Nita M Lowey

Border wall, other disputes sidetrack Senate spending work
Panel's markup is delayed; government funding lapses on Oct. 1

Sen. Richard Durbin wants to move forward on military spending, but is unsure if that will happen. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Lowey faces her first primary challenge in three decades
Powerful chairwoman to face 32-year-old newcomer in Democratic contest

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, an 82-year-old incumbent who was first elected in 1988, speaks to reporters in July 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The year was 1988. Def Leppard topped the charts and stonewashed jeans were all the rage. It was also the last time powerful House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey faced a primary challenge.

That’s all changed now with the decision by Mondaire Jones, a former Obama administration Justice Department staffer and attorney for Westchester County’s Law Department, to challenge Lowey in next June’s primary. The 32-year-old political novice plans to take on the New York Democratic incumbent over her positions on issues ranging from climate change to student debt forgiveness to oversight of the Trump administration.

Border emergency hits six months; ball back in Congress’ court
Lawmakers may again try to terminate Trump's declaration allowing him to shift funds for wall construction

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats appear in February at a news conference on the joint resolution to terminate Trump's emergency declaration. It is not clear whether they will try again to pass a similar measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thursday marks six months since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the southern border, a notable anniversary because it gives Congress another shot at ending it.

The flashpoint in the debate remains funding for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, a prominent pledge made during Trump’s 2016 presidential bid that now hangs over the 2020 campaign.

Gun research funding push faces challenge in Senate even after shootings
House-passed bill would be first time in decades Congress allocated funding specifically for gun violence research

Sen. Roy Blunt, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees health research funding, signaled he wouldn't support new funds for research on gun violence. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats in Congress are amplifying their calls to fund more research on gun violence after the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, but Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Chairman Roy Blunt suggested Thursday he wouldn’t support new funding in that area.

The dispute over $50 million for gun violence prevention research could pose an additional challenge in the effort to avoid a government shutdown this fall.

The Democrats who voted to keep impeachment options open
Why those who do not yet favor an impeachment inquiry voted against blocking Green’s articles

Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., voted against tabling Rep. Al Green's impeachment articles to keep the option on the table but she does not yet support opening an impeachment inquiry. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House vote last Wednesday to block Texas Rep. Al Green’s articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump led to some contortions from Democrats yet to support impeachment or opening an inquiry, but it mostly came down to this: keeping those options open. 

About two dozen Democrats who had not been on the record in favor of impeachment proceedings voted with Green against tabling, or basically killing, his articles. A total of 95 Democrats voted that way, but most of those members had previously called for Trump’s impeachment or an inquiry. 

White House, Hill leaders agree on two-year budget deal
‘This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!’ Trump tweeted

President Donald Trump alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., talks to the media about Robert Mueller’s report upon arriving for the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in the Capitol on March 26, 2019. Trump tweeted Monday he and both Senate and House leaders had agreed on a budget deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House leaders released legislation late Monday that would implement the two-year accord on appropriations and the debt ceiling struck earlier in the day by the White House and top Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.  

The 26-page draft bill, expected to get a House vote Thursday, calls for raising limits on discretionary spending by $321 billion over two years, compared to the strict caps imposed under a 2011 deficit reduction law.

House blocks Al Green articles of impeachment of Trump

Texas Rep. Al Green’s impeachment resolution got the support of 95 Democrats in the House on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders avoided a direct vote on Rep. Al Green’s articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump with Republicans’ help, as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy moved Wednesday to table the Texas Democrat’s resolution.

The motion was agreed to, 332-95, with Oregon Democrat Peter A. DeFazio voting “present.” 

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.

Americans have been shortchanged. House Democrats want to change that
House’s fiscal 2020 spending bills are an important step to make up for lost ground

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey writes that Democrats in the chamber are charting a new course with their For the People agenda. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Former Speaker Sam Rayburn once said that “a jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one.” For too long, Congress hasn’t been the carpenter in this analogy.

But things are changing — at least in the House, with our Democratic majority’s ambitious agenda For the People. The Appropriations Committee, which I am proud to chair, is leading this charge to give every American a better chance at a better life.