John Yarmuth

Swagel officially chosen for CBO director, replacing Hall
Ex-George W. Bush administration official will take over June 3

Departing CBO Director Keith Hall, right, here with Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi in 2018, has been serving in a temporary capacity since January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Phillip L. Swagel, an economist with extensive service in the George W. Bush administration, has been appointed the new director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi and House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth announced the appointment, which begins June 3.

Sources: Swagel to replace Hall as CBO director
Senate Budget Chairman Enzi expected to announce appointment later this week

CBO Director Keith Hall, right, was said to be interested in serving another term, but Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi opted to go in a different direction. He’s expected to name Phillip L. Swagel as Hall’s successor later this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate and House budget leaders have chosen Phillip L. Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi spearheaded the selection and is expected to announce the appointment later this week.

House Democrats kick off wonky ‘Medicare for All’ debate
Initial hearing exemplifies party’s balancing act on divisive issue

Members of the National Nurses United union rally Monday in support of “Medicare for All” legislation in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats’ first formal foray into debating a national “Medicare for All” system, with a rare initial hearing in the Rules Committee on Tuesday, demonstrates how carefully the party is trying to present a united image on a divisive election-year issue.

Like the broader party, the committee’s Democrats are split over a bill that would shift most Americans into a government-paid health care system. Five of the nine Democrats on the panel, commonly referred to as the “Speaker’s committee,” have endorsed the bill, while four have not.

House Democrats get a spending jump on the Senate
By marking up 2020 appropriations bills first, they aim to exert some leverage on spending caps talks

Appropriations are stalled in the Senate, in part because Chairman Richard C. Shelby has prioritized reaching agreement on disaster aid legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to start navigating a thicket of budget issues, including a stalled aid package for natural disaster victims and spending levels for the upcoming fiscal year.

Staff-level talks between the “four corners” of the congressional leadership and top White House aides have been taking place to try to bridge a wide gulf between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders on nondefense appropriations. Democrats are pushing for over $100 billion more than President Donald Trump wants for domestic and foreign aid programs in fiscal 2020, once various add-ons to the current spending caps, like overseas foreign assistance and 2020 census preparations, are factored in.

Let the fiscal 2020 spending games begin
Appropriators will celebrate the end of recess with three subcommittee markups

As the appropriations season begins, Chairwoman Nita Lowey is writing the bills to a $664 billion defense limit and $631 billion nondefense limit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee will kick off its markups of fiscal 2020 spending bills next week with the Labor-HHS-Education and likely the Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch measures all going before their respective subcommittees.

The committee released a notice Thursday that the Labor-HHS-Education bill will be marked up in subcommittee on Tuesday, April 30, at 4.p.m. A schedule for that measure’s full committee markup hadn’t yet been announced, but it’s expected on May 8.

‘Looking in the mirror’: Democrats’ failure to coalesce on spending numbers gives House GOP an opening
House minority shouldn’t be a player in budget talks, but Democrats may need their votes

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., center, is concerned that House Democrats are squandering their leverage in budget talks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans should have virtually no power in the minority, but Democrats’ inability to unify as a caucus around topline fiscal 2020 spending levels has given them some unexpected leverage. The question now is what they’ll do with it.

President Donald Trump and his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, don’t want to raise the statutory discretionary spending caps for fiscal 2020, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to reach a bipartisan deal to do just that to avoid a 10 percent cut in spending from fiscal 2019 levels.

House puts off vote on spending caps deal; adopts ‘deeming’ resolution

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced the spending caps bill would be punted until at least after the two-week recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House set an overall spending cap of nearly $1.3 trillion for appropriators in that chamber to write their fiscal 2020 bills, adopting a “deeming resolution” on Tuesday as part of the rule governing floor debate on separate spending caps legislation — although that legislation hit a snag on Tuesday. 

The tally was 219-201, with no Republicans voting for the rule and seven Democrats voting ‘no.’

Progressives are holding back votes on the spending caps bill
Progressive Congressional Caucus leaders want more nondefense funding over the next two years

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., participates in the House Democrats' news conference in the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said Tuesday that the current bill to raise discretionary spending caps won’t pass the House unless it’s amended to allow more nondefense funding over the next two years.

“We do think that if we’re going to go negotiate, we should be negotiating from our strongest place and our strongest place is saying we want more nondefense spending. So that’s where many of us are at,” Rep. Mark Pocan said after a House Democratic Caucus meeting.

A House floor vote on spending caps could divide Democrats
As eager as Democrats are to raise spending caps, they don’t all agree on how much higher the new caps should be

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., are seen outside the Supreme Court during a rally with Congressional Democrats on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House might vote this week on a bill to raise discretionary spending limits for the next two fiscal years.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer was hedging his bets late last week, saying only that a floor vote was “possible.”

Road ahead: Barr testifying on DOJ budget, likely to get grilled about Mueller report
House to vote on net neutrality bill before Democratic retreat, Senate picks up pace on nominations after going nuclear

Attorney General William P. Barr will be the headline witness on Capitol Hill this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

All eyes will be on the House and Senate Appropriations committees this week — but not necessarily because of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget blueprint.

Attorney General William P. Barr is scheduled to testify Tuesday in the House and Wednesday in the Senate about the Justice Department’s budget, but the conversation is sure to turn to his handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.