budget

White House offers up extensive menu of cuts for spending caps deal
The administration wants at least $150 billion in savings

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the talks for her side of the aisle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration has laid out a wide array of spending cuts and tweaks to mandatory programs for Democratic leaders to consider for inclusion in a two-year discretionary caps and debt limit package.

The White House offsets menu includes $574 billion culled from items in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, according to a source familiar with the proposal. In addition, there’s $516 billion in “structural reforms” obtained by extending current discretionary spending limits by another two years, through fiscal 2023.

Secret Service pressed for plan to avoid future Mar-a-Lago security breaches
A 33-year-old Chinese woman was arrested with malware, other suspicious items

President Donald Trump walks to speak with supporters after arriving on Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport to spend Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort on April 18, 2019. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Three senior Senate Democrats are pressing the U.S. Secret Service on whether security has been beefed up at President Donald Trump’s Florida and New Jersey resorts after a 33-year-old Chinese woman talked her way into his Mar-a-Lago property while he was there.

Yujing Zhang, 33, pleaded not guilty on charges of trespassing and lying to U.S. Secret Service agents after being arrested March 30 at the president’s Florida resort. When searched, she was found carrying a pair of passports, four mobile devices, a laptop computer, a thumb drive allegedly containing malware and one external hard drive.

Mnuchin says there is a topline agreement on spending caps and debt limit
Treasury secretary says talks continue on offsets and structure of a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the White House, Senate and House have an agreement on a two-year debt ceiling increase. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that agreement has been reached on spending levels for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 as well as a two-year extension of the debt limit.

“The good news is we’ve reached an agreement between the administration, the House and the Senate on topline numbers for both year one and year two. We’re now discussing offsets as well as certain structural issues. And we’ve agreed as part of that deal there would be a long-term, two-year debt ceiling increase,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So, I think, all of our first choice is to reach an overall agreement and we’re working hard to do that. But if for whatever reason we don’t get there in time, I am encouraging a debt ceiling increase.”

Pelosi: Debt ceiling, caps deal possibly on floor next Thursday
To make the deadline, talks would need to wrap up by this Friday night in order to post legislative text sometime over the weekend

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly news conference on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Pelosi said negotiators on a deal to lift tight discretionary spending caps and raise the debt ceiling aim to have a bill on the House floor next Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiators on a sweeping package that would lift tight discretionary spending caps and raise the debt ceiling are aiming to have a bill on the House floor next Thursday.

Accordingly, the California Democrat said, talks would need to wrap up by this Friday night in order to post legislative text sometime over the weekend, required under the House’s rule that 72 hours’ notice is necessary for lawmakers to read bills before voting on them. “When we have an agreement we’ll write it up, and we have to do all of that by Friday evening,” Pelosi told reporters.

NASA chief warns yearlong stopgap could cripple return to moon
Sen. Moran asked Administrator Bridenstine for help winning over former House colleagues

The image of a Saturn V, the rocket that sent Apollo 11 into orbit on July 16, 1969, is projected on the Washington monument on July 16, 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to land the first man on the moon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With celebrations underway marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the NASA administrator is warning that a full-year stopgap spending bill, like one recently floated by the Trump administration, would be “devastating” to U.S. efforts to get back to the moon.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday for a hearing on space exploration to the moon and Mars, when Chairman Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, asked about the potential consequences of a yearlong continuing resolution, or CR.

Pricey pension rescue headed to House floor next week
Bill would provide financial lifelines to union pension plans

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., confirmed the pensions bill is ready for a floor vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats will bring a $64.4 billion measure that would provide financial lifelines to union pension plans to the floor next week.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, the bill’s author, on Tuesday confirmed the schedule for the legislation, which has gone through the Ways and Means as well as Education and Labor panels.

Pelosi, Mnuchin appear close to spending caps, debt limit deal
Agreement would likely include a two-year extension of the debt limit and spending levels

Pelosi reiterated Tuesday her view that in addition to "parity" for nondefense and defense spending increases, funding should be added for Department of Veterans Affairs health care. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are close to making an announcement about spending caps and the debt limit.

“We have a clear understanding of what we want to agree to, and I think that's progress,” Pelosi said Tuesday afternoon after speaking with Mnuchin, who was preparing to leave Wednesday for the G-7 meeting in France. “We'll have an announcement about something soon, one way or the other.”

McCarthy pitches monthlong debt ceiling stopgap, if deal can’t be reached
He suggested a 30-day extension to avoid default in early September, if a compromise on discretionary spending caps can’t be reached

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is floating a fallback plan to pass a 30-day extension of the debt limit in the absence of a broader deal before the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House’s top Republican suggested that lawmakers pass a 30-day extension of the debt ceiling to avoid default in early September, if Democrats and the White House can’t agree on compromise discretionary spending caps before leaving for the summer break.

“We should not leave for August without dealing with that. And I would say if we can’t get this done, we should do a 30-day [stopgap],” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday. He also said lawmakers ought to stay in town a few days past July 26, when House lawmakers are currently scheduled to leave town, if necessary. The Senate is slated to be in session for an extra week.

Senate appropriations markups likely off until September
Congressional leaders and Trump administration have to agree on spending caps in next few weeks

Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is holding off on assembling the fiscal 2020 spending bills (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee likely won’t mark up any of its fiscal 2020 spending bills before leaving town for the August recess — the first time in more than three decades the panel hasn’t debated any of the annual spending bills before the customary summer break.

The decision to hold back Senate appropriations bills in the absence of a spending caps agreement has set a markedly different pace for the committee than last year, when it sent all 12 of its bills to the floor before the break began.

Oil refiners racing Congress to protect butane loophole
Joint Committee on Taxation now estimates 1-year extension of the alternative fuel credits would cost $7.1 billion

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says Congress should leave it to the courts to decide whether refiners should get an alternative fuel tax credit for butane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For more than a decade, oil refiners didn’t realize what a moneymaker they had in butane — at least for tax purposes.

They do now.