Policy

Mulvaney Backlash May Drive Political Money Changes
Even lobbyists distanced their industry from remarks by the White House budget chief

Watchdog groups characterized Mick Mulvaney’s remarks as “brazen.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Advocates for tougher campaign finance regulations say comments from Mick Mulvaney seeming to describe a pay-to-play style of politics on Capitol Hill will boost their long-term effort to overhaul the rules and could benefit like-minded candidates in the midterm elections.

Mulvaney, the White House budget chief and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told a group of bankers Tuesday that when he served in Congress, his office refused meetings with lobbyists who did not provide political contributions. Mulvaney, a Republican, represented a South Carolina district from January 2011 to February 2017, when he became director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Sessions Ducks Senate Questions on Trump-Related Probes
‘That calls for a speculative answer ... I’m just not able to do that’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares to testify during the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2019 budget for the Justice Department on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reassured senators Wednesday the Justice Department will stay committed to the law in the face of criticism from President Donald Trump, who has openly disparaged the agency and actions of the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

But Sessions was coy during testimony about his role in the department’s high-profile investigations and the politics of Trump’s criticism.

DACA Ruling Could Open Door for More ‘Dreamers’
Administration failed to describe unlawfulness of program, judge says

Heather Pina-Ledezma, 6, attends a news conference in the Capitol with Democratic senators and families impacted by President Obama's executive action on undocumented immigrants and to call on Republicans to pass immigration legislation, December 10, 2014. Heather's mother Madai is from Mexico but Heather was born in Annapolis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The number of “Dreamers” protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could nearly triple if the Homeland Security Department cannot convince a federal judge that President Donald Trump had a good reason to end it.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates for the District of Columbia ruled Tuesday night that Trump’s decision to end the program, known as DACA, was “unlawful” and “arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.”

Medicaid Won’t Look the Same Next Year
From expansions to work mandates, states seek sweeping changes in 2018

Some states want to expand Medicaid, others want to add a work mandate, and Virginia is trying to do both. This year may define the 50-year-old program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This year could mark a significant shift for Medicaid programs across the country, as some states look to expand the government insurance program to more poor Americans while others seek to add more requirements for people who benefit.

Initiatives to get Medicaid expansion put on the November ballot are underway in Utah, Nebraska, Idaho and Montana. And Virginia lawmakers appear on the verge of securing an expansion deal, after years of rejecting the idea.

Senate GOP Set to Revive Time Limits on Debating Nominees
Rules panel expected to advance changes along party lines

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., speaks to reporters Tuesday about the proposed rules changes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators will take a small step Wednesday toward speeding up the pace of confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees even as controversy swirls around his pick to head the Veterans Affairs Department. 

The proposal by Sen. James Lankford is not exactly new. In fact, it isn’t new at all.

Supreme Court to Weigh Legality of Trump’s Travel Ban
Not even the Supreme Court can escape hearing about Trump’s Twitter feed

Trump's travel ban sparked protests when it was announced in January 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the Trump administration’s travel ban, the first major high court test of one of President Donald Trump’s signature campaign issues and a key piece of his tough-on-immigration efforts.

The showdown is shaping up to be among the highest-profile cases of the court’s current term, with a line forming along First Street NE on Sunday for seats in the courtroom.

Drug Pricing Proposal Should Revamp Medicare, GOP Experts Say
Overhauling Part B drug benefit could have “massive impact overnight”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has been outspoken in seeking to carry out the president’s push to reduce drug costs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An upcoming Trump administration proposal on lowering drug costs should ask Congress to allow private insurance companies to negotiate prices for drugs administered in a doctor’s office or hospital, two Republican policy experts said.

The administration’s proposal is a request for comment on strategies to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. It was originally expected to be released in tandem with a speech by President Donald Trump on Thursday, but the speech was delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from an infection.

Health Groups Voice Concerns Over Short-Term Plan Proposal
Industry frets that premiums will rise, choice will go down

People shop for health insurance in Miami during the open enrollment period last November. Advocacy groups are concerned an expansion of short-term plans could push up premiums for plans sold on health exchanges. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The health care industry is largely united in its opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to expand how long people can be covered by short-term health plans.

Health care and advocacy groups raised concerns about allowing consumers to maintain a short-term insurance policy for just under 12 months rather than the current 90 days, providing an alternative type of coverage to that sold on the marketplaces set up under the 2010 health care law. Their comment letters to the administration predicted that the proposal would drive up premiums and decrease consumers’ choices for plans sold on the exchanges.

Committees Tackle Politically Powerful Issue of Opioids Legislation
Senate HELP panel advanced bipartisan package Tuesday

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, chairs the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which will consider over 60 bills to address the opioids crisis at a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House heads into a marathon opioid markup Wednesday, a day after the Senate health committee approved bipartisan legislation of its own addressing the crisis. Both chambers are eager to advance bills to combat the crisis under an aggressive timeline, with an eye toward demonstrating action before the midterms on an issue that affects voters representing most demographics and districts.

“Even though this epidemic is worse in some parts of the country than others, find me a congressional district where this isn’t an issue,” said Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford. “Absolutely, they do not want to go into an election and have their constituents mad at them.”

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny
Voter rights advocates worry the court could hand states a shield

Texas’ 35th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, is at the center of a gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could not only require Texas to redraw its congressional districts, but give states a way to defend against claims of gerrymandering.

This is the third case the justices will hear this term about how states draw legislative maps to gain a political advantage. Cases from Wisconsin and Maryland focus on whether those maps can be too partisan. The Texas case is a more traditional challenge to how state lawmakers draw the lines using voter data.