Derek Kilmer

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

The fix-up-Congress committee takes on a fresh agenda for 2020
With impeachment done, modernization panel looks at more civility and new technology

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress in March 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s almost like an alternate universe.

Fresh off the bitterly partisan and acrimonious House impeachment vote, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress approved a slate of recommendations Thursday including some aimed at boosting civility and bipartisanship in the legislative branch.  

Study shows growing ocean damage as protection bills languish
Finds most ocean acidification, which harms marine life and coastal economies, has been triggered by 88 companies, including Exxon Mobil

A slide shows growing acidification of the world’s oceans during a presentation of data at a climate conference in Spain earlier this month.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As lawmakers push legislation to protect the nation’s coastal waters, scientists are placing much of the blame for degrading ocean conditions on emissions from large energy companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., which was cleared Tuesday in a long-running climate court case.

A study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters found that carbon emissions from the largest energy and cement companies are responsible for more than half of a damaging side effect: increasing acidity in the planet’s oceans, which harms marine life and coastal economies.

Never mind impeachment, this bipartisan committee is going forward
House modernization panel prepares for its second year

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid the partisan polarization of impeachment, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress began examining possible changes Thursday to the chamber’s rules and procedures, seeking out ideas to make the legislative branch function better. 

The panel, a temporary and bipartisan project to revamp Congress for the modern era, is tasked with offering recommendations about how to update technological savvy on Capitol Hill and how to improve the quality of work for lawmakers and staff. It began earlier this year as a one-year effort but will now carry on through next year with a fresh infusion of funds and through the divisive 2020 elections.  

Climate change solutions can’t wait for the politics to catch up
New Democrat Coalition pushes for bills that have bipartisan support and can make a difference

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court on Sept. 18. Solutions to the climate crisis must not get caught up in partisan battles, New Democrat Coalition Chairman Derek Kilmer writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In the Pacific Northwest, we have a sense of urgency about addressing climate change. That urgency is driven, in part, by the fact that we are already seeing its impacts.

Where I’m from, we have four coastal tribes that are trying to move to higher ground due to rising sea levels and more severe storms. Catastrophic wildfires threaten the health and safety of communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. And our region’s largest employer — the Department of Defense — identifies climate change as a “threat multiplier” that makes our world less safe.

House leaders give modernization panel more time
A second year of work ahead for committee that seeks to make Congress more efficient

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress meeting in the Capitol in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Like most any fixer-upper endeavor, renovating Congress for the modern era will take at least a year longer than originally planned.

The House’s temporary Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is on track to get more time to finish its effort to update the legislative branch amid the increasing political polarization of the 2020 elections. The House Rules Committee approved a rule Wednesday extending the modernization panel through next year. The full chamber voted Thursday, making the extension official.

Modernization panel mulls overhaul of congressional calendar
Members weigh time in districts vs. in the District

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, suggested having the House in two for two full weeks, then away for two weeks.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of a panel to modernize Congress are floating proposals to overhaul the legislative calendar, including an option of being in session for two full work weeks and then recessing for a fortnight of district work time.

Reps. William R. Timmons IV, a South Carolina Republican, and Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, both suggested such an option Wednesday during a hearing of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a temporary panel tasked with offering recommendations to update Capitol Hill technology and to improve working conditions for lawmakers and staff.  

Some lawmakers question amount of time spent in committees
How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier sits on four committees and seven subcommittees, one of the most packed rosters in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House parliamentarian brought the hammer down on the Education and Labor Committee in April, ending a long-standing practice that allowed panel members from both parties to vote on bills in committee on a flexible schedule — a violation of the House ban on proxy voting.

Members say their schedules have become so hectic and compressed that the courtesy, which the committee has extended for years, is needed. But the practice raises a bigger question: How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

With impeachment churning, Modernization panel urges civility
Ex-Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggests leaders plan bipartisan retreat and weekly dinners

Modernization committee leaders Derek Kilmer, right, and Tom Graves say their panel “has set a new standard for collaboration on Capitol Hill.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As impeachment and partisan politics rage on Capitol Hill, one congressional panel spent Thursday morning brainstorming ways to promote civility and collaboration among lawmakers.

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress almost seemed like it inhabited an alternate Congress from the one where, at the same time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined plans for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and the House Intelligence Committee probed a whistleblower complaint central to that effort.

Photos of the Week: A statehood hearing, climate activists and a new way to wear glasses
The week of September 20 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser rides a double-decker bus on Monday with American flags featuring 51 stars down Pennsylvania Avenue along with 51 military veterans ahead of this week’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on making D.C. the 51st state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)