

They draw from a cast of former White House or Cabinet staffers and high-ranking officials from the administrations of the past two Democratic presidents. These new members, who once had to defend their administration’s policies, now find themselves on the other side of the table, promising oversight of the executive branch. 

Trump Presence Felt During Poignant Moments of Bush 41’s Funeral
Hillary Clinton ignores president before George W. Bush’s emotional eulogy for father

Former presidents, vice presidents, first ladies and President Donald Trump attend the state funeral of former President George H.W. Bush at the National Cathedral on Wednesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, by design, was not about the sitting commander in chief, but there were moments when Donald Trump’s presence was paramount.

The 41st president’s son, George W. Bush, never mentioned the 45th president by name during his humorous and emotional eulogy for his father. But there were moments during his remarks that made clear the deep differences between the elder Bush and Trump.