David Lerman

Senate budget writers offer up a revamped budget process
CQ Budget, Ep. 133

The Senate Budget Committee drafted legislation for an overhaul of the broken budget process that includes a move toward biennial budgets. But any change is still an uphill fight, as Paul M. Krawzak and Kate Ackley explain.

Budget deficit nears the $1 trillion mark
CQ Budget, Ep. 131

The fiscal 2019 deficit was up 26 percent over the 2018 level. Paul M. Krawzak unpacks what accounts for the rising red ink.

Four spending bills on the move; Democrats eye allocations deal
Leaders scramble to make headway on appropriations for fiscal year before stopgap measure runs dry

Democratic leaders Tuesday called for bicameral talks to reconcile competing spending allocations for long-delayed fiscal 2020 appropriations bills.

With barely five weeks left before the current stopgap funding measure runs dry, congressional leaders are scrambling to make headway on appropriations for the fiscal year that began on Oct.1. Lawmakers have already acknowledged that another stopgap could be needed to fund at least part of the government and avoid a shutdown before Thanksgiving.

Four appropriations bills slated for Senate floor this week
A procedural vote to take up the bill could occur Tuesday or early Wednesday

Senate leaders plan to jump-start the stalled appropriations process by taking up a package of four spending bills this week that have strong bipartisan support.

Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, an Alabama Republican, announced plans to bring to the floor a package that combines the fiscal 2020 Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, and Transportation-HUD bills. The Appropriations Committee had advanced all four measures on unanimous votes.

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.”

Federal judge rules Trump border wall declaration unlawful
Diversion of military funds violates fiscal 2018 omnibus spending law

A federal judge ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to divert military funding to a southern border wall is unlawful.

In a 33-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David Briones said Trump’s effort to divert more than $6 billion that Congress provided for military projects violates the fiscal 2019 omnibus spending law. 

Averting a government shutdown
CQ Budget, Episode 128

The House passed a continuing resolution last week to extend current funding through Nov. 21, giving Congress an extra eight weeks to get its work done. The Senate is scheduled to vote on a measure later this week. But there’s more in this resolution than just a simple funding extension.

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.

Can Congress avoid a shutdown?
CQ Budget, Episode 126

Senate appropriators to begin spending sprint next week to avoid shutdown
Some type of stopgap funding measure almost surely required for at least some federal agencies to avoid a partial shutdown

Senate appropriators are planning to advance as many as four fiscal 2020 spending bills next week, as part of a monthlong sprint to make up for lost time.

The Appropriations Committee tentatively plans to mark up on Sept. 12 the draft Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, Energy-Water and State-Operations bills, a package that would amount to a third of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The committee also plans to approve its subcommittee allocations, which set the overall spending limits for each of the bills, on that same day, according to people familiar with the process.

Pentagon to begin diverting construction funds for border wall
Democrats quick to slam move as an executive power grab

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it would begin diverting $3.6 billion in military construction funding for a wall along the U.S. southern border, even as court challenges continue.

The release of defense money makes good on President Donald Trump’s plan to fund a wall with money never approved by lawmakers for that purpose. Trump declared a national emergency earlier this year to tap military construction accounts and funnel the money to the border instead.

Two tax battles await Congress in September
CQ Budget podcast, episode 121

Senate Democrats are preparing to fight the Trump administration over a $10,000 limit on deductions for state and local taxes, says CQ Roll Call's budget and tax editor Peter Cohn. And some conservatives are pressing the White House to bypass Congress to index capital gains taxes to inflation, in a move that would cut taxes for wealthy stock owners.

Show Notes:

What the two-year budget deal means for federal spending
CQ Budget podcast, episode 120

With a new budget deal about to become law, CQ Roll Call senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak explains how raising the debt limit and raising the spending levels will shape government budget decisions this fall and the year to come. With overall spending limits set, the House will have to revisit the 10 spending bills it has already passed and find $15 billion more to cut.  ...
Trump signs 9/11 victims compensation bill

President Donald Trump signed legislation Monday providing a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Trump hailed the Rose Garden signing ceremony as a chance to “come together as one nation to support our Sept. 11 heroes.”

9/11 victims bill heads to Trump‘s desk after clearing Senate
Final action on the measure came after months of emotional lobbying by ailing first responders and their families

The Senate cleared a measure Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

By the lopsided vote of 97-2, the Senate agreed to a House-passed bill that would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims filed by Oct. 1, 2090.

What we know so far about the budget, debt limit deal
CQ Budget podcast, Episode 119

Congress is racing to complete work on some big-ticket items before adjourning for the August recess. CQ Roll Call’s budget and appropriations reporter Kellie Mejdrich reports on a deal to extend the debt limit and set spending levels for two years. And finance reporter Doug Sword explains why the House plans to vote on a bill to shore up struggling pension plans.  Meanwhile, the Senate plans to give final approval of a permanent compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Show notes:

Senate schedules debate on 9/11 victims compensation bill
The bill sailed through the House last week, but Senate fiscal hawks worried about price tag

Senate leaders have agreed to take up a bill Tuesday that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The bill sailed through the House last week on a 402-12 vote, but has faced resistance in the Senate from fiscal hawks worried about its price tag. The measure would effectively make permanent a special compensation fund for first responders and other victims of the 2001 attacks, while providing however much money is needed to pay all eligible claims.