Mark Pocan

Democrats bow to critics, expand scope of drug price bill
The changes by House Democratic leaders were made to appease progressives who pushed for more aggressive action

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., points to sign that reads “lower drug costs now” as she departs from a press conference at the Capitol in Washington on September 19, 2019. Democratic leaders unveiled changes to Pelosi’s drug pricing bill ahead of markups Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders unveiled changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill ahead of markups Thursday, seeking to appease progressives who pushed for more aggressive action.

The chamber is expected to vote on the bill this month.

Modernization panel mulls overhaul of congressional calendar
Members weigh time in districts vs. in the District

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, suggested having the House in two for two full weeks, then away for two weeks.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of a panel to modernize Congress are floating proposals to overhaul the legislative calendar, including an option of being in session for two full work weeks and then recessing for a fortnight of district work time.

Reps. William R. Timmons IV, a South Carolina Republican, and Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, both suggested such an option Wednesday during a hearing of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a temporary panel tasked with offering recommendations to update Capitol Hill technology and to improve working conditions for lawmakers and staff.  

Scope of drug pricing bill could thwart Democrats’ hope for political win
Patients raise concerns that legislation impacts limited number of medicines

Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Oct. 2, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are betting their legislation to lower drug prices will be a political winner — but some patients learning the details are skeptical it will help them.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in late September that her signature drug pricing bill received “rave reviews from everyone but the pharmaceutical industry.” And lawmakers tried to tout the bill during the October recess. Two House committees will markup the measure on Thursday.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 8
The latest on the impeachment inquiry

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff speaks to reporters in the Capitol after learning the State Department blocked U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from testifying to the committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The 11th-hour cancellation of testimony of a key player in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump threw Democrats into an uproar with one suggesting it was another piece of evidence of the president obstructing justice.

The Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Tuesday evening made good on a plan to subpoena Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, for his testimony and documents.

House Democrats divided on how much evidence they need to impeach Trump
After unifying around an inquiry, the caucus remains split on actual impeachment

From left, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Mikie Sherrill and Elissa Slotkin are among the Democrats who penned an op-ed saying the president might have committed impeachable offenses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats finally agreed last week that they are conducting an impeachment inquiry, but as that probe quickly unfolds there are new divisions in the caucus about how much evidence they need to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Several Democrats believe the readout of a July 25 phone call of Trump asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a potential 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son; Trump’s public statements admitting to the request; and a whistleblower complaint alleging White House lawyers and officials tried to “lock down” the call transcript is all the evidence they need to impeach.

Political tensions escalate as drug pricing bills move forward
Rift began when Pelosi called for Medicare to negotiate prices for a set of high-cost drugs

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa unveiled the text of his committee's drug pricing bill on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The discord between the parties over plans to bring down drug costs deepened this week as Democrats insisted on allowing Medicare to negotiate prices and launched an impeachment inquiry that threatens to consume Congress.

Still, members of key committees said Wednesday they wanted to continue bipartisan work to lower costs, a major concern of voters, and lawmakers in both chambers took steps toward advancing their proposals. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held the first hearing on legislation unveiled last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Democrats leaving a caucus meeting on drug legislation late Wednesday said markups are expected soon after a two-week recess in October. Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon unveiled the text of their bill on Wednesday.

Democrats tried to ‘blackmail’ casino owner to let employees unionize, conservative group claims
Lawmakers say ethics accusations by Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust are baseless

Rep. Mark Pocan, D- Wisc., speaks with reporters as he leaves a House Democrats' caucus meeting in February. Pocan is one of 14 Democrats who wrote a letter to a casino mogul that a conservative ethics watchdog group says was part of an effort to coerce him to allow employees to unionize. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conservative watchdog group asked the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday to review whether 14 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican inappropriately used their office to try to coerce a Las Vegas casino mogul into allowing his employees to unionize.

In May, Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and 13 other Democrats wrote a letter to Frank Fertitta III, the CEO of the Las Vegas-based casino management company Red Rock Resorts Inc., urging him to “respect the rights of employees” at the company “to form a union and collectively bargain.”

‘Public charge’ rule creates Homeland spending bill headache
Amendment blocks proposed rules on immigrant access to Medicaid and food stamps

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., offered an amendment that would block the Department of Homeland Security's proposed "public charge" rule from going into effect. (File photo by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

An amendment inserted into the House's fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill by Appropriations Committee Democrats during the panel's June markup would bust the subcommittee's allocation by nearly $3.1 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Adopted on a 28-21 vote, the amendment from Reps. David E. Price of North Carolina, Pete Aguilar and Barbara Lee of California, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin would block a number of Trump administration immigration policies, including protecting beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation and revoking Trump's travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries.

House sends spending caps, debt limit bill to Senate
Measure next heads to the Senate for consideration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leads House Democrats down the House steps to hold a news conference on the first 200 days of the 116th Congress on Thursday, July 25, 2019. On Thursday, the House passed a debt limit and budget measure, sending it to the Senate for consideration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After late lobbying from President Donald Trump, House leaders mustered the votes to pass a two-year spending caps and debt limit bill Thursday that will provide some structure around the appropriations process and stave off potential default on U.S. obligations until the end of 2021.

The 284-149 vote was the first legislative test for the package Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday after hard-fought negotiations. The measure would add $324 billion to otherwise austere spending caps over the next two fiscal years, and avert cuts averaging about 10 percent to federal agencies for the upcoming budget year starting Oct. 1.

Budget caps, debt limit bill expected to pass House Thursday
A furious whip effort was underway by both parties to clinch a strong bipartisan showing on the floor

Yarmuth acknowledged a budget resolution may not happen next year either. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House lawmakers expressed confidence on Wednesday that the two-year budget and debt ceiling deal will pass in that chamber, though a furious whip effort was underway by both parties to clinch a strong bipartisan showing on the floor.

Late Wednesday afternoon, it became clear a large majority of Democrats were prepared to vote for the measure after Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders released a statement green-lighting the compromise budget caps measure.