Lloyd Doggett

On Health Care, Dems Go From Running to Baby Steps
Incremental measures will dominate action on the health law in a largely gridlocked Congress

House Democrats plan to bring administration officials to Capitol Hill to explain what critics call “sabotage” of the law’s insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterm elections all but ended the Republican push to repeal the 2010 law known as Obamacare, but as a defining issue for Democrats in their takeover of the House, health care will likely remain near the top of lawmakers’ policy and political agenda.

Newly emboldened Democrats are expected to not only push legislation through the House, but use their majority control of key committees to press Trump administration officials on the implementation of the health law, Medicaid work requirements, and insurance that does not have to comply with Obamacare rules.

14 Democrats Push Back on Raising Caucus Threshold for Speaker Race
Caucus threshold should remain simple majority; members should unite behind winner, they say

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to run for speaker again. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A group of 14 Democrats who support Nancy Pelosi for speaker are pushing back on a proposal from some of their anti-Pelosi colleagues to raise the caucus threshold for nominating a speaker candidate. 

House Democratic Caucus rules make all of their elected leadership positions subject to a simple-majority vote. Then, under House rules, the speaker nominee chosen by the caucus needs to win votes from a majority of the entire chamber — 218, if everyone is present and voting. 

Three-Way NAFTA Trade Deal Headed to Congress
U.S. would get greater access to Canada’s dairy market

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has announced a three-country “modernized” NAFTA agreement.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced a three-country ″modernized″ NAFTA agreement, clearing away one potential objection from key lawmakers who appeared ready to challenge a trade pact without Canada.

Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the agreement late Sunday night after frenzied negotiations over the weekend to resolve outstanding issues. If the preliminary accord is approved by Congress it will be renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The United States and Mexico reached an agreement in late August.

Democrats Line Up on Floor to Call Attention to Election Security
Maneuver has been used before on other hot-button issues

Rep. Mike Quigley is among the House Democrats trying to restore election security funding to a key program. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats took turns Wednesday requesting a vote on an amendment to fund election systems protection, saying the money is needed to “prevent Russian interference” in future elections.

The procedural moves from Democrats come ahead of a vote on a Republican-led spending bill (HR 6147) that would zero out election security grants that help states to fortify their systems against hacking and cyber attacks. The Election Assistance Commission is funded at $380 million under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this year. 

Supreme Court Maintains District Maps in N.C., Texas
Voter dilution, racial and partisan gerrymandering at issue in court actions

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court ruled Monday to keep the current congressional maps in Texas and North Carolina, in separate cases that dealt with voter dilution and racial and partisan gerrymandering.

In the Texas case, a sharply divided court overturned a lower court ruling that found intentional voter dilution in the 27th District and racial gerrymandering in the 35th District. The 27th District is currently vacant, after Republican Blake Farenthold resigned in April, while the 35th is held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett.

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny
Voter rights advocates worry the court could hand states a shield

Texas’ 35th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, is at the center of a gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could not only require Texas to redraw its congressional districts, but give states a way to defend against claims of gerrymandering.

This is the third case the justices will hear this term about how states draw legislative maps to gain a political advantage. Cases from Wisconsin and Maryland focus on whether those maps can be too partisan. The Texas case is a more traditional challenge to how state lawmakers draw the lines using voter data.

Read the Bill or Get Out of Town Quickly? On Omnibus, Congress Chooses the Latter
‘This is a Great Dane-sized whiz down the leg of every taxpayer in America,’ Sen. Kennedy says

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., compared the process of considering the omnibus appropriations package to a big dog urinating on taxpayers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress stares at a Friday deadline to fund the government, the reality that members will have scant time to actually read or process the $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus before voting on it is starting to sink in.

The Wednesday night filing of the more than 2,200-page measure was the starting pistol that sent lawmakers into a mad dash against the government funding clock. They were given 52 hours.

Texas Redistricting Case Heads to Supreme Court
Lower court ruling found vote dilution and racial gerrymandering

Shirley Connuck of Falls Church, Virginia, right, holds up a sign representing a district in Texas as protesters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 3, 2017, as the court was hearing a case on partisan gerrymandering. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Texas must redraw its congressional maps because of gerrymanders, in a case that could have major implications for this year’s elections in the Lone Star State.

The justices announced Friday they will review an August ruling from a panel of three federal judges that the current map needs to be changed because it has intentional vote dilution in the 27th District and racial gerrymandering in the 35th District. Those districts are currently held by Republican Blake Farenthold and Democrat Lloyd Doggett, respectively.

Lawmakers Make New Year’s Resolutions
Resolutions focus on legislating rather than personal goals

The House is back, and members are ready to work on their resolutions for the new year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is back and the House will return next week after regrouping over the winter recess and preparing to tackle another tough year ahead.

Between midterms and a long legislative agenda, lawmakers have a lot to figure outSo it’s no wonder that their New Year’s resolutions revolve around policy issues and the election, instead of typical goals such as getting healthy or spending time with family.

Partisan Bickering Defines Day One of House Tax Markup
California Democrat Mike Thompson calls a bill provision “cruel” and “heartless”

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady sits in front of tax code volumes during a Monday committee markup of the House Republicans’ tax plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:25 p.m. | Fireworks started early at the House Ways and Means Committee markup Monday of the Republican tax plan, as Democrats repeatedly criticized the GOP’s effort to overhaul the tax code as a boon to the rich that would hurt many middle-class families.

Tensions rose about six hours into Day One of the marathon markup when Chairman Kevin Brady offered an amendment to his previous substitute that would make several changes to the bill. Democrats let loose on the Texas Republican for unveiling the substitute and taking it up immediately, without allowing any extra time to examine the provisions.