Could the Senate Really Do Appropriations in An Election Year?

Enzi, center, chairs the Budget Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Will Democrats and Republicans really play nice on debating federal spending in an election year?  

At least for the moment, hope springs eternal from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  

McConnell Meets With House GOP on Funding, Supreme Court

Ryan, left, and McConnell, right, talked with House Republicans Tuesday morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., crossed the Rotunda Tuesday morning to assure House Republicans that the Senate plans to engage in a vigorous budget process and to stand firm on the Supreme Court vacancy.  

McConnell's assurances, however, seemed to do little to quell conservative opposition to operating under the budget deal crafted last year. The Republicans gathered as voters across the country began to head to the polls on Super Tuesday, to cast their votes for presidential contenders as well as the first congressional primaries.  

GOP Wants Presidential Candidates to Buy-In to Budget Blueprint

Tom Price (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — House Republicans say they will share their budget plans with all the Republican presidential contenders in hopes of getting buy in from the eventual nominee.  

"We've reached out to every single [Republican candidates'] team to try talk to them about all sorts of issues — tax policy and health care and budget policy in the like," House Budget Chairman Tom Price said. "All the conversations were wonderfully magnanimous."  

The Out of This World Legacy of Supernova Mikulski

Mikulski toured the Goddard Space Flight Center before a town hall with employees. (Rebecca Roth/NASA/Goddard)

GREENBELT, Md. — Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski spent Wednesday back on the campus where she watched as astronauts repair the Hubble Space Telescope more than two decades ago.  

"I was here for that first mission," recalled the Maryland Democrat who will retire at the end of this term of  Congress. "I went on so many Rolaids that day, I knew that I would never have acid reflux for 20 years."  

Omnibus Timeline Appears to Be Slipping Past Monday

McConnell and Reid say progress is being made, "but we're not there yet," Reid said. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Aides and others familiar with the process are not optimistic that the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill and a package of tax extensions would be ready to be posted by midnight Monday.  

House leaders predicted last week that the spending plan could come as early as Monday, though there were signs the timeline might slip again even though the stopgap government funding measure passed on Dec. 11 runs out at the end of Wednesday.  

Marco Rubio Reprises Obamacare Line of Attack

Rubio wants to maintain restrictions on funding "risk corridor" payments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican vying for position in the crowded GOP presidential field, is reiterating his opposition to an insurance-company friendly part of the Affordable Care Act and hoping congressional leaders follow along.  

"So far we've succeeded in stopping the Obama Administration from bailing out health insurance companies under ObamaCare, and it’s critical that Congress once again stand with taxpayers to stop any taxpayer-funded bailout of health insurers from happening," Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said in a letter to GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, including the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.  

Heroin Epidemic Prompts Calls for More Congressional Spending

Shaheen wants supplemental funding to fight heroin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As appropriators work to craft an omnibus spending package to fund the federal government, one of them is making a pitch for additional funding to combat heroin.  

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is proposing a $600 million emergency supplemental for health care and law enforcement expenses associated with fighting the heroin epidemic that's swept through communities across the country, including in the Democratic senator's home state of New Hampshire.  

It's Veterans Week in the Senate

Kirk is the MilCon-VA subcommittee chairman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an aggressive plan for what could be a two-day workweek ahead of the Veterans Day holiday.  

The Kentucky Republican secured a consent agreement Nov. 5 that sets up a Tuesday morning vote on the Senate agreeing to a House-passed revision of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, clearing one must-do item off the calendar. While the changes to the policy measure reflect the funding levels for the Pentagon in the recent bipartisan budget agreement, eliminating one key reason President Barack Obama vetoed the original measure, a disagreement remains over potentially closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  

Democrats Seek Repeat of Budget Success in Spending Debate

Pelosi and Reid talk to reporters. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it came to cutting a budget deal to increase spending levels, the Democratic strategy worked — and all signs point to an attempt at a repeat performance in December.  

The Democratic strategy, which came to be described as "filibuster summer" after a Washington Post report  of an interview with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., led to the negotiations on the accord the White House expects will be signed into law soon.