Gerald E Connolly

Democrats cry foul as GSA inspector condemns Trump Hotel contract
GSA lawyers knew government lease to Trump Hotel might violate Constitution, but ‘punted’ on legal concerns

The Trump International Hotel's lease with the General Services Administration is in possible violation of the Constitution, the GSA inspector general said in a report Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers were outraged Wednesday after the General Services Administration inspector general suggested in a report that a contract between the agency and the Trump International Hotel could be in violation of the Constitution.

In 2016 and 2017, the GSA decided to maintain its lease of the Old Post Office Building to the Trump International Hotel after Donald Trump was elected president — even though a government-issued lease to the real estate organization headed by the president of the United States represents an obvious and serious conflict of interest, the report details.

USPS IG clears conservative group of wrongdoing in Spanberger file release
At least 6 other former employees had their files improperly released after FOIA requests, IG found

The U.S. Postal Service improperly released a highly sensitive personnel file of Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., to a conservative opposition research group last summer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Postal Service inspector general officially cleared a prominent conservative research group of any wrongdoing for getting its hands on Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s complete and unredacted official personnel file last summer.

America Rising, a conservative opposition research group contracted by dozens of conservative PACs and campaign committees each election cycle to dig up dirt on Democratic candidates, went through the proper channels, submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for Spanberger’s file to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the IG concluded in its report released in late December.

Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy outlasts Ryan; continues his role in new Congress
Former speaker sought to remove Jesuit priest

Father Patrick J. Conroy will remain in his role of House chaplain for the 116th Congress, after a year of that was full of turmoil surrounding the role. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Father Patrick J. Conroy will remain in his role as House chaplain for the 116th Congress, after a year full of turmoil surrounding the role.

The House voice voted Thursday afternoon to install the House officers —   but not without an extra hurdle for the chaplain.

A House Race in North Carolina Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
Who knew the background checks for political work were so lax?

For a while it looked like Republican Mark Harris had squeaked out a win in the 9th District. But there’s something rotten in the state of North Carolina, Curtis writes. (John D. Simmons/AP file photo)

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps North Carolina’s 9th District will have a congressman by January; but maybe not.

You see, there seems to have been a mix-up in the count, distribution and collection of absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up part of the district — what the state elections board (made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent) called “unfortunate activities” when it first refused to certify the results.

On ‘Medicare-for-All,’ Democrats Tread Lightly
It polls well. But Dems say the proposal isn’t ready for floor action

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., founded the Medicare-for-All Caucus earlier this year. She pushed back on the idea that single-payer health care is unpopular in suburban parts of the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the House are calling for a vote on a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill in the next Congress, but the expected chairmen who will set the agenda for next year say they have other health priorities.

Still, the progressives’ push could earn more attention over the next two years as Democratic candidates begin vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. A handful of potential presidential candidates expected to declare interest have already co-sponsored “Medicare-for-all” legislation, an issue that was also a flashpoint in Democratic primaries over the past year.

Here’s How a House Democratic Majority Might Protect Mueller If Trump Fires Him
With power to investigate and subpoena, Democrats have options to protect special counsel

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will be one of the Democratic leaders in charge of protecting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats, with their new majority, will have an expansive new toolkit once they take control of the chamber on Jan. 3 to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — even if acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker decides to shut it down.

If President Donald Trump, through Whitaker or his full-time replacement, does indeed order Mueller to shutter his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, that would trigger a quick response from Democrats. In two months, they will wield the all-important power of subpoenaing officials.

Donald Trump Once Wanted to Buy the FBI Headquarters, Now House Dems Are Asking Questions
New request sent to agency in charge for documents about potential conflicts

The front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Ave. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Key House Democrats pressed the head of the General Services Administration to provide more information Thursday about President Donald Trump’s role in the proposal to rebuild the FBI headquarters building on its current footprint on Pennsylvania Ave.

“As a direct result of President Trump’s clear conflict of interest on this matter, we are now requesting information and documents to determine whether the President is making decisions about the FBI headquarters building based on what is best for the country or what is best for his own financial bottom-line,” wrote the five House members, who are all ranking members of relevant committees or subcommittees.

Trump Wants to Freeze It. But Federal Pay Isn’t Driving Deficits
‘There’s a misconception that federal employees are all affluent,’ one advocate says

Rep. Barbara Comstock and other vulnerable House Republicans might have difficulty explaining a federal pay freeze to their constituents. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal worker compensation, repeatedly used as a piggy bank to fund other priorities earlier this decade, is once again in budget cutters’ crosshairs. The latest catalyst is President Donald Trump’s desire to shrink costs associated with the “administrative state,” both by freezing civil workers’ pay next year and making them contribute more to their pensions.

The pay freeze issue is coming to a head as soon as this month, when Congress decides whether to incorporate Trump’s proposal or allow a 1.9 percent boost to federal worker pay next year, as contained in a bipartisan Senate spending package approved on a 92-6 vote last month.

Trump Signals Intent to Nix Proposed Federal Pay Increase
Congress can weigh in if it feels need to maintain agreed-upon pay hike

President Donald Trump wants to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, saying he has the authority by citing a national emergency. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signaled his intent to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, informing Congress on Thursday that federal law allowed him to do so in the event of a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

The move drew a quick response from D.C.-area members and is almost certain to draw howls from the Senate, which included a 1.9 percent pay raise in its Financial Services spending bill. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month.

Oversight Democrats Want Probe Into Postal Service’s Release of Candidate’s Records
Ryan-aligned super PAC received highly sensitive information on Virginia congressional hopeful

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., above, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., want the acting U.S. Postal Service inspector general to investigate the improper release of information on a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want the U.S. Postal Service to investigate how a Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC obtained a Virginia Democratic congressional candidate’s unredacted federal security clearance application.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is closely affiliated with House GOP leadership and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, and America Rising, a conservative opposition research group, have said the copy of the form was obtained through a standard Freedom of Information Act request to the National Personnel Records Center, which then kicked it over to the USPS to process and respond.