Richard C Shelby

House members considering ending ban on earmarks
Lawmakers have cautiously expressed growing interest in allowing special projects inserted into spending bills

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., briefly considered allowing earmarks last year, until announcing in March that they would not be allowed in fiscal 2020 spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House appropriators are considering lifting a nearly 10-year ban on congressionally directed spending, known as earmarks.

While no decisions have been made, a House Democratic aide said lawmakers are in the “early stages” of considering allowing earmarks in spending bills for the coming fiscal year. “There is considerable interest in allowing members of Congress to direct funding for important projects in their communities,” the source said.

View from the gallery: Hardly enough time to fidget
Rare Senate weekend session only lasts two hours

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives at the Capitol on Saturday for the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a Saturday, but nearly all the senators were in their workday suits and ties. The Kentucky delegation was one exception, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wearing khakis and blazers.

This was the fifth straight day in the Senate chamber of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators appeared for just two hours during a brief and rare weekend session when President Donald Trump’s team started its opening presentation.

GAO: Trump’s hold on Ukraine aid violated budget law
1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending

President Donald Trump boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in October. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Government Accountability Office said in an opinion Thursday that President Donald Trump violated federal budget law when he ordered White House officials to withhold most of a $250 million military aid package for Ukraine last summer.

The finding comes after House Democrats delivered articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress grounds stemming from the Ukraine affair to the Senate Wednesday evening, triggering the Senate trial expected to start next week.

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

More votes to terminate Trump's border emergency in the works
Lawmakers can vote again starting Feb. 15, 2020 to terminate the emergency declaration

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Top Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that they intended to force another vote on termination of the national emergency that President Donald Trump has used to boost border wall spending.

"Bipartisan majorities in Congress have repeatedly rejected diverting money from critical military construction projects to build a single additional mile of border wall. Robbing the Defense Department of these much-needed funds in order to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build is an insult to the sacrifices made by our service members," Schumer said in a joint statement with Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Talking taxes 2020
CQ Budget, Ep. 138

UNITED STATES - Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., leaves a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, in the Capitol after agreeing to a spending deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tax reporter Doug Sword sits down with guest host Jennifer Shutt to explain why Congress added so many tax bills to a massive spending package and what exactly those provisions will mean during the upcoming year. CQ Budget delves into what didn't make it into the package and predicts how far those provisions will advance in 2020.

Lawmakers urge Supreme Court to reexamine abortion decisions
Mostly Republican group targets Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey

More than 200 lawmakers, almost all of whom are Republican, want the Supreme Court to strike down landmark cases upholding abortion rights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Over 200 lawmakers, mostly Republicans, filed an amicus brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court to upend the precedents set by two landmark abortion rights cases, elevating abortion as a campaign issue ahead of this fall’s elections.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 4 in June Medical Services v. Gee, a case over a 2014 Louisiana law that requires physicians who offer abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles. Abortion rights advocates argue that the restrictions are burdensome and would cause most doctors to stop performing abortions.

Year-end spending deal avoids government shutdown
CQ Budget, Ep. 137

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, (not pictured) emerge from a meeting in the Capitol to announce a spending deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With fiscal 2020 appropriations finally complete, CQ Roll Call's budget and tax editor Peter Cohn explains what got funded, what it means, and what lies in store for next year.

Lawmaker pay freeze continues under proposed 2020 spending bill
Legislative Branch measure boosts money for member security, conventions, inauguration

Capitol Police would get a boost in funding for additional security for Congress under a year-end spending package that would avert a partial government shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats who wanted to approve a raise for lawmakers for the first time since 2009 will have to wait until the next appropriations cycle to deliver, as the final fiscal 2020 Legislative Branch spending draft, released Monday, keeps salaries stagnant. 

The Legislative Branch section of an eight-bill package, one of two sets of appropriations bills to fund the government through next September, provides $5.1 billion in total discretionary funding for congressional operations. That would be up from $4.8 billion in fiscal 2019 funding. 

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.