Patrick J Toomey

Road ahead: House tackles first spending package and NDAA endurance contest
House also set to vote on a ‘not quite contempt’ resolution Tuesday

A man stands near the Mountains and Clouds sculpture in the Hart Building atrium on June 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House has blockbuster floor action teed up this week, including votes on the first spending package for fiscal 2020 and a measure that would authorize the Judiciary Committee to pursue civil lawsuits against Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials.

House lawmakers have been warned that late-night votes are on the schedule as they work through floor consideration of a five-bill package that amounts to about $990 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2020.

Retirement bill remains stalled amid Republican holds in Senate
Finance Committee chairman says as many as six GOP senators have issues with the bill ‘for different reasons’

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said the retirement savings bill, which has been worked on over the past three Congresses, “should have passed eons ago. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of Republican senators are holding up what could be the biggest retirement savings bill in more than a decade.

After sailing through the House on a 417-3 vote May 23 before the weeklong Memorial Day recess, supporters hoped the legislation would garner unanimous consent for quick passage in the Senate the following day. But senatorial holds accumulated and continue to stall the measure.

Freshman lashes out after House ethics rules bar promoting bone marrow drive
Rep. Katie Porter says rules favor lobbyists and interests over ‘ordinary people’

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., is frustrated that House ethics rules prohibit her from promoting bone marrow donor drives that could save a constituent's life. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When a seriously ill constituent asked if Rep. Katie Porter could raise awareness of potentially life-saving bone marrow drives in her Southern California district this month, a simple constituent service turned into a sticky House ethics issue.

Now Porter is questioning whether rules designed to prevent misuse of taxpayer dollars need to be reviewed.

Lawmakers, businesses warn of long-term damage of tariffs
“Tit-for-tat tariffs as a negotiating tactic are very, very dangerous”

Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey has a bill that would limit the ability of the president to impose levies for national security reasons. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration may have pushed trading partners to come to the negotiating table with tariffs, but a Delaware soybean farmer and a Virginia distillery owner say business people like them are paying a price for the tactic.

At a Wednesday press conference by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Senate Republicans Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin joined Democrats Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Mark Warner of Virginia in decrying the tariffs, which they said are squeezing businesses and could eventually take a bite out of the U.S. economy. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland represents 150 organizations from several industries.

Deficit reduction remains a pipe dream
Divided Congress unlikely to find common ground anytime soon

Congress is unlikely to make any real effort to reduce the deficit anytime soon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite deficits hurtling toward $1 trillion and more for the foreseeable future, Congress is unlikely to make any real effort to pull the red ink back to Earth anytime soon. In fact, it seems that the excess of spending over revenue will probably be even greater than official forecasts.

Another two-year agreement to raise discretionary spending caps, which most observers expect will occur, would increase projected deficits by some $2 trillion over the next decade, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates. Lawmakers might also extend expiring tax breaks, requiring additional Treasury borrowing. Any deal on an infrastructure program would also likely increase spending.

House, Senate panels begin hearings seeking drug cost solutions
Future hearings will likely focus more on legislative proposals, and at some point members hope that drug companies will share their ideas

From left, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., talk during a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers emphasized the steep cost of the diabetes treatment insulin and ways to use Medicare and Medicaid to discourage companies from setting high prices as Congress kicked off a series of drug price hearings Tuesday.

Hearings before the Senate Finance and the House Oversight and Reform committees featured academics and patient advocates as lawmakers in both chambers investigate why drug prices are high and what Congress can do about it.

New car tariffs could miss their intended target
Trade war with China still simmering

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the United States and China aren’t close to striking a trade deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration is weighing whether to invoke national security to place tariffs on cars, even as questions linger about the effectiveness of similar tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Almost eight months after those steel and aluminum tariffs went into effect, the U.S. remains embroiled in a trade war with China, and some of America’s closest allies — Canada, Mexico and the European Union — are caught in the crossfire.

This is what the Senate looks like through the eyes of a puppy
Power doesn’t scare Pippa, and the pupparazzi are taking note

Samantha Heyrich holds Pippa, a corgi puppy, in the Russell Building on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When they hear Pippa’s bells, staffers scurry out of their offices and into the hallway like kids hearing the song of an ice cream truck.

Pippa Heyrich is a tiny corgi puppy who’s been brightening spirits in the Senate in recent weeks, despite the government shutdown and the challenges of a divided legislature. The bells on her collar alert everyone that there’s a cute distraction coming their way.

Senate Establishes Precedent for Debating War Power Authority
Procedural vote sets ground rules for future debates over U.S. military intervention

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., was presiding over the Senate for the war powers debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate has figured out how it wants to debate efforts to stop U.S. military intervention overseas.

Senators found themselves in an unprecedented, but not unexpected, parliamentary situation Wednesday afternoon, faced with language in the statute of the War Powers Resolution that gave them no direction as to the terms under which amendments could be considered.

K Street Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Grassley
Republican holds the key to cascading possibilities, from Judiciary to Finance to Banking

Will Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, make the leap to head the Finance Committee next year? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Fresh off a divisive Supreme Court battle, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has a complicated decision to make next month that has the business world watching with keen interest: whether to make the jump over to the Finance Committee chairmanship in the 116th Congress.

“Ask me Nov. 7,” was all the Iowa Republican would say earlier this week on the topic. But the allure of returning to the helm of perhaps the most powerful committee in Congress, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade and health care policy, can’t be lost on Grassley, who was Finance chairman for part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.