Jennifer Shutt

Mnuchin emerges, again, as key player in budget talks
Treasury secretary reprises role he played when he helped broker July agreement

White House backing off $8.6 billion demand for border wall funding
The most immediate decision to make is how long a second temporary funding bill should last

The Trump administration is backing off its demand for $8.6 billion in fiscal 2020 border wall spending in negotiations with top congressional leaders and appropriators, according to a source familiar with the talks.

That’s not just a recognition of reality — Congress hasn’t appropriated more than $1.375 billion for the wall in each of the past two fiscal years. It also reflects a realization that the administration risks losing a substantial boost in military spending and other GOP priorities if current stopgap funds end up extended for the entire fiscal year.

Appropriations talks rejuvenated as possible shutdown looms
Meetings are a sign policymakers are seeking common ground and ways to avoid another government shutdown

Top aides to House and Senate appropriators, leadership from both parties and White House officials met Tuesday to try to kick-start spending talks, a sign that policymakers are seeking common ground and ways to avoid another government shutdown despite impeachment politics.

Dozens of policy disputes and thus-far intractable differences on subcommittee allocations between the chambers have held up progress. The House spending bills, written before the bipartisan budget deal in July that set final fiscal 2020 spending caps, are nearly $20 billion above the Senate’s for nondefense programs, for instance.

Impeachment on collision course with possible shutdown
Schumer already suggesting Trump may “want to shut down the government”

Congress could navigate a shutdown and a presidential impeachment inquiry if lawmakers and the Trump administration can’t reach an agreement on government funding during the next three weeks.

The two events haven’t overlapped before in the nation’s history. If that happens next month, however, roughly 2 million federal workers would get hit in their wallets as the holiday season begins, including staffers working on the impeachment proceedings.

Shelby: Next stopgap could last until February or March
Appropriations chairman says spending bills unlikely to become law before Thanksgiving break

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said the next continuing resolution to fund government agencies beyond the current stopgap’s Nov. 21 expiration might have to run beyond the end of this calendar year — perhaps into early spring.

“Unless a miracle happens around here with the House and the Senate, we will have to come forth with another CR,” said Shelby, R-Ala., noting that next February or March is “probably in the ballpark.”

Democrats could tie paychecks to testimony in impeachment inquiry
Little-used provision would deny pay to administration officials seen as stonewalling House investigators

House Democrats are threatening to force Trump administration officials’ compliance with their impeachment inquiry by targeting something they hold dear: their paychecks.

Democrats have twice referenced using an obscure provision in the annual Financial Services spending bill, referred to as Section 713, that says any federal employee who “prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent” another official from communicating with lawmakers shouldn’t be paid during that time.

Senate floor debate beckons amid spending bill impasse
Under stopgap law, lawmakers have about five weeks to reach funding agreement

The Senate next week could debate a package of spending bills that have received bipartisan support in the Appropriations Committee, according to Chairman Richard C. Shelby.

“I’ve been hearing that and conversations lend me to think there’s a good chance,” the Alabama Republican said Wednesday, noting that the final decision is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I think there are five, six, seven appropriations bills that we could pass if we get to the floor.”

House spending panel skeptical of NASA moon landing plans
Appropriators question push by White House to move up 2028 timeline by four years

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday appeared wary of providing NASA with the additional money it wants to land the next Americans on the moon by 2024, after its administrator testified the agency likely won’t have a detailed cost estimate on speeding up its timetable until it submits its fiscal 2021 budget request in February.

The back-and-forth questioning by the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee was part of a monthslong debate between Congress and the Trump administration about whether it’s actually possible to push up the earlier 2028 timeline.

Lowey retirement sparks Democratic Appropriations scramble
Contested battle expected for top spot on powerful House spending panel

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey’s decision to retire at the end of the 116th Congress will set off a lengthy and contentious campaign among her colleagues to determine who will become the top Democrat on the spending panel.

Unlike the Senate, which predominantly relies on seniority to determine who serves as a chairman or ranking member, the House weighs several factors before deciding who will lead a committee. And right now, assuming Democrats keep their House majority next year, signs may be pointing in the direction of Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who will be the third-ranking Democrat on the powerful committee in 2021. 

Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey announces retirement
New York Democrat has served in the House for three decades

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey announced Thursday that she is not running for reelection. The New York Democrat was the first woman to lead the powerful committee.

“After 31 years in the United States Congress, representing the people of Westchester, Rockland, Queens and the Bronx, I have decided not to seek re-election in 2020,” Lowey said in a statement. “It is my deep honor and privilege to serve my community and my country, and I will always be grateful to the people who have entrusted me to represent them.”

Senate clears stopgap, pivots to endgame spending talks
The bill funds the government through Nov. 21, giving Congress and the White House more time to reach agreement on appropriations

The Senate on Thursday cleared a spending bill that will fund the government through Nov. 21, giving lawmakers and the White House more time to reach agreement on the annual appropriations process. The vote was 81-16, with all of the ‘no’ votes coming from Republicans.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the continuing resolution, holding off another partial government shutdown for at least 52 more days. But this could be the first of several stopgap bills amid tense debates about abortion policy and the border wall.

House, Senate appropriators talking despite impeachment calls
Senate appropriators have begun early talks with House counterparts on next year’s spending bills, despite an impeachment inquiry

Impeachment inquiry? We’ve still got spending bills to pass.

That’s the attitude of top Senate appropriators, who have begun preliminary talks with their House counterparts about a possible path forward for next year’s spending bills, in advance of formal conference negotiations.

White House: Trump supports stopgap funding bill
Funding measure would keep government running until Nov. 21

President Donald Trump plans to sign the stopgap spending bill that the Senate is expected to send him this week, a senior White House official said Monday. That would avoid another partial government shutdown for now, though the fight over border wall spending and other partisan hangups will simply be punted 51 days, to just before Thanksgiving. 

The continuing resolution passed the House by a vote of 301-123 last week, which eclipsed the number necessary to override a potential presidential veto. That doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario now, though it remains uncertain whether the president will change his mind. The Senate’s veto override threshold is 67 votes.

Why partisan spending allocations spell trouble for the appropriations process
CQ Budget, Episode 127

After months of delay, Senate appropriators finally got to work on their spending bills for the new fiscal year, which begins in just two weeks. But it was a slower start than lawmakers had hoped for, and unlike last year’s effort, it was deeply partisan. The Appropriations Committee approved its overall spending limits for each of its 12 bills, but it wasn’t pretty. Where do they go from here? Listen here.

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

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

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.

As Congress kicks off a grueling September, several spending hurdles await
Immigration, abortion, guns will complicate future conference negotiations

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to begin marking up spending bills Tuesday, starting off a grueling September that will include debate on more than $1.3 trillion in spending.

All that work will be capped off with a stopgap spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown and give House and Senate lawmakers more time to work out the spending level and policy differences between the yet-to-be-released Senate bills and the legislation House appropriators marked up earlier this year.

Hoyer: House to take up stopgap funding the week of Sept. 16
Continuing resolution will likely last until late November

The House will vote on a continuing resolution the week of Sept. 16, according to a letter Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer released Thursday.

The stopgap spending bill, needed to keep the government funded when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, will likely last until late November, according to a House Democratic aide. That could mean an end date of Nov. 21 — the last day the House is scheduled to be in session before leaving for Thanksgiving break.