appropriations

Road ahead: Will Congress get a disaster relief deal before Memorial Day?
House and Senate will keep full schedules as budget talks continue for this week and beyond

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will join their fellow congressional leaders to discuss the budget and the need to lift the country’s debt limit with the administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The big question for the week is whether Congress will actually act on long-awaited disaster relief before lawmakers head out for Memorial Day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said such a vote is on the floor agenda for this week, but as senators left Thursday afternoon for the weekend, there was still no final agreement on any bipartisan package.

Air Force secretary: send disaster money ASAP
Officials say it will cost nearly $10 billion to repair recent storm damage at military bases

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson testifies during a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support hearing in Russell Building titled “United States Air Force Readiness,” on October 10, 2018. On Thurday Wilson said the Defense Department needs money to fix nearly $10 billion in damage to military bases.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Heather Wilson, the outgoing Air Force secretary, said Thursday that the Defense Department desperately needs Congress to quickly bankroll recovery from recent storm damage at military bases, which officials say will cost nearly $10 billion to fix.

Senate leaders are drafting a disaster aid supplemental bill that may contain a down payment in aid for Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The House passed its own version last week with $1.5 billion to help military installations recover from hurricanes.

Trump lobbies for Dem support of immigration plan even while using hardline rhetoric
Can POTUS have it both ways on a proposal that appears mostly about his re-election campaign?

President Donald Trump, here with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Rose Garden in June 2017, unveiled his latest immigration overhaul plan on Thursday. Not even GOP lawmakers voiced support, however. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday lobbied for Democratic votes for an immigration plan that appears to have no traction while also throwing the kind of red-meat rhetoric toward his base that turns off those very Democrats.

In a morning tweet during a rare overnight stay at Trump Tower in New York, the president appeared be referring to polls like an April Washington Post-ABC News survey that showed a 17 percent jump in the number of Democrats who view the spike in migrant families showing at the U.S.-Mexico border as a crisis. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials say they made 100,000 apprehensions at the border in March, the biggest number in 12 years.

Trump‘s latest immigration plan came with no Democratic outreach
Proposal appears going no further than White House Rose Garden

A life-size cage installation by artist Paola Mendoza is set up on the Capitol lawn on May 7 to coincide with the anniversary of the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ family separation immigration policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump unveiled his latest immigration overhaul plan Thursday, but given its lack of outreach to Democrats, it likely will go little further than the Rose Garden setting where it first saw light. 

Trump used the White House backdrop to also reiterate some of his familiar hard-line immigration stances that may ingratiate him to his conservative base, but usually only repel Democrats and many independents.

Administration wants to reimburse Taliban’s travel expenses
As if ‘life imitating The Onion’ according to one taxpayer advocate

Taliban members would be reimbursed for their travel to peace talks if the Trump administration gets its way. House appropriators are not enthusiastic about the plan. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

The Trump administration asked Congress earlier this year for funds to reimburse Afghanistan’s Taliban for expenses the insurgent group incurs attending peace talks, according to a spokesman for the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

The money would cover the Taliban’s costs for expenses such as transportation, lodging, food and supplies, said Kevin Spicer, spokesman for Indiana Democrat Peter J. Visclosky, in a statement for CQ Roll Call.

Trump’s tax return battle will be fought in court, Mnuchin says
‘We haven’t made a decision but I think you can guess on the way we’re leaning on our subpoena,’ Mnuchin told appropriators

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin prepares to testify during the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on April 9, 2019. On Wednesday Mnuchin was quizzed over releasing President Donald Trump’s tax returns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday he expects the courts will resolve the conflict between the administration and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal over the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

“This will go to the third branch of government to be resolved,” Mnuchin said Wednesday during questioning before the Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

Disaster aid deal nears as White House presses border funds
‘We’re going to have a vote next week,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., leave the Capitol for a meeting at the White House with President Trump and Senate Republicans on December 21, 2018. Lawmakers say a Senate disaster aid bill appealing to Donald Trump and Democrats — with border funding and money for Puerto Rico recovery — could get a vote next week. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The monthslong Senate effort to draft a bipartisan disaster aid bill could come to a close within the next week, after members of both parties said Tuesday talks have taken a turn for the better.

“We’re going to have a vote next week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday after meeting with GOP colleagues for lunch. “I hope it’s a vote on a deal that has been reached with both sides of the aisle and the White House.”

Trump asks Congress to shift project funds to states he needs to win in 2020
Great Lakes, Everglades restoration initiatives make list as request heads to Hill

President Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On Monday, Trump asked Congress to shift project funds to swing states he needs to win for a 2020 victory. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Trump’s Monday tweets about plussing up accounts for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Everglades project and a NASA moon mission were codified in an amendment to his fiscal 2020 budget request sent to Congress the same day.

Also requested is nearly $20 million more for the Special Olympics.

House Democrats telegraph policy priorities in Capitol Hill funding
Comparison of previous GOP, current Dem spending choices show differences

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a news conference with House Democrats on March 12 to introduce the “Dream and Promise Act.” The new majority’s Legislative Branch Appropriations bill would allow Dreamers to get jobs on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Empowered by their control of the House, Democrats are telegraphing their policy priorities in how they plan to spend taxpayer dollars on Capitol Hill, including exploring student debt relief options and employing Dreamers in Congress.

The fiscal 2020 House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill is signaling what types of issues Democrats want to be talking about and working on, both for their constituents back home and right here on Capitol Hill.

House passes plus-upped disaster aid package

Relief for Puerto Rico after deadly hurricanes is among the issues hanging up a broader disaster aid package in Congress. (Angel Valentin/Getty Images)

The House passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid package to help victims of recent storms and flooding rebuild, with the price tag growing by about $1.8 billion on the floor through amendments to add funds for repairing damaged military facilities, highways, levees, dams and more.

The vote was 257-150, with 34 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the bill drafted by the Democratic majority. President Donald Trump and GOP leaders tried to tamp down defections on the bill, which they oppose because it would pump more money into Puerto Rico, which hasn’t yet been able to spend much of the $20 billion previously appropriated after 2017′s Hurricane Maria.