Illinois

Meet the key appropriations players of the fall
List includes budget war veterans as well as relative newcomers

Eric Ueland has been the White House legislative affairs chief since June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s the behind-the-scenes work of top legislative aides that makes the Capitol Hill machinery work, and that’s never truer than when lawmakers are trying to hash out spending bills as Congress and the White House will be focused on this fall and winter.

After initial decisions by Republican and Democratic clerks — the top staffers on the Appropriations subcommittees — full committee staff will step in to help work out any remaining issues. Leadership staff will be on hand to address the most intractable disagreements and questions about what legislation can ride with the spending bills, and to make sure the measures have enough votes to pass.

Member lapel pins out, necklaces in, say women in Congress
Fashion sense, practicality cited as reasons for growing trend

Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell says people are noticing female lawmakers wearing their member pins as necklace pendants because there are more women in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While big jewelry and bold statement chains made headlines last week during New York Fashion Week, an increasing number of women in the House are starting a fashion trend of their own: wearing their member pins as a necklace pendant.

Traditionally, the House member pin, given out to lawmakers to distinguish them from staffers and visitors, is worn pierced through fabric as its menswear name suggests — on a suit lapel. While members are not required to wear them, the pins can be an easy way for the Capitol Police to identify the freshman class of lawmakers each Congress — or perhaps some of the more obscure members of the House.

Rep. Ann Wagner’s ‘Big House Brew’ wins big at annual beer competition
Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s One Eye-PA won the popularity contest

Rep. Ann Wagner won Anheuser Busch's annual Brew Across America competition. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The results are in: Brews are definitely beer-partisan

The big winner at Wednesday’s second annual Brew Across America was Missouri Republican Rep. Ann Wagner with her “Big House Brew,” which might have had a home-state advantage.

Farm payment disclosure language delaying stopgap funds
Disagreement remains on how to information on payments made under Trump’s trade mitigation assistance program

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., talks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol on August 13, 2019. On Wednesday, Hoyer said he hopes a stopgap funding bill would be filed as soon as lawmakers can iron out final details, including on language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade mitigation assistance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Disputes over language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade war mitigation program were delaying release of a stopgap appropriations measure needed to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

“Almost ready,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said Wednesday afternoon. She said outstanding issues include how to draft language that would provide adequate reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation for payments made under Trump’s tariff relief program. The CCC is approaching its $30 billion borrowing cap and without the appropriations “anomaly” White House officials say they’d have to stop making payments to eligible farmers and ranchers.

Senate Moms group balances parenting and politics

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, here in April 2018 with her newborn baby, Maile, is just one of many moms working in the Senate. A staffer group Senate Moms meets every second Tuesday of the month to discuss parenting issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On Tuesday afternoon in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, nearly 30 women from various Senate offices gathered over lunch, and you’d hardly know they worked in opposing offices. Republican and Democratic policies weren’t necessarily among the topics of conversation, but “co-sleeping,” on the other hand, was.

That was part of the conversation in the most recent “Senate Moms” group which convenes on the second Tuesday of every month (with the exception of August) and while it sounds like a club exclusive to mothers, it’s far from maternal-only; Dads and expecting parents are welcome, too.

Health care group backs Democrats with seven-figure ad campaign
Effort boosts freshmen who flipped red districts

Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer is among the 10 beneficiaries of a seven-figure ad campaign by the Democrat-aligned group Protect Our Care. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democrat-aligned group focused on health care is seeking to give 10 vulnerable House members an early political boost through a new $2 million ad campaign.

Protect Our Care plans to launch a digital ad campaign Wednesday to promote the work by 10 Democratic freshmen on health care issues, touting votes to protect preexisting condition protections.

Health care riders, farm payouts slow stopgap deal
Bill pulled from House Rules agenda late Tuesday afternoon

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among those objecting to potential provisions in a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trade assistance for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs and the details of several health care program extensions were standing in the way of agreement on a stopgap funding measure Tuesday, sources said.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the bill was likely to include an increase in the Commodity Credit Corporation’s $30 billion borrowing cap that the Trump administration asked for earlier this month. But provisions on “accountability and transparency” were still under discussion, the aide said.

Senate Democrats prepare marathon floor session on gun violence
Late night is expected as 22 senators are prepared to call for legislation

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., will lead nearly two dozen senators in a marathon of floor speeches on gun violence Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats plan to make it a late night on Tuesday, speaking out on the Senate floor about the impact of gun violence and legislative proposals Congress could explore.

The speeches are expected to begin around 5:30 p.m. and run late. Connecticut Democrat Christopher S. Murphy is leading the effort, spurred by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio during the August recess and the lack of clear response from the White House on what, if any, gun control measures they could agree to.

Committee launches probe of Chao’s ties to family’s business
Seeks information about media reports that Chao appeared alongside her father in Chinese media interviews

A House committee seeks information from Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao about ties to her family's company by the end of September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Monday said the committee was launching an investigation into whether Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao used her office to help the shipping company owned by her father and sisters.

In a letter to Chao, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Maryland, requested information and documents about media reports that Chao had appeared alongside her father in at least a dozen Chinese media interviews, sometimes behind the official seal of the Department of Transportation, in order to benefit Foremost Group, the family shipping company.

E-cigarette deaths prompt bipartisan response

Signs in the window of the Smoke Depot advertise electronic cigarettes and pods by Juul, the nation's largest maker of e-cigarette products, on Sept. 13, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)