John Yarmuth

One-year spending cap option, warts and all, gains momentum
Yarmuth signals openness to deal, echoing comments made by Shelby a day earlier

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said Democrats would be open to a one-year spending deal, but acknowledged it might create problems for getting another deal during an election year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior lawmakers are increasingly considering a scaled-back plan to raise discretionary spending limits for just the upcoming fiscal year, in what would be a departure from the two-year deals enacted in 2013, 2015 and again last year.

A decision to limit a deal to only fiscal 2020 appropriations might simplify negotiations that have been stalled for months. But it would also set the stage for another difficult showdown over spending levels next year, just before the presidential election.

Yarmuth says effort to unseat McConnell could be national marquee battle next year
Kentucky Democrat says challengers face long odds against Senate GOP leader, however

Retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath is one of Rep. John Yarmuth’s top picks to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next year. (Jason Davis/Getty Images file photo)

Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth said Friday his two top picks to challenge Mitch McConnell in 2020 are Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot whose unsuccessful House race last year caught national attention, and sports radio talk show host Matt Jones.

Yarmuth admitted, however, that either candidate would face long odds in the Bluegrass State.

White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal Tuesday
“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer agree that spending caps and debt limit legislation will go on the same bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on spending caps and the debt limit Tuesday, hours after a two-year deal seemed possible.

“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after leaving an afternoon meeting between congressional leaders and administration officials.

Democrats divided over whether it’s time to open impeachment inquiry
Caucus to discuss the matter during a special meeting Wednesday

Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky is among the Democrats who do not think it is quite time to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:50 p.m. | House Democrats are divided over whether they should open an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, with top leaders still hesitant to do so even as more rank-and-file members say it’s time.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called a special caucus meeting Wednesday morning to discuss oversight matters, including the impeachment question, several members said.

Swagel officially chosen for CBO director, replacing Hall
Ex-George W. Bush administration official will take over June 3

Departing CBO Director Keith Hall, right, here with Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi in 2018, has been serving in a temporary capacity since January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Phillip L. Swagel, an economist with extensive service in the George W. Bush administration, has been appointed the new director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi and House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth announced the appointment, which begins June 3.

Sources: Swagel to replace Hall as CBO director
Senate Budget Chairman Enzi expected to announce appointment later this week

CBO Director Keith Hall, right, was said to be interested in serving another term, but Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi opted to go in a different direction. He’s expected to name Phillip L. Swagel as Hall’s successor later this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate and House budget leaders have chosen Phillip L. Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi spearheaded the selection and is expected to announce the appointment later this week.

House Democrats kick off wonky ‘Medicare for All’ debate
Initial hearing exemplifies party’s balancing act on divisive issue

Members of the National Nurses United union rally Monday in support of “Medicare for All” legislation in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats’ first formal foray into debating a national “Medicare for All” system, with a rare initial hearing in the Rules Committee on Tuesday, demonstrates how carefully the party is trying to present a united image on a divisive election-year issue.

Like the broader party, the committee’s Democrats are split over a bill that would shift most Americans into a government-paid health care system. Five of the nine Democrats on the panel, commonly referred to as the “Speaker’s committee,” have endorsed the bill, while four have not.

House Democrats get a spending jump on the Senate
By marking up 2020 appropriations bills first, they aim to exert some leverage on spending caps talks

Appropriations are stalled in the Senate, in part because Chairman Richard C. Shelby has prioritized reaching agreement on disaster aid legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to start navigating a thicket of budget issues, including a stalled aid package for natural disaster victims and spending levels for the upcoming fiscal year.

Staff-level talks between the “four corners” of the congressional leadership and top White House aides have been taking place to try to bridge a wide gulf between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders on nondefense appropriations. Democrats are pushing for over $100 billion more than President Donald Trump wants for domestic and foreign aid programs in fiscal 2020, once various add-ons to the current spending caps, like overseas foreign assistance and 2020 census preparations, are factored in.

Let the fiscal 2020 spending games begin
Appropriators will celebrate the end of recess with three subcommittee markups

As the appropriations season begins, Chairwoman Nita Lowey is writing the bills to a $664 billion defense limit and $631 billion nondefense limit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee will kick off its markups of fiscal 2020 spending bills next week with the Labor-HHS-Education and likely the Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch measures all going before their respective subcommittees.

The committee released a notice Thursday that the Labor-HHS-Education bill will be marked up in subcommittee on Tuesday, April 30, at 4.p.m. A schedule for that measure’s full committee markup hadn’t yet been announced, but it’s expected on May 8.

‘Looking in the mirror’: Democrats’ failure to coalesce on spending numbers gives House GOP an opening
House minority shouldn’t be a player in budget talks, but Democrats may need their votes

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., center, is concerned that House Democrats are squandering their leverage in budget talks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans should have virtually no power in the minority, but Democrats’ inability to unify as a caucus around topline fiscal 2020 spending levels has given them some unexpected leverage. The question now is what they’ll do with it.

President Donald Trump and his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, don’t want to raise the statutory discretionary spending caps for fiscal 2020, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to reach a bipartisan deal to do just that to avoid a 10 percent cut in spending from fiscal 2019 levels.