Derek Kilmer

New Democrats launch task forces to help craft the House majority’s policy agenda
Task forces focus on issue areas like health care, infrastructure, climate change, national security, trade and technology

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., will co-chair the New Democrat Coalition’s health care task force, one of eight policy-focused work groups the centrist Democrats have launched this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition is ready to help the House majority craft its policy agenda for the 116th Congress, launching eight issue-focused task forces to develop proposals on party priorities such as health care, infrastructure and climate change. 

The group of centrist Democrats has used task forces to develop policy proposals in past Congresses, but they’re particularly excited about the work the task forces will do this session now that their party is in the majority.

What’s in a position? This is how caucuses show their strength
Many congressional caucuses take official positions to demonstrate the amount of support for specific policy ideas

New Democrat Coalition Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., said the group changed its bylaws to make it easier to take official positions as a coalition. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition has amended its bylaws to make it easier for the group of centrist Democrats to take official positions on policy ideas or legislation — a tool used by congressional caucuses to show their strength as they try to line up support behind specific policy ideas or legislation. 

Procedures for taking an official position vary by caucus. Most include a vote of their members, but thresholds for what level of a majority is needed to adopt the position differ among caucuses. 

New members, meet the ‘slush fund’
Many Hill freshmen are already establishing leadership PACs despite association with abuse

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., are among the more than two dozen freshman lawmakers who have established so-called leadership PACs, a type of fundraising committee critics say is too often abused. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar have pledged not to accept corporate PAC money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The newest class of congressional lawmakers — some of whom campaigned against corruption and corporate influence in politics — is rapidly adopting a practice that critics say is among the swampier in Washington.

More than two dozen new members of the House and Senate — including prominent freshmen such as New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney — have established so-called leadership PACs, according to data compiled by government watchdog group Issue One. Leadership PACs are fundraising committees that allow lawmakers to raise money for their colleagues and candidates.

Houlahan, Sherrill take leadership roles among freshman Dem moderates
Health care revamp, infrastructure and trade deals top New Democrat Coalition priorities

New Democratic Reps. Mikie Sherrill, center, and Chrissy Houlahan, right, will represent the freshman class in positions in the New Democrat Coalition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Democratic Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Mikie Sherrill have been assigned leadership roles in the New Democrat Coalition, Chairman Derek Kilmer of Washington told reporters Thursday.

More than 30 freshmen joined the group in the new Congress to bring its ranks to 92 members.

First big bipartisan vote establishes House select committee on modernizing Congress
Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer will chair the select committee

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., center, purple tie, will chair the new select committee on modernizing Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Taking its first bipartisan vote of the 116th Congress, the House voted Friday to establish a select committee to come up with recommendations for modernizing the legislative branch. 

The 418-12 bipartisan vote was even more significant because it is part of the House Democrats’ rules package. House rules are crafted by the majority party, and they rarely draw votes from the minority.

New Democrat Coalition Elects Derek Kilmer as New Chairman
Sewell, Peters, Kuster and DelBene will be vice chairs of pro-business caucus

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., is the new chair of the New Democrat Coalition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition on Friday elected Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer to chair the centrist, pro-business caucus in the 116th Congress. 

Kilmer, who has served as a vice chair of the coalition, will succeed Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes

Katherine Clark Elected House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair
Massachusetts Democrat becomes second-highest-ranking woman, behind Pelosi

Rep. Katherine M. Clark, D-Mass., was elected to serve as the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark was elected House Democratic Caucus vice chair for the 116th Congress, handily beating California Rep. Pete Aguilar

The vote tally was 144-90. 

House Democratic Factions All See Gains After Midterms
Progressive Caucus, New Democrats, Blue Dogs tout their expanding ranks

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Pocan expects his group to see a net gain of 13 members, not counting the uncalled races. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two largest ideology-based Democratic factions in the House — the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition — are both projecting they’ll have more than 90 members next year after the party picked up over 30 seats in last week’s midterms.

The growth comes at a time when numbers will matter for these groups, more than they have for the past eight years when their party has been in the minority. With the House in their hands next year, Democrats will get to set the legislative agenda and control what bills come to the floor.

Shutdowns Seem Normal Now. We’re Frustrated Too
Our joint panel is trying to fix Congress’ broken budget process — please take it seriously

Just because the budget process is broken doesn’t mean it is irrevocably broken, Kilmer and Arrington write. Above, a worker stacks budget copies at the Government Publishing Office’s plant on North Capitol Street. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — The American people have told us time and again — in the grocery store, at town halls, and through phone calls and emails — that they have lost faith in Congress’ ability to get things done. We share their frustration.

Over the past few years, Congress has routinely shirked some of its most basic responsibilities, including funding the government through a functioning budget process. Too often, Congress has defaulted to the politics of shutdowns and continuing resolutions, having a negative impact on all Americans. Both chambers have become so acquainted with it that it has become the norm.

Bipartisan Group Wants Labs to Disclose Where Research Animals End Up
Federal agencies asked for info on adoptions and retirements for dogs, cats and primates that survive experiments

Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending a letter to federal agencies about testing on dogs, cats and primates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 10:12 a.m. | A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged federal agencies and research labs to release information on what it does with cats, dogs and primates that survive experiments.

The letter first obtained by Roll Call was sent to the Department of Interior, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense.