Rosa DeLauro

Papaya outbreak highlights FDA’s food safety challenge
‘Inability to track and trace foods with speed or precision’ is agency’s ‘Achilles’ heel’

Salmonella infections caused by contaminated papayas highlight the challenges Food and Drug Administration officials face in fighting foodborne illness. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Salmonella infections caused by contaminated papayas highlight the challenges federal officials face in fighting foodborne illness, as a law from nearly a decade ago meant to modernize the food safety system is starting to show its age. 

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to bring its efforts to track and prevent outbreaks in line with the technology now at its disposal. But because spending for next year is uncertain, Congress could make it difficult for the agency.

Democrats face pressure in debates on overhauling health care
But candidates will likely have little time to offer up new details about their plans

Supporters hold “Medicare for All” signs during a rally in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington on April 29 . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When 20 of the Democratic presidential candidates take the debate stage Wednesday and Thursday, one key difference that could emerge is whether candidates say they would seek another overhaul of the nation’s health insurance system.

The debate will be an opportunity for the White House aspirants to outline their health care plans — an issue that polls consistently show is a priority for Democratic voters. Most of the party’s 24 candidates have yet to release their own comprehensive plans explaining their priorities on an issue that contrasts significantly with President Donald Trump’s approach.

Hyde amendment, other abortion riders in the spending limelight
Democrats set for showdown with Republicans, administration

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro opposes the Hyde amendment, but says it needs to be maintained for the spending bills to be signed into law. {Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The debate surrounding abortion access is about to spill over from the campaign trail to Capitol Hill as lawmakers begin debating must-pass appropriations bills.

Starting Wednesday, the House will take up a nearly $1 trillion spending package written by Democrats that would roll back Trump administration anti-abortion policies, including restrictions barring health clinics from recommending abortion services and preventing U.S. foreign assistance to aid groups that perform or promote abortions.

Lawmakers put funding ban on human embryo gene editing research in Ag. bill
The rider bars the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos

From left, Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., attend a House Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill in Rayburn Building on July 25, 2018. By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language banning the funding of research involving the gene editing of human embryos, which has been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators did some soul searching Tuesday before deciding to include a policy rider in the fiscal 2020 Agriculture spending bill that would bar the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos.

By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language that had been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016 but was omitted in the draft bill approved on May 23 by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

A mysterious illness killed their son as the AIDS crisis raged
These grieving parents decided to ‘do something’

Parents-turned-activists Vicki and Fred Modell meet with Steny Hoyer in the ’90s. (Courtesy Scéal Films)

Just a few years after losing her son, Vicki Modell found herself in front of a microphone, staring down a group of senators.

“It was such a welcoming environment.” That’s how she recalls the political climate of Washington in the early ’90s. “The Appropriations Committee would actually sit there and listen to people like us who were advocating for our cause.”

Sharing info on potential sponsors of unaccompanied children stalled border funding
House Democrats sought to prevent HHS from sharing info with DHS

Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., has been critical of the information-sharing pact, particularly after reports of ICE agents arresting potential sponsors based on their immigration status, even those without criminal records. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said May 16 that she hoped the emerging disaster aid supplemental would also carry funding to care for children and families pouring over the border in record numbers, it seemed like a fait accompli.

But as the days turned into a week, something was clearly wrong. And suddenly, Senate leaders agreed to drop billions of dollars the Trump administration wanted to address what both sides called a humanitarian crisis at the border, in the interest of getting the $19.1 billion disaster aid bill over the finish line.

House Democratic women flex muscles with formal caucus, plus a political arm
On Equal Pay Day, new caucus touts expanded leadership team

From left, Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., members of the newly named Democratic Women's Caucus, hold a news conference Feb. 5 about their decision to wear white to the State of the Union. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic women, armed with more numbers and the power of the majority, are getting  organized, switching their working group to a more formal caucus and launching a political action committee to help further grow their ranks.

The Democratic Women’s Caucus is the new name of the Democratic Women’s Working Group. Open to all 91 House Democratic women, the caucus will be led by an expanded leadership team of three co-chairs and two vice chairs.

House passes gender pay gap bill, a top Democratic priority
Most Republicans oppose measure, say there are better ways to get pay parity without lawsuits

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has been introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act since 1997 in an effort to help close the gender pay gap. The House on Wednesday passed her bill, one of the new Democratic majority’s top priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats on Wednesday passed another one of their top party priorities, a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act that is designed to help close the gender pay gap. 

HR 7 passed, 242-187, with only seven Republican votes. Those included New Jersey’s Christopher H. Smith, an original cosponsor of the bill, Florida’s Mario Diaz-Balart, Idaho’s Mike Simpson, New York’s Tom Reed, Texas’ Will Hurd, Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick and Illinois’ Rodney Davis. All 235 House Democrats voted for the measure. 

Road ahead: As Congress digests Mueller conclusions, it has plenty more on its plate
House will attempt to override Trump’s veto, while Senate takes up Green New Deal

A Capitol Visitor Center employee sets up a shade umbrella last Tuesday outside the CVC entrance. The Senate and House minority parties may need an umbrella to block the shade the majorities plan to throw at them this week amid votes on the Green New Deal and overriding a presidential veto. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill spent much of the weekend waiting to find out what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discovered about Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election. But as Congress digests the principal conclusions of his report, prepared by Attorney General William P. Barr, leaders will also try to get members to address other priorities.

Barr’s four-page letter sent to Congress on Sunday afternoon stated that Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.”

Appropriators scold agency for poor student loan oversight
Aftershocks of inspector general report reach Congress

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., urged student loan servicers and the FSA to remember that people’s livelihoods are at stake. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Education Department has to do a better job of holding accountable the companies that service student loans and don’t always do what’s best for borrowers, House appropriators said Wednesday.

The hearing by the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee comes after the Education Department inspector general issued a report last month that, among other things, said the Federal Student Aid program was inadequately overseeing loan servicers, who violated rules that prevented borrowers from choosing favorable repayment plans or even paying the correct monthly amounts.