The 'Concussion' Effect? Congress to Probe Head Injuries

Clemens testified about steroid use in Major League Baseball in 2008, and spent years waging a legal battle over that testimony. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"Concussion," the eagerly awaited feature film about a doctor who takes on the NFL to warn about the neurological dangers of America's most popular sport, will be released on Christmas Day.  

The Oscar-bait movie, starring Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is being released just three days after the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it would initiate a wide-ranging investigation into concussions when Congress returns in January. “We often hear about concussions in the context of service members and athletes, but this problem goes well beyond the battlefield and the gridiron. It’s a matter of public health as these injuries are prevalent in all ages and across the population. Unfortunately, there’s a lot we don’t know about head trauma — how it effects different subsets of the population, the short and long term effects, and other details critical to developing effective diagnostics and treatments,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday announcing his panel's intentions.  

GOP Moves Forward With Sweeping Steering Panel Changes

Ryan is ready to see his own influence diluted on the Steering Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans are moving forward with an ambitious and far-reaching plan to overhaul the membership and operation of the Steering Committee, with a vote expected Thursday.  

It's only the first in a series of changes to GOP operations that Paul D. Ryan promised upon his election as speaker. Under a proposal formally unveiled to members at their weekly meeting Tuesday morning, some adjustments would be made this year to the Steering Committee, which assigns lawmakers to the standing panels of the House.  

CODELs: Boehner to Israel, McCarthy to Tunisia, Pelosi to Asia

McCarthy and his delegation were in Tunisia before heading to Ukraine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not everybody gets to travel overseas during the two-week House recess  just ask Louie Gohmert .  

However, many of those lawmakers who are participating in high-profile congressional delegations, or CODELs, will come back to Capitol Hill armed with new insights into some of the biggest policy issues facing Congress this year. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is leading a delegation that will culminate in a meeting in Israel  with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just won re-election and addressed a joint meeting of Congress earlier this month.  

'Main Street' Republicans Detail Policy Agenda

Upton laid out his policy agenda Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While some conservative members of the Republican Party caused a stir during the speaker election this week, other members of the party appeared eager to move on and start governing, laying out their policy priorities Thursday.  

Four members of the GOP spoke at a Capitol Hill Club event hosted by the Republican Main Street Partnership Thursday morning, explaining their agenda for energy, trade and education policies, and their goal of broadening the Republican base to attract more women. The Main Street Partnership is an advocacy group "aligned with the governing wing of the Republican Party," according to its website, and has the most members this Congress since its inception in 1993. Chief Operating Officer Sarah Chamberlain said it currently has 68 members, including 17 from the freshman class, thanks to Main Street's contributions to those new members' campaigns.  

'Net Neutrality' Is Latest Obama Overreach, GOP Says

Issa and other Republicans are calling "net neutrality" another example of presidential overreach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After consistently accusing President Barack Obama of overstepping his executive authority on issues such as immigration, health care and the environment, Republicans ramped up their rhetoric on another front: the Internet.  

The GOP criticism came after the White House released a statement Monday morning — complete with a YouTube video  — affirming the president's support for the concept of net neutrality, the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally and that Internet service providers should not be able to charge more for faster access to some sites.  

Cantor Quake Sets Off GOP Leadership Fights

House Republicans quickly sloughed off the shock of Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat and were immediately thrust into a weeklong, all-out sprint for power.  

Next Thursday's vote for new leadership will have ripple effects that touch every aspect of House policymaking, messaging and scheduling.  

House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

Rohrabacher helped steer the medical marijuana amendment through the House. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a series of late-night votes that marijuana-rights advocates say reflect a nation's changing attitudes, the Republican-controlled House moved early Friday  to block the federal government from interfering with state laws on pot and hemp.  

The most far-reaching of the votes — a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations —  passed 219-189 on the strength of an unusual coalition that cut across traditional partisan lines. The medical marijuana measure was offered by conservative Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California as an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. 

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People's House was, at best, a struggle. It's well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

Obamacare Website Was 'in Jeopardy' in July, Emails Reveal

Upton released internal Obama administration emails Friday showing officials were concerned about's functionality. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday released a string of administration emails regarding the construction of that provide insight as to why the health care website is so troubled.

In the internal email chains with officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, administration officials express serious concerns regarding having an insufficient number of web developers and insufficient money and time to complete the project.

House Passes Upton's 'If You Like It' Obamacare Fix

A Republican proposal by Upton, second from right, to allow insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year passed the House on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House easily passed Republican legislation on Friday allowing insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year in response to President Barack Obama's broken "if you like it, you can keep it" promise.

The bill passed 261-157 with all but four Republicans joined by 39 Democrats backing the bill sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. Those Democrats defected despite strong opposition from their party leadership and President Barack Obama, who, hours after the White House announced an administrative fix Thursday, vowed he would veto the Upton bill.