Nita M Lowey

Democrats seek to put teeth into ‘impoundment’ law
Going to court is only current option to force release of funds

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth wants to make it hurt if a president tries to block funding against lawmakers’ wishes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A fresh legal opinion challenging President Donald Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid under a Nixon-era budget law may or may not move the needle with senators in the president’s impeachment trial.

But one thing is clear: Trump’s delay of $214 million in Pentagon funds is just the latest in a long line of findings by the Government Accountability Office going back decades that presidents of both parties have run afoul of the 1974 law. That statute was aimed at restricting “impoundments,” where the executive branch refuses to spend money appropriated by Congress.

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

Talking taxes 2020
CQ Budget, Ep. 138

UNITED STATES - Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., leaves a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, in the Capitol after agreeing to a spending deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tax reporter Doug Sword sits down with guest host Jennifer Shutt to explain why Congress added so many tax bills to a massive spending package and what exactly those provisions will mean during the upcoming year. CQ Budget delves into what didn't make it into the package and predicts how far those provisions will advance in 2020.

Massive spending, tax packages headed for Senate
Lawmakers pointed out both sides had to make sacrifices in order to pass the bills

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., makes her way to a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The House approved $1.4 trillion in spending for the fiscal year that began almost three months ago, in an almost surreal business-as-usual fashion that seemingly ignored the historic articles of impeachment scheduled for the floor the very next day.

Lawmakers made a show of dividing the spending measures into two bundles, in order to avoid the oft-ridiculed omnibus bill that both sides say represents the worst of the “swamp.” But the rushed nature of the vote, and in particular the late-night deal that tacked on a nearly $54 billion tax package, runs counter to promises of a more transparent process where the rank-and-file has input and time to study the legislation.

Year-end spending deal avoids government shutdown
CQ Budget, Ep. 137

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, (not pictured) emerge from a meeting in the Capitol to announce a spending deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With fiscal 2020 appropriations finally complete, CQ Roll Call's budget and tax editor Peter Cohn explains what got funded, what it means, and what lies in store for next year.

Road ahead: It’s not just impeachment week
Government funding, Pentagon authorization and a trade deal are also on the agenda

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., will have spending bills on the House floor on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Seldom is a massive government funding package almost completely overshadowed on Capitol Hill.

But that is the reality with the House barreling toward the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Both houses have a lot to do before departing for the holidays.

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.

What’s the shocking secret sauce to progress on the Hill? Impeachment
Cameras focused on Ukraine allowed work to get done on trade, spending and defense

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., after a meeting to announce a spending deal on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — If your only source of information about Capitol Hill last week was cable news, I forgive you for believing that all non-impeachment work in Congress had screeched to a halt, that Republicans and Democrats were at each other’s throats, and that Congress itself had reached an ugly new low.

But if you had looked away from your screen and walked the halls of the House and Senate instead, you would have seen the rest of the story playing out away from television cameras and media scrums — member meetings, committee hearings and real, bipartisan agreements on long-stalled issues being struck at the very moment that impeachment seemed to be swallowing Washington whole.

Appropriators reach spending agreement, fend off possibility of government shutdown
The deal ends months of negotiations that revolved around border wall funding

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., arrives at the Capitol office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Amid impeachment saga, a kitchen sink of legislative dealing
Sen. Alexander: ‘There’s more to life than judges and impeachment’

Sen. Lamar Alexander says, “There’s more to life than judges and impeachment.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The holiday rush on Capitol Hill is in full swing, and the bipartisan legislative lethargy is showing signs of easing even as the House debates articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Senate and House negotiators are still trying to reach an agreement on a bundle of spending bills, but there has been a relative abundance of other bipartisan deal-making and even actual legislation passing in the Senate.