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Why 19 Democrats and 109 Republicans voted against the government funding deal
Democratic defections were mostly Hispanic Caucus members, progressives concerned about immigration enforcement

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined 18 other House Democrats and 109 House Republicans in voting against the compromise spending package Thursday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats were just two votes short Thursday night of being able to clear a fiscal 2019 appropriations package without Republican help, while less than half of the GOP conference voted for the bill to avert another government shutdown.

That dynamic may foreshadow battles ahead as the new House Democratic majority will try to exert its influence over government spending while still having to deal with a Republican president and Senate. 

The dead earmarks society
Congress gave up pork years ago. Now it could be making a comeback

Steny Hoyer says he’s working to restore congressionally directed spending, with “reforms to ensure transparency and accountability.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From the outside, they looked like a collection of political misfits akin to the characters from “The Breakfast Club.” This peculiar little crew of lobbyists, ethics watchdogs and government spending hawks included the likes of Public Citizen’s Craig Holman and former House member-turned-lobbyist Jim Walsh.

Instead of serving Saturday detention, like the high schoolers of the 1985 hit movie, they spent their meetings nearly a decade ago seeking compromise on one of Congress’ most politically fraught but powerful tools: earmarks. “It was a strange group, an eclectic group,” concedes Holman, whose liberal Public Citizen is best known for taking on K Street, not working with the lobbyists and lawyers in the sector. “We identified what the real problem with earmarks is — and earmarks do pose a serious problem with corruption.”

Legal fight expected for Trump’s national emergency declaration
Experts predict high court will back his power to do so, but maybe not accessing military monies

President Donald Trump, here addressing reporters on Jan. 10, will sign a government shutdown-avoiding bill and declare a national emergency at the border to access Pentagon funds for his proposed southern border barrier. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency at the southern border to redirect military funds to his border wall project after lawmakers gave him $4.3 billion less than his $5.7 billion ask. But the move is expected to bring court fights that could sink his plan. 

A House-Senate conference committee could only agree to give the president just shy of $1.4 billion for the barrier project as conferees struck a deal needed to avert another partial government shutdown. The president — who earlier this week said he couldn’t say he was happy about the contents of the compromise — reluctantly agreed to sign it into law after the Senate and House sign off during floor votes Thursday.

Some GOP lawmakers are thawing on climate change
‘There are some things I’m willing to look at,’ said House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows

“There are some things I’m willing to look at,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Meadows said of climate solutions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional Republicans seem to be thawing on climate.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who has denied the science behind climate change, told reporters Wednesday he was open to confront the peril of the warming planet.

House Democrats give leaders a pass on breaking 72-hour rule for spending deal
Few members, however, were willing to stake a position until seeing the bill

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan seemed understanding of the trade-offs made to get to the spending deal but said he wanted to read the bill text first before deciding on his vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Most House Democrats are giving their leadership a pass for breaking a chamber rule that requires bill text to be released 72 hours before a vote so they can quickly move a funding package before Friday’s deadline to avert another government shutdown.

But many of the same Democrats also said Wednesday before the text of a seven-bill appropriations package was released that they couldn’t make a decision on how they’d vote until reading it — which they’d only have about 24 hours to do.

Government plays hardball on SEC headquarters lease
GAO spurns landlords, keeping a contract option to buy SEC buildings — potentially at a huge profit

Construction on the Securities and Exchange Commission building called Station Place near Union Station. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government will keep an option to buy the buildings that house the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. — potentially at a huge profit — spurning a request from private landlords to change the terms.

The property owners wanted to remove a provision that allows the agency to purchase the buildings it inhabits at a predetermined price. In a decision released Feb. 8, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which evaluates protests regarding government business opportunities, said it wouldn’t alter the terms of the bidding process.

Senate panel spars over judges, advances GOP effort to cut nomination debate time
Party-line vote in committee could set up a contentious floor debate

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., led the advancement of the proposal to effectively change the rules for debating presidential nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee took a predictably partisan turn Wednesday when the panel voted along party lines to advance a resolution that would slash debate time for most presidential nominees.

Ranking member Amy Klobuchar led the opposition to the proposal, arguing that two hours for post-cloture debate was not enough, especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Drug pricing is secretive. Fix that first
If the rebate system is a complex web, consumers are the ones who get caught

By the time patients pull out their wallets at the pharmacy, their drugs have passed through an elaborate rebate system, Hoagland writes. Above, a technician grabs a bottle in Midvale, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

OPINION — Health care economist Uwe Reinhardt once described pricing in the health care sector as “chaos behind a veil of secrecy.” That description aptly applies to the opaque U.S. pharmaceutical market.

To make health care policy that works, we must lift the secret veil on drug pricing. The administration’s recent proposal to fundamentally change the drug rebate process is one step in that direction.

Corporate boardrooms need policy ‘rules of the road’
As the role of businesses in society evolves, a government rethink is critical

Corporate executives are facing decisions on topics — like immigration and gun control — that have traditionally fallen under the government’s purview, Soroushian and Doyle write. (Courtesy iStock)

OPINION — Decisions made in corporate boardrooms can have serious implications for the economy, everyday investors and Americans’ livelihoods.

And those decisions now increasingly extend to issues such as immigration, gun control, and human rights — topics that have traditionally been the domain of government — as reluctant corporate executives and directors face new pressures from their investors, employees and customers.

GOP Rep. Walter Jones dies at 76
North Carolina Republican congressman’s change of heart against the Iraq War put him at odds with his party

Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones initially voted for, and then opposed, the 2003 Iraq war. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., an independent Republican resolute in his commitments to ending U.S. wars and diminishing the role of government, died Sunday, He was 76. 

Jones died in Greenville, N.C., according to a statement from his office. He had been absent from the Capitol with an undisclosed illness since September. He moved into hospice on Jan. 26 after suffering a broken hip.