Policy

Oversight Panel Democrats Want Flint Investigation Reopened

Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., talk before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want to reopen its investigation into the Flint, Mich., water crisis, according to a letter written by ranking member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and released Wednesday.

The investigation, which led to a high profile oversight hearing that turned into partisan finger-pointing last March, was quietly closed before the Christmas holiday by Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

HealthCare.Gov Enrollment Tops 8.8 Million

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell testifies during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Longworth on the HHS Fiscal Year 2017 budget request, February 10, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

More than 8.8 million Americans signed up for 2017 insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov as of Jan. 14, 2017, about 100,000 more than over a similar time frame last year.

The enrollment snapshot provided Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the final one of President Barack Obama’s administration. The numbers do not include people in the 12 state-based marketplaces that use their own websites. About 2.8 million people in these states were enrolled as of Dec. 24.

Perry, Mnuchin Round Out Senate Hearings Before Inauguration
Democrats will try to keep the focus on health care

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Energy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump’s nominees to run the Energy and Treasury departments are the last to face Senate committees before the incoming president is sworn in on Friday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is acknowledging the Senate may only confirm a few nominees right away. 

The Senate is on track to confirm just three of Trump’s Cabinet nominees on Jan. 20, McConnell told USA Today on Wednesday. He blamed Democrats for slowing down the process, though Democrats say they need more time to properly vet Trump’s nominees.

Price Faces Tough Questions on Stock Trading, Health Care Law

Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., takes his seat before the start of his confirmation hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tom Price sought in a contentious hearing Wednesday to defend his purchases of medical stocks against Democratic charges of conflicts of interest.

Price told Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that held the hearing, that he bought Australian biotech Innate Immunotherapeutics shares after talking with Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., about the company. Collins serves as a director of the company. That raises questions about whether that would be a potential violation of the STOCK Act which prohibits lawmakers from benefiting from insider information or ethics rules. However, Price said he did not receive information that was not public.

Mulvaney: I Paid $15,583 in Back Taxes for Household Employee

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., participates in the Citizens Against Government Waste press conference to release the 2016 Congressional Pig Book report on pork spending on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, the staunch conservative nominated to become President-elect Donald Trump’s budget chief, failed to pay more than $15,000 in federal payroll taxes for a past household employee, he told the Senate Budget Committee in a questionnaire.

“I have come to learn, during the confirmation review process, that I failed to pay FICA and federal and state unemployment taxes on a household employee for the years 2000-2004,” Mulvaney, R-S.C., wrote in a section of the document, obtained by Roll Call on Wednesday. “Upon discovery of that shortfall, I paid the federal taxes.”

Burwell: Repeal and Delayed Replacement is Repeal

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell testifies during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Longworth on the HHS Fiscal Year 2017 budget request, February 10, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that when the agency Wednesday releases its final report under her watch on marketplace enrollment, the figures will show “a marketplace that millions of folks have come to” rather than a system on a downward trajectory.

However, if Republicans repeal the 2010 health care law without creating an alternative, Burwell told reporters Tuesday that “it is fair to say it puts the marketplace in that kind of negative spiral, in a death spiral.”

Report: Gabbard Makes Secret Trip to Syria
The congresswoman took a 'fact-finding' trip to Syria aiming to end the six-year civil war

A spokeswoman for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, shown here at a rally held by labor, environmental, and consumer groups in November, confirmed the congresswoman’s trip to Syria on Wednesday. (Tom Wiliiams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was reported to be returning on Wednesday from a secret trip to Syria, which her aides described as a “fact-finding” mission to end the conflict there.

Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer said the representative “felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders,” Foreign Policy reported.

Confirmation Hearings Bring Out the Senate Angst
McConnell said to expect votes on Cabinet nominations Friday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will return on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By BRIDGET BOWMAN and JASON DICKCQ Roll Call

The Senate eased into inauguration week with a pair of confirmation hearings, with committees taking up the cases for, or against, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to be Interior secretary and Betsy DeVos to be Education secretary.

Trump Team Pushes Back on HHS Nominee‘s Stock Trading Issue
Rep. Tom Price is criticized for investments he made while working on health policy

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., was nominated to be Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is disputing a recent report that raised questions about whether Rep. Tom Price, the nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, violated insider trading laws while serving in Congress.

A Monday CNN report revealed that Price bought shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company, in March. Price introduced a bill delaying a regulation that could have damaged the company less than a week after the purchase. CNN also reported that the company’s political action committee also donated to Price’s re-election campaign.

CBO: 32 Million Would Lose Coverage Under Prior GOP Repeal Bill

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York was one of the Democrats who ordered a CBO review of a previous GOP effort to repeal the 2010 health care law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)