Paul D Ryan

Some lawmakers question amount of time spent in committees
How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier sits on four committees and seven subcommittees, one of the most packed rosters in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House parliamentarian brought the hammer down on the Education and Labor Committee in April, ending a long-standing practice that allowed panel members from both parties to vote on bills in committee on a flexible schedule — a violation of the House ban on proxy voting.

Members say their schedules have become so hectic and compressed that the courtesy, which the committee has extended for years, is needed. But the practice raises a bigger question: How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

Trump nominates director of Government Publishing Office
If confirmed, Hugh Halpern would be first permanent director since 2017

Copies of President Donald Trump's budget for fiscal 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington. Trump nominated Hugh Nathanial Halpern to be director of the agency Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The agency responsible for producing U.S. passports has been plagued by leadership instability since 2017, but President Donald Trump’s move to nominate Hugh Nathanial Halpern of Virginia to be the Government Publishing Office’s director Tuesday could end that streak.

Halpern worked as the director of floor operations for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan before Halpern retired in January. He was the staff director for the House Rules Committee and worked on several other committees, including the House Financial Services Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the course of 30 years.

Biggs to replace Meadows as Freedom Caucus chairman, effective Oct. 1
Meadows, who’d planned to transition out of the chairmanship this fall, will remain on caucus board

Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, left, has been elected to serve as the third chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Also pictured, California Rep. Tom McClintock at a House Judiciary hearing in July. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs will serve as the third chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, after the group of roughly three dozen hard-line conservatives elected him to take over its leadership effective Oct. 1.

The sophomore congressman will replace North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows next month — a fall leadership transition that Meadows had long been planning. Meadows has served as the group’s chairman for the past two and a half years following the two-year tenure of Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the founding chairman.

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.

Texas Rep. Conaway, top Republican on Agriculture panel, not seeking reelection
Eight-term congressman to leave open seat in deep red district

Rep. K. Michael Conaway is not seeking reelection in 2020. The top Republican on the Agriculture Committee is term-limited from staying in that position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Republican Rep. K. Michael Conaway, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is planning to retire at the end of his current term, according to GOP sources. 

Conaway’s decision not to seek reelection in 2020, which he is not expected to formally announce until a press conference Wednesday, leaves an open seat in the deep red 11th District, a part of West central Texas that President Donald Trump won by 59 points in 2016.

Here are the ‘squads’ of Congresses past
AOC isn’t the first to have a lawmaking crew with a catchy moniker

From left, Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna S. Pressley hold a July 15 news conference, after the president tweeted they should “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It started as a simple Instagram caption: “Squad.” Then the media and pundits got hold of it. “These four people in the so-called ‘squad’ … have done squat in Congress,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News earlier this month, clearly relishing the alliteration.

The four progressive House members in question — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna S. Pressley — have weathered insults and worse as they challenge their party’s leadership and feud with President Donald Trump. Their nickname is just one more thing to mock.

Clete Willems is trading in the White House for K Street
“My biggest joke now is I went to become a partner in a law firm, so I can work less”

Clete Willems has gone from chauffeuring Rep. Paul D. Ryan to working on trade policy at the White House to partnering at the Akin Gump law firm on K Street. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The timing of Clete Willems’ recent departure from the White House seemed a bit inopportune what with negotiations over trade disputes with China hitting a pivotal point. But the international economics adviser to the president says he had other commitments to keep.

Though the Trump White House has a reputation for unpredictability and plenty of staffing drama, Willems says the reason for his departure was more personal. When he took on the new gig at the beginning of the Trump administration, he made a pact with his wife: When they had a second child, he would head for the exit. His daughter was born in March.

James Clyburn: Live at the Comedy Cellar
House majority whip kicks off International Joke Day with a 3-joke set (on Twitter)

Despite his best efforts, there is probably no Netflix standup special in House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn’s future. (Courtesy Rep. James E. Clyburn via Twitter)

We may be weeks removed from Father’s Day but that didn’t discourage House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn from unleashing a torrent of dad jokes so corny his district now qualifies for ethanol subsidies.

The South Carolina Democrat logged on to Twitter dot com on Monday to rattle off some turtle-themed material in celebration of International Joke Day. His jokes included gems like this:

Trump escalates trade tussle with India, putting U.S. farmers at risk — again
‘We’ve been very good to our allies,’ POTUS says amid warnings of economic damage

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint session of Congress as then-Speaker Paul D. Ryan and then-Vice President Joe Biden, watch on June 8, 2016. Three years later, he is in a trade spat with President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Of the many trade wars Donald Trump has launched since becoming president, his relatively quiet and in-the-weeds one with India had flown mostly below the radar. No more.

GOP lawmakers and analysts worry that those most impacted will be the American farmers who send nuts and fruits to India, as well the U.S. firms that export aircraft and machinery there. Voters who make a living in both sectors are already leery of Trump’s trade tactics, making an escalation with India dicey politics as he revs up his re-election campaign.