Lindsey McPherson

House GOP Charts Spending Collision With Senate
Republican reps discussing alternatives, no details provided

Updated 7:10 p.m. | House Republicans are continuing on course with a spending strategy expected to fail in the Senate as they huddled Wednesday to discuss other pressing matters that might ride on the must-pass measure.

GOP leaders signaled an intention to move forward with a plan to pass a spending bill next week that would fully fund defense appropriations through the end of the fiscal year above the sequestration cap and use a continuing resolution to extend current funding for remaining agencies until Jan. 19, several members said after the meeting.

Democrats Won’t Support Another Stopgap, Hoyer Says
… Even if it’s clean

Democrats will not support another clean continuing resolution that would allow Republicans to continue shirking their governing responsibilities, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday.

The Maryland Democrat named several “must pass” bills Republicans have yet to get through Congress, including reauthorizations of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as the next disaster supplemental and legislation providing a path to legal status for immigrants brought illegally into the country as children.

Ethics Committee Closes Book on Devin Nunes
Panel clears Intelligence Committee chairman of claims of unauthorized disclosures

The House Ethics Committee on Thursday announced it has closed an investigation into Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, clearing him of claims that he made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

“The committee does not determine whether information is or is not classified ... [so it] sought the analysis of Representative Nunes’s statements by classification experts in the intelligence community,” Ethics Chairwoman Susan W. Brooks and ranking member Ted Deutch said in a statement. “Based solely on the conclusion of these classification experts that the information that Rep. Nunes disclosed was not classified, the committee will take no further action and consider this matter closed.”

Arizona’s Trent Franks to Resign Jan. 31
GOP lawmaker said to have made female staffers uncomfortable with talk of surrogacy

Updated 7:24 pm | Arizona Republican Trent Franks said Thursday he is resigning from Congress effective Jan. 31 amid an Ethics Committee investigation into discussions he had with two female staffers about surrogacy. 

In a lengthy statement Thursday evening, Franks said he and his wife struggled with fertility.

House Conservatives Mixed Emotions Over White House Confab
Hints but no guarantees from leadership spark split feelings

Leaders of the two conservative House caucuses are both hopeful and worried about what’s happening Thursday afternoon at the White House.

They hope Speaker Paul D. Ryan is advocating for a Republican-crafted spending strategy during a meeting with President Donald Trump and other congressional leaders. But they worry that negotiations over topline spending numbers could undermine their position.

House Leaders Show Wide Gap in Year-End Priorities

The wide gap between Republicans and Democrats on year-end priorities was on full display Thursday as Speaker Paul D. Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held their weekly press conferences.

Pelosi said Democrats will not support the two-week continuing resolution that the House is voting on Thursday afternoon because it doesn’t address “urgent needs,” while Ryan wouldn’t say explicitly that Republicans have enough votes to pass it on their own.

Ryan Still Thinks Moore Should’ve Stepped Down
Other Republicans have changed position

Unlike some other Republicans, Speaker Paul D. Ryan is refusing to change his position on Alabama Senate GOP candidate Roy Moore. 

“I think he should have dropped out,” Ryan said.

Congress Being Congress: Funding Fight Kicked to Later in December
Shutdown threat this weekend averted, but after Dec. 22, the odds go up

Even as President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a government shutdown “could happen,” Congress is on track to pass a two-week continuing resolution to avoid just that.

But after that stopgap, there are no guarantees. Republicans are working on a strategy that appears designed to test Democrats’ resolve to pick a fight over their spending priorities.

Freedom Caucus Open to Linking Spending Deal to Health Care
Senate insurance market stabilization measure could be part of calculus now

As House Republicans continue to strategize about how to fund a defense spending increase by Christmas, a key conservative said Wednesday he’d be open to a bipartisan Senate proposal to fund the cost sharing reduction subsidies for the health insurance exchanges if that’s what it would take to get Senate Democrats on board.

“If Alexander-Murray would break the defense and non-defense wall, that may be a price that many would be willing to pay,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said, even as he noted that has not been a part of the discussions so far.

GOP Spending Strategy Would Delay Shutdown Showdown
House Republicans consider multistep formula for combination defense-CR

House Republicans are working on a multistep government funding strategy that involves a two-week stopgap measure to keep the lights on beyond Dec. 8 and fully funding defense by Christmas.

No final decisions have been made but the idea GOP leaders have discussed with key conference members is to stick to the plan to pass a continuing resolution through Dec. 22.

Republicans Schedule Next Year's Retreat at the Greenbrier

Congressional Republicans’ annual retreat will be held Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, according to a GOP aide.

The retreat, which is hosted by the Congressional Institute, is an opportunity for GOP lawmakers to plan out their legislative agenda for the year.

Deadline Looming, House GOP Keeps Talking About Funding Options
House GOP leaning around funding government through Dec. 22

House Republicans appear to be sticking with plans to pass a two-week stopgap funding bill, despite conservatives’ push to add an additional week to have the deadline bump up against New Years Eve instead of Christmas.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday declined to confirm plans to stick with a vote on a continuing resolution lasting through Dec. 22 but several Republicans leaving a GOP conference meeting where the matter was discussed indicated that was the decision.

Freedom Caucus Seeks to Delink Tax and Spending Negotiations
Members threatened to sink motion to go to conference on tax overhaul

The House Freedom Caucus on Monday threatened to sink a motion to go to conference on the tax overhaul — a procedural move they had been pushing for — in an attempt to negotiate a longer stopgap funding bill to delink upcoming tax and spending deadlines.

But in the end, all but one member of the 36-member hard-line conservative caucus voted for the motion to go to conference after Chairman Mark Meadows had a conversation off the floor with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, and other caucus members huddled on the floor with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash was the only caucus member to vote against the motion, which was agreed to, 222-192.

As Tax Overhaul Looms, Senate Has Upper Hand
House GOP wary of Senate’s leverage given the narrow vote margin there

The Senate’s passage of a tax overhaul illustrated a fragile coalition of support that ironically provides the chamber with the upper hand headed into conference committee negotiations with the House.

House Republicans wanted a conference process on the two chambers’ differing tax bills to prevent the House from getting jammed by the Senate, as they acknowledge has happened frequently on major bills.

Proposed Measure Would Prevent Harassment Settlements Using Office Funds
Conyers revelations came from documents suggesting he paid a settlement with Hill account

Legislation introduced Friday would prevent sexual harassment and misconduct settlements from being paid out of members’ office budgets.

The measure introduced by GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana comes after sexual misconduct allegations against Rep. John Conyers were first brought to light through documents related to a wrongful dismissal complaint he settled with a former employee who had claimed she was fired for rejecting Conyer’s sexual advances. The employee, Marion Brown, was paid $27,000 in wages from Conyer’s office budget after being fired.

Conyers Status: Up in the Air
Michigan Democrat's attorney says congressman has no reason to apologize

The fate of Rep. John Conyers Jr., the Michigan Democrat under fire for sexual misconduct allegations, won't be determined for a few more days, at least according to his attorney. 

Arnold E. Reed said he will meet with the congressman in the coming days to decide his political future. “It will be Congressman John Conyers who will decide what he is going to do in terms of whether he will continue to represent the people,” Reed said.

Office of Compliance Releases Settlement Money Details

The Office of Compliance’s Awards and Settlement Fund has paid out $359,450 since fiscal 2013 to address six claims made against House-member led offices, $84,000 of which was for a sexual harassment claim, according to data released Friday by the House Administration Committee.

The OOC did not name any parties in the settlements, but Politico reported the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement was for a claim against Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold.

House Republicans Exploring Alternate Shutdown Avoidance

Faced with a growing unease about House Republican leaders’ plans to fund the government past next week, the GOP is talking about alternatives. 

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina told Roll Call that there are other government funding options being discussed by the GOP conference other than the unpopular two-week continuing resolution, including a CR that would last until December 30.

12 House Republicans Sign Letter Opposing Arctic Drilling
The proposal, not included in the House-passed tax bill, remains in the Senate version on floor

A dozen House Republicans, half of whom voted for the House tax overhaul bill that passed Nov. 13, wrote a letter to GOP leaders urging them not to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, adding another complication to negotiating a tax bill that can pass both chambers.

The Senate tax overhaul bill is tied in a reconciliation measure with legislation that would open up drilling parts of the ANWR. Its inclusion is seen as key to having secured GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s support for the measure.

Leadership, CBC Differ on Conyers
Democratic leaders call for resignation, CBC members refrain

After House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called for Michigan Rep. John Conyers to resign, Democratic caucus leaders followed her lead but Congressional Black Caucus leaders did not.

“We’ve already issued a statement; I’ve called upon the same,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley told reporters.