U.S. Congress

John McCall / South Florida Sun Sentinel

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who once had an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, says Congress should — and will — pass new gun restrictions in the aftermath of the most recent mass shootings, in El Paso and Dayton.

The South Florida Republican said universal background checks would become law. And, he said, restrictions on assault weapons could pass also.

“One of the changes is that you see a lot more [Republican] representatives from across the country ... that are stepping out in ways they didn’t previously step out,” Mast said. “I’m glad to see them doing that.”

Updated at 12:40 p.m. ET

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., says she's canceling her visit to Israel and the West Bank.

Israel's interior ministry announced Friday that it would allow Tlaib to enter the country as a private citizen to visit her aging grandmother, after it banned her and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from going on a political trip amid pressure from President Trump.

The warden of the federal prison in New York City where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead has been reassigned, the Department of Justice says. Two other staffers were placed on leave.

The administrative moves took place amid official investigations into Epstein's death and following harsh official criticism of the Bureau of Prisons.

Updated at 1:57 p.m. ET

On the presidential campaign trail in Iowa and on the op-ed page of The New York Times, former Vice President Joe Biden has made the case for going back to a nationwide ban on assault weapons and making it "even stronger."

Some have reacted with quizzical expressions: "Back?" "Stronger?"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will discuss measures aimed at addressing gun violence in September. He said he expects background checks, assault weapons and "red flag" laws to be part of the debate.

"What we can't do is fail to pass something," McConnell told WHAS radio in Kentucky, adding, "the urgency of this is not lost on any of us."

JOSÉ A. IGLESIAS / MIAMI HERALD

President Donald Trump late Monday signed an executive order imposing a harsh, Cuba-style economic embargo on Venezuela as part of Washington’s broad push to force leader Nicolás Maduro out of power.

In a letter to Congress, Trump said the measure was necessary in light of Maduro’s “continued usurpation of power” and ongoing human rights abuses in the South American nation.

The new measures are expected to be announced Tuesday, as representatives from dozens of countries will be meeting in Peru to discuss the Venezuela crisis.

JOSÉ A. IGLESIAS / MIAMI HERALD

The House of Representatives passed a bill to grant Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Venezuelans, the most significant legislative action to date in response to Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.

The TPS bill, sponsored by Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, and Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration a day before the House leaves Washington for a six week recess.

The bill passed by a vote of 272-158, with 39 Republicans and one independent joining 232 Democrats in favor.

Updated at 3:59 p.m. ET

The Senate intelligence committee has released its report detailing Russia's targeting of election systems in 2016 along with recommendations for protecting American elections from foreign interference.

The committee's final report on election security appeared Thursday as the 2020 presidential race gets underway in what promises to be a bitter and divisive election battle.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller did what Democrats wanted him to do on Wednesday — the question now is how much difference that may make.

Mueller's hearings did not feature a telegenic star who could deliver a message as exuberantly as President Trump's opponents hoped.

Updated at 1:43 p.m. ET

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is making his much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill.

Mueller is testifying before two House committees on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

TPS For Venezuelans Blocked By House Republicans

Jul 24, 2019
PEDRO PORTAL / MIAMI HERALD

Republicans voted down a bill Tuesday that would provide Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans, a setback for South Florida lawmakers from both parties.

Democrats needed GOP support for a bill sponsored by Reps. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, after they fast-tracked the measure to force a vote before the House of Representatives leaves for its summer recess at the end of the week. The fast-tracking meant the bill needed two-thirds support instead of a simple majority to pass.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is testifying before Congress on Wednesday, and lawmakers have so many questions they may not have enough time to ask them all.

The House judiciary and intelligence committees have scheduled hearings for 8:30 a.m. and noon.

Majority Democrats and minority Republicans are expected to try their utmost to get the most good they can from Mueller — in very different ways.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / AP

The Green New Deal is the most talked-about federal legislation to tackle climate change and sea level rise at the moment.

But its goals of reducing fossil fuel use and creating cleaner energy and jobs is still more an aspiration than an action plan. And in the meantime, South Florida lawmakers in Washington say they’re working on other solutions.

Among bills currently being proposed are those to create a fee on carbon, put more money for clean energy research in federal spending bills and emphasize climate change as an issue in 2020 elections.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

President Trump used his veto pen for the first time Friday, after Congress tried to reverse his national emergency declaration and rein in spending on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congressional critics do not appear to have the votes to override Trump's veto. So, as a practical matter, the administration can continue to spend billions of dollars more on border barriers than lawmakers authorized, unless and until the courts intervene.

Nowhere else in the House of Representatives is the tension between legislation and investigation more present than on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where a bipartisan infrastructure deal could be in the making — even as the Democrats on the committee launch a reinvigorated investigation into the D.C. Trump International Hotel.

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