Jennifer Shutt

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

Talking taxes 2020
CQ Budget, Ep. 138

Tax reporter Doug Sword sits down with guest host Jennifer Shutt to explain why Congress added so many tax bills to a massive spending package and what exactly those provisions will mean during the upcoming year. CQ Budget delves into what didn't make it into the package and predicts how far those provisions will advance in 2020.

Trump signs spending bills, averts shutdown
Fiscal 2020 appropriations packages become law just ahead of midnight deadline

President Donald Trump signed two behemoth spending packages totaling $1.4 trillion on Friday night, preventing another year-end government shutdown with an hour and a half to spare.

The existing stopgap funding law was set to expire at midnight.

Senate clears final spending package, wraps for the year
The bills now head to Trump's desk for his signature

The Senate cleared two spending packages totaling $1.4 trillion Thursday, sending the measures to President Donald Trump ahead of a Friday deadline.

Debate over the massive packages was tucked in between floor speeches about the House's Wednesday vote to impeach Trump — making for a strange mix of bitter partisanship over the impeachment process and broad bipartisan support for a wide-ranging year-end appropriations package.

Massive spending, tax packages headed for Senate
Lawmakers pointed out both sides had to make sacrifices in order to pass the bills

The House approved $1.4 trillion in spending for the fiscal year that began almost three months ago, in an almost surreal business-as-usual fashion that seemingly ignored the historic articles of impeachment scheduled for the floor the very next day.

Lawmakers made a show of dividing the spending measures into two bundles, in order to avoid the oft-ridiculed omnibus bill that both sides say represents the worst of the “swamp.” But the rushed nature of the vote, and in particular the late-night deal that tacked on a nearly $54 billion tax package, runs counter to promises of a more transparent process where the rank-and-file has input and time to study the legislation.

Appropriators reach spending agreement, fend off possibility of government shutdown
The deal ends months of negotiations that revolved around border wall funding

Republicans and Democrats reached agreement “in principle” Thursday on $1.37 trillion in government funding, staving off the possibility of another shutdown just a week before spending is set to run out, according to Appropriations Committee leaders. ...
Lowey: Spending deal looking more likely this week
More than 100 differences on full-year appropriations bills still need to be resolved before current funding runs out on Dec. 20

Congress and the Trump administration could reach agreement on full-year spending bills as soon as Thursday, according to House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey.

“If all goes well, we could have a deal by the end of the day tomorrow,” Lowey said Wednesday evening after reviewing an offer Republicans sent over midday. “I think their offer was real and we’re discussing it and we can find some agreement.”

Foreign aid rider tangles up final spending talks
The White House is concerned the rider could cut out faith-based aid groups from USAID contracts

Urged on by anti-abortion activists and religious groups, the White House is raising concerns in year-end spending talks about language secured by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in the Senate’s State-Foreign Operations bill they fear could cut out faith-based aid groups from U.S. Agency for International Development contracts.

Shaheen argues the provision in the bill would simply require USAID contractors to adhere to current law, which stipulates they can’t deny services to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, political affiliation or other factors.

Lowey: Appropriations deal could be struck this weekend
House Appropriations chairwoman says House could vote next week

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said Friday the House could begin voting on final spending bills for the current fiscal year next week.

After months of partisan stalemate, the New York Democrat struck a decidedly optimistic tone in predicting that negotiations on a final spending deal could wrap up this weekend, clearing the way for floor votes to begin. Lawmakers have been scrambling to complete a deal before current funding runs dry on Dec. 20.

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Serrano recovering in Bronx following hospital stay
Retiring appropriator recovering from Parkinson’s-related fall

Rep. José E. Serrano, one of the House’s top Democratic appropriators, is recovering from a hospital stay due to a fall but plans to return to Capitol Hill “in the very near future.”

“Several months ago, I disclosed that I am battling Parkinson’s Disease. Recently, I suffered a related health complication that resulted in a fall,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “I required some time in the hospital to recover, and have had to continue that recovery process at home in the Bronx. I continue to work closely with my staff, and I look forward to returning to Washington in the very near future.”

House pushes ‘dozen bills or none’ approach to spending talks
GOP senators express doubts as House leaders insist on finalizing appropriations by Dec. 20

House Democratic leaders are insisting that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year must be finalized before any of them can reach the floor, according to sources familiar with strategy talks.

The demand for some kind of grand bargain could complicate hopes for completion of at least a portion of fiscal 2020 appropriations before stopgap funding runs dry on Dec. 20 and Congress adjourns for the winter holidays. 

Schumer outlines Democratic demands on spending bills
Aside from border wall issue, Schumer brings up opioids, infrastructure, VAWA

The top Senate Democrat laid down some benchmarks Monday for his party’s support of final fiscal 2020 appropriations bills.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on the Senate floor that the bills will need to include “significant resources” for programs intended to combat the opioid epidemic and gun violence; infrastructure and child care spending; increased or at least level funding for Violence Against Women Act programs; and additional funds for election security.

Congress seeks to avoid an approps nightmare before Christmas
Appropriators and congressional leadership have just three weeks to resolve dozens of policy disputes between House and Senate spending bills

Congress returns to Washington this week with a challenging to-do list for December that not only includes drafting articles of impeachment and finalizing a massive trade deal, but also funding the government.

Appropriators and congressional leadership have just three weeks to resolve dozens of policy disputes between House and Senate spending bills — a daunting but routine exercise that will determine whether there’s a partial government shutdown right as lawmakers are set to leave for their winter break.

House, Senate reach agreement on subcommittee spending levels
The 12 subcommittees are expected to begin working on the fiscal 2020 bills immediately

The appropriations process appeared to get back on track Saturday after House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby reached an agreement on subcommittee allocations, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

The accord is a positive sign for appropriators, who have been waiting for months to learn how much of the $1.37 trillion in fiscal 2020 funding they would have to spend on each of their bills.

Trump signs stopgap bill, fending off shutdown for now
Continuing resolution will fund government, avoid shutdown, through Dec. 20

President Donald Trump signed a monthlong spending bill Thursday, hours before government funding had been set to expire at midnight.

The continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 20, giving appropriators more time to hash out numerous divides over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. It’s the second time Congress has needed to pass a temporary spending bill since fiscal 2020 began Oct. 1.

Senate holds off on vote avoiding shutdown, keeps stopgap funding vehicle
Sen. David Perdue announced the Senate would instead vote at 11:30 a.m. Thursday to send the stopgap bill directly to the president’s desk

The Senate no longer plans to change the legislative vehicle for a monthlong stopgap spending bill, following hours of back-and-forth discussions Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hoped to change the legislative vehicle and approve the temporary funding bill by the end of the day.

House votes to avoid shutdown, continue spending talks until December
The measure passed the House on a largely party-line vote, 231-192

Congress moved closer to clearing another stopgap funding bill Tuesday, after the House voted to send the continuing resolution to the Senate.

The bill would stave off a funding lapse that would have begun when the current continuing resolution expires Thursday night. Once signed, it would provide lawmakers and the Trump administration another four weeks to try to reach agreement on the dozen annual spending bills that have stalled amid debate about border wall spending and how best to divide up $1.37 trillion in fiscal 2020 spending.