Kevin Brady

Health Care Exchange Premiums Dip, Finally
After steep increases in 2017 and 2018, states on the exchanges see a decline of 1.5 percent

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says the lower premiums are “encouraging,” but that the health care law is set up to fail over time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Health insurance premiums in the 39 states that use HealthCare.gov will fall 1.5 percent on average for the most commonly purchased plans in 2019, marking the first time that rates have dropped since the 2010 health care law was implemented.

The decline is a significant departure from steep increases in 2017 and 2018. Premiums for HealthCare.gov plans grew by an average of 37 percent for plans this year, after rising by 25 percent the year before, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday.

How Committees Got Their Staffers
Ways and Means and Senate Finance were first panels to receive staff

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, right, and Texas Rep. Sam Johnson during a markup of the GOP tax bill in November. In the background, David Stewart, the panel’s majority staff director at the time, and Karen McAfee, the minority staff director. The Ways and Means Committee was the first one in the House to receive staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recent estimates have put the number of staffers in the House and Senate at about 15,000. In 1789, there was one. 

Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania had just been made speaker, and the second order of business was to elect Virginia lawyer John Beckley as House clerk, the first of 35 people who have served in the role. 

Do Debt and Deficits Matter? It Depends on Who's Minding U.S. Fiscal Policy: Podcast
CQ on Congress, Episode 116

Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, sits in front of books of the U.S. tax code, during a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republicans' tax reform plan in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Congressional Budget Office recently revised its earlier, already dire warning that the national debt will be 150 percent larger than the entire U.S. economy within 30 years — and GOP budget and tax proposals could make a bad situation much worse.

CQ News editors Patrick B. Pexton and Pete Cohn discuss the political landscape of debt and deficits heading into what could be a fateful midterm election.

Trump’s Threat to Leave the WTO Alarms Many, Even in Congress
And it might be a tipping point for Republicans on the Hill

President Donald Trump, here at the Capitol in June, says World Trade Organization members are not playing fair with America. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The United States once viewed the World Trade Organization as the wave of the future, an improvement over the aging General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade system and a hub of rules-based stability for countries — rich and poor, democratic and nondemocratic — engaged in the international buying and selling of goods and services.

Now President Donald Trump is eyeing the exit door from the WTO, a Geneva-based body the U.S. helped to create in 1995 to negotiate trade standards among its 164-member nations and to referee disputes among them using a playbook of agreed upon rules.

Lawmakers Welcome Easing of EU-US Trade Rift, Look to NAFTA
But tensions still evident, as U.S. trade representative finds out

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., sees progress in de-escalating trade tensions between the United States and the European Union. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Key agriculture Republicans say they are hopeful the Trump administration is starting to move farmers out of a trade crossfire under a limited agreement between President Donald Trump and the European Union to ease trade tensions as the two sides work to iron out their differences.

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts called Wednesday’s agreement in principle “quite a startling development and positive development. If that happens and then we get NAFTA done, there are quite a few lights at the end of the tunnel.”

Republicans Go For Broke on Tax Cut Message With 2.0 Effort
Making individual tax cuts permanent is centerpiece of developing 3-bill package

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, briefed House Republicans Tuesday on his panel’s developing “Tax Reform 2.0” plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call fie photo)

House Republicans have made clear that the tax overhaul bill their party passed last year is their primary selling point to voters on why they should keep them in the majority come November. 

Now they’re doubling down on the tax cut message as they prepare a three-bill package they’re calling “Tax Reform 2.0.”

Tariffs Not Enough to Outsmart China, Experts Tell Lawmakers
Two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees held hearing Wednesday

The Senate-passed defense authorization bill includes a seven-year ban on sales of U.S-made parts to ZTE Corp., a Chinese telecommunications company. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The United States will have to use more than trade tariffs to force China to curb policies designed to give its state-owned enterprises a competitive edge over U.S. companies and undermine America’s technological future, experts on China told two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees on Wednesday.

The witnesses, at a hearing on Chinese trade practices, recommended strategies including using a new Justice Department anti-trust enforcement division that scrutinizes violations by foreign governments. They also said the United States should band together with trading partners to increase pressure on China to change discriminatory policies on intellectual property. In addition, the witnesses favored action on legislation in a House-Senate conference committee that would expand national security reviews of Chinese business transactions involving high-tech.

The Dizzying Life of Midcycle Newbies
For arrivals in the middle of a Congress, it can be tough to hit the ground running

Conor Lamb waits for Speaker Paul D. Ryan to arrive for a mock swearing-in ceremony in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In April, just a few days after being sworn in following his stunning special election win in Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb strode into the Capitol, hand clutching a coffee cup, as he made his way to the House floor for a vote. But before he could make it inside, a guard abruptly stopped him. Beverages in the chamber, she explained, are strictly forbidden. “You can go through the cloakroom,” she helpfully suggested. Lamb gave a blank stare. “It’s around the corner,” she said, pointing down the hall.

The first few days and weeks for new lawmakers can prove a disorienting adjustment, especially for winners of special elections.

House Republicans Trust Jim Jordan Did Not Ignore Ohio State Sex Abuse
Colleagues come to Ohio Republican’s defense, calling him honest, honorable and trustworthy

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has denied allegations he ignored sexual abuse while coaching wrestling at Ohio State University. House Republicans are defending him as honest and trustworthy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Honest, honorable and trustworthy — these are all attributes House Republicans have ascribed to Rep. Jim Jordan as they’ve reacted skeptically to allegations that the Freedom Caucus founder ignored sexual abuse while an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who like Jordan are considered potential candidates to replace retiring Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were among those who defended the Ohio lawmaker. 

Hurd, Democratic Challenger on Pace to Shatter Fundraising Record
GOP rep, opponent Gina Ortiz Jones projected to run one of the most expensive races in Texas history

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Gina Ortiz Jones, his Democratic opponent this fall, project to raise a record total in campaign cash. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four months away from Election Day, the race for Texas’ 23rd District projects to be the most expensive congressional race in the state’s history.

Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones more than doubled her cash on hand in the second fundraising quarter after reeling in $1.2 million in April, May and June, her campaign announced in a news release Monday.