U.S. Congress

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2020, making him the sixth GOP congressman from Texas to say he's retiring in recent weeks.

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe
U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Heath Republican, will remain in Congress instead of replacing Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd
Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House's last black Republican member, Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes, announced Thursday that he is retiring from Congress. President Donald Trump's racist comments about elected officials weighed heavily on Hurd, who has often spoken out against the rhetoric.

The 2018 Texas Democratic Convention in Fort Worth.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Democrats are hoping to flip six congressional seats in Texas in 2020. On Monday, Wendy Davis announced she’s running for one them.

U.S. Capitol
Liam James Doyle / NPR

For the third time since President Donald Trump took office, Democratic Congressman Al Green of Houston pressed the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach the president Wednesday.

And for the third time, Green failed.

book cover, "The Meanest Man in Congress"
Shelly Brisbin/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The list of notable Texans to serve in the U.S. House is a long one. Names like Sam Rayburn, "Cactus Jack" Garner, Barbara Jordan and Lyndon B. Johnson have been lionized through history. But that parade of names often leaves someone out: Congressman Jack Brooks.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett speaks with the organizers of Austin's March For Our Lives at a town hall at Travis High School on April 8, 2018.
Austin Price for KUT

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday released a redacted report of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Flickr/HASA HQ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

We have talked about the influence Texas lost when senior members of the U.S. House retired or lost re-election bids. But what about the freshman members who replaced them? On what committees did they land, and does a freshman committee assignment have any influence on that lawmaker's trajectory in politics? And while we're at it, what will the elevation of two non-freshman Texans, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Will Hurd, mean for the state?

Paul Fabrizio, professor of political science at McMurry University in Abilene, says Colin Allred, a Democratic freshman from Dallas, scored seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

A somewhat old idea to address climate change is getting new life, now that it appears to have the backing of New York freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She and other progressives are pushing an idea called a "green new deal" – riffing on the title of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's plan to rescue the U.S. from the Great Depression.

Writing for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman used the phrase "green new deal" as early as 2007, to advocate transitioning to an economy based on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Among the proposals from today's green new dealers is legislation calling for the country to transition to using 100 percent renewable sources of energy over the next 10 years.

The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle argues this isn't a radical plan, and would be a natural one for Texas. Harold Jackson is a member of the board. He says that in addition to abundant oil and gas, Texas also has a lot of capacity to produce solar and wind energy.

Eddie Gaspar/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas Standard has been inviting new members of the Texas delegation on Capitol Hill for on-air meet-and-greet sessions. Recent news has made these conversations especially timely: earlier this week we spoke about the shutdown and the situation at the border with a newly minted Democratic representative, Colin Allred. Now it's Lance Gooden's turn; he's the Republican freshman elected in November to take the place of Jeb Hensarling representing District 5, which covers parts of Dallas and East Texas.

Gooden says he supports President Donald Trump's idea to declare a national emergency in order to secure funding for the border wall. He says Trump would need to do that "especially if he wants to get what he wants because I don't think he's gonna get it in Congress."

U.S. House of Representatives/Public Domain

From Texas Standard

President Donald Trump addressed the nation Tuesday night. It was rumored that he would declare a national emergency as a means of moving ahead with construction of a border wall, despite Congress' unwillingness to provide the funding – that conflict is what led to the current partial government shutdown. But in his address, though he did argue for the importance of constructing a wall, he not declare an emergency.

Democratic U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar represents Texas' 28th District, which runs from South San Antonio into the Rio Grande Valley, and covers a large stretch of Texas' border with Mexico. Cuellar says the president's arguments about the need for a border wall are wrong.

Bill Zeeble/KERA News

From Texas Standard:

Nine Texas freshmen were sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives last week. It was a celebration for all, especially Democrats who took back control of the House, and who elected Nancy Pelosi as speaker. But all this took place amid the partial government shutdown and President Donald Trump's fight with Democrats to fund his border wall. It's a fraught time for these newly-elected members of Congress to come to Washington, including for Dallas Democrat Colin Allred.

Allred defeated a longtime Republican to claim his seat, and says the shutdown isn't what he envisioned for the beginning of his term.

Liam James Doyle / NPR

Ninety-three percent of eligible voters have registered in Travis County and are ready to vote in the Nov. 6 elections. Now comes the hard part: actually going to vote.

We've put together this list of candidates running for Congress in Central Texas. To find out what's going to be on your ballot, including what congressional district you live in, go here and type in your address.  

Official House portrait

WASHINGTON — Members of the U.S. House Ethics Committee unanimously voted Thursday to establish a subcommittee to investigate allegations that U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican, sexually harassed a subordinate several years ago.

Mengwen Cao/KUT

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. House has passed a bill allowing gun owners with licenses to carry firearms to carry those firearms weapons across state lines. It’s a bill the National Rifle Association has dubbed a “legislative priority.”

Following the deadly mass shootings in Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas, legislators in Washington are also looking for a consensus on improving the national background check system for gun purchases, as well as banning a device known as “bump stocks.”

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.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke has scheduled a major political event on Friday, prompting speculation that the third-term Democratic congressman will launch a bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. 

Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

If Democrats hope to block the Republican agenda in the executive and legislative branches, they may need an old tool of the Senate – the filibuster. It allows dissenting senators to block bills and nominees backed by the majority. Or, as Republican Rep. Bill Flores of Texas explained on the Standard yesterday:

"It prevents the Senate from ... its Constitutional responsibilities. And so what I say is, majority leader Mitch McConnell, if he's the majority leader, needs to get rid of the filibuster. We're going to need to get rid of it in order to get the Supreme Court appointees. We're going to need it to pass the appropriations bills we want.”

 


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore presentation of a conversation he had with the late Shirley A. Chisholm.

Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress and an outspoken advocate for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to sway her from her goals.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Congressman George Thomas “Mickey” Leland.

wblsblackshistory.com

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore presentation of a conversation he had with the late Shirley A. Chisholm.

Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and an outspoken advocate for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to sway her from her goals.

Born Shirley Anita St. Hill on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the eldest of four girls. Chisholm and her sisters spent much of their early childhood with their maternal grandmother in Barbados.

flickr.com/madrigar

Texas Congressman Steve Stockman wants to give you an assault rifle. 

Stockman has launched an email and social media campaign to promote his giveaway of a free AR-15, promoting it as a chance to "win the gun that Obama's trying to ban" by visiting his website and entering a free contest. Watch Rep. Stockman's video below.

The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that avoids a federal shutdown and keeps the government open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which winds up Sept. 30. The Senate approved the same measure Wednesday, so the bill now goes to the president for his signature.

The New York Times characterizes the measure, which passed the House on a 318-109 vote, this way:

flickr.com/tabor-roeder

We’re just one week away from across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration” and State Representative Mark Strama (D-Austin) is warning of the impact it could have on Texas.

“If we have to suffer the cuts of sequestration on top of the cuts we just made last biennium, it would be really harmful to the state economy,” he said after a Friday press conference at the Capitol.

The two hulking rocks hurtling toward Earth today seem to have caught Congress' attention: Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, is calling for a Congressional hearing on what we can do to protect our planet from asteroids.

Saying their proposal would "secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system" and create "a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here," eight senators unveiled a "bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform."

As they said they would following the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Democrats today unveiled legislation that would ban assault-style weapons.

The lead lawmaker, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, has summed up the legislation's key points this way:

This week saw both a frantic finale to the much-unloved 112th Congress and, hours later, the swearing in of the new 113th. The cast of lawmakers and their leaders is mostly unchanged. The same can be said for Capitol Hill's never-ending drama over taxes, deficits and spending.

What was arguably this week's most sensational congressional moment did not even take place in Washington. On Wednesday in Trenton, N.J., Republican Gov. Chris Christie blasted the GOP-led House for closing down the last Congress without even considering a Superstorm Sandy disaster relief bill.

Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are asking the White House to respect the voters of Colorado and Washington, who decided that recreational marijuana use should be legal.

In a letter sent to President Obama, they wrote:

Todd Wiseman / Julie Jordan Scott, Texas Tribune

As Congress debates proposed cuts to programs that help feed needy families and school children, some school officials and advocates for low-income families are concerned about how the changes could affect Texans who rely on food stamps and reduced price school lunches.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, provides food for 3.6 million Texans each year. But some lawmakers argue that the program has grown too large and become too expensive, and they are looking for ways to cut SNAP in the 2012 Farm Bill.

"A lot of Texas families rely on SNAP, especially now," said Jonathan Lewis, food policy specialist for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based liberal think tank. "Families that already are having trouble paying for their electrical bill, rent and the gas in their car could struggle even more." 

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