Tom Cole

Macron Visit Will Highlight Iran Deal, Trade Differences
‘Iran deal will be atop the list of things Congress is watching,’ expert says

American, French and Washington, D.C., flags fly on Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday ahead of the official state visit of President Emmanuel Macron of France, who arrived later that day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was all smiles and handshakes Monday afternoon when French President Emmanuel Macron arrived outside the West Wing. But Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expected to intently watch the youthful European leader’s talks with President Donald Trump.

Macron’s polished black limousine pulled into the White House’s West Wing entrance with a spring breeze perfectly pitching the flags of each country affixed to his hood. When the 40-year-old French president greeted his 71-year-old political alter ego, the personal bond they both often laud was on public display.

Arizona Teachers Latest to Walk Out, Members Supportive
Grand Canyon State ramps up protest, lawmakers react across U.S.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., speaks with Roll Call in his office in the Longworth Building. Grijalva said he supports Arizona teachers in the fight for better education funding, as teachers voted on a Friday walkout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona teachers voted Thursday night to join their counterparts in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky protesting wage and benefit cuts.

Teachers in the state voted through the Arizona Education Association to participate in a statewide walkout Friday to fight for better pay and school funding.

Omnibus Re-Ups Measure to Defund Nonexistent ACORN Group
Provision could have been lifted from previous spending packages and never scrubbed

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tucked away on one of the 2,232 pages of the omnibus spending bill Congress sent to President Donald Trump’s desk early Friday morning is a provision to ban federal funding for a group called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

ACORN does not exist, however, and hasn’t since 2009.

House GOP Renews ‘Holman Rule’ Targeting Federal Pay
Provision allows cuts to individual employee salaries

Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, shown here in 2015, proposed a Holman rule amendment in July that aimed to slash a section of the Congressional Budget Office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders on Tuesday re-upped a rule that lets lawmakers slash the salaries of individual federal employees, in a move that some Democrats condemned as an attempt to dismantle the federal workforce.

Tucked into a floor rule that teed up consideration of two unrelated bills on financial services and health policy is a provision that extends the “Holman rule,” a standing order whose revival has sparked controversy in recent years. 

Members Caught Off Guard on News of DACA Fix On Omnibus

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was among the members who thought the ball was in the administration's court adding a DACA fix to the omnibus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House has held some discussions with Congress about addressing immigration in the pending fiscal year 2018 spending bill, according to GOP senators and aides, but members are skeptical that such a provision will be included in the omnibus package.

Lawmakers in both parties have sought a solution to the situation surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which covers undocumented immigrants who come to the country as children. President Donald Trump targeted it for expiration on March 5, which has been halted by court actions. The chamber voted on a series of different DACA proposals in February, but none garnered the necessary 60 votes to advance.

Omnibus Action Next Week Possible, but Obstacles Still Exist
‘For the moment we have a lot of work to do to iron these out,’ Pelosi said

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said much work remains to iron out issues on an omnibus spending bill that House GOP leaders hope to bring to the floor next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The nearly six-month delayed fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill could be brought to the House floor next week, but appropriators are still encountering major obstacles in drafting a bipartisan bill — even with unrelated landmines cleared. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he would like to bring the omnibus to the floor next week, but during a week-end colloquy with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, he did not announce it as a definite part of the upcoming floor schedule. Rather, he noted action on the spending package was “possible.”

The Never-Ending Crisis at the Indian Health Service
As the chronically under-funded agency struggles, American Indians are getting sicker and dying sooner

Patients wait at an Indian Health Service clinic on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. (Will Kincaid/AP)

The health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the United States population are stark. American Indians are 50 percent more likely than others to have a substance use disorder, 60 percent more likely to commit suicide, twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to die during childbirth, three times more likely to die from diabetes and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. They die on average five years sooner than other Americans.

The Trump administration has pledged to make tribal health care systems more effective. During one of his confirmation hearings, new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators the administration would welcome opportunities to improve the $5 billion Indian Health Service, which provides care for 2.2 million American Indians. “It’s unacceptable for us to not be providing high-quality service,” Azar said.

GOP Unlikely to Revisit Spending Ban on Gun Violence Research
Congress has restricted such endeavors for more than two decades

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says it was “just not helpful to turn a funding bill into a debate over gun control.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans, at least for now, appear unlikely to allow federal funds for research on gun violence after a nearly 22-year prohibition.

Following yet another mass shooting on Wednesday, at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead, two key Republican appropriators said Thursday they don’t anticipate removing or altering an amendment in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using injury prevention research dollars “to advocate or promote gun control.”

House Budget Being Drafted Despite Nearly Insurmountable Obstacles
Topline spending levels, no path to reconciliation among reasons lawmakers to oppose

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack is writing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution despite major obstacles to passing it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Obstacles to House Republicans passing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution appear insurmountable and have some members questioning why the Budget Committee is even planning to write one. 

Exactly half of the 22 Republicans on the Budget panel — more than enough to block a partisan budget resolution — voted against last week’s budget deal that set fiscal 2019 topline spending levels of $647 billion for defense and $597 billion for nondefense. Under the agreement, House and Senate leaders committed to those topline numbers if their chambers decide to advance fiscal 2019 budget resolutions.

House Republicans’ Immigration Bill Not Ready for Floor Action
Whip team says they will continue to refine the legislation

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and his team did a whip count on a GOP immigration bill, and it showed the measure wasn’t quite ready for a floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans’ preferred immigration bill is not ready for a floor vote, a Wednesday whip check showed, but leadership is expected to continue working it.

The bill by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul is the most conservative of the proposals House and Senate lawmakers and the White House have floated for addressing the coming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.