Tom Graves

Congressional compensation: Isn’t there a select committee for that?
Panel tasked with modernizing Congress will look at staff but not member issues

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress meeting in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers engage in a contentious debate about whether to thaw a decadelong freeze on their pay, there’s a logical place where the underlying issues of member compensation and housing could be addressed — the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

But the panel currently has no plans to take up such matters, its chairman, Rep. Derek Kilmer, and vice chairman, Rep. Tom Graves, told CQ Roll Call. 

Together on the front lines: How the US and UN are promoting stability in Lebanon
The Lebanese Armed Forces have made notable progress in size, strength and capability

U.S. lawmakers and military officials observe joint training involving the Lebanon Armed Forces and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon during a recent trip to the Middle East. (Courtesy Office of Rep. Adam Kinzinger)

OPINION — Certain things become clear when you fly over the “Blue Line” — which separates Lebanon from Israel — in an open helicopter.

As the first members of Congress to visit this contentious stretch of land in over a decade, we realized that even though we come from different political parties, we have much more in common than we might have thought. Between the three of us, we share a strong support for a safe and secure Israel, a desire to counter ISIS and Hezbollah, and an understanding that Lebanon needs international help to manage the next phase of the Syrian conflict and the more than 1 million refugees currently living in the country.

Confused by Congress’ bills? Maybe AI can help
House clerk is working on an ‘artificial intelligence engine’ that will compare legislation

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, led by Reps. Derek Kilmer and Tom Graves, got an AI preview on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers grapple with how to shape legislation dealing with artificial intelligence, the clerk of the House is developing an AI tool to automate the process of analyzing differences between bills, amendments and current laws.

That’s according to Robert F. Reeves, the deputy clerk of the House, who on Friday told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress that his office is working on an “artificial intelligence engine” that may be ready as soon as next year.

Lobbyists to Congress: Pay staffers better
Six ex-lawmakers offer recommendations on making Capitol Hill great again

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress heard from lobbyists and former colleagues at a hearing Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street denizens and former members of Congress offered tips on Wednesday for making Capitol Hill great again to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including recommendations to help Congress keep pace with lobbyists like themselves.

Six ex-lawmakers — including Virginia Republican Tom Davis — suggested that Congress pay its staffers more money to better hold their own with experts from K Street and the executive branch. They also called for more civility on Capitol Hill, less emphasis on fundraising, and to invest more in technology and technological savvy within the legislative branch.

House panel questions an empty chair because Wilbur Ross doesn’t show up
The made-for-CSPAN moment occurred after Ross canceled with a House Appropriations panel

A news photographer takes a shot of the empty witness chair set for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Ross did not attend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One congressional subcommittee decided to shirk the typically mundane, policy-focused nature of its hearings on Wednesday by questioning an empty chair.

The made-for-C-SPAN moment came after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross canceled his appearance in front of the House Appropriations panel that determines how much funding his department receives and how they can spend it.

The Federal Reserve chairman is in demand amid economic danger signs
The Fed chairman is stepping up the number of group meetings on his dance card, including with House Democrats

Powell has been making himself readily available to lawmakers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It must be nice to get your own personal report on the economy from the head of the world’s largest central bank.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell met with roughly 70 House Republicans at the whip team meeting prior to Monday night votes, where, among other things, he talked about the Fed recently lowering its economic growth projections for 2019 and 2020.

FBI HQ investigation ‘closer to the beginning than the end’
GSA delivers 2,500 documents near midnight Tuesday in partial response to House Committee request

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., prepares to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An investigation into whether President Donald Trump was involved in the decision to keep the FBI on prime Pennsylvania Avenue property is still far from over, lawmakers said Wednesday.

“We’re closer to the beginning than the end of the investigation,” said House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Mike Quigley following a Wednesday hearing.

New $1.4 billion Washington ‘money factory’ gets green light
Building new facility expected to save federal government $601 million

Sheets of $1.00 bills, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in September 1994. (Photo by Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has the newly minted legal authority to go ahead with a roughly $1.4 billion plan to build a new money printing facility in the Washington, D.C., area to replace its existing 105-year-old hulk on 14th Street.

Thanks to one sentence in the 1,165-page fiscal 2019 omnibus spending law covering nine Cabinet departments, including Treasury, the bureau’s existing ability to tap the deep pockets of the Federal Reserve are married with additional authority to buy land for and build the new plant.

Outside influences seek to remake ‘This Old House’
Outside interests are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

U.S. Capitol dome as seen from the west. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ “This Old House” committee, a brand-new panel tasked with helping to update the legislative branch for the modern era, is already sparking attention off of Capitol Hill.

Outside interests — from government overhaul groups and think tanks to tech industry players — are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The year-long, 12-lawmaker panel will offer recommendations for rehabilitating Congress in such areas as technology and cybersecurity, procedures and scheduling, staff retention and executive branch oversight.

House passes appropriations package to avert shutdown, sends to Trump
President will sign legislation but declare national emergency to free up more money for border wall

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference Thursday in which she fielded questions about the government funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed a spending package Thursday night, completing congressional action to avert a government shutdown with barely a day to spare. 

The final vote was 300-128. Nineteen Democrats voted against the measure, while 109 Republicans, representing a majority of their conference, were opposed.