appropriations

Road Ahead: McConnell and Kavanaugh Set the Tone for the Week
Funding, authorization deadlines must work around Supreme Court chaos

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., exits the senators-only elevator as he arrives in the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The dissonance in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech opening the Senate floor Monday set the tone for the week on Capitol Hill.

On the one hand, Republicans and Democrats will be at each other’s throats over how they’re handling the growing number of sexual assault allegations directed at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On the other hand, they need to reach out for each other’s hands to ensure they get deals to fund the government past the end of the Sept. 30 fiscal year and meet other important deadlines. 

‘Regular Order’ Still Not Out of the Woods
Current appropriations process is still a far cry from before the late 2000s

Sens. Richard C. Shelby, left, and Patrick J. Leahy ride the Senate subway in 2011. Shelby, now the Senate Appropriations chairman, has touted the return to regular order in this year’s appropriations process. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Senate leaders have spent the past few months crowing about the return to “regular order” on appropriations, justifiably in many respects. They’ve passed nine spending bills, the first time that’s happened since 2009, and a first before September since 1999. And Congress sent three spending bills to the president’s desk before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year, which hasn’t happened in 10 years.

But by several metrics, the Senate hasn’t matched the fuller appropriations debate in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” that existed prior to the late 2000s. Senators have spent roughly 16 days this year debating their appropriations bills on the floor; the average was nearly 28 days from fiscal 1986 through 2006. The Senate has considered 165 amendments to fiscal 2019 spending bills, compared with 269 per year during the fiscal 1986-2006 period.

Despite New Tariffs, China Still Not Budging on Trade Tactics, White House Says
Senior official indicates Canada no closer to joining Mexico trade deal than it was when talks started

U.S. and Chinese flags on a table where military leaders from the two countries met in 2014. Four year later, the economic giants are in the midst of a bitter trade dispute. Depsite President Trump’s tariff's little progress has been made, an official said Friday. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle)

The Trump administration is not aiming to “cleve off” the U.S. economy from China’s, but it intends to continue pressuring the Asian giant even though tough moves like repeated rounds of tariffs have yet to bring the fundamental changes President Donald Trump is demanding.

“Our goal is not to totally divorce our economies from each other,” said a senior official who briefed reporters Friday at the White House about trade matters. “Our goal is for China to stop behaving unfairly.”

As Trump Waffles, House Republicans Confident They’ll Avert Shutdown
Still president, conservatives wary of GOP leaders’ government funding strategy

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is confident there will not be a government shutdown despite President Donald Trump’s mixed signals on the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans prepare a legislative strategy with President Donald Trump seemingly on board, only for the president to catch them off guard with a last-minute tweet suggesting his opposition to the plan.

That scenario has played out a few times this year as lawmakers debated immigration and appropriations bills. And it could realistically happen again next week as Congress plans to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown that Trump has already signaled he might force.

Extra Hurricane Relief Cash Could Wait Until After Elections
Ryan: ‘Right now FEMA has money in the pipeline’

Residents of Spring Lake, North Carolina, are evacuated from their apartments as flood waters rise. FEMA enters the recovery phase with coffers flush with cash. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has more than enough money to assist states hit by Hurricane Florence and likely won’t need Congress to pass an emergency disaster aid bill in the coming weeks, based on figures provided to lawmakers.

Due to lawmakers’ largesse when they provided more than $136 billion in late 2017 and earlier this year — mostly to respond to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma — government disaster aid coffers are flush with cash. It’s a vastly different situation from last year, when Congress returned in September after Harvey spent five days battering Houston and surrounding areas.

Spending Vote Deal and No Brett Kavanaugh Markup Means Quick Senate Exit
Senators set to vote to fund government through at least Dec. 7

Reporters question Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process as he returns to his office from the Senate floor on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators made another quick exit from the Capitol on Tuesday.

The chamber was always going to be closed for business Wednesday, in observance of Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Tuesday. But getting the next two-bill spending package done and ready for the House next week could easily move up the departure.

Road Ahead: All Eyes on Brett Kavanaugh and the Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate starting with passage of anti-opioid legislation in another short week

All eyes will be on Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A scheduled Thursday afternoon Judiciary Committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was always going to be the most significant event on the schedule.

But the decision by Christine Blasey Ford to come forward publicly with an allegation of attempted sexual assault by Kavanaugh while in high school in Montgomery County, Maryland, has put what could have been a fairly perfunctory (though partisan) proceeding in the spotlight.

Leahy Endorses Return of Spending Bill Earmarks
Doing so could allow for orderly, timely appropriations process, Vermont Democrat says

Remarks by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on bringing back earmarks echo similar ones expressed by House Minority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee would like to bring earmarks back to the appropriations process, restoring a practice banned in 2011 after several years of scandals and negative publicity.

Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Friday that there’s “no question” that once again allowing earmarks is one way lawmakers can have an orderly, timely process for annual appropriations bills.

Pelosi, Dems Slam Trump Over Hurricane Response
A year after Maria and Irma, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands still need help, they say

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the Trump administration has a moral obligation to do better than it has in its response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had long been planning to convene a press conference Friday to talk about the ongoing recovery needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands a year after two hurricanes hit the American territories. She didn’t know President Donald Trump would fire off tweets Thursday accusing Democrats of inflating the hurricane’s death toll.

But the president choosing to “add salt to the wounds,” as Pelosi described it, only underscored her message that the federal response to Hurricane Maria has been woefully inadequate.  

Violence Against Women Act Extension Included in Stopgap Spending Deal
Programs authorized under law set to continue through Dec. 7

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., filed legislation earlier Thursday to extend the current Violence Against Women Act for six months. It is now being extended through Dec. 7 under a stopgap spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Violence Against Women Act, which was set to expire Sept. 30, will be extended through Dec. 7 under a stopgap spending bill released Thursday.

“Any program, authority or provision, including any pilot program, authorized under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 shall continue in effect through the date specified,” the bill text reads.