Kate Ackley

Rep. Derek Kilmer: Disputes among Democrats amount to ‘false divisions’
On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control, Democrats are more unified than divided, congressman says

Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat who chairs the moderate, business-friendly New Democrat Coalition, sought to downplay disputes within his own party, calling them “false divisions within the caucus.”   

On health care, campaign finance, immigration and gun control matters, Democrats are more unified than divided, Kilmer told C-SPAN “Newsmakers” in an interview that airs on July 28, despite recent intraparty conflicts on such matters as the border crisis and legislation to raise the minimum wage, leading to heated rhetoric, particularly between progressives and moderates.

Clete Willems is trading in the White House for K Street
“My biggest joke now is I went to become a partner in a law firm, so I can work less”

The timing of Clete Willems’ recent departure from the White House seemed a bit inopportune what with negotiations over trade disputes with China hitting a pivotal point. But the international economics adviser to the president says he had other commitments to keep.

Though the Trump White House has a reputation for unpredictability and plenty of staffing drama, Willems says the reason for his departure was more personal. When he took on the new gig at the beginning of the Trump administration, he made a pact with his wife: When they had a second child, he would head for the exit. His daughter was born in March.

The mountains between Congress and modernization

Time is running out for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress to find bipartisan consensus on a variety of issues.

House doing ‘deep dive’ to smooth new member office setup
‘It’s been sort of a nightmare,’ House CAO Philip Kiko tells select committee

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House is conducting a “deep dive” into the problems of setting up offices for the 116th Congress’ large freshman class, according to CAO Philip Kiko.

“It’s been sort of a nightmare,” Kiko told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress during a Thursday hearing on ways to ease the transition for newly elected members.

House modernization leaders seek consensus despite hurdles
Select committee is a long way from solving institutional problems

With 2019 half done, so is the lifespan of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

And the panel is still a long way from solving some of the big-scope institutional problems that House leaders asked it to. When it comes to some of the thornier political items — such as lawmaker pay raises and resurrecting earmarks — the panel is unlikely to agree.

Beltway ‘inundated’ with fundraisers as deadline nears
From barbecue to New Kids on the Block, it’s a busy week for money-seekers in Washington

The subject line of a recent email solicitation from Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s campaign captures this week’s fundraising scene perfectly: “You’re about to be inundated. Sorry in advance.”

With the second quarter fundraising deadline looming on Sunday, lawmakers are sounding the alarms for their donors — making pleas to far-flung, small-dollar givers online and reliable contributors from K Street’s lobbying community to help them boost their numbers.

Rep. Hartzler to host $500-per-person event for defense executives on eve of defense markup
The timing may raise eyebrows in the lobbying community and among campaign finance overhaul supporters

Updated June 10, 2019, 10 p.m. | Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a high-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, has invited defense industry executives and other D.C. insiders to a luncheon fundraiser Tuesday, on the eve of the panel’s signature markup of the year.

House Armed Services has scheduled its marathon markup of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which sets the Defense Department’s annual policy and budget priorities, for Wednesday.

Artificial intelligence is coming. Will Congress be ready?

It can help trace missing children, but misidentifies people of color. It can help detect cancer, but may recommend the wrong cure. It can help track criminals, but could aid foreign enemies in targeting voters. It can improve efficiency, but perpetuate long-standing biases.

The “it” is artificial intelligence, a technology that teaches machines to recognize complex patterns and make decisions based on them, much like humans do. While the promised benefits of the technology are profound, the downsides could be damaging, even dangerous.

Longtime U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Tom Donohue easing out of job

Longtime U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Thomas Donohue, a storied player on K Street for decades, is stepping back from his role atop the organization, shedding his title as president but pledging to remain with the group as CEO until June 2022.

Suzanne P. Clark, currently the chamber’s senior executive vice president, will assume the role of president, the group said Wednesday, noting it will “undertake a global search” for the next CEO.

Women donors could again shatter records in 2020 elections
2018 wave propelled unprecedented number of women into Congress

Female donors, who opened their wallets like never before in the 2018 midterm elections and helped propel an unprecedented number of women into Congress, appear poised again to break records in their contributions to congressional and presidential contenders running in 2020.

The crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, along with hotly contested Senate and House races, are motivating first-time women donors to federal campaigns, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which has tracked donors’ gender for decades.

News Media Alliance pushes for new Senate antitrust bill
Measure aims to give news publishers a leg up in battle with big tech

The News Media Alliance is scoring some legislative points against the much bigger K Street players Google and Facebook with a bipartisan Senate bill unveiled Monday evening that would temporarily exempt publishers from antitrust laws.

The measure — sponsored by Louisiana Republican John Kennedy and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar — would free up news publishers to jointly bargain with big technology companies in a quest for a bigger slice of digital revenue. It’s the companion to a House bill that Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline and Georgia Republican Doug Collins introduced this spring.

Dingell, McCain honored for lifetime as defenders of Congress and democracy
Congressional Management Foundation honors six others for behind-the-scenes service

The Congressional Management Foundation will honor the late Sen. John McCain and longtime Rep. John D. Dingell, two Capitol Hill legends who died within the past year, with lifetime achievement democracy awards next month.

The nonpartisan group, which has been around since 1977 and says it aims to make Congress more effective, also selected a bipartisan slate of six  lawmakers to honor for such behind-the-scenes efforts as constituent service.

Before Trump meeting, Hungary hired a powerhouse K Street firm
Greenberg Traurig signed on to represent the Embassy of Hungary for $100,000 for six months of work

The government of Hungary hired a powerhouse K Street firm just before the country’s controversial and authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, had a meeting last week with President Donald Trump in the White House.

Lobbying and law firm Greenberg Traurig signed on to represent the Embassy of Hungary for $100,000 for six months of work, new Justice Department documents show. The disclosures included a contract for work dated April 26, just on the cusp of the meeting that took place May 13.

Is Artificial Intelligence the final frontier? Probably not

Watch CQ Roll Call’s senior writers Gopal Ratnam and Kate Ackley dispel some common misconceptions about artificial intelligence.

House Democrats seek details of Trump ethics waivers
Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings launched investigation earlier this week

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, wants a status update on the state of the swamp in the Trump administration.

The Maryland Democrat launched an investigation late this week into the administration’s use of ethics waivers, which allow former lobbyists to work on matters they handled in their previous private sector jobs. Cummings sent letters to the White House and 24 agencies and Cabinet departments requesting copies of their ethics pledges and details of any waivers that could expose “potential conflicts of interest.”

Confused by Congress’ bills? Maybe AI can help
House clerk is working on an ‘artificial intelligence engine’ that will compare legislation

As lawmakers grapple with how to shape legislation dealing with artificial intelligence, the clerk of the House is developing an AI tool to automate the process of analyzing differences between bills, amendments and current laws.

That’s according to Robert F. Reeves, the deputy clerk of the House, who on Friday told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress that his office is working on an “artificial intelligence engine” that may be ready as soon as next year.

Lobbyists to Congress: Pay staffers better
Six ex-lawmakers offer recommendations on making Capitol Hill great again

K Street denizens and former members of Congress offered tips on Wednesday for making Capitol Hill great again to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including recommendations to help Congress keep pace with lobbyists like themselves.

Six ex-lawmakers — including Virginia Republican Tom Davis — suggested that Congress pay its staffers more money to better hold their own with experts from K Street and the executive branch. They also called for more civility on Capitol Hill, less emphasis on fundraising, and to invest more in technology and technological savvy within the legislative branch.

‘No corporate PAC’ pledges aren’t always so pure
Contributions sometimes go through other lawmakers or party committees

Corporate PAC money is yucky, but if it comes via contributions from other lawmakers or party committees, the taste seems to suddenly improve.

That’s the message from many incumbents in the club of 50-something Democratic lawmakers who refuse corporate political action committee dollars but still accept donations from colleagues and party committees that take the derided funds.

Trade, infrastructure, health care issues dominate K Street
Uncertainties in Washington haven’t dampened hopes for legislative deal-making

The renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, an elusive infrastructure package and debate over prescription drug prices dominated the lobbying agendas of some of the biggest spenders on K Street early this year, setting the legislative stage for the rest of 2019.

The tumult of the Trump administration and the uncertainty of divided party control on Capitol Hill have kept business interests on the defense while also looking for openings to help broker big-scope legislative deals before presidential politics takes hold by 2020.

K Street gets behind Mayor Pete Buttigieg
In contrast to some 2020 rivals, Indiana mayor takes a tamer tone on anti-lobbyist rhetoric

A collection of prominent K Street insiders has jumped behind the Pete Buttigieg campaign, helping the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s bid in the Democratic 2020 presidential contest with fundraising and strategy.

It’s striking that longtime federal lobbyists, policy strategists and message makers are gravitating to the D.C. outsider’s campaign given the long list of sitting lawmakers who are also running. K Street denizens, though they often bring with them the baggage of working on behalf of corporate interests, offer campaigns a network of donors and fundraising expertise as well as policy chops and sway on Capitol Hill.