Oklahoma

How the Calendar Puts Pressure on GOP’s Tax Effort
Party wants to avoid health care-style debacle, Ryan says

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady talks with reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday after a meeting of the House Republican Conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican lawmakers for months have been talking about a tax overhaul with a sense of urgency, but those words have yet to translate into action.

President Donald Trump seems to want to kick-start the legislative process and took to Twitter on Wednesday with some encouragement. “Move fast Congress!” he tweeted, followed by: “Go Congress, go!”

EPA Continues to Get a GOP Beating in Interior-Environment Bill
Calls for massive reductions rebuffed, but criticism continues

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., has had some harsh words for the EPA amid the debate over appropriations for the agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Although Republicans appeared to have rejected the White House’s call for sharp cuts to the EPA, their disdain for the agency has reappeared as the House debated amendments to the often contentious Interior-Environment spending bill on the House floor last week.

The 80 amendments House lawmakers sifted through consisted of Democrats’ attempts to remove what they described as harmful environmental riders from the measure, and Republicans’ measures to further reduce spending on environmental programs and give the Trump administration more authority to advance its deregulatory agenda. The Democratic amendments were mostly thwarted by the GOP majority.

Opinion: How 9/11 Permanently Changed Us
Biggest transformation — a growing climate of mistrust

Two New York City fire fighters look into a car while another pulls a water hose from a fire truck amid smoke and debris following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. (Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

The front page of The New York Times from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, conjures up a world both familiar and distant. The lead story highlights talk of tax cuts on Capitol Hill while a major feature conveys the worries of public school officials that dress codes are being flouted: “The days when torn jeans tested the limits are now a fond memory.”

In this era before iPhones and Androids, the Times headlined a page-one article about Paula Zahn’s new CNN contract: “In a Nation of Early Risers, Morning TV Is a Hot Market.” The Times front page also brooded about continuing threats like nuclear smuggling in Asia and the depressing verities of foreign policy: “Mideast Still Roiling.”

Why Most House Republicans Voted for a Deal They Loathed
Debt haters and defense hawks made up most no votes

Texas Rep. Pete Olson, seen here at a Wednesday press conference, was among the 21 of 25 Texas Republicans to vote for final passage of the Hurricane Harvey relief measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Most House Republicans griped about the fiscal package they were forced to vote on Friday, but ultimately, a relatively small portion of the conference was willing to vote against it.

A little more than one-third of House Republicans voted against a package that would extend government funding and the debt ceiling for three months, while providing $15 billion in disaster relief aid, primarily to Texas and Louisiana to help with the Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

Could More House Retirements Imperil GOP Majority in 2018?
Retirements of three moderates spark fears about more leaving

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent’s decision makes the race for his 15th District seat more competitive. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House retirements are a staple of each election cycle. But the decision by three moderate Republicans not to seek re-election is worrying party members, already nervous about holding the majority in 2018.

“You hate to have an open seat in what you know is going to be a bad year,” said Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Trump Nominations Could Prompt Special Elections for Two GOP Seats
Republicans already jockeying in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania

President Donald Trump announced Friday his intent to nominate Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino to oversee the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s long-expected nomination of two Republican congressmen to posts in his administration could set up special elections in two safe GOP House seats with already crowded fields of potential candidates.

Trump on Friday evening announced his intent to nominate Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be administrator of NASA and Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino to be director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. 

For Congress, Extraordinary Measures on Debt are Ordinary
Treasury Department tactics to avoid debt breach bring many costs

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is employing extraordinary measures to avoid a breach of the U.S. debt limit, but will run out of room to maneuver using them on Sept. 29, he has warned. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The use of extraordinary measures has become such a routine Treasury Department response every time the federal government approaches its borrowing limit that it’s clear the phrase has done little to persuade Congress to avoid the practice.

The measures nevertheless can have a cost even when Congress passes legislation to raise the debt limit and avoid a default on government obligations. Lawmakers are again approaching a debt limit deadline, this one on Sept. 29. And the Treasury has once again implemented extraordinary measures to marshal funds without hitting the ceiling.

Budget and Appropriations Members Rack Up Travel Time
Boots on the ground or paid vacation?

Staff travel makes up a significant chuck of the amounts spent on travel by the Appropriations and Budget committees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of the Budget and Appropriations committees have spent about $2 million on foreign travel since the start of 2016, including trips to Argentina, Tanzania, Italy and the United Kingdom, according to an analysis of congressional records.

Appropriations Committee members far outpace their colleagues on the Budget Committee in the number of trips and how much they've spent on travel outside the United States. From Jan. 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017, Appropriations Committee members and staff spent $1.9 million on foreign travel and Budget Committee members and staff spent $36,000.

Man Charged With Breaking Into Congressman’s Office, Stealing Items From Desk
Markwayne Mullin’s Longworth office subject of allegations

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., leaves the House GOP caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Edgardo Javier Ramon has been charged with breaking into Rep. Markwayne Mullin’s Longworth office and stealing items from his desk.

The items stolen were decorative coins known as “challenge coins” that were given to Mullin and a “decorative container”. Ramon’s lawyers have not responded to the charges of unlawful entry and theft, though Ramon pleaded not guilty to the theft charges.

Opinion: Forget the Moderates, Only the Die-Hards Can Get Health Care Back on Track
Kennedy and Hatch a great example of working across the aisle

Sens. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, left, and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts at a 1997 press conference introducing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the failure of health care reform taught us anything last week, it’s that somebody somewhere in Washington is going to have to start compromising if anything is ever going to get done.

But if you’re thinking a successful compromise is going to come from moderates like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, or Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., think again. Although those senators’ roles will be important, all of the moderates from both parties together still don’t have enough votes to pass legislation.