Bennie Thompson

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.

Who’s Behind Congress’ Messaging? That Would Be a 24-Year-Old
Young communications directors go to bat for Mississippi’s Harper, Thompson

Colby Jordan, left, works for Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Guy King works for Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. (Courtesy Colby Jordan and Guy King)

The situation at the Mexican border this spring divided delegations in Congress.

Democrat Bennie Thompson decried the “discriminatory policy enacted by Trump designed to separate” migrant kids from their families.

Trump: Jamie Dimon Doesn’t Have the ‘Smarts’ to Be President, PR Hurricane Death Toll Inflated
President contends Democrats inflated Puerto Rico numbers

President Donald Trump walks from the South Lawn to Marine One on his way to Joint Base Andrews on July 27. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:43 a.m. | President Donald Trump warned those in Hurricane Florence’s path of the storm’s power, but then returned to attacking his foes and painting himself as the victim of an internal FBI scheme to damage him politically. And he essentially accused Puerto Rican officials and Democrats of lying about how many people died there after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island.

“That doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know why he’d say that,” Florida GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo told reporters when informed of the president’s tweet saying the death toll from Hurricane Maria was a ploy by Democrats.

Democrats Fume Over Transfer of FEMA Money to ICE Before Hurricanes
Agency officials, some Republicans say funds could not be used for response

Sen. Jeff Merkley has released documents showing that nearly $10 million from FEMA’s budget was diverted to fund ICE’s detention facilities and deportation operations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the eve of Hurricane Florence hitting the U.S. coast, Democratic lawmakers expressed outrage that the Homeland Security Department transferred nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a reprogramming move this summer.

Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office on Wednesday released documents confirming that $9.8 million from FEMA’s operations and support budget was diverted to fund ICE’s detention facilities and deportation operations.

2016 Presidential Campaigns Owe Secret Service $3.9M, GAO Says
Agency must collect its own debt, and most campaign funds are gone

U.S. Secret Service overpaid 2016 campaigns nearly $4 million for travel expenses, a new report found. Here an agent stands at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in Iowa. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four 2016 presidential campaign committees owe a combined $3.9 million to the Secret Service after the agency overpaid the campaigns in reimbursements for travel costs for agents who accompanied candidates and their families.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Thursday analyzing the debts owed by the campaign committees of President Donald Trump, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Success Stories: Creating a More Diverse Capitol Hill
Jennifer DeCasper and Hope Goins on how they have done it

Hope Goins says half of her staff are women of color. (Bian Elkhatib/ CQ Roll Call)

Some offices on Capitol Hill make an extra effort to reflect the diversity of America. And while the lawmakers they serve might get the credit, the office directors in charge of hiring are the ones who make it happen.

“It’s been a huge priority of our office, just because our boss is obviously a diverse candidate, we come from a diverse state, and so our office needs to represent our state,” said Jennifer DeCasper, chief of staff for Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. “Diversity means that it includes everything of value to your constituency. Our constituency is not homogeneous, and so my office should not be homogeneous.”

New House Bill Would Prohibit Lawmakers from Sleeping in Offices
Speaker Ryan, who sleeps in his office, won’t support bill, spokeswoman says

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., introduced a bill Thursday to prohibit House members from sleeping in their congressional offices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi introduced a bill Thursday to prohibit House members from sleeping overnight in their congressional offices as a way to save money.

The bill also would grant members a tax deduction for living expenses so they can better afford to make second homes in Washington during the work week while they're away from their home districts.

Members Dismiss Need for ‘Taxpayer-Funded Dorm’ in D.C.
Donovan says he would rather keep sleeping in his office rather than use taxpayer dollars

Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., said he doesn’t support a proposal to fund a facility for affordable housing for members of Congress in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Dan Donovan said he opposes legislation to provide members with cheap housing as an alternative to sleeping in his office.

The Republican congressman was one of several members who spoke to the New York Post about legislation being proposed by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson.

Digital Staffers Focus on Getting on Message
Democrats fighting to catch up to Republicans in numbers and training

GOP Labs brings in companies to train staffers in social media and digital platforms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Breaking through the noise is a typical goal in communications, but this year, staffers just want to speak with one voice. They’re making coordination a priority within their parties.

That coordination is most obvious when multiple congressional offices blast out the same message with the same graphics on the same day. Whether it’s criticizing the Republican tax plan or celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it’s all from the same script.