Richard E Neal

Democrats seeking votes in Trump country tout miners’ benefits
As Republicans prepare a coal pension fix proposal, Democrats push for more

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Sherrod Brown, right, called for action on Democratic pension proposals this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans say they’re close to unveiling a plan to address a $66 billion funding shortfall affecting coal miners’ and other union pension plans, an issue Democrats see as advantageous politically and as a possible bargaining chip in trade talks with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump championed manufacturing and coal industry jobs during his 2016 campaign, including in critical swing states he won like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the 2020 campaign, Democrats have been touting “broken promises” to workers in those states and others, including more traditional GOP bastions like Kentucky where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection next year. 

Watch: Democrats plan to name prescription drug bill for Elijah Cummings
The Maryland Democrat died early Thursday

Chairman Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday, is seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats in tears after first caucus gathering since Cummings’ death
Leaders, members share memories of Baltimore Democrat during weekly whip meeting

Capitol workers lower the flag to half staff after the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Several House Democrats on Thursday left their first caucus gathering since the death of their colleague, Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, weeping or holding back tears. 

The House Oversight and Reform chairman’s death left Virginia Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, one of the panel’s subcommittee chairs, inconsolable. He exited Democrats’ weekly whip meeting Thursday in a stream of tears, not stopping to talk to colleagues or reporters as he usually would. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings, key Democrat in impeachment investigation, has died
House Oversight chairman had battled health issues in recent years

Rep. Elijah Cummings presides over a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in July. The longtime Maryland Democrat died early Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a key player in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, died early Thursday of complications from longtime health issues, his office said in a statement. The Maryland Democrat was 68.

Cummings had missed roll call votes since Sept. 11 and said in a Sept. 30 statement that he expected to return to the House by mid-October after having a medical procedure, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Political tensions escalate as drug pricing bills move forward
Rift began when Pelosi called for Medicare to negotiate prices for a set of high-cost drugs

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa unveiled the text of his committee's drug pricing bill on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The discord between the parties over plans to bring down drug costs deepened this week as Democrats insisted on allowing Medicare to negotiate prices and launched an impeachment inquiry that threatens to consume Congress.

Still, members of key committees said Wednesday they wanted to continue bipartisan work to lower costs, a major concern of voters, and lawmakers in both chambers took steps toward advancing their proposals. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held the first hearing on legislation unveiled last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Democrats leaving a caucus meeting on drug legislation late Wednesday said markups are expected soon after a two-week recess in October. Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon unveiled the text of their bill on Wednesday.

State and local tax cap rollback included in year-end tax talks
Democrats leading SALT discussions say they hope to have legislation ready for markup in October

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., and House Democrats are looking to roll back the cap on annual state and local tax deductions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior House Ways and Means Democrat said Wednesday that a full, though temporary, elimination of the current $10,000 cap on annual state and local tax deductions is among the proposals being discussed for a possible markup in the coming weeks.

Committee Democrats also discussed in a Wednesday caucus meeting how a “SALT” rollback and a raft of other tax legislation the committee has advanced or will soon consider might fit into a deal later this year with Senate Republicans, and what offsets might be offered as part of any package, said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-New Jersey.

Ways and Means to weigh rollback of state, local tax deduction cap
SALT cap in 2017 overhaul law hit taxpayers in high-tax states especially hard

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., said he expects the decision on whether to move legislation related to the SALT cap to be made in the next week. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee will soon hold “at least a full-throttle discussion” about their concerns with the $10,000 cap on state and local income tax deductions that was part of the 2017 tax code overhaul, though it is uncertain whether that will lead to legislation that would increase or even repeal the limit.

Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts told reporters Tuesday that the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee would be taking up the issue “pretty quick.”

Richard Neal Facebook page mixes campaign, congressional business

The Facebook page of Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., aired campaign ads for the congressman, a potential violation of House Ethics rules. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated August 28, 2:22 p.m. | House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal used his government-funded official Facebook page to air campaign advertisements, Facebook Ad Library shows, potentially running afoul of House Ethics rules that prohibit campaign business on House official resources.

In Neal’s official Facebook page disclaimer, up to $100 were spent on the ads in 2018 paid for by “Richard Neal for Congress Committee, Treasurer Michael F. Hall,” suggesting Neal’s campaign funds paid for the ad to air through the House office’s Facebook page.

Payroll tax cuts off the table? Not so fast, says Trump in another whiplash reversal
No immediate move likely on taxes, as president also distances himself from gun background checks

President Donald Trump concludes a campaign rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | In yet another whiplash policy reversal, President Donald Trump directly contradicted his staff Tuesday by saying payroll tax cuts are on the table as he looks to stave off an election-year recession.

A White House official on Monday afternoon, responding to a Washington Post report that the White House was eyeing a payroll tax cut amid recession fears, dismissed the idea this way: “More tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time.”

Ways and Means chairman cites ‘credible allegations’ of misconduct in presidential tax audit
Allegation cited in filing in battle between House Democrats and Treasury over access to returns

President Donald Trump is opposing an attempt by the House Ways and Means Committee to get access to his tax returns. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The House Ways and Means Committee said it had received “credible allegations” from a federal employee of potentially “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS’ mandatory audit of presidential tax returns.

References to the unexplained allegations were in a letter included in a Tuesday filing by the committee in its federal lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The filing consisted of arguments in support of the committee’s motion for the court to grant it summary judgment in its lawsuit seeking six years of tax returns from President Trump and from eight of his businesses.