congressional-operations

House floor shenanigans punctuate start of spending season
Democrat calls GOP males ‘sex-starved,’ while Republicans use procedural delay tactics

From left, Republicans Justin Amash, Chip Roy and Jim Jordan are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee markup on Wednesday. Roy was requiring the House to conduct roll call votes on noncontroversial amendments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional proceedings are usually pretty dry, but on Wednesday, House floor watchers might as well have been tuned into a reality TV show given all the shenanigans occurring as lawmakers debated their first spending package for the upcoming fiscal year.

Between a Democratic lawmaker calling her GOP male colleagues “sex-starved” and Republicans using a series of procedural tricks to delay proceedings, there was no shortage of tension to kick off the fiscal 2020 appropriations process.

Women senators ‘shame the guys to hurry up and vote’
Female lawmakers push their male colleagues to pick up the pace

Her female colleagues said it was Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s idea to shame their male colleagues into getting their business done in the time allotted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The women of the United States Senate took their colleagues to task Wednesday for taking too long to vote.

In the middle of a vote series that typically would have appeared mundane— with members frequently leaving the floor during one vote and returning during the next, or sitting in the cloakroom on their cell phones — most of the women were seated at desks, calling for regular order in an attempt to speed up what have become increasingly long series.

Food worker chases House member hustling to votes after she didn't pay
‘She didn’t pay me!’ shouted food service worker following Rep. Carolyn Maloney into House chamber

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was pursued by a food service worker nearly into the House chamber after being surprised by unexpected midday votes on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | House members hustled to surprise midday votes Wednesday, and in her haste, one lawmaker didn’t pay for her lunch.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney speed-walked into the chamber for the second surprise vote of the day carrying a takeout container brimming with food.

Republicans move for House to adjourn over inaction on border crisis
GOP members use procedural delay tactic to highlight need for more funds at border

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, left, moved for the House to adjourn on Wednesday in protest over the Democratic majority not taking action on the president’s border supplemental funding request. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Frustrated over what they say is Democrats’ inaction on President Donald Trump’s request for more money to manage the migrant crisis at the border, a few House Republicans on Wednesday used a procedural motion to adjourn to protest on House floor.

The first motion to adjourn, offered by Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy, was defeated 146-244. The second, offered by Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs, was also defeated, 140-254. 

Rep. King’s ‘Diamond and Silk Act’ gets ripped by conservative pundits
Iowa Republican’s bill aimed at helping veterans, homeless was product of conversation with conservative YouTube personalities

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, will introduce the “Diamond and Silk Act” this week. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Conservative media pundits panned Rep. Steve King’s new bill aimed at providing aid and resources to veterans and homeless people as a politically motivated ploy that unnecessarily involves the controversial conservative YouTube personalities known as “Diamond and Silk.”

“I understand the need for cheap shots in politics. But really, at the expense of the homeless and veterans?” Washington Examiner opinion columnist Becket Adams wrote in an article Monday titled, “Rep. Steve King makes a mockery of homelessness, veterans issues.”

Hoyer and House appropriators back potential pay raise for Congress
Salaries for rank-and-file lawmakers have been frozen at $174,000 since 2010

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., says he supports a provision that could boost lawmaker salaries. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are making moves to lift the pay freeze that lawmakers have been living under since 2010. But the top Senate appropriator is not on board. 

House appropriators released their Financial Services fiscal 2020 spending bill earlier this week, striking a provision that blocked members or Congress from receiving an increase in pay that Republicans included in previous  Legislative Branch spending bills. The salary for rank-and-file House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, but those with official leadership titles and responsibilities make more.

GOP blew Obamacare repeal, not us, former CBO director says
Keith Hall said if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, it’s Republicans themselves

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., left, speaks with Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall in January. Enzi, who took the lead in selecting the CBO director this year, chose not to reappoint Hall. The outgoing director said in an interview that if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, dubbed Obamacare, it’s Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Outgoing Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall held his fire when the agency was under attack in 2017 for estimating that a repeal of the 2010 health care law would throw millions of people off health insurance.

Now that he is leaving the agency, he can speak more freely. In an interview in his office last week, Hall said if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, it’s Republicans themselves.

Democrat criticizes Rep. Duncan Hunter for posing with enemy corpse
In defending Navy SEAL accused of war crimes, congressman says posing with enemy dead was common practice

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., claimed on Saturday that he and other Marines posed for photos with dead enemies when they served in the Middle East in the early 2000s. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic opponent of Rep. Duncan Hunter battered him for admitting that he posed for a photo with a slain enemy combatant while serving with the U.S. Marines in the early 2000s.

Hunter, a Republican, won re-election over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in California’s 50th District in 2018 despite being indicted on 60 counts related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign cash for personal expenses that included vacations to Italy and Hawaii, dental work, and flying his family’s pet rabbit across the country.

New rules for Airbnb could squeeze intern housing options
New D.C. law tightening home-sharing rules could increase sticker shock for students looking to intern on Capitol Hill

A sign advertises an apartment for rent in D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A new D.C. law tightening rules on home sharing services could increase sticker shock for students looking to intern on Capitol Hill.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Home-sharing services like Airbnb are facing a crackdown by D.C. lawmakers who want to stop real estate investors from using buildings as de facto hotels. But what impact will a potential crunch on short-term housing have for interns looking for rentals in the District?

It can be daunting for interns seeking a place to stay in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. The initial excitement of landing that dream internship can quickly turn into panic, especially for students who need housing on short notice.

How to kill time on the Hill
Because sometimes there’s more people than work

An intern for Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen pets a dog in 2012. Take it from us: Killing time on the Hill is even easier than it looks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

First off, congratulations! Landing an internship is a big deal — whether you’re here because you applied through a rigorous selection process with essays and interviews, or because your donor father, while teeing up his ball on the ninth hole, casually mentioned to your home-state senator that you’d like to “try out” D.C.

Everyone says the Hill is busy, busy, busy, but here’s the dirty little secret: Most days are filled with LOTS of mind-numbing drudgery and boredom. There are only so many angry phone calls you can take. There are only so many four-page constituent letters ending with 10 exclamation points you can respond to. Eventually, you need a mental break. Chances are you’re reading this because you’re taking one now (or you’re bored).