John Conyers Jr

Why Katie Hill had to go
California Democrat couldn’t stay on in a chamber that had promised to change its ways

With the new rules in place regarding relationships between lawmakers and their staff, California Rep. Katie Hill had no choice but to resign, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There is nothing worse than watching a person you’re rooting for make a mistake. In the case of former Rep. Katie Hill, the talented newcomer made a major mistake when she engaged in a relationship with a campaign staffer leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. She was right to resign her seat last week because of it.

Hill’s mistake was not simply having an affair, especially in this case when the relationship seems to have been consensual and even something her husband was aware of and participated in. But the California Democrat’s choice to start and continue a relationship with a young staffer on her congressional campaign happened at the very time that other women on Capitol Hill were fighting to protect staffers long subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses there.

Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ tradition very much alive on Capitol Hill
Offices display lively altars with vibrant colors and food for dead relatives

A Día de los Muertos altar is on display in the office of Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva on Capitol Hill on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Marilyn Zepeda may have left Mexico, but she made sure to bring along a piece of its culture to the United States: vibrant “papel picado,” loaves of “Pan de Muerto” and photos of the dead.

The legislative correspondent for Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, who is himself the son of a Mexican immigrant, Zepeda has been in Washington, D.C., just over a year, and she’s already raising spirits around the office. After all, it’s almost the Day of the Dead, or “Día de Los Muertos.”

Migrants and lawmakers honored for Dia de los Muertos

Rep. Joaquin Castro discusses a Dia de los Muertos altar set up by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on October 29, 2019 (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call).

Members of Congress are commemorating Dia de los Muertos at the Capitol this year with altars honoring migrants and civil rights activists, as well as Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and former Rep. John Conyers Jr., who both died earlier this month. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus put together an altar to honor migrants who have died in U.S. custody.

House observes moment of silence for former Rep. John Conyers

Members of Congress gathered on the House floor Tuesday to pay tribute to former Rep. John Conyers. (Screenshot/House Recording Studio)

John Conyers Jr., former dean of the House, has died
Former Judiciary chairman resigned his seat after a 2017 sexual harassment scandal

Former Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., died Sunday at age 90. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., who served more than five decades in Congress, died Sunday at age 90, a spokesperson confirmed.

The Democrat from Michigan had been the longest serving African American lawmaker in congressional history, but resigned in 2017 amid a sexual harassment scandal after what was seen as an illustrious career.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas spent $148,000 fighting dropped civil lawsuit
California Democrat still has over $20,000 left that will likely go to outstanding balances

California Rep. Tony Cárdenas has spent well over $100,000 on legal expenses for a lawsuit that was dismissed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Politicians can pay a heavy price when they’re accused of sexual misconduct — even when the case is dismissed. Just ask California Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas.

He racked up almost $150,000 in legal expenses defending himself against a lawsuit that alleged he sexually assaulted a minor. In July, the alleged victim agreed to have the case dismissed with prejudice, meaning that she can’t file it again. But that doesn’t wipe out those expenses, even when the case is dropped.

Guns of war no more?
Lessons on bipartisanship during Hill orientation could make something like gun reform happen

The late Florida Rep. Claude Pepper left behind a legacy of bipartisanship in Congress that current lawmakers would be wise to follow, Weiner and Whitmire write. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The weekend mass shootings near Odessa, Texas, have only amplified calls for an overhaul of our nation’s gun laws. Last month, after horrific shooting incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump urged Congress to work on gun legislation in a bipartisan fashion. “Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside,” he said, and suggested both “red flag” warning-signal laws and background checks “like we’ve never had before.”

But with the current gridlock in Washington, it’s hard to envision bipartisan anything — let alone gun legislation — passing Congress any time soon. It’s even harder with the president adjusting his positions every couple of days. That begs the question: What more can be done to foster bipartisanship and big achievements in Congress?

Where are the members of the 115th Congress that left under scandal?
Only two scandal-tarred lawmakers from last Congress are still serving

Montana Republican Ryan Zinke, who was Interior secretary until last December, is now a managing director at cybersecurity and blockchain company Artillery One. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the #MeToo movement took hold in the past two years, nine members of the 115th Congress relinquished their seats amid allegations of sexual misconduct. That’s more than any Congress since at least 1901, based on an analysis of congressional departures by FiveThirtyEight.

Two other lawmakers left under scrutiny for financial or ethical improprieties, two who joined the Trump administration were later forced to resign their Cabinet posts, and two representatives indicted last year are still in office fighting the charges.

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s affairs with congressional staff raise sexual harassment concerns
California Republican denies groping another staffer at a 2014 event

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., allegedly entered into affairs with two congressional staffers, according to a court filing by the Department of Justice. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Party leaders have demurred on whether Rep. Duncan Hunter should resign in light of revelations that he pursued relationships with two congressional staffers, including one of his own aides.

But that does not mean allegations that the California Republican had “intimate relationships” — as U.S. attorneys described them in a recent court filing — with two staffers, including a direct subordinate, will not trigger consequences on Capitol Hill.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wants you to stop laughing about reparations
Writer takes aim at reparation critics like Mitch McConnell

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Dave Chappelle has a sketch imagining a future in which African Americans are awarded reparative damages due from centuries of American slavery and discrimination. The routine features newly rich black people “blowing” their payments on rims, menthol cigarettes and rap record labels. The sketch is a smorgasbord of stereotypes conveying the message that the concept of reparations is so preposterous that it’s OK to make fun of it.

But fewer people are laughing now. And that’s largely because of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and his 2014 landmark essay “The Case for Reparations.” The 15,000-word article, published in The Atlantic, didn’t just deal with chattel slavery; it focused on housing discrimination and predatory lending practices that robbed many black Americans of their wealth. According to reparations proponents, that legacy is largely responsible for the ongoing racial wealth gap, wherein the typical white family owns 10 times the assets of the typical black family.