Donald Norcross

Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon brings military experience and political savvy to his new job
A former Raytheon lobbyist, Esper has also been an Army officer and congressional staffer

Sen. Jack Reed, left, speaks with Army Secretary Mark Esper before the start of an Armed Services hearing in March. President Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped Esper to be acting Defense secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon, at least temporarily.

In two tweets Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job — and was withdrawing from consideration for the permanent post to “devote more time to his family.” Esper, in turn, got promoted and a ringing endorsement from the commander in chief.

Air Force defends plan to buy new F-15s, fewer F-35s
Over the next five years, the Air Force plans to buy two dozen fewer F-35s than it had planned just last year

Ground crew members prepare an F-35 fighter jet for a training mission at Hill Air Force Base on March 15, 2017, in Ogden, Utah. Air Force officials got pushback from House Armed Services members, concerned about plans to purchase more F-15 jets instead of buying more F-35 planes. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Air Force officials on Thursday faced pushback from House Armed Services members concerned that the service’s plan to buy upgraded fourth-generation fighters won’t come at the expense of state-of-the-art F-35 jets.

The Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget request includes $1.1 billion slated to buy eight F-15EXs, with plans to purchase another 136 by 2024. At the same time, the service reduced the number stealthy F-35As to 48, although it later included 12 of the jets on a wish list of items that didn’t make the budget cut.

Jayapal Joins Pocan As Co-Chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus
Ro Khanna replaces Jayapal as the caucus’s first vice chair

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., will co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan will serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the 116th Congress.

The CPC — which will have more than 90 members next year — held its leadership elections Thursday, which also saw California Rep. Ro Khanna chosen to replace Jayapal as first vice chair. 

Why Congress Shouldn’t Emulate Amazon
A $15 wage may work for the supersized retailer, but it won’t for the country’s smallest

Amazon hiked its minimum wage. That doesn’t mean Congress has to follow suit, Saltsman writes. (Mark Makela/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Does Amazon’s embrace of the Fight for $15 mean Congress should do the same? 

New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross recently made that case in these pages, arguing that the retail giant’s embrace of a $15 minimum wage meant other businesses could afford it as well. But Norcross’ argument confuses a voluntary raise with an involuntary mandate: One boosts paychecks; the other could leave employees without any pay at all.

If Amazon Can Raise the Minimum Wage, Why Can’t Congress?
Here’s what I learned as a young single dad — raising wages is the moral issue of our time

A worker places a label on an order at an Amazon fullfillment center in May. Amazon is showing moral leadership, Norcross writes. Why won’t Congress? (Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — As the country awaits an announcement about where Amazon’s next headquarters will be located, there is equally big news coming from the online giant — they’re rightfully raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

This is a big win for America’s workers, and I know because I once worked for minimum wage. I was a young single dad raising my son and having to balance work, family life and a checkbook. After completing an apprenticeship, I became an electrician and spent my adult life fighting for working families through the labor movement.

Opinion: Young Americans Need to Be Prepared to Lead Next Infrastructure Revolution
Infrastructure investments and apprenticeships go hand in hand

Millions of young Americans need to be prepared to fill the high-skilled, high-paying jobs that will power the nation’s next  infrastructure revolution, writes Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

As we recognize Infrastructure Week around the country, we must take the opportunity to encourage both the work and the workers who will rebuild America.

We must start robustly investing in our aging bridges, roads, rails, ports, airports, electric grid, water pipes, broadband network and more. Not only is it critical for our national security, it will create high-skilled, high-wage jobs and help power our entire economy for generations to come.

A Trump, a Very Palpable Trump
The State of the Union as audience builder

President Donald Trump takes a selfie with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in the House chamber after Trump’s first State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Welcome back to Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Heading into year two of his presidency, can Donald Trump expand his reach and influence with skeptical Democrats in Congress, much less a skeptical public? At a minimum, he will need the minority party to advance any meaningful legislation, particularly in an election year.

Bipartisan Efforts Behind Coal Miner Pension Push
Manchin and Capito lead Senate effort, as miners return to Capitol Hill

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, center, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts, center left, and coal miners arrive for a Tuesday press conference on the introduction of legislation to protect miner pension benefits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The coal miners are back.

Last fall, you couldn’t walk through the Capitol’s hallways without running into mine workers wearing camouflage T-shirts.

Word on the Hill: House Men’s Workout
Vegan cooking and snacking

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, seen here with his daughter Larra at the Capitol on Wednesday, is a host of the annual men's workout. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As if you haven’t had enough bipartisan congressional athletic events, the annual Men’s Health Caucus workout is this morning, hosted by Reps. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., and Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J.

It’s at 7 a.m. in the park across from the Longworth House Office Building. Samantha Clayton, director of Global Fitness at Herbalife Nutrition, and Clifton Crosby, former NFL player, will also be there.

Word on the Hill: We Want to Party With You
Coons finds an old friend in D.C.

A man dressed as Santa Claus looks out over the National Mall from the Washington Monument during the annual Santarchy gathering on Dec. 10. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As you’re tying up loose ends to finish off this Congress, is your office having a holiday party?

If you’re celebrating with co-workers, whether inside the Capitol or at a spot nearby, send us your photos to be featured on HOH.