John B Larson

Democrats seeking votes in Trump country tout miners’ benefits
As Republicans prepare a coal pension fix proposal, Democrats push for more

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Sherrod Brown, right, called for action on Democratic pension proposals this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans say they’re close to unveiling a plan to address a $66 billion funding shortfall affecting coal miners’ and other union pension plans, an issue Democrats see as advantageous politically and as a possible bargaining chip in trade talks with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump championed manufacturing and coal industry jobs during his 2016 campaign, including in critical swing states he won like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the 2020 campaign, Democrats have been touting “broken promises” to workers in those states and others, including more traditional GOP bastions like Kentucky where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection next year. 

Democrats move closer to impeachment, but still disagree on how to get there
Ukraine allegations shift the caucus, but not to the same page

A woman holds an “impeach” sign in front of the Rayburn House Office Building on Monday as Reps. Al Green, D-Texas, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., speak to a group of protesters and the media about the need to impeach President Donald Trump. The event was slated to coincide with the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on corruption, but the hearing was postponed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS | Several House Democrats’ positions on impeachment have shifted in the past 24 hours, but some have moved farther than others, leaving confusion about the caucus’ next steps.

Allegations that President Donald Trump withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine to spur the country to investigate a potential 2020 rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, has given House Democrats’ flailing impeachment investigation new life. 

Ways and Means to weigh rollback of state, local tax deduction cap
SALT cap in 2017 overhaul law hit taxpayers in high-tax states especially hard

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., said he expects the decision on whether to move legislation related to the SALT cap to be made in the next week. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee will soon hold “at least a full-throttle discussion” about their concerns with the $10,000 cap on state and local income tax deductions that was part of the 2017 tax code overhaul, though it is uncertain whether that will lead to legislation that would increase or even repeal the limit.

Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts told reporters Tuesday that the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee would be taking up the issue “pretty quick.”

Democrats want to eliminate corporate tax cut but their tax measure avoids it
Democrats have plans for spending money raising corporate rate would bring in, but they’ll go nowhere as long as Trump is in the Oval Office

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has not included eliminating the corporate tax cut in current moving legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s no lack of plans from Democrats paid for by undoing at least part of the huge 2017 corporate tax rate cut. But the only Democrat with a tax bill currently moving through Congress is pointedly not talking about revisiting the lower 21 percent rate.

The 14 percentage point rate cut in the 2017 law, which is permanent, was projected to save corporations $1.35 trillion over its first 10 years. 

Democrats propose tuition help to boost AmeriCorps
Legislation aims to increase volunteer ranks to 1 million

Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., speaks at a press conference to introduce ACTION for National Service outside the Capitol on June 25, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats hope to attract more volunteers to AmeriCorps and other federal service programs by cutting college costs.

Legislation introduced Tuesday, dubbed the ACTION for National Service Act, would award those who work in federal service at least two years with up to four years of in-state tuition where their college is located. The awarded money would be exempt from federal taxes.

GOP conservatives sharpen knives for spending fight
House Republicans express concern about paying for $2 trillion infrastructure tab

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady says conservatives need to put entitlement programs “back on America’s radar.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Conservatives are making a fresh push to spread their message of fiscal discipline after new estimates that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will soon be depleted, and amid talk of a $2 trillion infrastructure spending package and busting discretionary spending limits.

The House Republican Study Committee released a budget proposal Wednesday that assumes cutting $12.6 trillion in spending over a decade and eliminating the deficit within six years.

Social Security could go broke by 2035, but lawmakers have new ideas to fix it
If policymakers wait too long, solutions to fixing the program may involve politically unpalatable options

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., leaves the Capitol after the final votes of the week on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute — as long as waiting doesn’t make the problem worse.

Therein lies the conundrum facing lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates when it comes to Social Security, which last year paid out retirement and disability benefits to some 63 million Americans.

House Democrats make habit of voting on legislation that doesn’t change any laws
For four legislative weeks the House has held votes on nonbinding resolutions used for messaging

Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, center, is the sponsor of the House’s latest nonbinding resolution, a measure condemning the Trump administration for arguing in federal court that the entire 2010 health care law should be overturned. He is pictured with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., right at a rally on the matter on Tuesday outside the Supreme Court. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are forming a nonbinding habit. For four legislative weeks in a row, the new majority has held votes on resolutions that do not carry the force of law and are designed simply to send a message.

A Roll Call analysis found that roughly one out of every five votes the House has taken this year while the government has been open have been on nonbinding measures.

Emerging border security deal will be first big test of Democratic unity
With some barrier funding expected, vote may show fractures among new House majority

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., said he expects to oppose whatever border security funding agreement appropriators reach because he does not support any funding for a border barrier. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it comes to legislating, House Democrats are still in the honeymoon stage of their new majority. They haven’t had to take any difficult votes yet. But the rocky period is coming, and it will likely start next week with a vote on a border security funding package. 

House and Senate appropriators serving on a Homeland Security funding conference committee signaled Thursday that they’re narrowing in on a border security deal that could be finalized and ready for floor votes next week ahead of a Feb. 15 government funding deadline. 

Democrats and Republicans clash over health care goals in Ways and Means
In between partisan comments, lawmakers mentioned health policies the panel could consider this year

Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, talk during the House Ways and Means Committee organizational meeting for the 116th Congress on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means Committee members hinted at health policy areas that could earn their attention this year during a Tuesday hearing on pre-existing conditions protections, but past disagreements will be difficult to move beyond if the meeting was any indication.

Essentially every committee Republican expressed support for guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and called on Congress to lower health care costs.