Budget

Bernhardt defends Interior public records review policy
Bernhardt said the so-called ‘awareness review’ policy was legal and ‘very long-standing in the department’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testifies during a Senate Appropriations on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2020 budget proposal for the Interior Department in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Bernhardt said to lawmakers the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended on Wednesday the agency’s policy allowing politically appointed officials to review and comment on public records requests that relate to them.

Appearing before a Senate appropriations subcommittee to testify about his department’s budget, Bernhardt said the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal.

Infrastructure talks run off the road by latest Trump, Dem fracas

From left, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., and Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conclude a news conference in Capitol Visitor Center after a meeting on infrastructure at White House was canceled by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A White House meeting Wednesday on infrastructure between President Donald Trump and top congressional Democrats ended almost as soon as it began after the president pledged not to work with Democrats on any policy priorities until they ended investigations into his administration and campaign.

Trump left the meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer after just a few minutes, a move that the two Democrats said was staged ahead of time.

Trump to Democrats: OK new NAFTA before public works bill
‘Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,’ the president said

From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., President Donald Trump, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., exit the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on March 14, 2019. As Democrats head to the White House to meet with Trump over a massive public works bill, the president told them such legislation should take a back seat to his new NAFTA deal, the USMCA. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the eve of his second meeting with congressional Democrats about a potential $2 trillion public works bill, President Donald Trump told them such legislation should take a back seat to his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” the president continued.

White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal Tuesday
“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer agree that spending caps and debt limit legislation will go on the same bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on spending caps and the debt limit Tuesday, hours after a two-year deal seemed possible.

“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after leaving an afternoon meeting between congressional leaders and administration officials.

These two Democratic presidential contenders voted for a gas tax increase
Both Sanders and Biden voted for the last federal gas tax hike 26 years ago

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at the Exxon gas station at Second and Massachusetts Avenue Northeast in Washington in 2007 for a news conference on price-gouging at the gas pumps, voted for a federal gas tax increase in 1993 — the last time it was raised. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

When he meets with Democratic congressional leaders Wednesday, a key question will be whether President Donald Trump backs an increase in the federal gas tax the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been pressing him to support.

Trump reportedly backed an increase in private meetings before, but the 2020 election could be a reason for hesitation.

Trump officials, congressional leaders make ‘progress’ on budget talks
A follow-up meeting is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon

Mick Mulvaney, acting White House Chief of Staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walk through the Capitol after participating in a budget meeting about reaching possible agreement on the debt limit and spending caps with Congressional leaders Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders and top Trump administration officials made “progress” toward a spending caps and debt limit agreement during a two-hour meeting Tuesday morning and are planning to meet again in the afternoon, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The meeting included Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought as well as Mulvaney.

Disaster bill negotiators drop divisive harbor fund provision
Senate and House negotiators hoping for a deal before Memorial Day recess

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., says it would be an “awful conclusion” if Congress fails to pass a disaster relief bill before Memorial Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 10:06 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said he has pulled his divisive proposed change in the Harbor Maintenance Fund from consideration in the long-stalled disaster and border supplemental package after meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Alabama Republican also said Trump appeared to support the level of border funding in the package, and White House officials indicated they see the emergency legislation becoming law soon.

Road ahead: Will Congress get a disaster relief deal before Memorial Day?
House and Senate will keep full schedules as budget talks continue for this week and beyond

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will join their fellow congressional leaders to discuss the budget and the need to lift the country’s debt limit with the administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The big question for the week is whether Congress will actually act on long-awaited disaster relief before lawmakers head out for Memorial Day.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said such a vote is on the floor agenda for this week, but as senators left Thursday afternoon for the weekend, there was still no final agreement on any bipartisan package.

House urges judge to block Trump’s border wall spending
‘As I think everybody in this courtroom knows, the executive branch can’t build this wall without Congress,’ the attorney said

A car drives along the U.S.-Mexico border fence on February 22, 2019 in Otay Mesa, California. An attorney for the House urged a federal judge in California on Friday to block the Trump administration from moving federal funds around to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

An attorney for the House urged a federal judge in California on Friday to block the Trump administration from moving federal funds around to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, calling the move “statutory sleight of hand, or, more accurately, three-card monte.”

Douglas N. Letter, the House general counsel, told U.S. District Court Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. that the government can’t claim the authority to divert billions of dollars for wall construction when Congress had just denied President Donald Trump’s demands to appropriate those funds.

Trump lobbies for Dem support of immigration plan even while using hardline rhetoric
Can POTUS have it both ways on a proposal that appears mostly about his re-election campaign?

President Donald Trump, here with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Rose Garden in June 2017, unveiled his latest immigration overhaul plan on Thursday. Not even GOP lawmakers voiced support, however. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday lobbied for Democratic votes for an immigration plan that appears to have no traction while also throwing the kind of red-meat rhetoric toward his base that turns off those very Democrats.

In a morning tweet during a rare overnight stay at Trump Tower in New York, the president appeared be referring to polls like an April Washington Post-ABC News survey that showed a 17 percent jump in the number of Democrats who view the spike in migrant families showing at the U.S.-Mexico border as a crisis. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials say they made 100,000 apprehensions at the border in March, the biggest number in 12 years.