New Jersey

Overlooked plans to add Medicare benefits get more attention
Savings from drug pricing bill would cover additional dental, vision, hearing coverage under Democratic plan

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a dentist who was elected to Congress in 2018, supports adding dental coverage to Medicare but says ensuring a fair reimbursement rate will be crucial. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A long-shot bid to expand health care benefits for seniors is beginning to gain attention as part of Democrats’ signature health care bill, which the House is expected to vote on Thursday. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and committee leaders are aiming to use savings from the drug bill to add dental, hearing and vision benefits to Medicare. Democrats say the legislation could result in $500 billion in savings over a decade, based on guidance they received from the Congressional Budget Office. 

Campus Notebook: President nominates pick for Architect of the Capitol

The Cannon House Office Building renovation will be a tough issue to grapple with for Blanton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated J. Brett Blanton to be the next Architect of the Capitol for a 10-year stint.

If confirmed by the Senate, Blanton would provide stability to the helm of an agency that has been led by a succession of acting directors. Christine Merdon, an acting director, announced her resignation in August and was replaced by Thomas Carroll, who worked in the same capacity. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for maintaining the facilities on the Capitol complex as well as renovations.

Denny Heck really wants a cookie
Washington Democrat’s scheduler sounded the ‘sugar zone’ alarm

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., really needed a cookie. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Denny Heck was in dire need of a cookie, so much so that his scheduler emailed a group of Democratic staffers to ask if anyone had a “cookie source.”

In late October, the Washington state Democrat’s scheduler, Lauren Meininger, sent the email to her Democratic colleagues with the subject line “A single cookie??”

Deal banning surprise medical bills also ups tobacco purchase age to 21
The agreement raises the odds of Congress passing legislation meant to lower some health care costs this year

Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., left, and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., talk during a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in 2017. Walden, Pallone and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced a tentative deal to ban surprise medical bills Sunday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Key House and Senate committee leaders announced a bipartisan agreement Sunday on draft legislation to prohibit surprise medical bills and raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

The agreement raises the odds of Congress clearing measures intended to lower some health care costs before the end of the year.

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

How robocalls may be the thing to unite Congress
CQ on Congress, Ep. 178

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Booker’s CROWN Act would ban discrimination against black hairstyles
Federal initiative is part of state-by-state push by group that includes Dove products

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is among those calling for more federal protections against discrimination of hairstyles commonly worn by African Americans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nappy. Kinky. Too curly. These are adjectives sometimes used to describe natural black hair. While they can be insulting, some lawmakers say these perceptions also lead to discrimination against African Americans.

Several recent high-profile incidents involving discrimination and racial insensitivity have convinced lawmakers that more federal protections need to be put in place to prevent prejudice against hairstyles associated with black culture.

Double standards for 2020 Democratic hopefuls? You don’t say
Kamala Harris was tripped up by obstacles her white counterparts haven’t had to face

Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential bid faced unique hurdles from the start, some of them personal, Curtis writes. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There is a particular line that stuck with me in the just-opened film “Queen & Slim,” about a black couple on the run after an altercation with a white police officer goes awry in the depressing and terrible way you might imagine. During their perilous road trip, in a quieter moment, he (a retail worker) asks her (an attorney) if she is good at her job. “I’m an excellent lawyer,” she replies, to which he answers with a question that’s really a statement: “Why do black people always got to be excellent? Why can’t we just be ourselves?”

Since the pre-mortems were written a bit ago, it’s time for a post-mortem on the presidential campaign of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who never seemed to quite discover who she was or at least convey authenticity and excellence to enough voters or donors to make a difference.

Strange bedfellows as local battles over Airbnb attract Capitol Hill attention
Members of Progressive and Freedom caucuses allied on side of hotel industry

Hawaii Democratic Rep. Ed Case, who returned to Congress after working in the hotel industry, has attracted co-sponsors from both ends of the political spectrum for his bill that would ensure local regulations apply to short-term rental sites like Airbnb. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

 

It was the most expensive local referendum in New Jersey history. Airbnb raised more than $4 million this fall to fight one city’s regulations on short-term rentals. But in a high-profile blow as the company prepares to go public next year, the short-term lodging service lost overwhelmingly, defeated by a coalition of groups that spent one-fourth of the money.

House Democrats to move on temporary ‘SALT’ cap increase
Ways and Means panel could take up legislation as early as next week, Pascrell says

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. says the House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation to increase the SALT deduction cap as early as next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation as early as next week that would increase a limit on state and local tax deductions that has riled Democrats from high-cost regions, according to a senior panel member.

The “SALT” bill, which has not yet been released, is still in flux, but the $10,000 deduction limit set by the Republican-backed tax code overhaul would be raised to an as-yet undetermined level for three years, according to Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.. A final figure hasn’t been decided on, the New Jersey Democrat said, describing it as “maybe $15,000 or $20,000, whatever that figure’s going to be.”