Richard C Shelby

Disaster aid vote is expected after recess, but what’s in it is still in the works
Several issues, including Puerto Rico, continue to be sticking points

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate leaders are teeing up a vote after the weeklong St. Patrick’s Day recess on an as-yet-undefined disaster aid package for victims of major storms and other natural disasters during the last two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Thursday filed a motion to limit debate on proceeding to a $14.2 billion disaster aid bill the House passed in January.

Protesters and traffic violations dominate Capitol Police arrests

Arrests made by Capitol Police are dominated by protests and demonstrators, followed by traffic violations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Protests, demonstrations and traffic violations dominate recent arrests made by Capitol Police, according to a report on publicly available arrest summaries by advocacy group Demand Progress and an independent analysis of arrest data by Roll Call.

In December, the Capitol Police began publishing its weekly arrest summaries online each Wednesday, data that was previously distributed via email to the media. The summaries include the Capitol File Number, or CFN; crime classification with any additional charges; offense date and time; and crime summary.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

Copies of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

Puerto Rico aid among issues complicating disaster bill talks
The size and scope of a disaster aid package has become a flashpoint among Senate appropriators

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters before a meeting with Republican and Democratic negotiators on government spending on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The size and scope of a disaster aid package has become a flashpoint as Senate appropriators construct a supplemental spending bill they hope to move quickly.

The fight appears to be between Democrats who want additional aid for Puerto Rico and states ravaged by 2017 storms, while Republicans are attempting to keep the bill contained to rebuilding from disasters that struck last year.

Disaster aid fix would open spigot for cherry growers
The provision on its face strains the definition of ‘emergency,’ but Washington cherry growers are smarting from China’s retaliatory tariffs

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., says the trade war has led to some $96 million in losses to sweet cherry producers for the 2018 growing season. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Talk about a sweetener.

An arcane provision moving through Congress as part of must-pass disaster aid legislation would let farmers earning more than $900,000 on average for the past three years qualify for President Donald Trump’s $12 billion program compensating producers for trade-related losses.

FEMA ready for devastation in Alabama, despite administrator’s recent resignation
“We stand ready to assist as needed and requested,” a FEMA spokesman said.

Residents and volunteers clean up tornado damage on March 4, 2019 in Beauregard, Alabama. At least 23 people are confirmed dead following Sunday's tornado outbreak of violent storms across southern Alabama and Georgia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it is ready to assist Alabama residents recovering from devastating tornadoes, even though the agency’s administrator resigned less than a month ago. 

A cluster of tornadoes ripped through the Southeast Sunday. The most vicious storms upturned Lee County in Alabama with 170 mph winds, leaving a trail of destruction nearly a mile wide. Twenty-three people died. 

Senate to follow House, keep earmarks out of spending bills
Earmarks have also been banned in the Senate since 2011

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., is seen after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators don’t plan to revive earmarks this year, following the House’s lead set late last week by the Democratic majority across the Capitol.

“I would listen to meritorious things, but I don’t see that happening right now. The House has just spoken,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday.

Earmarks won’t be back this year, at least in the House
‘Pork’ has been banned in the chamber since 2011

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee, won’t bring back earmarks this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats don’t plan to revive home-state earmarks during the upcoming appropriations process, though they expect to continue discussing the issue with their Republican colleagues.

“Unfortunately, there is currently not the necessary bipartisan, bicameral agreement to allow the Appropriations Committee to earmark,” Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey wrote in a letter sent to members of the panel Thursday and released publicly on Friday. “For that reason, I do not expect fiscal year 2020 House spending bills to include congressionally-directed spending.”

Alabama Republicans don’t see Roy Moore redux as Senate primary kicks off
But Bradley Byrne stresses need for ‘right Republican’ to take on Doug Jones

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne announced Wednesday that he was running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:21 p.m. | Alabama Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne launched his Senate campaign Wednesday, kicking off the contest to take on one of the most vulnerable senators in the country: Democrat Doug Jones

“The main reason I’m running is that we’ve got somebody in the United state Senate, Sen. Doug Jones, who does not reflect the values or policy positions of the state of Alabama,” Byrne said in a phone interview after announcing his Senate run in Mobile.

Photos of the week: Shutdown averted, national emergency declared
The week of Feb. 11 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., walks across the Capitol from the House side Monday for a meeting with other appropriators to try to revive spending talks and avert a second government shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It appears Congress and the president have averted another partial government shutdown. On Thursday, both chambers adopted a conference report on a seven-bill spending package to fund the remainder of the government for the rest of fiscal 2019.

On Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the nation to declare a national emergency aimed at securing additional funding for a wall on the southern border.