Appropriations

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.

History Provides Trump a Guide for His Inaugural Address
Changes in party rule show how presidents both praise and criticize

An aide to President-elect Donald Trump, seen here at a news conference on Jan. 11 at Trump Tower in New York City, says his inaugural address will be “unique to him.” (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Newly sworn-in American presidents taking over for a predecessor of another political party have employed a number of rhetorical approaches from which Donald Trump could choose to borrow on Friday. Trump has met with historians and watched past inaugural addresses, but a top aide said his first speech as president will be “unique to him.”

Given the unprecedented tone of both his campaigning style and brash tenor during the transition period, anything is possible when the new president steps to the podium bearing the seal of the president around noon Friday. It is a safe bet some or most of Trump’s address will sound much different than those delivered in the past. 

House Republican Women See a Boost in Authority
3 committees, other powerful posts newly under control of 21-person caucus

Texas Rep. Kay Granger is the new chairwoman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which drives the allocation of more than half a trillion dollars annually to the military. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the past four years, Republicans endured pointed barbs about how the only woman with a House committee gavel was presiding over the fittingly sexist-sounding “housekeeping committee,” the Hill’s nickname for the panel overseeing the Capitol’s internal operations.

That’s not a fair jape anymore. Exactly a century after the arrival of the first female elected to Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, her GOP successors will be wielding more titular power in the Republican-run House than ever. Women will soon be presiding over three standing committees, a record for the party, while a fourth has taken over what’s arguably the chamber’s single most consequential subcommittee, because it takes the lead in apportioning more than half of all discretionary federal spending.

Word on the Hill: Inauguration Week
Other events going on this week

More confirmation hearings are scheduled for this week. Last week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, nominee to be the ambassador to the United Nations got a hug from Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on the Senate subway. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, which means parties, crowds and traffic in the nation’s capital.

Check out our list of balls and galas going on this week. If you have more to add, email AlexGangitano@cqrollcall.com.

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.

Republicans Not So Sure About Trump's Call for Drug “Bidding”

Rep. Charlie Dent , R-Pa., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Sept. 7, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans are downplaying or dismissing President-elect Donald Trump’s call Wednesday for the government to start “bidding” for prescription drugs.

Addressing the high price of prescription drugs is a popular bipartisan issue, but Republicans tend to favor an approach that would stimulate competition that could help bring prices down. Under the Medicare drug program, price negotiation does occur between drug companies and the insurers who administer the coverage, but the federal government is forbidden from leveraging the bargaining power of Medicare as a whole.

Lights Out at CIA Director Confirmation Hearing
Pepco says issue was internal to Senate office buildings

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, center, waits to be introduced by fellow Kansans Sen. Pat Roberts, left, and former Sen. Bob Dole during a power outage at his Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:20 p.m. | Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner had just brought up Russian hacking and the 2016 election during a high-profile Senate Intelligence Committee hearing when the lights went out.

If the scene Thursday morning in the Hart Senate Office Building didn’t exactly stoke paranoia, it at least elicited some chuckles during an otherwise dead-serious confirmation hearing for Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the next director of the CIA.

Senators Warn Tillerson About Backing New Russia Sanctions
Secretary of State nominee will face questions about Russian hacking Wednesday

Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin, John McCain and Lindsey Graham attended a news conference in the Capitol to introduce a bipartisan bill increasing sanctions on Russia.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson might face hurdles to getting confirmed if he does not back a bipartisan plan to impose new sanctions on the Russian Federation.

Foreign Relations Ranking Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland led a bipartisan group of 10 senators in introducing expanded Russian sanctions legislation Tuesday in response to what the intelligence community has concluded was Kremlin hacking of the Democratic National Committee and military actions including the incursion into Ukraine.

Fish on a Treadmill and Other Waste, According to Jeff Flake
Arizona Republican plans another push for a permanent earmark ban

The cover of Sen. Jeff Flake’s latest Wastebook. (Courtesy Sen. Flake’s office)

Sen. Jeff Flake highlights 50 examples of questionable, even frivolous federal spending in the latest edition of his government wastebook.

Flake calls the latest volume “Wastebook: PORKémon Go.” All told, the Arizona Republican’s office says it details more than $5 billion in inappropriate spending by federal departments and agencies.

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.