Derek Kilmer

‘Dead billionaires’ and a tech Peace Corps? Lawmakers float ideas to fix Congress
First hearing of new modernization committee turns into a brainstorming session

Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., left, and John Sarbanes, D-Md., are seen in between testimony during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer kicked off the first hearing of the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with a plea for a return of something from the past: earmarks.

The Maryland Democrat was the first among 30 lawmakers who offered ideas Tuesday to the temporary and bipartisan panel, which has been charged with making recommendations about how to update Congress for the modern era.

Compromise or resist? Democrats still have a choice to make
The problem is that their voters are genuinely divided on whether to play nice with Trump

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold a press conference on the Green New Deal in February. The plan has little chance of going anywhere, which underscores the choice that Democrats face: Will they follow Republicans in splitting between a pragmatic wing and a strident one, or will they remain united in showing voters they are better suited to lead? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the House side of the Capitol and on the presidential campaign trail, progressives are talking about “Medicare-for-all” and a Green New Deal. They want not only to save Social Security but to expand it, to guarantee a job to everyone and to abolish the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.

This, they admit, is all about drawing contrasts with Republicans to set the terms of the 2020 campaign. The proposals won’t go anywhere with the GOP in control of the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House.

Outside influences seek to remake ‘This Old House’
Outside interests are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

U.S. Capitol dome as seen from the west. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ “This Old House” committee, a brand-new panel tasked with helping to update the legislative branch for the modern era, is already sparking attention off of Capitol Hill.

Outside interests — from government overhaul groups and think tanks to tech industry players — are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The year-long, 12-lawmaker panel will offer recommendations for rehabilitating Congress in such areas as technology and cybersecurity, procedures and scheduling, staff retention and executive branch oversight.

New Democrats launch task forces to help craft the House majority’s policy agenda
Task forces focus on issue areas like health care, infrastructure, climate change, national security, trade and technology

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., will co-chair the New Democrat Coalition’s health care task force, one of eight policy-focused work groups the centrist Democrats have launched this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition is ready to help the House majority craft its policy agenda for the 116th Congress, launching eight issue-focused task forces to develop proposals on party priorities such as health care, infrastructure and climate change. 

The group of centrist Democrats has used task forces to develop policy proposals in past Congresses, but they’re particularly excited about the work the task forces will do this session now that their party is in the majority.

What’s in a position? This is how caucuses show their strength
Many congressional caucuses take official positions to demonstrate the amount of support for specific policy ideas

New Democrat Coalition Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., said the group changed its bylaws to make it easier to take official positions as a coalition. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition has amended its bylaws to make it easier for the group of centrist Democrats to take official positions on policy ideas or legislation — a tool used by congressional caucuses to show their strength as they try to line up support behind specific policy ideas or legislation. 

Procedures for taking an official position vary by caucus. Most include a vote of their members, but thresholds for what level of a majority is needed to adopt the position differ among caucuses. 

New members, meet the ‘slush fund’
Many Hill freshmen are already establishing leadership PACs despite association with abuse

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., are among the more than two dozen freshman lawmakers who have established so-called leadership PACs, a type of fundraising committee critics say is too often abused. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar have pledged not to accept corporate PAC money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The newest class of congressional lawmakers — some of whom campaigned against corruption and corporate influence in politics — is rapidly adopting a practice that critics say is among the swampier in Washington.

More than two dozen new members of the House and Senate — including prominent freshmen such as New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney — have established so-called leadership PACs, according to data compiled by government watchdog group Issue One. Leadership PACs are fundraising committees that allow lawmakers to raise money for their colleagues and candidates.

Houlahan, Sherrill take leadership roles among freshman Dem moderates
Health care revamp, infrastructure and trade deals top New Democrat Coalition priorities

New Democratic Reps. Mikie Sherrill, center, and Chrissy Houlahan, right, will represent the freshman class in positions in the New Democrat Coalition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Democratic Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Mikie Sherrill have been assigned leadership roles in the New Democrat Coalition, Chairman Derek Kilmer of Washington told reporters Thursday.

More than 30 freshmen joined the group in the new Congress to bring its ranks to 92 members.

First big bipartisan vote establishes House select committee on modernizing Congress
Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer will chair the select committee

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., center, purple tie, will chair the new select committee on modernizing Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Taking its first bipartisan vote of the 116th Congress, the House voted Friday to establish a select committee to come up with recommendations for modernizing the legislative branch. 

The 418-12 bipartisan vote was even more significant because it is part of the House Democrats’ rules package. House rules are crafted by the majority party, and they rarely draw votes from the minority.

New Democrat Coalition Elects Derek Kilmer as New Chairman
Sewell, Peters, Kuster and DelBene will be vice chairs of pro-business caucus

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., is the new chair of the New Democrat Coalition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition on Friday elected Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer to chair the centrist, pro-business caucus in the 116th Congress. 

Kilmer, who has served as a vice chair of the coalition, will succeed Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes

Katherine Clark Elected House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair
Massachusetts Democrat becomes second-highest-ranking woman, behind Pelosi

Rep. Katherine M. Clark, D-Mass., was elected to serve as the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark was elected House Democratic Caucus vice chair for the 116th Congress, handily beating California Rep. Pete Aguilar

The vote tally was 144-90.