Debbie Stabenow

House, Senate Democrats Identify Slate of Committee Leaders for New Congress
House Dem Caucus must still ratify, Senate is ready to go

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has his roster of ranking members for committees ready. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats have identified their incoming committee leadership for the 116th Congress, although the full caucus must still weigh in and a few key chairs will have to wait until the House speakership contest is settled. In the Senate meanwhile, the roster is finished, with some notable movement in the smaller Democratic minority. 

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee made its recommendations for most committee chairmanships in the new Congress on Tuesday evening, with a few others designated Monday. The full caucus must still approve the choices.

Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill
Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promoting industrial hemp language in the farm bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to put himself on the farm bill conference committee was insurance that one of his policy priorities — and a key issue for his 2020 re-election campaign — would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk this year.

“At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future,” McConnell said Tuesday morning. “My provision in the farm bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight.”

On Chaotic Wednesday, Senators Hunt for an Endgame
Yemen resolution, contentious nominees complicate escape plans

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., arrives Wednesday for a briefing for all senators with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday was not a typical day in the Senate.

On an average Senate day, the visceral, negative response from senators to a closed briefing on U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia might have dominated headlines.

Forest Fires Add Snag to Getting Farm Bill Passed
House-passed version would change forest management policies that opponents say would ease oversight

A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through earlier this month in Magalia, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Forestry provisions have emerged as the latest snag in farm bill negotiations, sending the issue to congressional leaders for talks to break the impasse.

The forestry provisions in the House-passed version of the farm bill say the proposed changes to federal forest management policies would prevent forest fires — an issue that is now at the forefront after the deadly California fires. Opponents say the proposed changes would ease federal oversight and safeguards needed to limit logging on public lands that could destroy forests habitats and reduce protections for endangered wildlife.

Farm Aid Payments to City Dwellers Prompt Call for Limits on Program
Study found more than 1,000 recipients had city addresses

The current reauthorization of the farm bill might become a vehicle to tighten eligibility to certain forms of farm aid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nearly 1,150 recipients who qualified for aid under a $12 billion Trump administration program to offset foreign tariffs on U.S. farm products maintain city addresses, an interest group found in an initial survey, prompting calls for overhauling the program.

The Environmental Working Group argued Monday that the data should prompt lawmakers working on a pending reauthorization of federal farm and nutrition programs to impose tougher standards to reduce the number of “city slickers” eligible for farm subsidies.

On ‘Medicare-for-All,’ Democrats Tread Lightly
It polls well. But Dems say the proposal isn’t ready for floor action

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., founded the Medicare-for-All Caucus earlier this year. She pushed back on the idea that single-payer health care is unpopular in suburban parts of the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the House are calling for a vote on a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill in the next Congress, but the expected chairmen who will set the agenda for next year say they have other health priorities.

Still, the progressives’ push could earn more attention over the next two years as Democratic candidates begin vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. A handful of potential presidential candidates expected to declare interest have already co-sponsored “Medicare-for-all” legislation, an issue that was also a flashpoint in Democratic primaries over the past year.

Here’s the List of Senate Republican and Democratic Leaders
Status quo reigns (mostly)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., prepares to address the media after the Senate Policy lunches in the Capitol on March 20. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Farm Bill Negotiators Aim to Hash Things Out in Veterans Day Meeting
Republicans lost their bargaining edge with the election, Collin Peterson says

Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who will likely take control of the House Agriculture Committee next year, and Mike Conaway, R-Texas, the current chairman, have locked in their plans for Veterans Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two top House farm bill negotiators plan to meet on a federal holiday Monday to try to find a way forward on a compromise measure that could pass a lame-duck Congress.

Collin C. Peterson, currently the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee and presumed chairman in the 116th Congress, said he and current Chairman K. Michael Conaway of Texas would meet on Veterans Day to discuss the legislation. A Peterson aide on Friday confirmed the Nov. 12 meeting.

Man to Plead Guilty to Sending Threatening Letters to Trump Jr., Stabenow
Court appearance for Daniel Frisiello scheduled for late morning in Boston

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was among the targets of threatening letters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Massachusetts man is expected to plead guilty Wednesday morning in connection to sending threatening letters, some including white powder, to Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Debbie Stabenow and a congressional candidate.

Daniel Frisiello planned to admit to sending six letters with white powder, and plead guilty to a total of 19 related charges, the Salem News reported last month.

Stick With Senate Farm Bill or Extend Existing Law, Groups Say
Agriculture committee staffers in both chambers continue to work on compromise

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., helped push through their farm bill that passed the chamber on an 86-11 vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Unless key farm bill negotiators use the Senate version as the template for a new bill, an extension of the now expired 2014 farm law would be better than using the House farm bill as the basis for a conference report, representatives from nutrition, environmental, small farmer and food policy groups said Monday.

At a briefing, the organizations said the House and Senate farm bills differ sharply in important areas. While they want a new bill to replace the farm law that expired Sept. 30, the organizations say they represent a broad coalition that would oppose a bill based on the House farm bill version, which calls for changes, including to farm payments and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.