Jerrold Nadler

FISA Fight Marks Win for Intelligence Committee Over Judiciary

House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff, left and Chairman Devin Nunes largely got their way in the FISA fight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Jan. 19 signing of legislation to reauthorize a government surveillance authority that has, in some cases, given intelligence and law enforcement agents access to Americans’ correspondence without a warrant, was a victory for security hawks over civil libertarians.

It also marked a win for the House Intelligence Committee over its counterpart, House Judiciary, and a shift in the balance of power on government surveillance from three years ago.

House Judiciary Advances Foreign Lobby Overhaul
Panel Democrats say GOP is moving too quickly on the bill

Ex-lobbyist Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, has been charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

House Republicans took a significant step Wednesday in an effort to overhaul the nation’s foreign lobbying disclosure regulations amid scandals in the influence sector.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced as amended, 15-6 along party lines, the measure that would give the Justice Department new subpoena-like investigative powers. That new authority sparked controversy among the panel’s Democrats.

FISA Vote in the House Pivots on Privacy
Bipartisan group is demanding tougher protections

As provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expire, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash is leading a bipartisan group voicing privacy concerns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is set to vote Thursday on a bill to extend the electronic surveillance powers of the National Security Agency. 

How the House votes could determine whether the bill wins Senate passage for a long-term extension of provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or if lawmakers hit another roadblock and decide to punt again. Facing an impasse before Christmas, Congress passed a short-term extension until Jan. 19. The provisions were due to expire Dec. 31. 

Lawmakers Object to DOJ Move on Marijuana Enforcement
Sen. Cory Gardner says Sessions’ decision opens states’ rights issues

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said the change in the DOJ‘s marijuana policy was a “trampling of Colorado’s right, its voters.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew strong criticism from lawmakers Thursday for changing a Justice Department policy on marijuana enforcement that had allowed states to move forward on legalizing the drug’s recreational and medical use.

Sessions’ move upsets the uneasy status quo between state laws that legalize marijuana and the federal laws against possession and distribution, which was set up by Obama administration guidelines from the Justice Department. Sessions rescinded the Obama guidelines Thursday, which cast uncertainty on what had been a growing pot industry just days after California implemented a recreational pot law.

House Democrats Pick Nadler Over Lofgren for Judiciary Post
Caucus sticks with seniority tradition

House Democrats picked Jerrold Nadler, right, over Zoe Lofgren to be the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. (CQ Roll Call file photos)

House Democrats voted Wednesday to elect New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee over California Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

The vote was 118-72, according to Virginia Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, who declined to say whom he voted for, citing the secret ballot process. The caucus action followed the recommendation made Tuesday by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Democratic Panel Supports Nadler for Top Spot on Judiciary
Full Democratic caucus votes on Wednesday

The Democratic Steering Committee has recommended Rep. Jerrold Nadler be the next top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An influential group of House Democrats voted Tuesday to formally recommend Rep. Jerrold Nadler as the next ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, a high-profile post that could become even more pivotal after the 2018 elections.

The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee sided 41-18 for Nadler over Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. Their recommendation goes to a vote Wednesday before the full Democratic Caucus, which does not have to follow the steering committee’s recommendation.

House Democrats Face Tough Choices in Judiciary Panel Race
Nadler and Lofgren vie for top spot amid party’s soul-searching

Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, left, and Jerrold Nadler of New York are vying to be the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. (CQ Roll Call)

Two experienced Democratic lawmakers with contrasting styles are vying to become the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and the vote this week could signal much more than just who will press the party’s agenda on the panel.

The choice of Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York or Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California will reveal much about the Democrats’ long-term strategy for a key committee as it deals with the tumult of President Donald Trump’s administration, the special counsel investigating his campaign, threats to civil rights and a reckoning of allegations of improper sexual behavior sweeping through Capitol Hill.

Photos of the Week: Three Resignations, a CR Extension and the Holidays Kick Off
The week of Dec. 4 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler arrives Thursday for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the FBI. Nadler became the top Democrat on the panel following Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s resignation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated at 10:08 a.m.The week on the Hill was not short on news. Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct while Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a fellow Democrat, announced he intended to do the same soon. Late Thursday, Republican Trent Franks from Arizona said he would resign effective Jan. 31 over sexual harassment allegations in his office.

At the same time, the funding deadline to keep the government open loomed. But a government shutdown was averted Thursday — at least for another two weeks — when both chambers passed a continuing resolution through Dec. 22. 

Bobby Scott Passes on Seeking Judiciary Committee Post
Virginia Democrat left panel in 2015 to become ranking member on Education panel

Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia said he was not interested in vying for the top Democratic slot on the Judiciary Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Va., told Roll Call Tuesday he’s not interested in becoming ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, a role that is in question since Michigan’s John Conyers Jr. has agreed to temporarily step aside from the post amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Jerrold Nadler of New York and Zoe Lofgren of California both are interested in serving as ranking member of the committee.

Conyers Scandal Creates Opening for House Democrats
Leaving Judiciary post after 23 years means new liberal messenger in age of Trump

From left, Reps.  Jerrold Nadler of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan at a House Judiciary Committee news conference in 2012. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The forced amble toward the exits by Rep. John Conyers Jr. is accelerating one of the most consequential power vacuums in Congress in the eyes of the Democratic base.

The moment is as much about the party positioning itself for the future as it is about managing sexual harassment problems in the present.