Nita M Lowey

Road ahead: Public impeachment hearings begin
Senate set to confirm new Homeland Security secretary

The first open impeachment hearings in over 20 years begin on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The public phase of the House impeachment inquiry begins this week, with three witnesses set to air concerns Wednesday and Friday that President Donald Trump attempted to tie Ukrainian military aid to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential Democratic rival in 2020.

Much of the attention on Capitol Hill will be focused on the House Intelligence Committee as it opens up to televised questioning and testimony an investigation that so far had been conducted in a secure closed-door facility in the basement of the Capitol.

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

A section of the border wall stretches through the “Rio Grande Valley Sector” of the Texas border in August. The Trump administration is backing off its demand for spending on the fiscal 2020 border wall. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

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

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) at the Capitol on October 24, 2019. Schumer said Wednesday the White House, Senate and House met to hopefully kick-start spending talks. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

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.

How the OMB used its powers to delay Ukraine aid
Order to withhold the funds came directly from the president

President Donald Trump alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, talks to the media on March 26, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An obscure agency with outsized sway over federal spending is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry into an alleged “quid pro quo” orchestrated by President Donald Trump trading domestic political aid for security assistance against a common foe.

The White House Office of Management and Budget gave the order to withhold aid to Ukraine intended to combat Russian aggression for almost two months. The decision came directly from the top, catching some administration officials as well as bipartisan majorities on Capitol Hill by surprise.

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

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. (right), arrive for the House Democrats caucus meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Photos of the Week: Everything but Infrastructure Week
The week of Oct. 18 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Capitol workers lower the flag to half staff after the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Power struggle begins atop the House Appropriations Committee
CQ Budget, Ep. 129

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters as she leaves a House Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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

New York Rep. Nita M. Lowey announced her retirement last week at the end of the 116th Congress. Who will replace her as the top Democrat on House Appropriations? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

New York Rep. Nita M. Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, is retiring after 16 terms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.”

Charleston mass murderer got his gun because of background check gaps, internal report shows
Four years later, Congress and White House have made little progress on gun legislation

Mourners enter Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015 after a mass shooting by Dylann Roof, a self-declared white supremacist, left nine people dead. (Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images file photo)

Dylann Roof got the pistol he used to kill nine people in a historic black church in South Carolina without a completed background check because of gaps in FBI databases, legal restrictions on how long the FBI can keep data on gun purchasers and other breakdowns in the system, according to an internal report obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Four years after the 2015 attack at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston — and several more high-profile mass shootings — a bipartisan group of senators is still trying to hammer out a deal with the White House on background check legislation.