Tom Cole

3 Things to Watch: ‘Trump Show, Shutdown II’ heads to climactic scene
Will he or won’t he? Not even GOP lawmakers, WH staff seem to know

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress in the Capitol on Feb. 5, during which he delivered hardline border security remarks. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees hall of fame catcher, was around to gaggle with reporters at the White House or in a Capitol hallway about the ongoing border security spending and government shutdown drama, he would likely note that it feels “like déjà vu all over again.”

Washington has entered a time warp of sorts as President Donald Trump and his top aides tiptoe up to the edge of declaring he will sign a bipartisan compromise package that would hand him $4.3 billion less for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall than he has for months demanded. By Wednesday morning, it became increasingly difficult to be sure whether it was December 2018 or February 2019.

Amid border wall debate, House and Senate Republicans aligned on spending issues, for once
GOP unity over border wall has lasted for seven-plus weeks now but could soon be tested

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, have largely been on the same page when it comes to border wall funding President Donald Trump, center, has advocated. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For years, House Republicans would blame the Senate if they didn’t get their way in spending negotiations. But now, amid an ongoing border wall funding dispute, GOP lawmakers in both chambers are finally on the same page.

The symbiotic relationship is oddly timed with House Republicans in the minority. In the previous two Congresses, Republicans held the majority in both chambers — first under former President Barack Obama and then under President Donald Trump — but rarely agreed on appropriations matters.

Border security bargainers get to work, still miles apart
First conference committee meeting does little to close the divide

From left, Senate Appropriations chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., House Appropriations chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., House Appropriations ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., talk before the start of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats showed few signs of giving in to President Donald Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion for a border wall as a conference committee began talks Wednesday to strike a border security deal that would also fund the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal 2019.

But both sides expressed optimism and pledged to work toward an agreement by the Feb. 15 deadline that the president can sign, and thus avoid another partial government shutdown.

House Democrats drop Pence, cabinet pay freeze from federal worker raise bill
The bill’s lead sponsor said continuing the executive-level pay freeze would have jeopardized the broader bill

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in the Capitol on Jan. 7, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are primed to remove a provision of federal worker pay legislation set for a floor vote Wednesday that would have continued a pay freeze for Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump administration officials.

The Rules Committee adopted the changes as part of a self-executing rule for floor debate on the underlying bill, which would give the roughly 2 million federal civilian employees a 2.6 percent pay raise this year. That would put civilian workers on par with military servicemembers, who got the same raise in the fiscal 2019 Defense appropriations bill enacted last year.

McCarthy Names Top Republicans for House Ethics and Rules Committees
House GOP adjusting leadership ranks to life in the minority

Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, will be the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy selected the top Republicans for the House Ethics and House Rules Committees in the new congress, which begins January 3.

Texan Kenny Marchant will be the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee, replacing Indiana’s Susan W. Brooks who had served on the panel for three terms. House rules bar members from sitting on the House Ethics panel for more than three congresses, unless the member leads the panel in their fourth term.

House Passes Trump-Backed Stopgap; Senate to Vote Again Friday
Package may have little chance of reaching president’s desk

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives back to the Capitol after a meeting at the White House about government funding on December 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House voted 217-185 Thursday to send the continuing resolution back to the Senate after adding $5.7 billion for border security and $7.8 billion for disaster relief, despite the package having little chance of getting to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The decision to add those elements to the bill, even though the disaster aid package enjoys broad bipartisan support, complicates efforts to avert the partial government shutdown that is set to begin Friday night when the stopgap spending bill expires.

House GOP Takes Another Shot With Trump-Backed Stopgap
Package has little chance of getting to president’s desk

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and House Republicans are going with a stopgap government funding bill that includes money for a border wall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans on Thursday unveiled a new stopgap spending bill with an added $5.7 billion appropriation for border security and $7.8 billion for disaster relief, despite the package having little chance of getting to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The decision to add those elements to the bill, even though the disaster aid package enjoys broad bipartisan support, complicates efforts to avert the partial government shutdown that is set to begin Friday night when the stopgap spending bill expires. The revised measure would need 60 votes to get through the Senate, where Democrats have said they’ll vote against it.

Trump to Huddle With House Republicans as Shutdown Situation Fluid
Some Republicans hold out hope that Trump will veto seven-week stopgap

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, wants the president to veto the stopgap funding measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is weighing a seven-week stopgap spending amid conservative grumbling that it caves to Democrats’ anti-border wall demands.

“My guess is they wouldn’t have brought it to the floor unless they thought they could pass it,” Rep. Bill Flores of Texas said Thursday morning. The measure hadn’t yet been officially scheduled for a vote, however, likely out of concern that the president’s position was still unclear.

House GOP Tax Package Still In Limbo as Clock Winds Down
Time remaining in 115th Congress does not bode well for proponents

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, hopes the chamber can still pass a tax package in the time before the 115th Congress ends. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is leaving in limbo an $80 billion package of tax breaks as it leaves for the weekend on Thursday, though in theory there’s still time to take up the measure next week before lawmakers leave town for the holidays.

The second time had been shaping up to be the charm for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady’s now refurbished year-end tax bill, as Republicans appeared to be lining up behind it Wednesday. An earlier version expected on the floor two weeks ago never made it due to objections from rank-and-file Republicans.

With Minority Looming, Could More Republicans Be Headed for the Exits?
After the 2006 Democratic wave, 23 Republicans retired

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., says he will decide next year about running for an 18th term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Life in the minority will be a new experience for most House Republicans next year. And many of them may not remember what happened the last time the GOP lost the House.

After the 2006 Democratic wave, about two dozen Republicans opted to retire the following cycle instead of languishing in the minority. And some in the party are worried about a repeat.