Congress

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday – 354 to 60 – to oppose the Trump administration’s withdrawal of American soldiers from northern Syria. Less than half of Austin’s Republican delegation stood with the president.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

WASHINGTON — As reports of migrant children being held in squalid conditions at federal facilities near the border continue to draw outrage, Democrats successfully pushed a $4.5 billion humanitarian aid package through the U.S. House late Tuesday evening with a vote of 230 to 195.

Congressional candidate Chip Roy speaks during a campaign event in New Braunfels on Jan. 22, 2018.
Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

A bipartisan group of Texas members of Congress will have to wait until early next month to see passage on a long-sought measure that will release more than $4 billion in aid to parts of Texas that bear the brunt of hurricanes. 

Updated at 3:46 p.m. ET

Nancy Pelosi is again speaker of the House, as Democrats retook control of the chamber for the first time in eight years, bringing divided government back to Washington.

The first woman to hold the position, Pelosi is now the first person to reclaim the speaker's gavel in more than six decades.

The California Democrat was elected with 220 votes over California Republican Kevin McCarthy, the new minority leader.

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There are going to be a lot of new faces wandering the halls of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Nearly 100 newly elected lawmakers are coming to the House and Senate — including those representing the 40 seats the Democrats picked up to sweep their party back into power in the House.

James Doyle / NPR

One of the 100 congressional freshmen starting work today is from Central Texas.

Republican Chip Roy is now representing the 21st Congressional District, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin and up into the Hill Country. Roy is replacing Republican Lamar Smith, who retired after holding the seat since 1987.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The partial shutdown of the federal government that began just after midnight Saturday won't be ending anytime soon. The Senate has adjourned with no business in the chamber anticipated before Thursday afternoon and, maybe not even then, if congressional leaders and President Trump can't reach an agreement over the president's demand for $5 billion in funding for his border wall.

Congressional leaders are planning to delay a spending fight until after the memorial ceremonies for former President George H.W. Bush are completed.

House leaders are drafting a bill to postpone a potential government shutdown from midnight on Friday night to the end of the day on Dec. 21.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. revisits an interview with the honorable George T. ‘Mickey’ Leland, congressman from the 18th District of Texas, and he served twice as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard.

Last week, the Illinois State Legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, an addition to the U.S. Constitution that would provide protection from discrimination based on sex.

Molly Adams/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Young immigrants protected by the DACA program have been in limbo since the Obama-era program was canceled by President Trump last year.  Now we’re hearing rumblings of Republicans, including at least one from Texas, trying a new strategy to get a DACA vote in Congress.

The Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

From Texas Standard.

You can squeeze a lot into a spending proposal that’s 2,200 pages long and $1.3 trillion deep. But if you look at the fine print in the spending deal passed by Congress and signed by the president late Friday, you may notice something big in there when it comes to Texas – $1.6 billion in new border security infrastructure.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

After a long night in Congress – propelled by an hours-long objection from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky)– lawmakers passed a budget measure to avert another government shutdown. Texas Sen. John Cornyn called Paul’s blockade “irresponsible.”

Sean Theriault, a professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas, says that Thursday night was typical behavior from Rand Paul, particularly because he’s known as a deficit hawk.

PROKP Tripathi/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Unless Congress passes a continuing resolution, this week non-essential federal spending will dry up on Friday at midnight, and the U.S. government will shut down. Disagreements over DACA and other immigration priorities continue to divide the Congress, and the potential shutdown is being used as leverage. But how would a government shutdown affect Texas and Texans, and what essential services are exempted?

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

During a White House meeting Tuesday between Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, President Donald Trump strayed from the subject of immigration to the topic of how things get done in Washington and a practice that was banished by Congress in the name of reform.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

From Texas Standard.

Across the country right now, more than 700,000 people are looking to Congress for an answer about their futures – and about 124,000 of them live in Texas. We’re talking about Dreamers, the name that refers to young people brought to the U.S. without authorization when they were just kids. Now, the Obama-era executive action protecting them from deportation is set to expire and it’s up to lawmakers in Washington to decide what to do next.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Republicans are set to pass a once in a generation tax overhaul. That was dramatic, but here’s where it could get really messy: in the run up to Christmas, we could see a government shutdown if both chambers of Congress can’t get it together on a bill to extend federal funding. As of this moment, it’s not just Republicans and Democrats who don’t see eye to eye – it’s the House and Senate, too.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

There’s a whole lot of potential change right now on the Texas political landscape. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has a challenger for his office from fellow Republican Trey Blocker, a longtime lobbyist who will take on the colorful incumbent. It’s the most serious intra-party challenge to a sitting statewide official – at least so far.

Phil Roeder/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. House passed its version of a tax bill on Nov. 16, and now the Senate is racing to pass its own version before the end of the year.

As the clock ticks down, what ultimately happens with this tax bill could shape the terms of engagement for the midterm elections in 2018.

A small group of GOP senators may not be on board with the plan yet. John Diamond, director of Rice University’s Center for Public Finance, says that at least one senator is concerned that the tax plan doesn’t help small businesses.

Flickr/GotCredit (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

A new proposal from Republican lawmakers would cut some tax rates and overhaul portions of the U.S. tax code. House Republicans rolled out the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in Washington on Thursday.

Among the most controversial aspects of the GOP tax plan is that it lowers the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners. Current homeowners wouldn’t be affected, but new borrowers would only be able to deduct the first $500,000 – that’s down from the current limit, which is $1 million.

John Diamond, director of Rice University’s Center for Public Finance says that the mortgage deduction change could lower Texas home values by 1-2 percent.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott was in Washington on Tuesday, seeking additional federal funding for Harvey relief and getting an earful from Texas' congressional delegation – a group he called "spineless" a few weeks ago when he felt they weren't working hard enough to bring home the bacon.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

All eyes were on Alabama, Tuesday, as incumbent Luther Strange and conservative firebrand Roy Moore faced off in the state’s Republican senate primary. Moore won, despite the fact that Strange was supported by President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The race will be decided next month, when Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones. And the upset of Strange, who was appointed to the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has many wondering whether other Republican incumbents should be worried. Even in Texas.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

On Wednesday, the House easily approved nearly $8 billion in short-term funds for areas hit by Hurricane Harvey. Meanwhile, members of the Texas congressional delegation from both parties are working together to direct more federal money to the Gulf Coast, and to influence the way they are spent.

Mladen Antonov / AFP/Getty Images

As Americans prepare to celebrate the country's 241st birthday, they believe the overall tone and level of civility between Democrats and Republicans in the nation's capital has gotten worse since the election of President Trump last year, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds. The same survey also shows distrust of many of the nation's fundamental democratic institutions amongst the public.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Personally Asks Trump To Visit South Texas

Jun 15, 2017
Photo courtesy Rep. Vicente Gonzalez

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric regarding immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border have led some South Texas lawmakers to urge him to spend time in the Rio Grande Valley.

Jon Ossoff/Twitter

From Texas Standard:

Tuesday was a late night for political junkies, and residents of Georgia's 6th Congressional District, who were voting to decide on a new member of Congress. CNN called the race just after midnight. There will be a June runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff – who won just under 50 percent of the vote – and Republican Karen Handel. The special election had pitted Ossoff against 11 Republicans.

Congressman Ted Poe
U.S. House of Representatives/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Congressman Ted Poe (R-Humble) surprised observers last week when he announced he would leave the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers whose opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) put them at odds with President Donald Trump and House leadership.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News.

From Texas Standard:

Groups supporting President Donald Trump’s policies like ‘Great America Alliance’, ‘America First Policies’, and ‘Making America Great’ provide cover for ongoing political fights – from healthcare to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. But there are signs that these groups are willing to go so far in promoting the Trump agenda that they could end up turning their fire on fellow members of the GOP who don't cooperate with their goals.

Congressman Beto O'Rourke's Facebook page

With flights canceled up and down the eastern seaboard Tuesday, two Texas members of Congress went all Thelma and Louise across the state — the start of a cross-country road trip so they could cast votes at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

U.S. Reps. Will Hurd of Helotesa Republican, and Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, a Democrat, faced weather-related flight cancelations, so they opted for a 24-hour drive across Texas and beyond.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

President Trump will address a joint session of Congress for the first time at the Capitol around 8 CT on Tuesday night. The address comes a day after Trump gave an outline of his budget plan for Congress, which would increase defense spending and make cuts to domestic programs.

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