Michael C Burgess

Rising Stars 2017: Hill Staffers
Two experienced hands make the list

Two Capitol Hill staffers are among CQ Roll Call’s Rising Stars of 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Over the course of this week, CQ Roll Call is taking a look at 17 Rising Stars of 2017 — people who will now wield power and influence in a Washington that has been turned upside down by the presidency of Donald Trump.

Some of the names are familiar, others have recently burst on the scene. They include members of Congress, congressional and administration staffers, and advocates.

Texas Isn’t Only State Where Redistricting Could Be Factor in 2018
Redistricting cases are still pending in North Carolina and Maryland

The lines of Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s district could be redrawn as a result of last week’s court decision that ruled it was racially gerrymandered. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With a three-judge panel invalidating the lines of one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country late last week, redistricting is once again in the political spotlight.

The Texas case was a reminder that redistricting litigation, which played out in the lead-up to the 2016 elections, is still ongoing across the country. It could result in Rep. Will Hurd’s district becoming more favorable for Democrats in 2018, 

U.S. Court Invalidates Three Texas Congressional Districts
Court orders districts to be redrawn

A U.S. court in Texas invalidated Rep. Will Hurd’s district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A federal three-judge panel in San Antonio invalidated three Texas congressional districts for violating the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution in a decision late Friday night. 

The districts, drawn by the Texas legislature in 2011, are GOP Rep. Will Hurd’s 23rd District, GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold’s 27th District and Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s 35th District. 

House Moves on Obamacare, Spending Bills While Senate Waits
The Senate will be focused on undoing Obama-era regulations

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. may oversee a markup of the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By REMA RAHMAN and BRIDGET BOWMAN, CQ ROLL CALL

The public will get its first look at House Republicans’ bill to repeal and partially replace the 2010 health care law likely early this week, but timing on committee markups of the legislation is unclear. 

One Thing Congress Agrees On: Vaccines Work
They said lawmakers should support the use of vaccines

From left, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., at a HELP hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are stressing the need to highlight benefits of vaccines amid reports of local outbreaks of infectious diseases.

“The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them,” the lawmakers wrote in a Tuesday letter sent to their colleagues. “As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly diseases.”

Ambitious House Agenda on Medicaid Could Stall in Senate
GOP senators doubt changes could gain traction in upper chamber

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he thinks there might not be enough “political will” for a major Medicaid overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators are warning that major changes to the Medicaid program may not survive the upper chamber, despite an aggressive push from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to include a substantial overhaul of the program in the Republican measure to repeal the health care law.

In the House, Ryan and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden are pushing their colleagues to consider major Medicaid changes on a repeal bill this spring. Those include funding mechanisms like so-called block grants and per capita caps or a cap on Medicaid enrollment for states that expanded the program under the health care law, according to House aides.

CMS Chief Nomination Is Advancing in Vetting Process, HHS Says
Ethics Office expected to announce agreement with Seema Verma

Seema Verma, seen here arriving at Trump Tower in New York last November, was nominated by President Donald Trump to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

The Office of Government Ethics may “very soon” publicly post an agreement with Seema Verma, the Trump administration’s choice to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health and Human Services Department told CQ Roll Call. The deal would bring her nomination closer to Senate consideration. 

The agreement would address “all potential conflict issues,” HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd said.

Word on the Hill: Happy Holidays
See you in 2017!

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, right, gives a tour of the Capitol Rotunda to friends on Tuesday. Let us know what other members are up to over the holidays. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whether you’re staying in D.C. or traveling, I hope you enjoy the holidays and have a Happy New Year!

Word on the Hill will be on a break until Jan. 3, 2017.

House GOP Seeks to Ease or End Vehicle Emissions Standards
Lawmakers say benchmarks force automakers to adopt costly technologies

House Republicans want federal environment and transportation regulators to loosen or eliminate fuel efficiency and emissions standards for motor vehicles, saying that current requirements could become costly to the auto industry and reduce consumer choices.

As part of the Obama administration's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 set an average fuel efficiency goal of 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light duty trucks sold in the U.S. by 2025.