House of Representatives

Price Admits to Trading on Inside Information

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, admitted that he decided to buy stock in an Australian biotech firm after receiving information from Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a board member of that company, the Huffington Post reports.

“Ethics experts stated that Price could be in violation of the STOCK Act, a bipartisan 2012 law that bans insider trading by members of Congress.”

Price Invested Before Introducing Bill to Help Company

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) “last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary,” CNN reports.

“The new revelation is the latest example of Price trading stock in a health care firm at the same time as pursuing legislation that could impact a company’s share price. The issue has become a major liability for the congressman after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could impact them.”

Ryan Breaks from Trump On Several Key Issues

House Speaker Paul Ryan “offered the fullest accounting of his own thinking on the direction of the nation since the election, even gently breaking from President-elect Donald Trump on controversial policies from Russia sanctions to Medicare reform,” Politico reports.

“Ryan also spelled out his own views on topics including immigration and health care. He suggested criminally convicted undocumented immigrants should be deported, but also assured one undocumented mother that she need not fret about being rounded up by a federal agents and taken away from her U.S.-born daughter.”

Key Lawmaker Says Clinton Investigation Will Continue

House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told BuzzFeed he will continue the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use at the State Department.

Said Chaffetz: “This was never a political targeting from the beginning. Just because there’s a political election doesn’t mean it goes away. So of course I’m going to continue to pursue that.”

Republicans Should Know Trump Will Target Them Too

Rick Wilson: “The hilarious capper to the ethics mess was the ease with which Trump threw his GOP ‘allies’ under the bus. Trump may be ethically vacant and morally bankrupt, but he’s got a keen nose for the populism that drove him into office; his tweets sent a wave of utter panic through the House caucus. The walkback set a terrible precedent: House leadership should make policies and decisions without living in fear of Trump’s tweeted tantrums. The operative word is ‘should,’ but they’re going to have to touch the hot stove a few more times before the lesson takes.”

“The populist fury of the Trumpentariat isn’t reserved for liberals alone; more and more, it will be focused on Republicans who fail to toe the line when He issues his commands and diktats. The rage monster machine of Fox News, talk radio and Trump-centric social media needs something to feed on, and if House Republicans think Trump and his media allies won’t sacrifice them for their own satisfaction and ratings, they’re not paying attention.”

Republicans Kick Off New Congress with Day of Chaos

“A day of pageantry to open the 115th Congress and usher in a new period of Republican governance was overtaken Tuesday by an embarrassing reversal on ethics oversight, with the GOP gripped by internal division and many lawmakers seeking to shield themselves from extensive scrutiny,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “In the process, they created an unsightly spectacle that pretty much ruined an opening-day celebration of unified Republican government, undermined their own leadership and perhaps foretold the shape of things to come.”

Politico: “Republican leaders vowed to revisit the issue over the summer, although Tuesday’s problems could provide a lesson. Given that they control all of the levers of power in D.C., Democratic resistance won’t provide the political cover it used to over the last eight years. Washington belongs to Republicans — the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

For members: Why Republicans Reversed Course on Ethics Office

Ryan Easily Re-Elected as Speaker

The Hill reports the final vote totals were 239 votes for Paul Ryan, 189 votes for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), two votes for Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and one vote each for Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), John Lewis (D-GA) and Daniel Webster (R-FK).

Washington Post: “The near-unanimous vote for Ryan stands as a strong show of Republican unity as the party embarks on an ambitious legislative agenda that, for the first time in eight years, has a real chance to be signed into law.”

“But the 24 hours preceding the vote showed that unity can be fleeting: His reelection came less than two hours after Republicans held an emergency meeting to reverse proposed changes that would roll back the authority of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Ryan opposed those changes ahead of a Monday night conference meeting, but lawmakers voted for them anyway — then agreed to reverse course Tuesday after a public firestorm.”

House GOP Reverses Course on Ethics Office

House Republicans decided to pull a controversial rule which would have weakened the Office of Congressional Ethics before voting on the full rule package, NBC News reports.

Politico: “It was supposed to be a jubilant day for the right — a day Republicans ushered in a new GOP-controlled Congress as they await the takeover of the White House by their party leader, Donald Trump. Then came a self-inflicted public relations debacle that even Trump publicly questioned — and the whole day unraveled from there.”

The Most Single-Party State Delegations Since the 1950s

A Smart Politics study finds that 15 states are sending single-party congressional delegations to the U.S. House and Senate for the 115th Congress – more than double the number from eight years ago and the largest number of such states since the 1950s.

Nine states currently have all-GOP delegations (Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) while six are represented by only Democrats (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island).

New Congress Poised to Unravel Obama Policies

“The most powerful and ambitious Republican-led Congress in 20 years will convene Tuesday, with plans to leave its mark on virtually every facet of American life — refashioning the country’s social safety net, wiping out scores of labor and environmental regulations and unraveling some of the most significant policy prescriptions put forward by the Obama administration,” the New York Times reports.

“Even before President-elect Donald J. Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, giving their party full control of the government, Republicans plan quick action on several of their top priorities — most notably a measure to clear a path for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal. Perhaps the first thing that will happen in the new Congress is the push for deregulation. Also up early: filling a long-vacant Supreme Court seat, which is sure to set off a pitched showdown, and starting confirmation hearings for Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominees.”

More from the Washington Post: GOP Congress maps sweeping plans for conservative agenda.

Playbook: “Does the Senate cool the House down, by ignoring some of its more aggressive legislation? How much bloodletting will there be over replacing Obamacare? How much does Trump’s infrastructure package shrink, and how long will it take to come to fruition? Will all of Trump’s Cabinet nominees survive? Where do conservatives in the House pick their battles, and can they keep their outsized relevance?”

How Long Will GOP Congress Stay Unified?

Politico: “Since Republicans will control all the levers of power in Washington for the first time in almost a decade, they’ll hit the ground running on some issues: Both chambers, for example, hope to pass a budget blueprint that makes a critical down payment on repealing Obamacare even before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.”

“But it won’t take long for the inherent divide between Senate and House Republicans to rear its head. The House wants to pass a number of bills to scrap Obama-era rules and curb executive branch regulatory powers. But those will be a much heavier lift in the upper chamber.”

Wall Street Journal: Republicans take control facing internal tensions

GOP Lawmaker Urges Rollback of Campus Rape Rule

Incoming Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) recommended that the Trump administration roll back 2011 campus sexual assault guidelines that “deny the often-innocent accused basic due process rights,” USA Today reports.

Meadows says the rule “has pressured colleges to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and to create vast campus bureaucracies” to investigate sexual assault and date rape — “the incidence of which may be overstated.”

Ryan’s Crackdown on Protests May Not Be Constitutional

Politico: “Paul Ryan’s new crackdown against protests on the House floor — a direct response to the Democrats’ gun-control ‘sit-in’ last summer — is prompting questions from experts in both parties about its constitutionality. As part of a House rules package members will vote to approve in early January, House GOP leaders want to empower the sergeant-at-arms to fine lawmakers up to $2,500 for shooting video or taking photos on the chamber floor. But experts say Ryan’s proposal may run afoul of Article 1 of the Constitution, which says ‘each House may … punish its Members for disorderly behavior.’

“For more than 200 years that has been interpreted to mean any contested sanctions against lawmakers must be approved by the full House with a floor vote, attorneys steeped in congressional legal matters say.”