Tom Graves

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.

House passes appropriations package to avert shutdown, sends to Trump
President will sign legislation but declare national emergency to free up more money for border wall

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference Thursday in which she fielded questions about the government funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed a spending package Thursday night, completing congressional action to avert a government shutdown with barely a day to spare. 

The final vote was 300-128. Nineteen Democrats voted against the measure, while 109 Republicans, representing a majority of their conference, were opposed. 

Hill Leaders Await Trump Reaction to Spending Deal
‘We’re not sure yet’ without seeing the details, White House spokesman says

Reporters follow Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as he leaves the meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials aren’t yet saying whether President Donald Trump will sign the emerging fiscal 2019 appropriations package agreed to “in principle” Monday night by top lawmakers from both chambers.

“We’re not sure yet,” White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News. “Until we actually see the language, it’s very hard for us to comment.” He raised concerns about provisions in the agreement that would reduce the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds, saying Democrats wanted that included because of their alleged support of “open borders.”

Mulvaney hosting Camp David meeting with Yarmuth, others
Mulvaney extended the invitation but didn't provide any details of the subject matter of the agenda

Mick Mulvaney, right, then the Office of Management and Budget director, arrives for a Jan. 3, 2018, budget meeting then-Speaker Paul Ryan's office with White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, center, on Jan. 3, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A small group of Republican and Democratic House members are headed to Camp David after votes Friday to meet with White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to see if they can find common ground on budget and other issues.

Mulvaney extended the invitation but didn't provide any details of the subject matter of the agenda.

Border, homeland security deal could come over weekend
Members said they would use the weekend to resolve remaining concerns and aim to have legislative text on Monday

Cuellar wants five border areas off-limits to barrier construction. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House and Senate negotiators were planning to work through the weekend to reach a border security deal that would clear the way for a final fiscal 2019 spending package.

A House-Senate conference committee on a Homeland Security bill had been hoping to reach an agreement by Friday. But members said they would probably use the weekend to resolve all remaining concerns, with the goal of producing legislative text on Monday.

Democrats Want More Security Clearances for House Intel Aides
There are too many top-secret documents and not enough staffers, they say

Adam Schiff, shown here at a 2017 news conference on the president’s ties to Russia, says the House Intelligence Committee has a “very small staff” for a very large job. More security clearances could help. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A long-stalled effort to hire more staffers with security clearances to help the House Intelligence Committee will get fresh momentum in the 116th Congress, as Democrats take leadership roles.

California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, who will likely be the next chairman, said he’s looking for ways to provide panel members’ personal staffs with top secret clearances so they can review classified information. Schiff said he will work with U.S. intelligence agencies to determine the best way to meet lawmakers’ needs.

Members Bond Over ‘Miserable’ Workout
Nine members of Congress did Solidcore with HOH

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema exercise together before work. (Thomas McKinless/ CQ Roll Call)

As lawmakers traded harsh words over the omnibus, some were also trading bipartisan high-fives.

In the middle of last week’s spending clash, nine members took a break for a hard-core workout. HOH joined them for an early morning Solidcore class. 

Congress Could Split Payments to Broadcasters Over Two Years
Thune, Walden explore compensating spectrum moves over longer period of time

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., says members are exploring spreading out payments to broadcasters for spectrum moves from one year to two. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune says authorizers and appropriators are exploring whether to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum over two years rather than one, a change that could make it a more palatable item in spending bills.

The South Dakota Republican, who is also chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., are trying to secure about $1 billion to compensate broadcasters for giving up one part of the spectrum and move to another. But appropriators are balking at the sum.

2 Guns, Bible Stolen From GOP Rep. Tom Graves’ SUV in Atlanta
Bank information and sensitive ID documents also among items taken

Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., reported multiple stolen items, including two guns, from his SUV last weekend in Atlanta. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two guns, a driver’s license, credit cards, birth certificates, a laptop, and a Bible were among the items stolen last weekend from an SUV that belongs to Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, Atlanta police said.

The Republican congressman and staffer Travis Loudermilk returned to Graves’ GMC Yukon last Saturday night in downtown Atlanta and drove at least a mile before they discovered the items were missing, according to a police report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Take Five: Karen Handel
‘One of the greatest moments ever’ was when Donny Osmond called her about Mitt Romney

Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., says there’s a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde syndrome in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Rep. Karen Handel, 55, a Georgia Republican, talks about her friendship with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, her intense race for the House and her love of football. 

Q: What has surprised you so far about Congress?