congressional-affairs

The PRO Act’s many cons
House expected to take up a bill that would hurt millions of small businesses and workers

The Democrat-controlled House is expected to pass the PRO Act this month — a bill that in its present form would hurt millions of small businesses and workers and upend the franchise industry, Cresanti writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In a divided Congress, Republicans and Democrats often pass legislation to signal what they’ll pursue if they gain complete control over the levers of federal power. That’s why the Protect the Right to Organize Act demands attention. The Democrat-controlled House is expected to pass the bill in the coming weeks, even though in its present form it would hurt millions of small businesses and workers and upend one of the most important parts of the American economy: the franchise industry.

The PRO Act, as it’s called, is a Frankenstein bill that cobbles together more than 20 dangerous provisions, some new and some rejected numerous times by previous Congresses. The trouble with each of these provisions is they tip the scales against small businesses in solution of a problem that doesn’t exist — employees already have the right to organize small businesses under federal law. One section mandates that companies provide workers’ personal information to unions; another would repeal state right-to-work laws by forcing all employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Across the board, the bill rolls back balanced protections for workers and employers while tilting the playing field decisively toward unions.

Asking the hard questions to implement the National Defense Strategy
Conversation on the changing role of America’s military needs to expand beyond Washington

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Two years ago, the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, shifted America’s military focus to a new era of great-power competition, especially with China and Russia. Welcomed with broad bipartisan support, this groundbreaking document calls on us to make tough choices to reshape our military, reform the Department of Defense, and recommit to strengthening alliances and attracting new partners around the world.

President Donald Trump has committed to rebuilding the foundations of American military power. The NDS provides the blueprint to achieve that objective, and it must be fully implemented. That is why we have made it our priority on the Senate and House Armed Services committees to ensure that we turn the NDS from a strategy on paper into a strategy in action.

Lawmakers weaponize colleagues’ call records
Devin Nunes disclosure could presage conflict over phone conversations

The phone records of House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., have become an issue in the impeachment inquiry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week gave members of Congress a glimpse at a new and distressing weapon in partisan warfare — the exposure of lawmakers’ call records as part of congressional oversight.

The House Intelligence Committee report in its investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine included the call records of the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly under criminal investigation, and his indicted associate Lev Parnas.

Following guilty plea, Duncan Hunter barred from voting in the House
Stripped of committee assignments and banned from voting, his role in Congress is diminished

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is not allowed to vote in the House, following his guilty plea earlier this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee notified Rep. Duncan Hunter that his recent guilty plea means he should no longer cast votes in the House. The instruction is not mandatory, but the panel threatened action against him if he continues to vote.

Hunter last voted on Wednesday, in favor of a measure to crack down on robocalls. He did not weigh in on any of the four roll call votes the House took on Thursday. 

Booker’s CROWN Act would ban discrimination against black hairstyles
Federal initiative is part of state-by-state push by group that includes Dove products

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is among those calling for more federal protections against discrimination of hairstyles commonly worn by African Americans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nappy. Kinky. Too curly. These are adjectives sometimes used to describe natural black hair. While they can be insulting, some lawmakers say these perceptions also lead to discrimination against African Americans.

Several recent high-profile incidents involving discrimination and racial insensitivity have convinced lawmakers that more federal protections need to be put in place to prevent prejudice against hairstyles associated with black culture.

Never mind impeachment, this bipartisan committee is going forward
House modernization panel prepares for its second year

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Amid the partisan polarization of impeachment, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress began examining possible changes Thursday to the chamber’s rules and procedures, seeking out ideas to make the legislative branch function better. 

 The panel, a temporary and bipartisan project to revamp Congress for the modern era, is tasked with offering recommendations about how to update technological savvy on Capitol Hill and how to improve the quality of work for lawmakers and staff. It began earlier this year as a one-year effort but will now carry on through next year with a fresh infusion of funds, and through the divisive 2020 elections.  

Trump jokes about White House ‘Russian Room’ at UN lunch
‘We’ll take care of that,’ US president tells Moscow’s ambassador to UN

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump just can’t help himself sometimes — not even when it comes to Russia, the country that has dogged his entire presidency.

Amid an impeachment scandal related to his dealings with Ukraine — which the Kremlin invaded in 2014 — Trump dropped a quip Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s homeland.

White House says it’s ready for impeachment votes and trial
However, one Trump aide says: ‘We don’t know if Pelosi has the votes or not’

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone leaves the Capitol after attending the Senate Republicans' lunch  Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump and senior aides reacted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that articles of impeachment are coming by essentially calling for a vote and a Senate trial.

The White House messaging is similar to that used by President Bill Clinton and his aides in 1998: pressing lawmakers to expedite the impeachment process and Senate trial so Washington can focus on other matters.

Georgia's Tom Graves won’t run for reelection in 2020
Graves’ departure will open up a safe Republican seat

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves said he is retiring to spend more time with his family. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, a Republican serving his fifth full term, is not running for reelection in 2020, leaving behind a solid red district.

“As we all do, I’m entering a new season in life. An exciting season,” Graves said in a statement Thursday, in which he said the holidays have been a “time of reflection.”

Pelosi: ‘Don’t mess with me’
Pelosi lashes out at reporter who suggested she and Democrats ‘hate’ President Donald Trump

As she ends her weekly news conference Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., angrily reacts after a reporter asks if she hates the President on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:09 p.m. | Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been unshakable as she’s guided her caucus toward the decision she announced Thursday that the House will vote on articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. But when a reporter questioned whether she was doing so because she hates Trump, Pelosi exploded. 

The heated exchange, occurring at the end of Pelosi’s weekly press conference, culminated in a warning from the speaker that was directed at James Rosen from the Sinclair Broadcast Group but is a broader indication that she is ready to brush off any attacks that come her way as the House moves to impeach Trump.