'Business of Congress goes on' for members not on House Intelligence panel, lawmaker says
Posted November 20, 2019 11:02 a.m. EST
CNN — Much of Washington has been glued to the House impeachment inquiry's public hearings. But Congress' work on Capitol Hill has not ground to a halt.
"For those of us not on the (House) Intelligence Committee, you know, the business of Congress goes on. We have busy days and we continue to work on those other issues that are, you know, really central to our daily work," Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan said Wednesday on CNN's "New Day."
Some Republican lawmakers have argued the impeachment inquiry process will block movement on key bipartisan issues, such as Trump's revised North American Free Trade Agreement and a drug pricing bill. And in a Fox News op-ed published Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel argued that the impeachment inquiry is baseless, a waste of time and keeps Democrats from passing vital legislation.
Kildee pushed back Wednesday on that characterization.
"It's not true. Look at the public record. We're passing legislation every week," Kildee said on CNN.
On Tuesday, the House approved a stopgap government funding bill to prevent a shutdown on Thursday, and the Senate will soon take up the bill before sending it to Trump's desk. Senior appropriators and leaders from both chambers are also hard at work seeking an agreement to proceed with regular appropriations for next year, racing against a December 20 deadline.
The House has passed nearly 400 different bills since Democrats took control of the chamber in 2019, including some of the Democrats' priorities, like the Equality Act, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the For The People Act. Many of these House-passed bills are unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-led Senate.
But both chambers do agree on some key issues, like human rights in Hong Kong: The House and Senate have both passed their own versions of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill that pro-democracy activists in the semi-autonomous region have repeatedly urged Congress to approve. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Wednesday night, and the House is expected to take up that version in the coming days, before sending it to Trump's desk.
Republicans, railing against the impeachment inquiry into the President, have also slammed Democrats for not speedily approving the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. But talks between a nine-member House Democratic working group and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have made substantial progress, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, who is leading the talks. Democratic members, especially freshmen from moderate districts and members from trade-heavy states like Texas and California, have called for a resolution and a floor vote as soon as possible.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said an agreement with the administration was "imminent" and that she would like the House to vote on the agreement before the end of the year.
Here's a look at some of what Congress has been up to since the House Intelligence Committee began holding public hearings in the impeachment inquiry on November 13:
Passed a short-term funding bill in an effort to avert a government shutdown before funds expireApproved a bill to reform and reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank for the next 10 yearsPassed a bill that provides a seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance ActPassed the Investor Protection and Capital Markets Fairness Act, a bill that helps the SEC recover money for victims of fraudPassed a bipartisan bill that provides access to federal housing assistance on behalf of youths aging out of foster careApproved a bipartisan bill aimed at combating homelessness on tribal landsPassed a measure that would require public companies to annually publish diversity data about their board of directors Passed a bipartisan bill to help small business owners whose employees are military reservistsPassed the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019, which sets guidelines for HUD to provide disaster assistance under a community development block grant disaster recovery programPassed a bipartisan bill permanently expanding security for US Supreme Court Justices outside of the court's grounds; sent to Senate for considerationPassed a bipartisan bill that would award a Congressional Gold Medal to "Rosie the Riveter," the women who joined the workforce during World War II
Unanimously passed Hong Kong rights and democracy billConfirmed Chad Wolf to serve as undersecretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans at Department of Homeland Security, paving the way for him to become acting DHS secretaryConfirmed judicial nominee Steven Menashi, a lawyer in the White House counsel's office, to the 2nd Circuit Court of AppealsConfirmed Florida Supreme Court Justice Robert Luck to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh CircuitUnanimously passed the House bill permanently expanding security for US Supreme Court Justices outside of the court's groundsApproved a bill that changes the name of a North Dakota landmark to White Horse Hill