congressional-operations

As Inauguration Crowds Depart, It’s Back to Work for the Senate
Cornyn prepared for Senate to stay as long as it takes — ‘all night, all weekend’ — to vote on Trump nominees

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, right, said he was prepared for the Senate to stay in session Friday for “as long as it takes” to confirm an assortment of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees while Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer anticipated confirming only two Cabinet nominees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Capitol complex will still be fortified when the Senate gets back to legislative action shortly after Donald Trump leaves the building for the first time as president.

Senators will waste little time starting to process Trump’s nominees, with national security positions expected to be the first out of the gate, though all that must wait for the Senate to have something to consent to, meaning nominations for people like retired Gen. James Mattis to be Defense secretary.

Democrats Use CBO Report to Message Against Obamacare Repeal
Number of House Democrats skipping Trump’s inauguration continues to grow

Pelosi, right, and other Democrats are using a new CBO report to message against Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats gained a useful messaging tool Tuesday in their efforts to thwart the GOP’s plan to dismantle the 2010 health care law, as the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying up to 32 million people would lose their insurance under a previous Republican proposal.

The CBO also estimated that marketplace premiums would nearly double under the GOP repeal legislation President Barack Obama vetoed last year. Republicans are using that prior budget reconciliation bill as a model for legislation they are drafting. Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said the new legislation will include some pieces of replacement policy as well. 

Crisis Averted but Future Is Still Unclear for House Watchdog
Republicans promise bipartisan review of Office of Congressional Ethics

Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano, who chaired the committee that recommended the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics, says he would welcome looking at potential revisions to the office. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans might have ditched a plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. But the future of Congress’ only outside ethics review board is far from guaranteed.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, has been under fire from both parties since it was created eight years ago. Now the House GOP majority is promising to revisit a potential overhaul before the end of this session, possibly as early as August.

The Convoluted Process for Dismantling Obamacare
Budget reconciliaton, explained

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

In the early hours of Jan. 12, the Senate took the first step in the convoluted process of dismantling and replacing the 2010 health care law. To overcome the potential filibuster power of Senate Democrats, GOP lawmakers are relying on budget reconciliation, the same procedural mechanism their counterparts across the aisle used seven years ago to implement parts of the health care overhaul.

The budget reconciliation process is filled with procedural complications — and in this case, political uncertainty — as GOP leaders and President-elect Donald Trump have signaled various ideas about the timing of changes.

DeVos Hearing Postponed Until Next Week
Murray says ‘jam’ of hearings caused delay

Hearings for Betsy DeVos, nominee for Education secretary, will take place next Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Education secretary, has been moved to Jan. 17, a decision announced late Monday night by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The hearing was initially scheduled for Wednesday, the same day as several other confirmation hearings and a planned marathon voting session. Democrats have also raised concerns that not all nominees have completed the process of disclosing their finances to the Office of Government Ethics, which screens candidates for potential conflicts of interest. As of Monday night, the office had not made any documents on DeVos public.

For 20, a New Year’s Boost in House Legislative Sway
How the winners of top committee assignments made their own luck

Keep an eye peeled for these House members with plum new committee assignments, from left to right, first row: Pete Aguilar, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Katherine M. Clark, Ryan A. Costello, Carlos Curbelo; second row: Suzan DelBene, Debbie Dingell, Brian Higgins, John Moolenaar, Grace Meng; third row: Dan Newhouse, Scott Peters, Mark Pocan, Raul Ruiz, David Schweikert; fourth row: Terri A. Sewell, Scott Taylor, Tim Walberg, Jackie Walorski and Mimi Walters. (Bill Clark, Meredith Dake-O’Connor and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos. Scott Taylor courtesy Scott Taylor for U.S. Congress)

Specialization seasoned with seniority is the surest recipe for a meaningful legislative career in the House, which is more than big enough to swallow all the dilettantes and short-timers without a trace. It’s finding a substantive niche, then fitting in over the long haul, that proves perennially frustrating for many members. 

But the goal of becoming a successful and substantive lawmaker just got a whole lot easier for a score of them.

Senate Republicans Start Obamacare Repeal Process
But GOP lawmakers still have a long way to go to dismantle and replace law

Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi, center, who chairs the Budget Committee, began the process of repealing the 2010 health care law on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans wasted no time Tuesday setting in motion their plan to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

GOP senators intend to strike large portions of the law while avoiding the threat of a Democratic filibuster through a procedural gambit that expedites Senate consideration of the repeal bill.

Dick Cheney on New Rep. Cheney: ‘If She Wants My Advice, She’ll Ask for It’
Former vice president accompanies daughter Liz for her swearing in to House

Former Vice President Dick Cheney looks on as daughter Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., takes the oath of office on the House floor on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For an hour on Tuesday, former Vice President Dick Cheney was back in the House chamber where he once served.

Cheney sat on the House floor, second row from the front on the GOP side, playing the role of the proud patriarch to his daughter Liz who took the oath to serve in the job Cheney himself had from 1979 to 1989: sole House member from Wyoming.

How to Watch the Quirky Congressional Opening Day
Look for unusual traditions, cacophony and a few moments of bipartisanship

Congressional opening day collegiality may devolve into partisan posturing almost as soon as the swearing-in Bibles are shelved. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the last fall’s orientation period for the newest lawmakers was the Capitol Hill equivalent of freshman days at college, then the formal convening of the 115th Congress on Tuesday is the first day of school.  

And so it may be useful, for the congressional community as well as the throngs of well-wishers in town just for the festivities, to be reminded of some of the curious ways in which the customs of the day are different from all the others.

White House Slams GOP Over Miners’ Benefits, Flint Aid in CR
Obama spokesman says partial shutdown ‘would be a shame’

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III and other coal-state lawmakers are trying to use the CR to devise a long-term solution for miner benefits. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Obama administration on Thursday harshly criticized Republican congressional leaders for not adequately addressing expiring health and pension benefits for coal miners, as well as aid for Flint, Michigan, and its beleaguered water system, and would not rule out a partial government shutdown over the issues.

With funding for federal programs and agencies due to expire Friday at midnight, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest wouldn’t say if President Barack Obama would sign a five-month continuing resolution that easily passed the House Thursday afternoon. “It would be a shame to shut the whole thing down just a couple weeks before Christmas,” Earnest said.