Bennie Thompson

House Democrats to put Trump’s child separation policy back under microscope
Judiciary, Homeland Security Committees announce oversight hearings for border policy

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will appear before the House Homeland Security Committee in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Homeland Security Department’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border will be back in the spotlight during a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled Feb. 12.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler and fellow Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the subcommittee on immigration and citizenship, announced a lineup of witnesses Monday in a joint press release. Those scheduled to testify Feb. 12 include the chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and top advisers from the Justice Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Health and Human Services.

White House pours cold water on House Dems’ emerging border package
Senior official dismisses measure over lack of border wall funds

President Donald Trump’s border wall prototypes as seen from the Mexico side of the U.S. southern border last year. A quarter of the federal government is shuttered for a 34th day amid his stalemate with Democrats. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

The White House on Thursday poured cold water on an effort by some House Democrats to craft a border security package that will meet or surpass President Donald Trump's $5.7 billion demands.

One senior White House official dismissed the still-evolving package from Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson and Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, set to be made public in an early form Friday morning, because it lacks border wall funds.

Democrats back Pelosi decision to delay State of the Union as Republicans cry politics
Pelosi can prevent joint session from occurring Jan. 29 since Congress has yet to pass a concurrent resolution setting date

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., here with Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., right, and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., wants the State of the Union delayed until the government is reopened. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats lined up behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to delay the State of the Union until the government is reopened, even as Republicans decried the California Democrat for playing hardball politics, saying the speech should occur Jan. 29 as scheduled.

Pelosi jolted Washington on Wednesday when she sent a letter to President Donald Trump seeking to postpone a joint session of Congress to receive his annual address. While she offered it as a suggestion, it’s ultimately her call.

Fireworks and presidential threats send shutdown talks careening into chaos
Sides trade vicious barbs, allegations after Trump abruptly leaves Situation Room meeting

President Donald Trump, flanked from left by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S. D., Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stops to speak to reporters in the Capitol Wednesday following his lunch about the shutdown with Senate Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Talks toward ending the partial government shutdown hit a new low Wednesday when fireworks broke out at the White House, with President Donald Trump abruptly leaving a meeting with congressional leaders after yet another flap over his proposed southern border wall.

The shutdown enters its 20th day Thursday with no end in sight after another round of fruitless talks and blunt warnings from Trump about his next possible move if he cannot secure a deal with congressional Democrats over his border wall demands — even as 800,000 federal workers and their families wonder about future paychecks.

Cybersecurity may suffer as shutdown persists
Congress remains in the dark about how the spending stalemate has affected DHS’ anti-hacking mission

Members of the House Homeland Security panel, led by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., are concerned that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the DHS is running with significantly fewer staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown may be making some key federal departments and agencies running with skeletal staffs more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches, experts said.

Meanwhile, the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security, said it remains in the dark about how the shutdown has affected the department’s mission to safeguard critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

In Oversight Role, House Democrats Aim for Both Check and Balance
Investigating the president carries risks for incoming House majority

Incoming House Oversight ranking member Elijah E. Cummings envisions a two-pronged approach to investigating President Donald Trump — focusing on his personal business dealings, including whether they implicate the president’s campaign in colluding with Russia, and probing the “harm” he says Trump has inflicted on the foundations of American democracy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has seen the headlines. The 12-term Maryland Democrat, who in January will take control of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, knows he has the power to become President Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. For now, he’s taking a more measured approach.

“A nightmare has to be in the eyes of the beholder,” Cummings said in a recent interview. “If a nightmare comes with me doing my job that I’m sworn to do, so be it.”

House, Senate Democrats Identify Slate of Committee Leaders for New Congress
House Dem Caucus must still ratify, Senate is ready to go

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has his roster of ranking members for committees ready. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Democrats have identified their incoming committee leadership for the 116th Congress, although the full caucus must still weigh in and a few key chairs will have to wait until the House speakership contest is settled. In the Senate meanwhile, the roster is finished, with some notable movement in the smaller Democratic minority. 

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee made its recommendations for most committee chairmanships in the new Congress on Tuesday evening, with a few others designated Monday. The full caucus must still approve the choices.

Black Caucus at Crossroads as Marcia Fudge Mulls Speaker Bid
Several CBC members still supporting Pelosi but Chairman Cedric Richmond predicts flips if Fudge runs

Reps. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, left, pictured at the 2016 Democratic National Convention with James Clyburn, D-S.C., is thinking about running for speaker. Clyburn said he’s not discouraged Fudge from running but that he’s still supporting Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The possibility that Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge might challenge Nancy Pelosi for speaker seems to have some of her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus torn, despite many saying Thursday they still plan to support Pelosi.

But one notable member of the CBC would not make such a pledge, Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond.

Lawmakers Eye Cyber Bounties to Fix Bugs in Federal Networks
House panel approves Senate bill to set up pilot program at DHS

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a Senate bill last week that would set up a bug bounty program at the Department of Homeland Security. Above, Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., at a 2014 hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers last week moved closer to mandating that the Department of Homeland Security start a bug bounty program that will pay computer security researchers to spot weaknesses in DHS’s computer networks. That requirement would bring the department in line with other U.S. agencies with similar cybersecurity programs.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday by unanimous consent approved a Senate bill that would set up a pilot program at the department. The Senate passed the bill on April 17. The Pentagon, the IRS and the General Services Administration already operate such programs, and lawmakers have proposed legislation that would launch similar efforts at the departments of State and Treasury.

Trump Tweet Jeopardizes Bipartisan Puerto Rico Bill
Grijalva: ‘It makes people that want to work on compromise become really suspicious’

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the president’s Puerto Rico tweets have fanned the flames of suspicion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s comments defending his administration’s response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year may have stymied chances for a bipartisan bill to reduce politicization and patronage at the territory’s publicly-owned electric utility, which some see as a key impediment slowing modernization of the island’s grid.

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah and ranking member Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona both say that action is needed to create safeguards to protect the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority from political influence.