Homeland Security

Vulnerable House Republicans Head Into Midterm Recess With Parting Gifts
Half of GOP incumbents in danger of losing seats got floor votes this month on bills they sponsored

Rep. Steve Knight, R-Calif., who’s facing a tough re-election, has two of his bills on the House floor this week. Other vulnerable Republicans are also getting votes on their bills before they depart for the midterm campaign recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the House prepares to wrap up its fall legislative business this week before going on recess for the duration of the midterm campaign season, half of the vulnerable Republican incumbents will be leaving with parting gifts. 

Those gifts come in the form of floor votes on bills they have authored. By the end of the week, 28 of the 57 House Republicans whose seats are considered in play this cycle, according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, are set to go home with the chamber having voted this month on at least one of their bills. 

Democrats Pan Proposal to Limit Green Cards for Poor Immigrants
Administration touts rule as moving toward ‘merit-based’ immigration

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that “those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers are criticizing a new rule proposed by the Trump administration that would make it harder for immigrants who receive public benefits to obtain green cards.

The 447-page proposed rule, unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security on Saturday, would expand the government’s ability to deny a green card — and eventual citizenship — to applicants deemed likely to rely on programs including Medicaid, Section 8 low-income housing, and food stamps. The proposed rule represents a significant step in the administration’s efforts to move toward a “merit-based” immigration system, rather than the family-based system currently in place.

Kavanaugh Will Face 4 Female Senators. Why Not More?
Supreme Court hearings shed light on Senate’s gender gap — and other panels skew even more male

The Senate Judiciary Committee has no female Republican senators on it. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

BY ALEX GANGITANO AND JEREMY DILLON

As the Senate Judiciary Committee weighs its next move on Brett Kavanaugh, only four women will have a voice. All of them are Democrats.

Ocelots, Butterflies in Path of Border Wall
As DHS waives its way across Texas, Congress is rethinking a thirteen-year-old law

Barriers at the southern border hem in more than people, environmentalists say. Wildcats, tortoises and other animals can get trapped. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

When rains pushed the Rio Grande River to flood stage in 2010, an existing border wall acted as a flood barrier, protecting some lowlands but also trapping some animals. A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club noted the discovery after the flooding of shells from “hundreds” of Texas tortoise, which that state lists as a threatened species.

“Animals caught between the river and the flood wall that could not escape around the edges of the floodwalls likely perished,” said the report. Endangered species like the ocelot and jaguarundi, both small wildcats, also might have died, according to the report.

New Bill Would Hold HHS Feet to Fire for Unaccompanied Minors
Whereabouts of nearly 1,500 undocumented children are reportedly unknown

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., says the Department of Health and Human Services has a responsibility to ensure the safety of unaccompanied minors even after they’re placed with a sponsor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a bill designed to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services takes full responsibility for, and keeps better track of, unaccompanied children who come to the border seeking entry to the United States and then are placed with U.S. sponsors.

The legislation follows a new report that revealed that the government could not determine the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 children that HHS had placed with sponsors this year.

As Trump Waffles, House Republicans Confident They’ll Avert Shutdown
Still president, conservatives wary of GOP leaders’ government funding strategy

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is confident there will not be a government shutdown despite President Donald Trump’s mixed signals on the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans prepare a legislative strategy with President Donald Trump seemingly on board, only for the president to catch them off guard with a last-minute tweet suggesting his opposition to the plan.

That scenario has played out a few times this year as lawmakers debated immigration and appropriations bills. And it could realistically happen again next week as Congress plans to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown that Trump has already signaled he might force.

Lawmakers Eye Cyber Bounties to Fix Bugs in Federal Networks
House panel approves Senate bill to set up pilot program at DHS

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a Senate bill last week that would set up a bug bounty program at the Department of Homeland Security. Above, Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., at a 2014 hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers last week moved closer to mandating that the Department of Homeland Security start a bug bounty program that will pay computer security researchers to spot weaknesses in DHS’s computer networks. That requirement would bring the department in line with other U.S. agencies with similar cybersecurity programs.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday by unanimous consent approved a Senate bill that would set up a pilot program at the department. The Senate passed the bill on April 17. The Pentagon, the IRS and the General Services Administration already operate such programs, and lawmakers have proposed legislation that would launch similar efforts at the departments of State and Treasury.

Members Find Billions Beneath Pentagon Couch Cushions
Vague explanations offered for cuts: ‘historical unobligated balances’ and ‘revised estimate’

From left, General Joseph Dunford, Jr., USMC Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Under Secretary of Defense David Norquist take their seats for the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2019 on Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The authors of a new Defense spending conference report ran a victory lap last week to tout the billions of dollars they added to the U.S. military budget, but they hardly mentioned the cuts they had to make to pull that off.

Members generally prefer to tout the “winners” in their bills, not so much the “losers.” That habit can obscure the hard work appropriators and their staffs do to wring savings out of the Pentagon and intelligence agency budgets, even when the total funding is an epic $674.4 billion, as it will be in fiscal 2019. 

Road Ahead: All Eyes on Brett Kavanaugh and the Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate starting with passage of anti-opioid legislation in another short week

All eyes will be on Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A scheduled Thursday afternoon Judiciary Committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was always going to be the most significant event on the schedule.

But the decision by Christine Blasey Ford to come forward publicly with an allegation of attempted sexual assault by Kavanaugh while in high school in Montgomery County, Maryland, has put what could have been a fairly perfunctory (though partisan) proceeding in the spotlight.

Pelosi, Dems Slam Trump Over Hurricane Response
A year after Maria and Irma, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands still need help, they say

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the Trump administration has a moral obligation to do better than it has in its response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had long been planning to convene a press conference Friday to talk about the ongoing recovery needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands a year after two hurricanes hit the American territories. She didn’t know President Donald Trump would fire off tweets Thursday accusing Democrats of inflating the hurricane’s death toll.

But the president choosing to “add salt to the wounds,” as Pelosi described it, only underscored her message that the federal response to Hurricane Maria has been woefully inadequate.