Speaker Ryan

Democrats seeking votes in Trump country tout miners’ benefits
As Republicans prepare a coal pension fix proposal, Democrats push for more

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Sherrod Brown, right, called for action on Democratic pension proposals this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans say they’re close to unveiling a plan to address a $66 billion funding shortfall affecting coal miners’ and other union pension plans, an issue Democrats see as advantageous politically and as a possible bargaining chip in trade talks with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump championed manufacturing and coal industry jobs during his 2016 campaign, including in critical swing states he won like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the 2020 campaign, Democrats have been touting “broken promises” to workers in those states and others, including more traditional GOP bastions like Kentucky where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection next year. 

Some lawmakers question amount of time spent in committees
How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier sits on four committees and seven subcommittees, one of the most packed rosters in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House parliamentarian brought the hammer down on the Education and Labor Committee in April, ending a long-standing practice that allowed panel members from both parties to vote on bills in committee on a flexible schedule — a violation of the House ban on proxy voting.

Members say their schedules have become so hectic and compressed that the courtesy, which the committee has extended for years, is needed. But the practice raises a bigger question: How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

Trump nominates director of Government Publishing Office
If confirmed, Hugh Halpern would be first permanent director since 2017

Copies of President Donald Trump's budget for fiscal 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington. Trump nominated Hugh Nathanial Halpern to be director of the agency Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The agency responsible for producing U.S. passports has been plagued by leadership instability since 2017, but President Donald Trump’s move to nominate Hugh Nathanial Halpern of Virginia to be the Government Publishing Office’s director Tuesday could end that streak.

Halpern worked as the director of floor operations for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before Halpern retired in January. He was the staff director for the House Rules Committee and worked on several other committees, including the House Financial Services Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the course of 30 years.

Vulnerable Democrat gets little heat over impeachment at town hall
Trump predicted that Democrats would face a backlash, but that hasn’t happened

Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia speaks at a town hall at New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. —Elaine Luria knew that many at the church where she spoke here Thursday night weren’t going like what she had to say about impeachment.

But at her first town hall since she led a group of Republican-targeted Democrats who threw their support behind an inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine last week, Luria stood her ground.

Crime or ‘high crime?’ Trump’s Ukraine call spurs legal debate
At heart of dispute is when does seeking foreign assistance in an election cross the line

Attorney General William Barr testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in May. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Justice Department sparked fresh debate Wednesday about when seeking foreign assistance in an election becomes a federal crime, with officials deciding President Donald Trump did not cross a legal line in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy now at the center of a Democratic push toward impeachment.

The department said its review of the call — in which Trump asked Ukraine to “do us a favor” and talk to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr about opening a potential corruption investigation connected to Trump’s main political rival — did not find a “thing of value” that could be quantified as campaign finance law requires.

Path to defeat Trump ‘doesn’t flow through the coast,’ Bullock tells teachers group
Despite sagging poll numbers, Montana governor forges ahead with 2020 presidential pitch

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, center, greets Randi Weingarten, left, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Darrell Capwell, before a town hall at the AFT on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Montana governor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock didn’t qualify for the debate stage in September, and he is polling near the bottom of the 20 remaining White House hopefuls.

But at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters in Washington, D.C., Bullock said Thursday he can win back Trump voters from the American heartland while retaining support in traditional liberal strongholds. The self-described populist moderate with executive experience spent time taking questions from the audience focused on education issues. 

Meet the key appropriations players of the fall
List includes budget war veterans as well as relative newcomers

Eric Ueland has been the White House legislative affairs chief since June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s the behind-the-scenes work of top legislative aides that makes the Capitol Hill machinery work, and that’s never truer than when lawmakers are trying to hash out spending bills as Congress and the White House will be focused on this fall and winter.

After initial decisions by Republican and Democratic clerks — the top staffers on the Appropriations subcommittees — full committee staff will step in to help work out any remaining issues. Leadership staff will be on hand to address the most intractable disagreements and questions about what legislation can ride with the spending bills, and to make sure the measures have enough votes to pass.

Chief Standing Bear statue welcomed in Capitol, replacing William Jennings Bryan
McCarthy: ‘as the tours are given, I promise you: you will stop here’

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., speaks during a ceremony unveiling a statue of Chief Standing Bear, a Native American civil rights icon from Nebraska. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The prominent placement of Nebraska’s new statue of the legendary Chief Standing Bear in Statuary Hall was quite intentional.

So said Sen. Roy Blunt at an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. The Missouri senator was introduced as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, but it was in one of his other capacities that he had shown Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., where he thought the statue should be positioned.

HOH presents: the ultimate congressional fantasy football juggernaut
Here are the current and former members of Congress who would dominate

Then-Rep. Jon Runyan, R- N.J. left, blocks for the “Mean Machine” team at the Congressional Football Game for Charity, which pits congressmen against police, in 2011. In the background is then-Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Have you ever wondered which current or former members of Congress would make the ideal fantasy football team? Well, we’ve got you covered.

For hardcore football fans, playing fantasy can be an exercise in cognitive dissonance. If you are a Baltimore Ravens fan who has Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, you have to pray the Steelers QB throws four TDs while the rest of the team plays like garbage. But there is no better feeling than agonizing over setting the perfect lineup and then watching your team light up your enemy, er, opponent. And for perhaps the ultimate in cognitive dissonance, Heard on the Hill presents the All-Congress fantasy football team.

Biggs to replace Meadows as Freedom Caucus chairman, effective Oct. 1
Meadows, who’d planned to transition out of the chairmanship this fall, will remain on caucus board

Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, left, has been elected to serve as the third chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Also pictured, California Rep. Tom McClintock at a House Judiciary hearing in July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs will serve as the third chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, after the group of roughly three dozen hard-line conservatives elected him to take over its leadership effective Oct. 1.

The sophomore congressman will replace North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows next month — a fall leadership transition that Meadows had long been planning. Meadows has served as the group’s chairman for the past two and a half years following the two-year tenure of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the founding chairman.