Robert W Goodlatte

Congress Braces for Tense Debate on Surveillance Law
Spy agencies argue for permanent reauthorization of FISA amendments

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is sponsoring legislation to reauthorize the 2012 FISA amendments with no sunsets. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are facing a potentially bruising fight over a surveillance law that expires Dec. 31 and must be extended in time to preserve what U.S. spy agencies consider a vital piece of their arsenal.

Congress has to extend the 2012 FISA Amendments Act, which will pit the Trump administration and national security hawks in Congress who favor a permanent reauthorization with no changes, against lawmakers of both parties, libertarians, privacy advocates and communications companies seeking to tighten protections for U.S. persons whose communications may get caught up in the wide electronic net cast by spy agencies.

Top Ethics Democrat Gets Pushed to Do More Against Trump
Ted Deutch town hall got interesting when Emoluments Clause came up

Rep. Ted Deutch met with constituents in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — You might expect a congressional town hall in a safely Democratic district to be a relatively staid affair. And you would be correct, until one woman near the front of the conference space at a municipal recreation complex here in South Florida stood up to ask the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee about enforcement of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

Citing reports about the roughly $60,000 in golf cart rental fees incurred by the Secret Service at facilities including President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in nearby Palm Beach, the questioner asked, “I want to know why everyone in this administration is thumbing their nose at my Emoluments Clause. Why are they getting rich?”

For Bobby Scott, a District Carved in Calm
Virginia Democrat takes business-as-usual approach, absent political rhetoric

Virginia Rep. Robert C. Scott speaks to attendees at a town hall in Norfolk on Monday. (D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call)

NORFOLK, Va. — At a recent town hall here in Virginia’s second most populous city, Rep. Robert C. Scott patiently took questions from more than two dozen residents waiting in line. The queue stretched to the very back of a high school auditorium with some standing for the entire portion of the two-hour public meeting.

Absent was the rancor that has dominated town halls across the country this year — mostly those held by congressional Republicans facing angry crowds, upset over changes the GOP wants to make to the 2010 health care law and expressing steadfast opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency.

House Panel Turns Search for Trump Documents Into Clinton Probe
Jayapal’s resolution sought more information on Comey firing

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., cried foul after Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee hijacked her bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee turned a Democratic request for documents related to President Donald Trump’s firing of then-FBI Director James B. Comey on its head, making it a different kind of treasure hunt.

On a 16-13 vote, the panel on Wednesday approved a substitute amendment offered by GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida that would ask the Justice Department for documents related to Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and other aspects of Comey’s tenure.

Four House Committees to Vote on Trump Controversies
To include: Comey, taxpayer money to Trump and Trump International Hotel lease

Labor union groups join anti-Trump protesters outside of the Trump International Hotel in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Protesters gathered outside of the hotel as Presidential candidate Donald Trump held a ribbon cutting ceremony inside to officially open the hotel for business in the Old Post Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Using an obscure tactic, House Democrats will force their GOP colleagues to take controversial committee votes this week over President Donald Trump’s business ties and the government’s widening Russia probe.

The votes also will deal with the firing of former FBI Director James B. Comey, taxpayer money to the Trump Organization and the government’s lease of the Old Post Office Building to the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

Word on the Hill: Capitol Hill Reality Show Casting Call
Congressional tennis roster update and brunch plans

A reality show is seeking staffers from both parties. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s a casting call next week for Capitol Hill staffers for a new reality show about working in Congress.

The posting on Brad Traverse Jobs reads: 

House-Passed Immigration Bills Have Murky Future in Senate
60-vote threshold puts passage in doubt

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, left, and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly arrive to address immigration legislation at a news conference in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A pair of enforcement bills targeting “sanctuary” cities and undocumented immigrants with prior deportations easily passed the House on Thursday, but they face an uphill climb in the Senate.

The bills are the first major pieces of immigration legislation taken up by the Republican-led Congress since President Donald Trump took office. Unlike former President Barack Obama, who had threatened to veto such measures, Trump has said he would sign both bills.

House to Take Up Immigration Enforcement Bills
No Democratic support expected

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., arrives for the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the first time since Donald Trump took office, the Republican-led House is expected to vote this week on two immigration enforcement bills — but it’s unclear whether they will reach the president who pledged to get tough on undocumented immigrants. 

The bills, introduced Thursday by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., are stand-alone versions of provisions included in a more comprehensive enforcement measure approved by Goodlatte’s committee in May.

How to Investigate an Administration: Breaking Down the 3 Independent Options
DOJ appoints Robert Mueller as special counsel for Russia inquiry

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, right, seen here in 2013 with Virginia Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte on Capitol Hill, has been appointed special counsel for the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Between congressional committees and the FBI, there are at least five ongoing investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Calls from Congress for at least one form of independent review appear to have been answered Wednesday evening when the Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel for the probe. 

The three independent options each have advantages and drawbacks. And they are frequently not exclusive paths — from Watergate to Whitewater, major executive scandals have been investigated simultaneously by congressional select committees and a special, independent counsel working within the DOJ. 

D.C. Area Lawmakers to Colleagues: Leave Our Airport Alone
Warn against easing restrictions on long-haul flights into Reagan National Airport

Lawmakers from the D.C. area are concerned about sending more air traffic to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers from in and around Washington are warning their congressional colleagues against changing local airport rules in a bid to make it easier for them to get back to their home states.

A group of 15 members of Congress, led by Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, along with Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., do not want to see any easing of restrictions on long-haul flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport — whose Arlington, Virginia, location is significantly closer to the Capitol building than either of the other major airports in the area.