Rosa DeLauro

House Democratic women flex muscles with formal caucus, plus a political arm
On Equal Pay Day, new caucus touts expanded leadership team

From left, Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., members of the newly named Democratic Women's Caucus, hold a news conference Feb. 5 about their decision to wear white to the State of the Union. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic women, armed with more numbers and the power of the majority, are getting  organized, switching their working group to a more formal caucus and launching a political action committee to help further grow their ranks.

The Democratic Women’s Caucus is the new name of the Democratic Women’s Working Group. Open to all 91 House Democratic women, the caucus will be led by an expanded leadership team of three co-chairs and two vice chairs.

House passes gender pay gap bill, a top Democratic priority
Most Republicans oppose measure, say there are better ways to get pay parity without lawsuits

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has been introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act since 1997 in an effort to help close the gender pay gap. The House on Wednesday passed her bill, one of the new Democratic majority’s top priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats on Wednesday passed another one of their top party priorities, a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act that is designed to help close the gender pay gap. 

HR 7 passed, 242-187, with only seven Republican votes. Those included New Jersey’s Christopher H. Smith, an original cosponsor of the bill, Florida’s Mario Diaz-Balart, Idaho’s Mike Simpson, New York’s Tom Reed, Texas’ Will Hurd, Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick and Illinois’ Rodney Davis. All 235 House Democrats voted for the measure. 

Road ahead: As Congress digests Mueller conclusions, it has plenty more on its plate
House will attempt to override Trump’s veto, while Senate takes up Green New Deal

A Capitol Visitor Center employee sets up a shade umbrella last Tuesday outside the CVC entrance. The Senate and House minority parties may need an umbrella to block the shade the majorities plan to throw at them this week amid votes on the Green New Deal and overriding a presidential veto. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill spent much of the weekend waiting to find out what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discovered about Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election. But as Congress digests the principal conclusions of his report, prepared by Attorney General William P. Barr, leaders will also try to get members to address other priorities.

Barr’s four-page letter sent to Congress on Sunday afternoon stated that Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.”

Appropriators scold agency for poor student loan oversight
Aftershocks of inspector general report reach Congress

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., urged student loan servicers and the FSA to remember that people’s livelihoods are at stake. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Education Department has to do a better job of holding accountable the companies that service student loans and don’t always do what’s best for borrowers, House appropriators said Wednesday.

The hearing by the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee comes after the Education Department inspector general issued a report last month that, among other things, said the Federal Student Aid program was inadequately overseeing loan servicers, who violated rules that prevented borrowers from choosing favorable repayment plans or even paying the correct monthly amounts.

Will FDA keep cracking down on teen vaping, other initiatives, after Gottlieb leaves?
Scott Gottlieb, fought teen vaping and approved record numbers of generic drugs will resign next month

The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters is seen in White Oak, Md.(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who launched a campaign against teen vaping and approved a record number of generic drugs, is resigning next month.

The departure raises questions about whether the agency would continue to vigorously seek to curb the exploding use of e-cigarettes among young people, among other Gottlieb initiatives. But the commissioner, in a resignation letter listing accomplishments on this and other issues, said he was “confident that the FDA will continue to advance all these efforts.”

Republicans, seeing opportunities in the suburbs, advance paid leave plans
Current GOP proposals on tap in Congress could be the first of many in 2020 cycle

Missouri Rep Ann Wagner, who is seeking to improve the GOP’s standing in the suburbs, also plans to launch a new paid family leave bill in the House in the coming weeks. Picture behind Wagner, Florida Rep. Neal Dunn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats have dominated discussions surrounding parental leave for decades. But Republicans are now poised to introduce a raft of new proposals in the coming weeks, reflecting the party’s effort to win back the suburban women it lost in the midterms.

Lawmakers working on new legislation include Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Roll Call has confirmed.

Americans want paid family leave. Congress may finally be ready to deal
Common ground already exists in proposals put out by both parties

Supporters of paid family leave demonstrate at a Democratic rally in New York City in March 2016. The momentum toward creating some type of national program is now found on the GOP side too. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Two developments in the last month signal potential new life for a long-popular policy idea: creating a national paid family leave program.

First, two prominent Democrats — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut — reintroduced the FAMILY Act, which would provide working Americans up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a new child; to care for a sick loved one; or to recover if an injury or illness requires an extended absence from work. The bill has wide-ranging support among Democrats, but this is the seventh year in a row it has been introduced without a Republican co-sponsor.

What the shutdown taught us about paid family leave
What those government employees endured is a sobering reality for many low-wage workers every day

Federal workers and contractors, along with their unions, stage a protest calling for an end to the government shutdown in January. With the fight fresh in the nation’s mind, it’s time to talk about paid family leave. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The recent government shutdown opened the nation’s eyes to what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. Many federal workers and contractors had to make difficult choices between putting food on the table or paying their bills. What these government employees endured is, unfortunately, a sobering reality for many low-wage workers every day.

When you add to this mix a new baby, a seriously ill parent, or a cancer diagnosis requiring time away from work for tests and treatment, you have a recipe for disaster for low-wage workers. Taking time off without pay just isn’t an option — it means no rent, no heat, or no medications.

Trump could be his own biggest obstacle on HIV/AIDS plan
Administration’s broader policies are at odds with increasing access to drugs and other steps

President Donald Trump talks with members after his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on January 30, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate HIV transmission in the United States by 2030, which he announced Tuesday night, would be an ambitious goal that would require his administration to reverse course on a number of policies that potentially hinder access to HIV/AIDS care.

“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America,” Trump said in his State of the Union address. He said that his budget will “ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.”

Flower fund collects pocket change while appropriators tally billions
Chairwoman Lowey: ‘Make a contribution of $20 today’

Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas and Ed Case, D-Hawaii, two of the junior members of the House Appropriations Committee, will lead the flower fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Ed Case and Will Hurd, two of the junior members of the House Appropriations Committee, found out Wednesday that they’ll be in charge of loose change and crumpled dollar bills instead of the billions of federal spending they probably expected.

Upon the announcement that Case, a Hawaii Democrat, and Hurd, a Texas Republican, were named co-chairs of the House Appropriations flower fund, other appropriators began pulling cash out of their pockets and handbags and passing it to the two newcomers with the flower power.