Nebraska

Trump Poised to Set Record for Appeals Court Judges
Three more nominees set to be confirmed this week

Appellate nominee Steve Grasz, who is set to be confirmed by the Senate this week, was , nominee to be U.S. circuit judge for the Eighth Circuit, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing in Dirksen Building on November 1, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans are set to confirm three more of President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks this week, a push that will help set a record for the most such appointments in a president’s first year in office.

The Senate is expected to confirm Steve Grasz for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and James Ho and Don Willett for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, over the objections of Democrats who question whether they can be unbiased.

Podcast: Defense, Domestic Budget Increases Crucial for Long-Term Spending Deal
Budget Tracker Extra, Episode 41

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CQ appropriations reporters Kellie Mejdrich and Jennifer Shutt discuss the two-week spending bill that averted a government shutdown and look at how lawmakers may keep the government funded beyond Dec. 22.

Budget Deal Could Bust Caps by $200 Billion
Two-year agreement expected to draw motley crew of supporters

Marc Short, left, White House director of legislative affairs, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse at the Capitol on Dec. 1. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional negotiators have moved well north of $200 billion in their discussions of how much to raise discretionary spending caps in a two-year budget deal.

The higher numbers under consideration follow an initial Republican offer several weeks ago to raise defense by $54 billion and nondefense by $37 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2019 — a $182 billion increase in base discretionary spending.

Ratings Update: Tennessee Senate Remains Solid R for Now
Democrats may still have uphill battle, even with Bredesen

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. (Courtesy the American Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Democrats made a big splash this week with the entry of former Gov. Phil Bredesen into the Tennessee Senate race, but the party still has an uphill battle in a state President Donald Trump won convincingly, and it’s not even clear Bredesen gives Democrats the best chance of winning.

On the surface, having a former two-term governor running for an open seat (GOP Sen. Bob Corker is not running for re-election) looks like a great takeover opportunity for Democrats, but there are some signs that the race should still be considered a long shot.

Civility Pledge Signers ‘Disagree Without Being Disagreeable’ in a Tumultuous Congress
HOH talked to 18 freshman members who signed pledge earlier this year

From left, Reps. Lou Correa of California, Brian Mast of Florida and Scott Taylor of Virginia walk down the House steps after the group photo for the freshman class during orientation week in November 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House freshmen who signed a civility pledge say they’ve been able to live up to their agreement to “disagree without being disagreeable” and even strike up some friendships amid a rancorous Congress.

Rep. Mike Johnson, the author of the pledge that the lawmakers signed in January, said his model for civility is former President Ronald Reagan.

Freshman Civility Pledge Reflections: Across-the-Aisle Friendships
Members of the House freshman class discuss bipartisan relationships

From left to right: Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., interviewed by HOH's Alex Gangitano. (Bian Elkhatib/CQ Roll Call)

Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson, right out of the gate of his first term in Congress, decided to set civility in stone.

“If the nation’s leaders can’t model civility, then it’s pretty hopeless for the rest of the country,” he said.

Senate Republicans Move on Trump’s Appeals Court Picks
Chamber confirms Gregory Katsas to D.C. Circuit in 50-48 vote

Gregory Katsas was confirmed Tuesday to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans are pressing forward this week on putting President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks on the bench, with a floor vote Tuesday for the pivotal circuit court in Washington and an upcoming confirmation hearing for a judge that Minnesota Democrat Al Franken has tried to block.

The Senate voted, 50-48, to confirm Gregory Katsas to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which often has the last word on appeals of presidential actions and issues decisions that have a national impact on environmental, energy and regulatory policies.

Tension High at Senate Finance Committee Tax Markup
Timing, lack of notice are big sticking points

With the Senate Finance Committee markup of tax legislation proceeding under something less than regular order, tensions are high between Republicans and Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Day Three of the Senate Finance Committee tax markup began under a cloud of partisan discord after top Republicans dropped a new version of their tax plan late Tuesday night, making broad changes that Democrats were not consulted on in advance.

The tax writing panel on Wednesday was debating the revised GOP tax plan that would now roll back a central part of the 2010 health care law and make the most significant individual tax benefits in the plan expire after eight years.

Congress Generous, Again, With US Funds for Israel’s Defense
Package for Israeli antimissile systems at near record levels, even as transparency questions swirl

The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed a successful flight test of the Arrow 3 interceptor missile. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Congress is poised to provide Israel with another $705 million for that country’s missile defenses — nearly five times the Trump administration’s request and the second largest annual installment of such aid to date.

The House plans to vote this week to approve a fiscal 2018 national defense policy conference report that would, among its many provisions, authorize the aid to Israel for several antimissile systems. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president. And whenever Congress completes work on a defense appropriations bill, lawmakers are highly likely to provide all of that money — and maybe more.

Word on the Hill: Newspaperman
Congressional brews, senator gets civics lesson and World Series bet payoffs

Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, returns to his seat as then-President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton look on after Bradlee was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

HBO’s new documentary “The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee” will make its world premiere in D.C. this evening.

The film is about the late legendary Washington Post executive editor who died in Washington in October 2014 at 93. The film debuts on the network Dec. 4.