Human Services

Youth, anger, impeachment and the 1970s
Strengths of freshman Democrats lie more in dramatizing ignored issues than fleshing out policy details

If Bernie Sanders could get through the entire 2016 primary season without coherently explaining how he would pay for “Medicare for all,” why is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expected to be an ace number cruncher, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — In the 1970s, as a 25-year-old history graduate student at the University of Michigan, I ran for Congress without family money or even owning a car. In my passion (the Vietnam War was raging) and in my belief that college students deserved representation in Washington, I had much in common with the history-making Democratic Class of 2018.

Unlike, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I lost the Democratic primary to the floor leader of the Michigan state House, although I did carry anti-war Ann Arbor by a 5-to-1 margin. (Many more details on request). But I came close enough to nurture a few fantasies about my arrival in Washington as the nation’s youngest congressman.

Senators clash over abortion fee rule
Proposal would change how individuals are billed for abortion coverage

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., joined 13 other Republican senators in a letter urging the HHS to move forward with a rule that would change how individuals are billed for abortion coverage. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats and Republicans at odds over a proposed rule that would change how individuals are billed for abortion coverage sent two competing letters to Health and Human Services this week.

The public comment period for the rule closed Tuesday, amassing over 74,000 comments.

House Democrats to Hold Votes Thursday on Spending Measures to Reopen Government
Plan is to vote on 6 full-year appropriations bills and short-term CR for Homeland Security

The first order of business Thursday in the newly Democratic-controlled House will be to elect a speaker, expected to be Rep. Nancy Pelosi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats will vote Thursday, the first day of the new Congress in which they’ll be in the majority, to reopen the government with six full-year appropriations bills and a short-term continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The first votes of the 116th Congress will be to elect a speaker — expected to be longtime Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi — and then to adopt a rules package. The rules package will make the aforementioned appropriations legislation in order so that the Rules Committee does not have to adopt a separate rule to bring up the bills for debate.

Shutdown Effects: Breakdown by Department and Agency
Thousands of federal employees will be working without a paycheck

The Federal Reserve building is seen on Constitution Avenue address on Saturday, the first day of a partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thousands of federal employees face the prospect of working without a paycheck as the White House budget office Friday night directed the heads of government departments and agencies to begin implementing shutdown plans.

Funding for nine departments and other agencies lapsed at midnight as President Donald Trump remained in a standoff with Congress, his demand for funding for wall construction along the border with Mexico the sticking point in talks over appropriations and a stopgap funding measure.

Violence Against Women Act Lapses Again
Authorization expired with partial government shutdown

Anita Hill testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 14, 1991. The Violence Against Women Act came together in the aftermath of the hearings, in which Hill alleged she faced sexual harassment by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Violence Against Women Act lapsed for the second time in 25 years. Authorization for the law’s programs expired when the partial government shutdown began just after midnight Friday.

The landmark domestic violence law was set to expire Sept. 30, but was extended through Dec. 7 under the first stopgap spending bill and extended again until Dec. 21 in a second short-term bill.

Shutdown-Averting Deal Quickly Hits Oily Snag
Senators hold out for Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization

A continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 8 is what lies between the Senate and its holiday break. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A measure to extend spending authority for several Cabinet departments and assorted agencies through Feb. 8 was hung up in the Senate Wednesday afternoon over a spat involving the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other items left out of the stopgap.

That’s according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, who expressed hope that senators could be convinced to let the measure through the chamber.

Unfinished Appropriations Work Piled High as Yuletide Awaits
Avoiding partial government shutdown tops the list

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., says he’s ready to take up a stopgap measure tiding lawmakers over until after Christmas, if that’s what it takes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Welcome to “hell week” on Capitol Hill.

From wrapping up seven of 12 outstanding appropriations bills to enacting a landmark overhaul of criminal sentencing laws, the last week before Christmas is shaping up to be a frantic one — made more difficult by likely absences of lame-duck lawmakers not coming back next year.

Making Congress Relevant Again, One Budget at a Time
First and foremost, lawmakers must recommit to their fiscal responsibilities.

Rep. Steve Womack and his fellow budget process reformers had nine months to come up with a plan. But they couldn’t make it happen — and the budget process continues to collapse, Price writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — With members of the 115th Congress rushing to tie up their legislative loose ends, one unresolved issue may have a more lasting impact than any other. It is the continued failure of congressional budgeting.

Since February, a special Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has been trying to develop ways of repairing Congress’ deteriorating budget procedures. After nine months of discussions, committee members failed to send even their handful of fairly unremarkable recommendations to the House and Senate for a vote. Thus the budget process continues to collapse.

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Planned Parenthood Defunding Appeal
Two conservative justices — Roberts and Kavanaugh — side with liberal colleagues

Supporters and opponents of abortion rights demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by two states that want to cut Medicaid funds from providers like Planned Parenthood, keeping in place lower court opinions that anti-abortion advocates oppose.

The states, Kansas and Louisiana, argued that Medicaid does not allow individual patients to sue if state officials refuse to cover a provider’s non-abortion services because the provider sometimes separately performs abortions.

Care With a Side of Comfort Promises Big Savings in Health Costs
Experiments targeting housing, transportation, food and other nonmedical services are flourishing

Circle the City’s respite program provides health assessments, physical therapy and other care for homeless patients. (Courtesy Circle the City)

As state and federal officials increasingly search for ways to curb rising health care costs, a decades-old idea is gaining traction: helping people with challenges that have nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with their health.

Insurers are taking steps as simple as paying for hot meal deliveries and outreach to homebound people and replacing air filters in homes with asthmatic children. More radical approaches include building affordable housing for people who don’t have a stable home of their own.