Patrick J Leahy

Senate appropriations markups likely off until September
Congressional leaders and Trump administration have to agree on spending caps in next few weeks

Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is holding off on assembling the fiscal 2020 spending bills (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee likely won’t mark up any of its fiscal 2020 spending bills before leaving town for the August recess — the first time in more than three decades the panel hasn’t debated any of the annual spending bills before the customary summer break.

The decision to hold back Senate appropriations bills in the absence of a spending caps agreement has set a markedly different pace for the committee than last year, when it sent all 12 of its bills to the floor before the break began.

Senate Democrats want GAO to probe Trump Independence Day spending

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is among three Democratic Senators calling for an investigation into Fourth of July financing.(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate the costs of President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration and examine whether the spending is legal.

Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland want GAO to provide a comprehensive cost estimate for all the events, including Trump’s “Salute to America,” which was the subject of criticism for its incorporation of military equipment, potential high cost and the possibility for an apolitical holiday event to be politicized.

Road ahead: House and Senate seek to pass dueling border funding bills
Defense policy, election security and spending also on the agenda ahead of July Fourth

From right, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy and Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin huddle Wednesday before the committee marked up a border supplemental package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders in the House and Senate want to approve spending at least $4 billion more to address the influx of migrants and their humanitarian needs at the U.S.-Mexico border before the July Fourth recess.

Bills in the two chambers differ, however, raising doubts about whether there will be a resolution on President Donald Trump’s desk this month. 

Tempers flare as leaders, White House fall short on spending deal
Failure to reach agreement after top-level meeting in Capitol

Senate appropriators, led by Chairman Richard Shelby, right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy have held off on beginning their regular process of moving spending bills pending some agreement among the House, Senate and White House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A meeting of top White House officials and congressional leaders broke up Wednesday without agreement on topline funding allocations for appropriators, raising fresh doubts over their ability to avert another fiscal crisis later this year.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of upping the ante on nondefense spending from what they’d put on the table previously.

Border spending bill sent to Senate floor, but House may act on its version first
Measure provides slightly less than Trump administration sought, but got bipartisan support from Senate appropriators

Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prepare for a committee markup Wednesday of an emergency spending bill to address the influx of migrants at the southern border. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators approved $4.59 billion in emergency funding Wednesday to address the influx of migrants at the southern border, and their House counterparts said they’re prepping a similar bill to bring to the floor as soon as Tuesday.

The measure appropriators sent to the Senate floor provides slightly less than President Donald Trump’s administration had requested, but leaders of both parties said it did not include “poison pills” that could block passage.

Congressional leaders, White House give spending caps talks another try
Fall government shutdown looms if both sides can’t agree on a deal

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, center right, here with ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, says both sides are closer to a deal on spending caps than they have been to date. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials plan to meet with congressional leaders Wednesday — for the second time in as many months — to reach a deal on spending limits that would prevent another government shutdown this fall.

The first meeting, on May 21, produced some initial hopes that a bipartisan deal could be reached relatively quickly, avoiding a breakdown in the appropriations process when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Blunt: Border deal slowed by provision that Dems worry may lead to deportations
Some argue inter-agency information sharing could lead to ICE deportation of family members agreeing to take in unaccompanied children

Sen. Roy Blunt speaks with reporters following the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol in Washington on June 11, 2019. Blunt said that a border deal has been slowed by inter-agency information sharing provisions that Democrats worry may lead to deportations. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A dispute over information-sharing between agencies about potential sponsors for unaccompanied children is holding up a bipartisan deal on border-related supplemental spending ahead of a scheduled Wednesday morning markup by the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to a senior GOP panel member.

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said Tuesday that while he thinks a deal is close, there’s still a hang-up due to proposed restrictions on information-sharing between the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security departments. 

Interior held back FOIA’d documents after political screenings
Watchdog: ‘Are there bad actors at these agencies that are willfully ignoring the law?’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has defended his department’s protocols on Freedom of Information Act requests, but watchdogs say the process is rife with political considerations and run outside the law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act were withheld by the Interior Department under a practice that allowed political appointees to review the requests, internal emails and memos show.

The policy allowed high-ranking officials to screen documents sought by news organizations, advocacy groups and whistleblowers, including files set to be released under court deadlines. In some cases, the documents’ release was merely delayed. In other cases, documents were withheld after the reviews.

Senate will vote on border aid supplemental before July 4 recess
He continued to put the blame on House and Senate Democrats for the assistance not getting to President Donald Trump‘s desk

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., concludes a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on June 4, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Monday that he would be calling a standalone vote on supplemental appropriations to help deal with a massive influx of undocumented migrants at the border before the Fourth of July recess.

The Kentucky Republican, appearing in studio on “Fox & Friends,” reiterated that his conference had wanted the funding included in the recently-enacted emergency supplemental for disaster relief.

Democratic lawmakers ‘astonished’ by Trump’s claim that taking foreign ‘dirt’ is routine
Mitt Romney calls it 'unthinkable' to accept information from foreign government to influence elections

President Donald Trump argued accepting intelligence on a political opponent from foreign sources, which is illegal under federal campaign finance laws, is routine by presidential candidates and congressional campaigns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers pushed back strenuously on President Donald Trump’s claim during a television interview Wednesday that accepting “dirt” on political opponents from foreign sources is routine.

Democrats responded incredulously to Trump’s statement that he would accept intelligence on a political opponent from another country if offered, and that doing so is common practice in congressional campaigns.