Robert W Goodlatte

More Republicans Ready to Push but Not Force Immigration Votes
Denham won’t commit to discharge petition on queen of the hill rule for DACA bills

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., center, flanked by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, hold a news conference on the use of the “queen of the hill” rule for DACA legislation in the House on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four dozen mostly moderate Republicans have joined Democrats in their push for a “queen of the hill” rule that would set up a series of immigration votes. But the GOP congressman leading the charge is reluctant to commit to a discharge petition that could actually force his leadership to bring it to the floor.

“You shouldn’t need a discharge petition,” California Rep. Jeff Denham said. He acknowledged that backers of the rule might discuss such a petition — which if signed by a majority of the House would force leadership to call a vote. But he refused to commit to filing one if his plan to put pressure on Speaker Paul D. Ryan fails.

Justices Weigh Congressional Inaction on Internet Sales Tax
Supreme Court muses about “obsolete” ruling

The Supreme Court weighed an internet tax case and seemed to want Congress to resolve the issue.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court almost yearned Tuesday for Congress to resolve a major internet sales tax issue, if only to relieve the justices from having to make a call in a case with potential widespread effects on the nation’s online commerce.

“Is there anything we can do to give Congress a signal it should act more affirmatively in this area?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked near the end of an hour of oral arguments.

Congressional Gridlock Plays Central Role in Internet Tax Case
Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide this term

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill on the online sales taxation issue last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a major internet sales tax case, and it won’t be the first or last time the justices will try to figure out whether gridlock in Congress plays a role in their decision.

But usually the gridlock is not quite on this scale. The Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide when it decides this term whether to overturn its 1992 ruling that bars states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Balanced-Budget Amendment Falls Short in House
Roll call vote could provide midterm campaign fodder

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., encouraged her caucus to vote against the balanced budget amendment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans fell short of the two-thirds support needed to send a balanced-budget amendment to the Senate on Thursday, but they succeeded in getting a roll call vote that can be used during the midterm campaigns to criticize Democrats as lax on fiscal discipline.

The 233-184 vote followed four hours of debate that centered on the growth of entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as how balancing the budget would impact the economy.

State Activists Watching Washington Balanced-Budget Kabuki
Rapt audience for Thursday’s symbolic vote

State activists hope this week’s balanced-budget vote will bring national attention to their work. Above, staffers attend a House Financial Services Committee hearing in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House’s balanced-budget amendment vote Thursday may be a symbolic gesture aimed at shoring up Republicans’ conservative base in advance of the midterm elections. But it’s all too real for activists at the state level, who are watching closely and thrilled about the national spotlight on an issue that has been percolating quietly outside the Beltway.

Despite the joint resolution’s lack of support within the halls of Congress, there is still optimism that a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution will be sent to the states for ratification during the next few years.

Congress Returns, With Eyes Off the Floors
Committee activity will be headlined by Zuckerberg and Trump Cabinet picks

Senate GOP leadership likely did not anticipate reserving chunks of time ahead of the midterms this year for Cabinet-level posts that were already filled. Pictured above, from left: Sens. Cory Gardner, John Barrasso and Roy Blunt, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress returns Monday after two weeks away, but much of the focus will be on the action outside the House and Senate chambers.

The highlight of the week will be hearings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg amid the ongoing fallout from the social media giant’s admission that user data was improperly shared with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Aides: House Will Take Up Balanced-Budget Amendment Next Week
Democrats pan move as a face-saving gimmick

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says a balanced-budget amendment has been one of his “highest priorities” during his time in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will vote next week on a balanced-budget amendment authored by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, GOP aides said Thursday.

The measure would bar Congress from spending more than the government takes in each year, unless three-fifths of each chamber voted to allow excess outlays. It would also require a three-fifths majority to raise the debt limit, a high bar for one of the most unpopular votes lawmakers take every few years.

Fact-Checking Trump’s Immigration Tweets
President sharpened attacks on Democrats over the weekend

President Donald Trump said over the weekend that DACA was “dead” because Democrats “didn’t care or act,” but there have been several efforts by members of both parties to solve the current crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a series of tweets over the weekend and Monday morning, President Donald Trump made claims about immigration policy; border security; the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program; and the debate in Congress. Roll Call fact-checked some of Trump’s assertions, many of which are not true.

Trump first announced his intention to end DACA last September, and ordered the Homeland Security Department to begin winding the program down in early March. But two federal judges have blocked his efforts, leaving the program largely intact and keeping about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” in limbo.

Rooney Adopts New GOP Line: House Investigations Have ‘Lost All Credibility’
House Intelligence Committee to close Russia investigation

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., arrives with Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby on the West Front of the Capitol before Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional committees can no longer conduct credible investigations without poisoning them with partisan politics, Rep. Tom Rooney said.

“We’ve gone completely off the rails, and now we’re just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day’s news,” the Florida Republican said in an interview Monday with CNN. “We’ve lost all credibility, and we’re going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately. ... In that regard, that’s why I called for the investigation to end.”

House Committee Leadership Is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs
Term limits, fundraising pressure and reduced clout are taking a toll on GOP chairmen

Reps. Lamar Smith and Robert W. Goodlatte, shown here in 2014, are two of at least eight committee chairmen who are leaving Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter what happens in the November elections, the House of Representatives will be a body transformed.

At least eight of the chamber’s sitting committee chairmen are quitting Congress — and two additional chiefs have already given up their gavels. These exits come at a cost to the institution, as House Republicans will lose policy expertise, political savvy and procedural prowess.