Charles E Schumer

Senate appropriations process continues to devolve
Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations spending bills mired in abortion dispute

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has seen the Senate’s appropriations process begin to fray this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators have abandoned plans to mark up two spending bills Thursday that have become mired in a partisan dispute over abortion policy.

The Appropriations Committee announced it will postpone consideration of its fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education bill and its State-Foreign Operations bill. As of Wednesday evening, the panel still planned to take up its Defense and Energy-Water bills at a full committee markup, along with a measure that would divvy up total discretionary spending among the 12 subcommittees.

Border wall, other disputes sidetrack Senate spending work
Panel's markup is delayed; government funding lapses on Oct. 1

Sen. Richard Durbin wants to move forward on military spending, but is unsure if that will happen. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s appropriations process fell into disarray Tuesday after a scheduled markup was abruptly postponed in a dispute over policy riders, and a fight over the border wall threatened to hold up defense spending.

Democrats were also resisting the GOP majority’s proposed subcommittee allocations that are needed to draft the 12 fiscal 2020 spending bills. And some lawmakers said there was still no agreement between the House and Senate on the length of a stopgap funding measure that will be needed to avoid a government shutdown come next month, when the new fiscal year begins.

Senate Democrats to try blocking Trump’s border wall diversion again
Shifting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds reignites effort to force a termination vote

"This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is poised to say on the Senate floor. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer will announce that his caucus will force another floor vote to terminate President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency.

“This rises to a large and vital constitutional issue: does our country truly have checks and balances, particularly important when we have such an overreaching president? This vote will also provide a chance for Senators to prevent the president from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” the New York Democrat will say on the Senate floor, according to an excerpt provided to CQ Roll Call.

Despite pressure, still no gun legislation position from White House
Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill intend to keep up pressure

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley were among the participants at a news conference in the Capitol to call on the Senate to vote on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House and Senate Democrats intend to keep pressuring President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to support bipartisan efforts to close what they see as loopholes in background checks for gun purchases.

But a meeting Monday between White House officials and leaders of the U.S. Conference of Mayors left little room for optimism.

8 Democratic presidential candidates advocate for gun safety in new video
Sanders, Warren and other rivals partner with Giffords on series of ads highlighting gun safety in America

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one of the eight Democratic presidential candidates who appear in an ad from former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ organization’s Gun Safety President ad campaign. (Giffords via YouTube)

Eight of the top Democratic presidential candidates are appearing in a series of videos on gun safety. Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ namesake gun control group, Giffords, launched the video series on Monday.

The candidates in the video series include former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke; California Sen. Kamala Harris; former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

How a handful of vulnerable incumbents got bills signed into law
Bipartisanship is key, according to Democrats who got bills through the Senate

From left, Democrats Tom O’Halleran, Antonio Delgado and Lucy McBath are in the DCCC’s Frontline program for vulnerable members. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

House Democrats frequently complain about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocking bills they’ve passed, but 30 of the 56 measures that have been signed into law so far this Congress have been theirs.

Some of those bills include bipartisan, bicameral spending agreements needed to keep the government operational or extensions of critical government programs, while others represent policy needs members have identified. 

How I spent my summer vacation: Congressional Hits and Misses, Recess Edition
2019 August Recess

A man skateboards outside of Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday September 4, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Congress has been out of session this past month, but the madness doesn’t stop when lawmakers head home. Check out Sen. Bernie Sanders getting bested by a speed bag, Sen. Martha McSally showing off her dog on local news, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playing with a penguin and Sen. Charles E. Schumer joining a game of ladder ball.

Pentagon to begin diverting construction funds for border wall
Democrats quick to slam move as an executive power grab

Pentagon officials say the diverted money would be used to build 11 separate segments of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it would begin diverting $3.6 billion in military construction funding for a wall along the U.S. southern border, even as court challenges continue.

The release of defense money makes good on President Donald Trump’s plan to fund a wall with money never approved by lawmakers for that purpose. Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year to tap military construction accounts and funnel the money to the border instead.

House Judiciary panel to dive into gun debate upon return
Background checks, assault weapons ban, ‘red flag’ laws and more could be on the table

People hold candles at the end of the prayer vigil in Odessa, Texas, for victims of a mass shooting there Saturday in which seven people were killed. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee will meet next week to jump-start legislation addressing firearm ownership, an issue that has languished before Congress for more than two decades but faces new urgency in the wake of recent mass shootings that rattled the country.

Supporters of the legislation have scrambled over the summer recess to cobble together support and advance various proposals before the political will withers after recent shootings in Gilroy, California; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas. A rampage in the West Texas community of Odessa over Labor Day weekend added to the concern. House Democrats have struggled with how far to push in the face of a GOP-controlled Senate and White House.

Could take FEC a while to regain a quorum, but don’t expect a ‘Wild West’
Watchdog agency will not have enough commissioners to hold meetings or issue guidance

The hearing room sits empty at the Federal Election Commission's headquarters in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as the Federal Election Commission prepares to grind to a halt on the cusp of the 2020 elections, campaign finance experts say politicians and donors who flout the nation’s political money rules may still suffer consequences.

The hobbled agency, which is supposed to have three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, will be down to just three total commissioners starting next week with the departure of Republican Matthew Petersen on Aug. 31. That means the FEC can’t hold meetings or hearings, let alone take enforcement action against rule-breakers, because it lacks the minimum of four commissioners required for a quorum.