Congress

Deal banning surprise medical bills also ups tobacco purchase age to 21
The agreement raises the odds of Congress passing legislation meant to lower some health care costs this year

Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., left, and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., talk during a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in 2017. Walden, Pallone and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced a tentative deal to ban surprise medical bills Sunday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Key House and Senate committee leaders announced a bipartisan agreement Sunday on draft legislation to prohibit surprise medical bills and raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

The agreement raises the odds of Congress clearing measures intended to lower some health care costs before the end of the year.

Senators renew drug price push ahead of House Democrats' vote
Congress “needs to show courage and finally act,” Grassley says

The renewed push on drug pricing legislation by Senate HELP leaders Charles E. Grassley, right, and Ron Wyden comes ahead of a planned House vote on Democrats’ signature drug price negotiation bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee on Friday unveiled an updated version of their bipartisan drug pricing bill, though it’s unclear if the changes will appease skeptical Republican senators.

The renewed push for Republican support by Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, comes ahead of a planned House vote next week on Democrats’ signature drug price negotiation bill.

Foreign aid rider tangles up final spending talks
The White House is concerned the rider could cut out faith-based aid groups from USAID contracts

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., listens during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. Shaheen says her amendment, creating concerns for the White House in year-end spending talks, has nothing to do with funding abortions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Urged on by anti-abortion activists and religious groups, the White House is raising concerns in year-end spending talks about language secured by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in the Senate’s State-Foreign Operations bill they fear could cut out faith-based aid groups from U.S. Agency for International Development contracts.

Shaheen argues the provision in the bill would simply require USAID contractors to adhere to current law, which stipulates they can’t deny services to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, political affiliation or other factors.

Duncan Hunter to resign from Congress after holidays
California Republican’s decision comes days after pleading guilty to using campaign funds for personal purposes

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is resigning from Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter said Friday he will resign from Congress after the coming holidays, just days after pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud. 

“Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress. It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years,” he said in a statement. 

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

Lowey: Appropriations deal could be struck this weekend
House Appropriations chairwoman says House could vote next week

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., sounded optimistic that negotiations over a spending bill could wrap up over the weekend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said Friday the House could begin voting on final spending bills for the current fiscal year next week.

After months of partisan stalemate, the New York Democrat struck a decidedly optimistic tone in predicting that negotiations on a final spending deal could wrap up this weekend, clearing the way for floor votes to begin. Lawmakers have been scrambling to complete a deal before current funding runs dry on Dec. 20.

Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 6
Trump asks the Supreme Court to temporarily halt enforcement of another congressional subpoena for Trump’s financial records

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly news conference in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As expected, President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Friday to temporarily halt the enforcement of congressional subpoenas for financial records of the president and his business from Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial Corp.

The president filed an emergency request with the justices to halt an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for “prompt” compliance with the subpoenas — at least until the court can consider Trump’s appeal.

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Lawmakers weaponize colleagues’ call records
Devin Nunes disclosure could presage conflict over phone conversations

The phone records of House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., have become an issue in the impeachment inquiry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week gave members of Congress a glimpse at a new and distressing weapon in partisan warfare — the exposure of lawmakers’ call records as part of congressional oversight.

The House Intelligence Committee report in its investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine included the call records of the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly under criminal investigation, and his indicted associate Lev Parnas.

Following guilty plea, Duncan Hunter barred from voting in the House
Stripped of committee assignments and banned from voting, his role in Congress is diminished

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is not allowed to vote in the House, following his guilty plea earlier this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee notified Rep. Duncan Hunter that his recent guilty plea means he should no longer cast votes in the House. The instruction is not mandatory, but the panel threatened action against him if he continues to vote.

Hunter last voted on Wednesday, in favor of a measure to crack down on robocalls. He did not weigh in on any of the four roll call votes the House took on Thursday. 

Targeting China, senators want Olympics to move up human rights timeline
10 senators have written to IOC President Thomas Bach

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading an effort to pressure the IOC to speed up implementation of human rights standards . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Looking toward China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, senators from both parties want the International Olympic Committee to speed up the timeline for requirements designed to protect human rights in host countries.

In the letter signed by 10 senators led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, the lawmakers express concern about China’s track record to IOC President Thomas Bach.

Never mind impeachment, this bipartisan committee is going forward
House modernization panel prepares for its second year

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid the partisan polarization of impeachment, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress began examining possible changes Thursday to the chamber’s rules and procedures, seeking out ideas to make the legislative branch function better. 

The panel, a temporary and bipartisan project to revamp Congress for the modern era, is tasked with offering recommendations about how to update technological savvy on Capitol Hill and how to improve the quality of work for lawmakers and staff. It began earlier this year as a one-year effort but will now carry on through next year with a fresh infusion of funds and through the divisive 2020 elections.  

Pelosi: ‘Don’t mess with me’
Pelosi lashes out at reporter who suggested she and Democrats ‘hate’ President Donald Trump

As she ends her weekly news conference Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., angrily reacts after a reporter asks if she hates the President on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:09 p.m. | Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been unshakable as she’s guided her caucus toward the decision she announced Thursday that the House will vote on articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. But when a reporter questioned whether she was doing so because she hates Trump, Pelosi exploded. 

The heated exchange, occurring at the end of Pelosi’s weekly press conference, culminated in a warning from the speaker that was directed at James Rosen from the Sinclair Broadcast Group but is a broader indication that she is ready to brush off any attacks that come her way as the House moves to impeach Trump.

House will proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump, Pelosi says
Pelosi instructed committee chairmen to draft articles

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces on the Speakers Balcony in the Capitol on Thursday that she is calling on the House Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she has asked House committee chairmen to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I'm asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.

Health groups reveal ads pushing Democrats to back drug bill
The groups will build on an ad push supporting the House bill earlier this year by the group Protect Our Care

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., left, and Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., attend a rally in the Capitol Building to call on the Senate to vote on House Democrats’ prescription drugs and health care package on in May 2019. Several left-leaning health care groups are launching a seven-figure advertising campaign that builds on a previous effort by the group Protect our Care pushing for the passage of the pricing bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A left-leaning health care group is doubling its seven-figure advertising push for the passage of House Democrats’ drug pricing bill in an effort to counter industry and conservative opposition to the proposal, according to information shared exclusively with CQ Roll Call.

The effort, which will be paired with additional spending from other left-leaning health groups, comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced the House will vote next week on legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for up to 250 prescription drugs a year.