Mark Pocan

Democrats tried to ‘blackmail’ casino owner to let employees unionize, conservative group claims
Lawmakers say ethics accusations by Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust are baseless

Rep. Mark Pocan, D- Wisc., speaks with reporters as he leaves a House Democrats' caucus meeting in February. Pocan is one of 14 Democrats who wrote a letter to a casino mogul that a conservative ethics watchdog group says was part of an effort to coerce him to allow employees to unionize. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conservative watchdog group asked the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday to review whether 14 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican inappropriately used their office to try to coerce a Las Vegas casino mogul into allowing his employees to unionize.

In May, Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and 13 other Democrats wrote a letter to Frank Fertitta III, the CEO of the Las Vegas-based casino management company Red Rock Resorts Inc., urging him to “respect the rights of employees” at the company “to form a union and collectively bargain.”

‘Public charge’ rule creates Homeland spending bill headache
Amendment blocks proposed rules on immigrant access to Medicaid and food stamps

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., offered an amendment that would block the Department of Homeland Security's proposed "public charge" rule from going into effect. (File photo by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

An amendment inserted into the House's fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill by Appropriations Committee Democrats during the panel's June markup would bust the subcommittee's allocation by nearly $3.1 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Adopted on a 28-21 vote, the amendment from Reps. David E. Price of North Carolina, Pete Aguilar and Barbara Lee of California, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin would block a number of Trump administration immigration policies, including protecting beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation and revoking Trump's travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries.

House sends spending caps, debt limit bill to Senate
Measure next heads to the Senate for consideration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leads House Democrats down the House steps to hold a news conference on the first 200 days of the 116th Congress on Thursday, July 25, 2019. On Thursday, the House passed a debt limit and budget measure, sending it to the Senate for consideration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After late lobbying from President Donald Trump, House leaders mustered the votes to pass a two-year spending caps and debt limit bill Thursday that will provide some structure around the appropriations process and stave off potential default on U.S. obligations until the end of 2021.

The 284-149 vote was the first legislative test for the package Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday after hard-fought negotiations. The measure would add $324 billion to otherwise austere spending caps over the next two fiscal years, and avert cuts averaging about 10 percent to federal agencies for the upcoming budget year starting Oct. 1.

Budget caps, debt limit bill expected to pass House Thursday
A furious whip effort was underway by both parties to clinch a strong bipartisan showing on the floor

Yarmuth acknowledged a budget resolution may not happen next year either. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House lawmakers expressed confidence on Wednesday that the two-year budget and debt ceiling deal will pass in that chamber, though a furious whip effort was underway by both parties to clinch a strong bipartisan showing on the floor.

Late Wednesday afternoon, it became clear a large majority of Democrats were prepared to vote for the measure after Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders released a statement green-lighting the compromise budget caps measure.

House votes to raise federal minimum wage
Issue exposed rifts among Democrats. Legislation stalled in Senate

The House voted on Thursday to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 12:46 p.m. | The House voted 231-199 Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour incrementally over six years, but the Democratic effort was almost derailed by divisions between progressives and moderates.

Progressives on Wednesday had issued a last-minute warning to their moderate colleagues not to help Republicans make any last-minute changes to the bill through the procedural maneuver known as a motion to recommit, or MTR. If moderate Democrats helped the GOP add what the progressives considered poison pill language to the measure, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus were prepared to vote against it, the group’s co-chairs, Reps. Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal, said. 

Tension between Democratic factions spills into minimum wage debate
Progressives say they have the votes to kill their priority minimum wage bill if moderates help Republicans amend it

Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, say their members will not vote for a priority minimum wage bill if moderate Democrats help Republicans adopt a poison pill amendment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file)

Tension between the progressive and moderate factions of the Democratic Caucus are again spilling into public view ahead of a priority party vote to raise the federal minimum wage. 

A day before a planned Thursday vote on a bill to incrementally increase the current $7.25 federal minimum wage to $15, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal issued a statement that served as a warning to their moderate colleagues. 

Lawmakers push new bills to deter call centers from leaving the US
Measures adds to ongoing legislative efforts at the state level

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has reintroduced a bill to protect U.S. call center workers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Anyone who’s had to call customer service in recent years knows the current reality: A vast majority of companies have moved their call centers overseas to save money.

But states, urged on by advocates for U.S. workers, have been fighting back. Two dozen have considered or are considering legislation to deter the moves, and a few have passed bills.

House Democrats find common scapegoat for border bill split — Senate Democrats
Progressives and moderates point fingers at Democratic senators for lost leverage

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal says Senate Democrats should have coordinated better with the House to ensure the party could exert maximum pressure in border funding negotiations. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Moderate and progressive House Democrats were split Thursday as a majority of their caucus reluctantly joined Republicans in clearing the Senate’s border funding bill for the president’s signature. But the two factions uniformly agreed on one thing: Senate Democrats had sabotaged their negotiations.

Emotions were raw Thursday as House Democratic leaders went through a tumultuous 24-hour period trying to force some of their priorities into the Senate’s $4.59 billion supplemental funding measure only to face obstacles from their own party. 

Democrats withdraw rule to amend Senate border bill as moderates prepared to rebel
About 15 to 20 moderate Democrats planned to vote against the rule, according to an aide

Rep. Stephanie Murphy and other moderate Democrats had been prepared to vote against a rule to amend the Senate border supplemental, urging their leadership to allow a vote on the upper chamber’s version without changes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At least 15 moderate House Democrats were prepared to rebel against their leadership Thursday and vote against a rule that would amend the Senate border supplemental to include a handful of progressive priorities, prompting leadership to withdraw the rule.

The moderates’ objection is significant, as House Democratic leaders had hoped their caucus would unify around the proposed changes in an effort to give them more sway in negotiations with the Senate and the White House. 

Senate approves border bill; Pelosi and Trump talk compromise

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic leaders are weighing their next move on a border supplemental aid package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:35 p.m. | With the Senate’s passage of its version of a border supplemental funding bill Wednesday, and its rejection of the House measure, negotiations between the White House, Senate and House leaders will now attempt to nail down a compromise before Congress leaves for the July Fourth recess.

Several disagreements lie at the heart of Senate and House differences on the two bills. The Senate bill rejected some of the tight restrictions the House included in its measure on the care of migrant children in government custody. The Senate also added in more money than the House for border enforcement agencies and for more immigration judges.