Arkansas

Budget Overhaul Proposals Likely to Stay in Play After Nov. 30
Joint Committee expected to offer recommendations next month

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., says that proposals that aren’t accepted by other lawmakers could work their way into future legislation. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The legislative proposals under development by the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform could enjoy a life of their own after the special panel’s work is done later this year.

Members of the 16-member bicameral committee are hoping to agree on a package of proposed changes to improve the budget process by a Nov. 30 deadline, allowing their recommendations to be submitted to Congress for action.

Their Districts Are at Risk. But They Still Vote ‘No’ on Climate Action
High waters and toxic blooms haven’t scared these lawmakers

Storm surge and waves from Hurricane Michael batter homes in the Florida Panhandle community of Shell Point Beach on Oct. 10. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

He lives just half a mile away from the beach in Sarasota, Florida, but Len Seligman, a local musician, has barely enjoyed the sun and sand by the waterside recently, discouraged by the stench of dead fish and other marine animals washed ashore, poisoned by toxic algal blooms.

“In the last few months, there have only been a few days that it’s been tolerable,” the 63-year-old retired computer researcher said. “You just can’t breathe when the red tide is bad.”

Where Two Men Normally Sit, Two Women Flank Sen. Susan Collins During Kavanaugh Speech
Seating chart ignored during Maine Republican’s lengthy ‘yes’ delivery

Senate Republicans appeared to rearrange floor seats on Friday so that two women, instead of two men, would sit behind Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as she gave a floor speech about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., sat behind Collins during the afternoon speech, but those seats are assigned to Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., according to an official seating chart.

The Senate Already Went Nuclear. This Must Be Nuclear Plus
Mitch McConnell may have said it best: ‘You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think’

Back in 2013, then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Senate Democrats not to blow up the filibuster. “You’ll regret this,” he said. More prophetic words were never spoken, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Of all of the questions left unanswered after the Judiciary Committee hearings for Brett Kavanaugh ended last week, the hardest one to know for sure might also be the most important for the long-term health of the country — can the Senate be saved after everything that happened last week?

Can the Senate function again after Sen. Lindsey Graham looked across the hearing room at his Democratic colleagues on Thursday and yelled in rage, “Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it!”

Budget Overhaul Panel Dances With Deadline
Womack and Lowey have a lot to work out before November — like when the fiscal year will start

Rep. Steve Womack and his fellow budget process reformers have a lot of ground to cover this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A special bicameral panel established to try to overhaul the annual budget process won’t reach a final agreement before the House leaves on Friday for its six-week midterm election break. But its members will meet privately one more time before the lame duck session to discuss various proposals that could become part of a final bill.

“With regards to timeline, the two co-chairs will not complete work on a joint proposal in the three legislative days remaining this month, so the end of September timeline will not be met,” according to Evan Hollander, a spokesman for Rep. Nita M. Lowey. The New York Democrat is co-chairwoman of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, alongside co-chairman Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican, who had pushed for a deal by the end of this month.

He Made Politics a Knockdown Brawl. (Hint: It Wasn’t Trump)
Contrary to the cries of ‘It’s never been worse,’ politics has always been personal, passionate and contentious

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t found America with backslaps and empty platitudes. They were as passionate as any politician since, write Heineman and Beebe. (Courtesy White House Historical Association and National Gallery of Art)

OPINION — In the presidential election of 1800, John Adams’ camp, through the Connecticut Courant newspaper, said that should Thomas Jefferson win the presidency, the United States would become a nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced.”

Jefferson’s camp in turn accused Adams of being a “gross hypocrite” and “one of the most egregious fools on the continent.”

Candidates Get Candid About Their Cancer Diagnoses in TV Ads
Democrats open up about personal medical struggles to talk about health care

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is just the latest candidate to talk about her own cancer diagnosis in a campaign ad this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill got personal in a recent ad, talking about something that she’s never addressed in a political spot before: cancer — specifically, her own diagnosis.

“Two years ago, I beat breast cancer,” the two-term Democrat says to camera. “Like thousands of other women in Missouri, I don’t talk about it much.”

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Potential Fiscal Year Move Sows Discord on Select Budget Panel
Womack, Lowey disagree on moving government operations to a calendar year

Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, who co-chairs the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, says a change to a calendar year would be a motivating force to get spending bills done on time. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government may soon operate on a fiscal year that begins on Jan. 1, if the Republican co-chair of a special committee charged with overhauling the budget and appropriations process has his way. But Democrats on the panel are not sold, throwing into doubt tentative plans to release a full slate of recommendations this month.

Rep. Steve Womack said Friday he expects the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform to change the start of the fiscal year for the first time since 1976, when it was moved to Oct. 1 from July 1. The Arkansas Republican also said the panel is likely to recommend making the annual budget resolution a biennial exercise instead, though it is unlikely to split the appropriations bills over two years, as has been floated.

John McCain’s Cellmate: No More ‘Hell on Earth’
Hanoi Hilton survivor taps out a tribute to his late colleague

Sen. John McCain greets fellow Vietnam veteran Rep. Sam Johnson in 2008. The Texas Republican honored his colleague Thursday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Retiring Rep. Sam Johnson saluted his fellow former prisoner of war, Sen. John McCain, on the House floor Thursday night.

“John was more than just a colleague in Congress. We were friends, and that friendship was forged in the infamous Hanoi Hilton,” Johnson said. The two shared a cell.