Nita M Lowey

Foreign aid rider tangles up final spending talks
The White House is concerned the rider could cut out faith-based aid groups from USAID contracts

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., listens during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. Shaheen says her amendment, creating concerns for the White House in year-end spending talks, has nothing to do with funding abortions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Urged on by anti-abortion activists and religious groups, the White House is raising concerns in year-end spending talks about language secured by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in the Senate’s State-Foreign Operations bill they fear could cut out faith-based aid groups from U.S. Agency for International Development contracts.

Shaheen argues the provision in the bill would simply require USAID contractors to adhere to current law, which stipulates they can’t deny services to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, political affiliation or other factors.

Lowey: Appropriations deal could be struck this weekend
House Appropriations chairwoman says House could vote next week

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., sounded optimistic that negotiations over a spending bill could wrap up over the weekend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said Friday the House could begin voting on final spending bills for the current fiscal year next week.

After months of partisan stalemate, the New York Democrat struck a decidedly optimistic tone in predicting that negotiations on a final spending deal could wrap up this weekend, clearing the way for floor votes to begin. Lawmakers have been scrambling to complete a deal before current funding runs dry on Dec. 20.

Photos of the Week
The week of Dec. 6 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

The Capitol Christmas Tree was lit on the West Front of the Capitol on Wednesday evening. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Never mind impeachment, this bipartisan committee is going forward
House modernization panel prepares for its second year

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid the partisan polarization of impeachment, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress began examining possible changes Thursday to the chamber’s rules and procedures, seeking out ideas to make the legislative branch function better. 

The panel, a temporary and bipartisan project to revamp Congress for the modern era, is tasked with offering recommendations about how to update technological savvy on Capitol Hill and how to improve the quality of work for lawmakers and staff. It began earlier this year as a one-year effort but will now carry on through next year with a fresh infusion of funds and through the divisive 2020 elections.  

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Transcript highlights Ukraine concerns among career OMB staff
Two officials left the agency after the withholding of aid came to light

A quote is displayed on a monitor from a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of Trump in the Longworth Building on Nov. 19, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two Office of Management and Budget officials grew frustrated with the hold on Ukraine military aid ordered by President Donald Trump and resigned from the agency, according to newly released impeachment inquiry testimony.

Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security programs at OMB, testified behind closed doors on Nov. 16 that the two officials left the budget office after the hold on some $391 million in aid became known. House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript of Sandy’s testimony Tuesday.

House, Senate reach agreement on subcommittee spending levels
The 12 subcommittees are expected to begin working on the fiscal 2020 bills immediately

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., talks with reporters in July. Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby have reportedly reached an agreement on subcommittee allocations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The appropriations process appeared to get back on track Saturday after House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby reached an agreement on subcommittee allocations, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

The accord is a positive sign for appropriators, who have been waiting for months to learn how much of the $1.37 trillion in fiscal 2020 funding they would have to spend on each of their bills.

Wasserman Schultz enters race for top Democrat on Appropriations
It’s now a three-way contest for Lowey’s replacement

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will seek the top Democratic spot on the House Appropriations Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The race to become the next top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee widened into a three-way contest Thursday.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz declared her intention to run for the job that will be left vacant when Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey of New York retires at the end of her current term. Lowey, 82, announced last month she would step down after 31 years in Congress.

Trump signs stopgap bill, fending off shutdown for now
Continuing resolution will fund government, avoid shutdown, through Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., was guardedly optimistic about working out differences over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signed a monthlong spending bill Thursday, hours before government funding had been set to expire at midnight.

The continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 20, giving appropriators more time to hash out numerous divides over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. It’s the second time Congress has needed to pass a temporary spending bill since fiscal 2020 began Oct. 1.