Norma J Torres

Defense conferees to decide fate of firearms export oversight
Decision nears on blocking the Trump administration from weakening regulations on the export of firearms

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif. added an amendment restricting the administration from moving forward with its plan to shift export control of firearm sales from the State Department to the Commerce Department (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Among the many thorny issues Senate and House negotiators have to hash out as they negotiate a final annual defense policy bill this summer is whether to block the Trump administration from weakening regulations around the export of firearms.

The House version of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization measure contains a provision that would restrict the administration from moving forward with its plan to shift export control of firearm sales from the State Department to the Commerce Department.

As Democrats head for border tour, reports emerge of agents ridiculing them on Facebook
Group to tour Customs and Border Patrol center likened to ‘torture facilities’

From left, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna S. Pressley and Rashida Tlaib are among a group of Democrats traveling to Clint, Texas, on Monday for a fact-finding mission hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than a dozen Democrats on Monday are visiting a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility accused of child neglect and filthy conditions as reports emerged that border agents ridiculed them in a secret Facebook group.

Two Latina lawmakers slated to visit the center, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Veronica Escobar of Texas, were targets of sexist and racist derision in the Facebook group, according to an investigation by ProPublica. The group has 9,500 members, a number commensurate to nearly half of all agents who make up the CBP, though it’s not clear that every member of the group is a border agent.

Abortion threatens congressional impasse on funding
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 157

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., referred to some GOP colleagues as "sex starved males" on the House floor, setting off a brief spat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats' effort to rescind Trump administration anti-abortion policies threatens to hold up government spending bills. CQ Roll Call reporter Sandhya Raman details the debate and surveys how lawmakers are using abortion politics, both in Washington and the states, to rile their voters ahead of next year's election. 

 

House floor shenanigans punctuate start of spending season
Democrat calls GOP males ‘sex-starved,’ while Republicans use procedural delay tactics

From left, Republicans Justin Amash, Chip Roy and Jim Jordan are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee markup on Wednesday. Roy was requiring the House to conduct roll call votes on noncontroversial amendments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional proceedings are usually pretty dry, but on Wednesday, House floor watchers might as well have been tuned into a reality TV show given all the shenanigans occurring as lawmakers debated their first spending package for the upcoming fiscal year.

Between a Democratic lawmaker calling her GOP male colleagues “sex-starved” and Republicans using a series of procedural tricks to delay proceedings, there was no shortage of tension to kick off the fiscal 2020 appropriations process.

‘Sex-starved males’ comment sets off House floor kerfuffle
Rep. Norma Torres stirs GOP colleagues with comments during debate

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., referred to some GOP colleagues as "sex starved males" on the House floor, setting off a brief spat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A routine House debate nearly exploded Wednesday when California Democrat Norma J. Torres implied her Republican colleagues were “sex-starved males” for opposing abortion.

“Mr. Speaker, it is tiring to hear from so many sex-starved males on this floor talk about a woman’s right to choose,” Torres said as lawmakers debated a rule setting up amendment consideration for a four-bill spending package that includes funding for public health programs.

Republican players are low, but camaraderie is high ahead of Congressional Softball Game
Lawmakers and press corps unite to fight against breast cancer

Florida Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor waits for her pitch at last year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game. This year’s game is scheduled for June 19. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The official list of players in this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game is OUT! (to be read in an umpire’s voice) and we have just over a month before members of Congress and the D.C. press corps face each other on the field again.

The members team, which is historically composed of a bipartisan bunch of female lawmakers, has seen a decreasing number of Republican players over the years, one of them being last year’s MVP, former Rep. Mia Love. This year Sens. Joni Ernst and Shelley Moore Capito, Res. Cmmsr. Jenniffer González-Colón and Rep. Martha Roby make up less than a third of the team.

Justices break the ice, err glass, at budget hearing
Alito and Kagan make their debut before House Appropriations subcommittee

Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan testify about the Supreme Court’s fiscal 2020 budget at a hearing Thursday before the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At the start of a House hearing Thursday on the Supreme Court’s budget, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. knocked over a full water glass, which shattered on the witness table with a sound that would make any foley artist proud.

“Not off to a very good start,” Alito said with a smile, holding the bottom of the broken glass. “We’re deducting that,” a member of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee quipped from the Democratic side of the dais.

House Democrats press to stop gun export rule change
Democrats hope to block a change that could make it easier to export firearms abroad, but time is running out

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats are working to block a proposed Trump administration regulatory change that is expected to make it easier to export firearms abroad, but it’s unclear if there’s enough time to stop the change from taking effect.

Legislation introduced last month by Rep. Norma J. Torres of California would effectively take away the president’s ability to shift export control of firearms from the State Department to the Commerce Department.

DACA recipients attending SOTU don’t want their legal status traded for the wall
‘I refuse to trade my community for a status,’ El Paso DACA recipient Senaida Navar says

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, far left, brought Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipient Senaida Navar as her guest to State of the Union address on Tuesday. Navar said she does not want her legal status traded for a border wall. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Several Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients attending the State of the Union Tuesday as guests of House Democrats said they do not want their legal status traded for a border wall. 

President Donald Trump tried to end the DACA program, which provides young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children temporary legal status, but federal courts have so far blocked him from doing so. During various times over the past two years, Trump has floated trading statutory protections for DACA recipients — sometimes permanent, other times time temporary — for funding for a southern border wall.

Amazon Facial Recognition Mistakes 28 Members in Mugshot Test
ACLU-run test also shows racial bias in software when using 80 percent match setting

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, center, in the Capitol after attending an address to a Joint Meeting of Congress by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, June 8, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amazon’s facial recognition technology mistook 28 members of Congress for arrested individuals when the American Civil Liberties Union ran lawmaker faces against a database of 25,000 mug shots, the group announced Thursday. 

In its test of Amazon’s Rekognition technology, the software also disproportionately misidentified people of color, the ACLU said. Forty percent of the members wrongly identified were people of color, while that same demographic makes up just 20 percent of Congress.