Kevin Brady

Cummings unites lawmakers, for the moment, as impeachment inquiry trudges forward
Probe that late Maryland Democrat helped lead continued with witness depositions Thursday

A memorial for the late House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings is seen in the committee’s Rayburn Building hearing room on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House lawmakers dialed down the partisan rancor, at least for a day, as they honored the life of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who died early Thursday at age 68. But the impeachment inquiry, of which the Maryland Democrat was a key leader, is forging ahead.

The investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has stoked anger among Republicans who view the probe as illegitimate. Democrats’ frustrations with the president’s conduct and his supporters in Congress are only growing. The death of Cummings, held in deep respect on both sides of the aisle, didn’t put the partisan fighting completely to rest, but it did quell the most inflammatory elements for the moment.

House Dems move forward with drug pricing bill
Committee approved a new plan that would limit drug prices — a top priority for the party

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters in June. The Washington Democrat proposed an amendment during a markup of a bill designed to limit drug prices Thursday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House committee on Thursday approved a Democratic bill designed to limit drug prices, a top priority for the party, as another panel’s debate on the measure was poised to last for hours.

House leaders produced the 141-page bill after months of deliberations among various party factions, as progressives urged their colleagues to be bold despite GOP criticisms that the measure could hamper research into future cures. The bill, numbered HR 3, includes requirements for the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate Medicare prices for the most expensive drugs, with commercial health plans also having the option of adopting those prices.

Democrats bow to critics, expand scope of drug price bill
The changes by House Democratic leaders were made to appease progressives who pushed for more aggressive action

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., points to sign that reads “lower drug costs now” as she departs from a press conference at the Capitol in Washington on September 19, 2019. Democratic leaders unveiled changes to Pelosi’s drug pricing bill ahead of markups Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders unveiled changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill ahead of markups Thursday, seeking to appease progressives who pushed for more aggressive action.

The chamber is expected to vote on the bill this month.

House Republicans’ 2020 strategy is all about Trump
At retreat, GOP hypes up president as key to their effort to win back the majority

President Donald Trump greets House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday at the House GOP retreat in Baltimore. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — House Republicans are embracing President Donald Trump as a critical asset in their effort to win back the majority in 2020 and are building their policy agenda and campaign strategy around him.

During a 48-hour retreat here Thursday through Saturday, GOP lawmakers lauded Trump for helping them win a North Carolina special election and said they looked forward to riding his coattails in districts across the country next year.

House Republicans to discuss path back to majority at Baltimore retreat
GOP members to talk politics and policy Thursday through Saturday at their delayed annual retreat

Indiana Rep. Susan W. Brooks, the House Republicans’ campaign recruitment chair, said she’s excited to discuss politics at the GOP retreat in Baltimore that starts Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fresh off two crucial special election wins in North Carolina, House Republicans head to Baltimore on Thursday for their delayed annual retreat, prepared to spend some quality time discussing how they plan to win back the majority in 2020.

Some of that planning will most certainly involve policy discussions about contrasting their proposals on jobs and the economy, health care, technology, energy and the environment, and other issues with what they often refer to as the Democrats’ “socialist” ideas. But a good chunk of the gathering, which will run from Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning, will be about assessing the political landscape. 

Term limit rules targeted by Trump aren’t tipping scale on House GOP retirements
POTUS wants to discourage retirements, but life in the minority is also a factor

President Trump blamed the wave of retirements on a GOP conference rule that term limits committee chairmen. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is one member who said losing his top committee spot impacted his choice to not seek reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has an idea he thinks would quell the growing list of House Republicans who say they won’t run for another term, but the president’s proposal might not get to the root of the GOP retirements.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump urged House GOP leaders to alter conference rules to allow committee chairs (and ranking members if in the minority) to hold their posts for more than six years.

Republican retirements raise questions about GOP optimism in 2020
Serving in the minority is a new experience for most House Republicans

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, announced this week that he is not running for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The recent string of House Republican retirements — even those from ruby-red districts — have raised new questions about whether GOP lawmakers are pessimistic about winning back the House in 2020.

Some Republican political operatives were split on what the recent retirements say about lawmakers’ political calculations, and whether they’re heading for the exits at the prospect of spending a few more years in the minority.

Illinois Republican John Shimkus not running for reelection in 2020
12-term lawmaker leaves behind a safe Republican seat

Illinois Rep. John Shimkus is the ninth Republican to announce plans to retire so far this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. John Shimkus will not run for a 13th term in his southeastern Illinois district, vacating what will likely remain a safe Republican seat in 2020.

Shimkus announced his decision Friday afternoon, saying he wanted to make his plans known as candidates begin to circulate petitions for office next week. 

Eyeing Trump taxes, House panel releases Nixon documents
Kevin Brady, top Ways and Means Republican, calls move “a travesty”

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal says the Nixon documents show that his own request for the president’s tax returns is not unprecedented. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday released documents relating to a Dec. 13, 1973, request by the Joint Committee on Taxation for President Richard Nixon’s tax returns that show five years of returns were provided the same day by the IRS.

Committee Democrats said the significance of the documents is that Nixon’s tax returns and other private tax information were handed over to what was then called the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation because of authority under Section 6103 of the tax code. 

Oil refiners racing Congress to protect butane loophole
Joint Committee on Taxation now estimates 1-year extension of the alternative fuel credits would cost $7.1 billion

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says Congress should leave it to the courts to decide whether refiners should get an alternative fuel tax credit for butane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For more than a decade, oil refiners didn’t realize what a moneymaker they had in butane — at least for tax purposes.

They do now.