Joseph R Biden Jr

Heard on the Hill This Week: Swearing-In the 115th Congress

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.

Where Are They Now? Power Players in 1992 and 2016
Today’s leaders were still works in progress during Bill Clinton's inaugural run

Presumptive Democratic nominee Bill Clinton waves to supporters with his wife Hillary at a rally in St. Louis in July 1992. (TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Much has been made about the fact that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has remained in the public eye for a quarter century.  

Many of her closest allies — and a few of her fiercest antagonists — have followed similarly storied paths through modern political history.  

White House Outlines Next Steps on Cancer 'Moonshot'
New initiatives include public-private partnerships

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is leading the cancer "moonshot" initiative, which includes a new oncology center at the Food and Drug Administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House on Wednesday announced several initiatives as part of President Barack Obama’s cancer “moonshot” program that include new collaboration among agencies as well as between the federal government and private industry.  

The administration also said it will redesign the website for the National Cancer Institute within the National Institutes of Health to allow patients to better search for appropriate clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed it would move forward with the creation of an oncology center aimed at streamlining the review of new cancer treatments.  

Ex-Venture Capitalist to Lead Cancer 'Moonshot'
Simon, a cancer survivor, was Senate staffer for Al Gore

Greg Simon, a former pharmaceutical executive and congressional staffer who survived cancer, was named executive director of the Obama administration’s “moonshot” cancer initiative, the White House announced Friday.  

In recent years Simon has worked as a venture capitalist in the biotechnology and life sciences sector. From 2009 to 2012, he served as a vice president for health care, science and technology policy pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. Simon in 2003 co-founded FasterCures, a Washington research center that is now part of the Milken Institute.