Matt Cartwright

Democrats ponder power of the purse to get full Mueller report

Attorney General William Barr is greeted by full committee chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., before a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on the Department of Justice's budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Top Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee aren’t ready to wield their power over Justice Department funding to pressure Attorney General William Barr to provide the full special counsel report from Robert S. Mueller III — but they aren’t ruling it out either.

Rep. Jose E. Serrano, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the DOJ budget, told reporters that appropriators could prescribe that no dollars be used to block Mueller’s full report from being released — not that he’s saying that would happen.

Democrats probe Trump decision to not defend Obamacare

Attorney General William Barr urged the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee to let the Obamacare case make its way through the courts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats opened a probe Tuesday into the Trump administration’s decision not to defend the 2010 health care law in a high-profile legal challenge, as Attorney General William Barr urged lawmakers to allow the case to move through the courts.

The chairmen of five House panels sent letters to the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department seeking documents and communications about how the decision was made earlier this year to only partially defend the health care law in a legal challenge brought by Texas’ attorney general and other conservative state attorneys general.

Culture shock may be in store for House spending panel
A powerful House Appropriations subcommittee is set for new leadership, and that could mean shifting priorities

Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., left, and Chairman Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., conduct a subcommittee hearing in the Rayburn Building on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One powerful congressional panel is set to exchange the South Bronx for rural Pennsylvania in the next Congress — in a manner of speaking.

Following the retirement of Rep. José E. Serrano, four-term Rep. Matt Cartwright is set to become the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Commerce and Justice departments and independent agencies like NASA and the National Science Foundation. The sprawling $70 billion bill is a battleground for numerous hot-button issues facing lawmakers, such as gun rights, immigration policy and climate change.

Road ahead: Barr testifying on DOJ budget, likely to get grilled about Mueller report
House to vote on net neutrality bill before Democratic retreat, Senate picks up pace on nominations after going nuclear

Attorney General William P. Barr will be the headline witness on Capitol Hill this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

All eyes will be on the House and Senate Appropriations committees this week — but not necessarily because of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget blueprint.

Attorney General William P. Barr is scheduled to testify Tuesday in the House and Wednesday in the Senate about the Justice Department’s budget, but the conversation is sure to turn to his handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Progressives say Trump has no moral ground to call for Omar’s resignation
Congressional Progressive Caucus points out president referring to neo-Nazis as ‘very fine people’ after Charlottesville

Republicans have pushed for Rep. Ilhan Omar to relinquish her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives mocked President Donald Trump after his call for Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar to resign, saying that the president has no moral authority to do so given his record on issues of hate and bigotry.

“As a candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has consistently and unapologetically trafficked in white nationalism, Islamaphobia, sexism and racism,” leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement Tuesday night. “Americans of all political stripes must reject this transparently cynical effort by President Trump and Congressional Republicans to stifle and intimidate” diverse voices.

Republicans name 55 House Democrats as 2020 targets
A majority of the targets represent districts that backed Trump

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chairs the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans will be targeting 55 House Democrats in 2020, the majority of whom are new members, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced Thursday.

The lengthy target list, shared first with Roll Call, includes all 31 Democrats in districts President Donald Trump carried in 2016. The list also includes 20 districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 that were previously represented by Republicans.

Democrats identify 44 vulnerable House members to defend in 2020
Almost all the members named to the Democrats’ Frontline Program are freshmen

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, left, and Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin are among the freshmen whom the DCCCC has named to its Frontline program for its most vulnerable incumbents. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats made historic gains in the House last fall, and now they need to defend those seats heading into the 2020 election. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Thursday named 44 members to its Frontline Program for its most vulnerable incumbents.

Lawmakers introduce bills to crack down on robocalls
Nuisance calls and scams went unmonitored during the shutdown, but harsher penalties could be coming

Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission, said earlier this week “We are not overseeing so many of the things that we do on a day to day basis” during the partial government shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal regulators who typically track and alert the public to new robocall schemes were furloughed for more than a month during the partial government shutdown, exacerbating what some lawmakers call a “scourge” of phone scams.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in both chambers have introduced bills to strengthen the authority of federal agencies to crack down on pesky and sometimes illegal robocalls amid a surge of consumer complaints in recent years.

Photos of the week: 116th Congress sworn in as shutdown continues
The week of Dec. 31 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., is seen in the Capitol's House chamber before members were sworn in on the first day of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The holiday season ended, the partial government shutdown continued and new members were sworn into the 116th Congress this week.

Here's the entire week of Dec. 31 in photos:

House Democrats’ New Elected Leadership Team Is More Progressive and Diverse
On average, new leadership team is also younger in terms of age and length of service

The incoming House Democratic leadership team poses for a group photo in the Rayburn Room in the U.S. Capitol on Friday. Front row, from left: Katherine M. Clark, D-Mass., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. Back row, from left: Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., David Cicilline, D-R.I., Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Katie Hill, D-Calif. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The newly elected House Democratic leadership team for the 116th Congress will be more progressive, diverse and younger in terms of both age and length of service compared to the current one. 

That should generally please Democrats who called for changes in their leadership team, despite the top three long-reigning leaders remaining in charge.