Jennifer Shutt

Lowey faces her first primary challenge in three decades
Powerful chairwoman to face 32-year-old newcomer in Democratic contest

The year was 1988. Def Leppard topped the charts and stonewashed jeans were all the rage. It was also the last time powerful House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey faced a primary challenge.

That’s all changed now with the decision by Mondaire Jones, a former Obama administration Justice Department staffer and attorney for Westchester County’s Law Department, to challenge Lowey in next June’s primary. The 32-year-old political novice plans to take on the New York Democratic incumbent over her positions on issues ranging from climate change to student debt forgiveness to oversight of the Trump administration.

Two-year budget pact clears Senate, ending fiscal 2020 impasse
President Donald Trump has said he’ll sign the measure when it lands on his desk

The Senate cleared legislation Thursday that would set topline spending levels for the next two fiscal years and suspend the debt limit through July 2021, clearing the way for appropriators to begin work two months before the new fiscal year begins.

The 67-28 Senate vote came just before lawmakers left town for the August recess and follows a 284-149 House vote last week before that chamber left town for its summer break.

Thursday eyed for Senate budget vote, August recess start
The timing of final votes uncertain as senators look to jet out of town for August recess

The Senate appears set to spend another day in session before lawmakers can go home for August recess.

The chamber appears likely to vote Thursday on legislation that would avoid a $125 billion discretionary spending cut next year, as well as push off the threat of default on the nation’s debt until possibly late 2021.

Shelby finalizing allocations for fiscal 2020 bills; first markup Sept. 12
Senate appropriators will find out how much they can spend

Senate Appropriations subcommittee leaders are likely to learn within the next week how much they have to spend on their fiscal 2020 bills.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday he hopes to finalize the 12 subcommittee allocations by the end of this week or early next week.

For spending bills, now comes the hard part
Both chambers need to reach agreement before Sept. 30 to avoid a repeat of the 35-day partial government shutdown

Congressional leaders and the Trump administration proved last week that they can work together by reaching an agreement to avoid default on the nation’s financial obligations and prevent $125 billion in spending cuts that could disrupt the longest U.S. economic expansion on record.

Assuming the House-passed budget pact is cleared by the Senate this week and signed into law, lawmakers still have their work cut out for them.

House sends spending caps, debt limit bill to Senate
Measure next heads to the Senate for consideration

After late lobbying from President Donald Trump, House leaders mustered the votes to pass a two-year spending caps and debt limit bill Thursday that will provide some structure around the appropriations process and stave off potential default on U.S. obligations until the end of 2021.

The 284-149 vote was the first legislative test for the package Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday after hard-fought negotiations. The measure would add $324 billion to otherwise austere spending caps over the next two fiscal years, and avert cuts averaging about 10 percent to federal agencies for the upcoming budget year starting Oct. 1.

White House, Hill leaders agree on two-year budget deal
‘This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!’ Trump tweeted

House leaders released legislation late Monday that would implement the two-year accord on appropriations and the debt ceiling struck earlier in the day by the White House and top Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.  

The 26-page draft bill, expected to get a House vote Thursday, calls for raising limits on discretionary spending by $321 billion over two years, compared to the strict caps imposed under a 2011 deficit reduction law.

Trump, Democrats split differences in two-year budget deal
Negotiators are still working on some ‘technical language’ issues

Updated 4:15 p.m. | The White House and congressional leaders are close to unveiling a spending and debt limit deal that would boost funding levels by nearly 4 percent across federal agencies, wiping out the 10 percent cuts that were scheduled to take effect under current law.

According to sources familiar with the proposal, the deal calls for a topline defense figure of $738 billion in fiscal 2020, or slightly higher than the House Democrats’ initial request for $733 billion, but short of the Trump administration’s $750 billion request, which includes cap-exempt accounts for troops serving in conflict zones overseas.

White House offers up extensive menu of cuts for spending caps deal
The administration wants at least $150 billion in savings

The Trump administration has laid out a wide array of spending cuts and tweaks to mandatory programs for Democratic leaders to consider for inclusion in a two-year discretionary caps and debt limit package.

The White House offsets menu includes $574 billion culled from items in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, according to a source familiar with the proposal. In addition, there’s $516 billion in “structural reforms” obtained by extending current discretionary spending limits by another two years, through fiscal 2023.

Fly me to the moon … before China does
Trump administration wants to get there by 2024, but the competition will be stiff

A new space race is on, and this time it’s the U.S. versus China rather than the former Soviet Union.

In the coming years, NASA and the China National Space Administration separately plan to send a series of missions to the moon with the goal of having a strong presence on its south pole — heightening the likelihood of tension and conflict.

Mnuchin says there is a topline agreement on spending caps and debt limit
Treasury secretary says talks continue on offsets and structure of a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that agreement has been reached on spending levels for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 as well as a two-year extension of the debt limit.

“The good news is we’ve reached an agreement between the administration, the House and the Senate on topline numbers for both year one and year two. We’re now discussing offsets as well as certain structural issues. And we’ve agreed as part of that deal there would be a long-term, two-year debt ceiling increase,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So, I think, all of our first choice is to reach an overall agreement and we’re working hard to do that. But if for whatever reason we don’t get there in time, I am encouraging a debt ceiling increase.”

Pelosi: Debt ceiling, caps deal possibly on floor next Thursday
To make the deadline, talks would need to wrap up by this Friday night in order to post legislative text sometime over the weekend

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiators on a sweeping package that would lift tight discretionary spending caps and raise the debt ceiling are aiming to have a bill on the House floor next Thursday.

Accordingly, the California Democrat said, talks would need to wrap up by this Friday night in order to post legislative text sometime over the weekend, required under the House’s rule that 72 hours’ notice is necessary for lawmakers to read bills before voting on them. “When we have an agreement we’ll write it up, and we have to do all of that by Friday evening,” Pelosi told reporters.

Senate appropriations markups likely off until September
Congressional leaders and Trump administration have to agree on spending caps in next few weeks

The Senate Appropriations Committee likely won’t mark up any of its fiscal 2020 spending bills before leaving town for the August recess — the first time in more than three decades the panel hasn’t debated any of the annual spending bills before the customary summer break.

The decision to hold back Senate appropriations bills in the absence of a spending caps agreement has set a markedly different pace for the committee than last year, when it sent all 12 of its bills to the floor before the break began.

Debt limit talks pick up pace and tax credit bonanza
CQ Budget podcast, Episode 118

With new warnings that the U.S. could run out of money to meet its obligations, Congress and the Trump administration are racing to raise the debt limit before lawmakers head home for August, says CQ Roll Call’s appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt. And tax reporter Doug Sword explains how oil refiners could get up to a $10 billion windfall with an expired tax credit unless Congress intervenes.

Senate GOP lines up behind two-year debt, spending deal, whip says

Senate Republicans are coalescing around a push to raise discretionary spending caps and suspend the statutory debt ceiling for two years, rather than the one-year stopgap plan pushed by White House officials, according to the chamber’s No. 2 Republican.

“I think they believe that it would be good to deal with both of those issues for not just this next year, but for the following year as well,” said Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D. “I suspect there are others who maybe don’t share that view, but I think the overwhelming majority of the Republicans, I think that’s what they believe.”

Pelosi: Debt limit vote possible before August recess
‘We certainly do not want any thought of default on the part of the full faith and credit of the United States of America,’ Pelosi said

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday didn’t rule out voting on a debt limit increase before the August recess, though she indicated the need to raise the discretionary spending caps for fiscal 2020 is still an integral part of the discussions.

“Let’s see how the conversations go,” she said. “We certainly do not want any thought of default on the part of the full faith and credit of the United States of America. That’s never been what we’ve been about, but there are those on the Republican side who have embraced that again and again.”

McConnell waiting on House and White House deal on spending caps
Without an agreement on limits, Senate appropriators don’t know how much they have to spend, majority leader says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Thursday that the Senate won’t set its own discretionary spending level and proceed with appropriations markups until a universal caps agreement is reached between House Democrats and the Trump administration.

“I support getting some kind of deal that can tell us how much we can spend so we can go forward,” McConnell said. “The two key players in any caps deal are the speaker and the president. If they can agree on how much we can spend, then we are not spinning our wheels.”

Senate border bill faces hurdles

Republicans on both sides of the Capitol are generally unified in support of the Senate’s $4.59 billion supplemental relief bill for border agencies strained by record numbers of migrants crossing the southern border.

There’s just one problem: It’s not fully clear that President Donald Trump would sign the bipartisan measure, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 30-1 vote last Wednesday.

One-year spending cap option, warts and all, gains momentum
Yarmuth signals openness to deal, echoing comments made by Shelby a day earlier

Senior lawmakers are increasingly considering a scaled-back plan to raise discretionary spending limits for just the upcoming fiscal year, in what would be a departure from the two-year deals enacted in 2013, 2015 and again last year.

A decision to limit a deal to only fiscal 2020 appropriations might simplify negotiations that have been stalled for months. But it would also set the stage for another difficult showdown over spending levels next year, just before the presidential election.

Yarmuth says effort to unseat McConnell could be national marquee battle next year
Kentucky Democrat says challengers face long odds against Senate GOP leader, however

Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth said Friday his two top picks to challenge Mitch McConnell in 2020 are Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot whose unsuccessful House race last year caught national attention, and sports radio talk show host Matt Jones.

Yarmuth admitted, however, that either candidate would face long odds in the Bluegrass State.