Chris Marquette

Officers who saved lives during baseball shooting get one of highest law enforcement honors
David Bailey, Crystal Griner honored with the Congressional Badge of Bravery

Just over two years since a gunman opened fire on an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball diamond and turned a Republican lawmaker practice into a national tragedy, the Capitol Police officers who saved lives were honored Tuesday with the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery.

Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner of the Capitol Police — both of whom are Maryland residents — were presented with one of the highest honors in law enforcement in the Capitol by the Maryland congressional delegation for their heroic roles in preventing what could have been a massacre. The award honors exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty by federal, state and local law enforcement for those who have been at risk of injury or injured. It is awarded annually by the U.S. Attorney General and is presented by the recipients’ congressional delegation.

Threats against members increasing, Capitol Police chief says
Rep. Bennie Thompson calls for police to reexamine safety following Trump attacks on Democrats

Threats against members of Congress continue to grow, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund said Tuesday at his first appearance as head of the department before the House Administration Committee.

“We continue to see the threat assessment cases that we’re opening continue to grow,” Sund said. “For fiscal year 2018, we had approximately 4,894 cases. So far, for this year, we have 2,502 cases. So we’re on par to probably break last year’s.”

House Oversight Dems call on Trump to pay D.C. for Independence Day, inauguration
Cummings, Norton lead charge seeking to replenish D.C. security fund

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are calling on President Donald Trump to commit to paying the District of Columbia back for providing public safety support for federal events in the city after Mayor Muriel Bowser said that Trump’s “Salute to America” drained it.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland, and D.C. Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote to the White House Friday asking Trump to reimburse the district’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund for his inauguration and Fourth of July celebration. Bowser has said the account is expected to not only be empty before the end of the year, but will incur overages of $6 million.

Top House Ethics Republican slapped with ethics complaint
The ranking member on Ethics Committee is under scrutiny for potential impermissible reimbursements

The top Republican on the House Ethics Committee now has an ethics complaint against him regarding potentially impermissible reimbursements from his campaign account to congressional staffers.

The complaint, reported first by the Dallas Morning News, accuses Rep. Kenny Marchant of reimbursing House employees for items such as food and office supplies. That could be at odds with Federal Election Commission and House rules, which don’t allow staffers to contribute to their employers’ campaign. 

In wake of July Fourth, D.C. emergency fund depleted
Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Trump to reimburse DC for Independence Day

President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration has contributed to the depletion of Washington, D.C.’s fund that covers the impact of the federal government’s presence on the District’s public safety needs, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser.

In Bowser’s July 9 letter to Trump, obtained by the Washington Post, she writes that the accrued amount for this year’s Independence Day festivities totals approximately $1.7 million and that she expects the Emergency Planning and Security Fund will be barren before the end of the fiscal year, leaving overages of $6 million. Bowser says that this is attributed to declining reserves, increased demand for heightened security and a $7.3 million expenditure to cover Trump’s 2017 inauguration that, in a departure from tradition, has not been reimbursed by the executive. 

Capitol Police arrest 18 protesting ICE, treatment of detained migrants
Demonstration organized by Never Again Action group

Eighteen people protesting the treatment of immigrants at U.S. detention facilities in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building were arrested Tuesday by the Capitol Police.

The protesters from the Never Again Action — an advocacy group comprised of Jewish organizers and affiliates — called for the closure of immigration detention camps and decried what they called human rights violations at the hands of U.S. officials. The group also urged members of Congress to cut funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Senate Democrats want GAO to probe Trump Independence Day spending

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate the costs of President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration and examine whether the spending is legal.

Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland want GAO to provide a comprehensive cost estimate for all the events, including Trump’s “Salute to America,” which was the subject of criticism for its incorporation of military equipment, potential high cost and the possibility for an apolitical holiday event to be politicized.

Architect of the Capitol finds itself in court over discrimination cases
Court rules that second discrimination case can go forward

The Architect of the Capitol finds itself under fire for alleged discrimination, and could be headed to messy federal court fights over the matter.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a reasonable jury could agree with an AOC employee that he was discriminated against for his national origin when he was denied promotions in 2014 and 2015.

Heavy rains cause closure of tunnel between Rayburn and the Capitol ... again
Pedestrian walkway and one subway was closed temporarily

As raindrops pummeled those walking to work on Capitol Hill, a heavy accumulation of water flooded the pedestrian walkway in the Rayburn House Office Building tunnel, causing it to be closed for about an hour.

The pouring rain overflowed into the pedestrian walkway connecting Rayburn to the Capitol and — although the subway furthest from the walkway experienced no interruption — the train closest to the flooding was not in service during the cleanup. 

Trump touts American exceptionalism in July Fourth speech on National Mall
Divisions in crowd evident at ‘Salute to America’

Swarms of people from across the country, some drawn by the allure of spectacular fireworks and others by President Donald Trump and his “Salute to America,” converged on the National Mall on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day.

“Make America Great Again” hats mixed with “Trump Baby” balloons and signs calling for impeachment as waves of tourists endured high temperatures and intermittent thunderstorms.

The biggest question marks ahead of July Fourth ‘Salute to America’
Protests, transit closures, reimbursements, red meat and the weather loom over festivities

As the nation prepares for the July Fourth “Salute to America” on the National Mall, with a contentious appearance scheduled by President Donald Trump, there are several unanswered questions that will go a long way to determining how the whole thing unfolds.

From how extensive protests will be, to the tenor of Trump’s remarks, to how much of a damper the weather might put on things, here is a short list of what to keep an eye on. 

Federal judge says Rep. Duncan Hunter's personal relationships can be described to jury
California congressman accused of using campaign funds to pay for ski trips and trysts

A federal judge in California is allowing evidence of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s alleged extramarital affairs to be used in a criminal trial against the Republican congressman, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The ruling on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California relates to a case in which Hunter is alleged to have illegally used campaign donations to finance his affairs, some of which involved women he worked with, including an aide. A Justice Department filing from last week in the same court said he used campaign donations to pay for ski trips, nights out in Washington, D.C. and Uber rides between his offices and the homes of the women he allegedly had intimate relationships with. Hunter is scheduled to go on trial in September on 60 charges that include conspiracy, theft of campaign funds and wire fraud.

Appeals court orders trial in discrimination suit involving Capitol architect's office
Employee alleged his name was mocked by hiring team considering his promotion

A racial discrimination lawsuit filed by an Architect of the Capitol employee who was passed up for a promotion will move forward to trial after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a district court that had dismissed the case.

The appeals court found that Javier Mayorga, who emigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua in 1990, presented evidence that could lead a jury to infer he was the victim of discrimination. An electronic industrial controls mechanic in the Capitol Superintendent’s Office, Mayorga has been an AOC employee since 2007. He has received numerous awards and his work was rated “outstanding” in his previous two evaluations, the court ruling said.

Rep. Hunter calls accusation he drunkenly grabbed staffer’s behind ‘total baloney’
Rory Riley-Topping says congressman grabbed her and asked for her phone number

Rep. Duncan Hunter denied an accusation from a former Capitol Hill staffer who said he drunkenly asked for her number and put his hand on her behind in 2014.

Rory Riley-Topping on Wednesday told RT America the incident happened at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner while she was working for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. On Thursday Hunter denied the allegations, calling them “total baloney.”

House Ethics Committee names working group to combat outside work conflicts
The bipartisan group will oversee lawmakers, officers and employees who serve in positions outside federal government

A bipartisan working group has been formed by the House Ethics Committee to examine what types of service or positions outside of Congress could result in conflicts of interest and to craft proposed regulations for the committee’s consideration that govern those pursuits.

Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., and Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, will comprise the group that will focus on creating regulations that oversee lawmakers, officers and employees who work or serve in positions outside of the federal government.

Workplace protections for legislative branch employees take effect
Changes include revised dispute resolution process, access to confidential counselor

Legislative branch employees can now take advantage of a revised dispute resolution process and consult with a confidential adviser about their rights when they make workplace claims.

Those are among the protections in the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act. The law also extends workplace protections to unpaid employees, including interns and fellows. Many of the final provisions took effect Wednesday, 180 days after the bill was signed into law in December.

Pay debate raging on Capitol Hill ignores lowest-earning staffers
Boosting MRA would do most to address pay woes, Hill aides say

While Congress tussles over whether a legislative spending bill should allow a salary boost for lawmakers, their staffers agree that the Members’ Representational Allowance — which pays House staff salaries — needs more funding.

House Democrats this month pulled the Legislative Branch appropriations bill amid backlash from Republican campaign strategists and members of their own caucus.

Hearing on Congressional Research Service zeroes in on diversity issue
Rare look inside CRS at House Administration Committee

A rare public hearing on Thursday examining the Congressional Research Service revealed concerns about its lack of diversity in its leadership ranks, as members questioned its leader about hiring practices.

At Thursday’s House Administration Committee, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., asked CRS Director Mary B. Mazanec about the staff closest to her, specifically if any were a person of color, which he defined as “African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander.” Mazanec said she had “about 12 direct reports,” and only one of them was a person of color.

Public to get rare look inside the Congressional Research Service, with attrition, morale points of contention
Former employees knock management as stifling quality work, innovation

Clarified 3:05 p.m. | Thursday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing into the Congressional Research Service is the first in more than a decade — and is long overdue, according to former employees who say the agency is mismanaged, stifles expert research and results in a lesser work product.

The hearing will examine increasing attrition rates, low employee morale and a lack of diversity at the agency, among other issues, according to a committee spokesperson. Since 1914, the Congressional Research Service, or CRS, has provided expert policy and legal analysis to staff, members and committees in the legislative branch.

Ethics panel still investigating Grijalva on hostile work environment
Committee wants additional documents pertaining to former staffer who was paid settlement

The House Ethics Committee has requested documents from Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva as it continues to examine allegations into whether he cultivated a hostile work environment.

The ongoing investigation, first reported by E&E News, was a surprise to Grijalva, who faced an allegation of wrongdoing concerning a $48,000 settlement paid to a female member of his staff in 2015, which was dismissed in December 2018 by the House Ethics Committee.