Tom Cole

Lawmakers to confront new post-spending caps reality
Will budget resolutions gain a new lease on life? Or is reinstating caps inevitable?

Some say the end of spending caps will give new life to the budget resolution, but House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth isn’t one of them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Starting in the 117th Congress, lawmakers will face a reality they haven’t had to deal with since 2010: the absence of discretionary spending caps for the upcoming fiscal year.

After a final stretch covering the next two fiscal years, Congress will have operated under spending caps of one form or another for three decades, with the exception of a nine-year period spanning fiscal years 2003 through 2011.

‘Can’t get into that’: Mueller’s testimony was too hot to handle — Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of July 22, 2019

Rep. Mark Meadows takes a photo with his phone as former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House sends spending caps, debt limit bill to Senate
Measure next heads to the Senate for consideration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leads House Democrats down the House steps to hold a news conference on the first 200 days of the 116th Congress on Thursday, July 25, 2019. On Thursday, the House passed a debt limit and budget measure, sending it to the Senate for consideration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After late lobbying from President Donald Trump, House leaders mustered the votes to pass a two-year spending caps and debt limit bill Thursday that will provide some structure around the appropriations process and stave off potential default on U.S. obligations until the end of 2021.

The 284-149 vote was the first legislative test for the package Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday after hard-fought negotiations. The measure would add $324 billion to otherwise austere spending caps over the next two fiscal years, and avert cuts averaging about 10 percent to federal agencies for the upcoming budget year starting Oct. 1.

House approves Senate version of border bill after Pelosi yields
Speaker says she ‘reluctantly’ allowed vote to get assistance to border quickly

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, walks after speaking with reporters Thursday outside Speaker  Nancy Pelosi’s office about the agreement to take up the Senate border bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House cleared and sent to President Donald Trump the Senate version of supplemental aid legislation for strained border agencies dealing with a massive influx of migrants, ending a back-and-forth that threatened to upend lawmakers’ July Fourth recess plans.

The final vote was 305-102, with many Democrats joining Republicans in voting for the bill. The Democratic split was 129 in favor, 95 against; the Republican split was 176 for and 7 against.

Senate won’t take up House Democrats’ changes to border bill
The amendment calls for about 10 significant changes to the Senate bill, including adjustments in funding from the Senate bill

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., talk as they leave the House Democrats’ caucus meeting in the Capitol on June 4, 2019. Lowey said changes made to a border aid package adopted Wednesday by House were aimed at getting the money to the border agencies as quickly as possible but making sure that the safety and proper care of migrants and children was not forgotten. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Billions of dollars for resource-constrained border agencies that are rapidly running out of cash due to an unprecedented surge of migrants is in jeopardy as the congressional clock counts down to the July Fourth recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned Thursday his chamber wouldn’t consider revisions demanded by House Democrats to the Senate-passed border supplemental, including cuts to Pentagon and Immigration and Customs Enforcement accounts.

Senate GOP border aid package to largely track Trump request
Top Democrat on Appropriations details demands that will earn votes on measure

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined the border supplemental aid package the Senate will move in the coming days. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Republicans appear likely to bless President Donald Trump’s $4.5 billion emergency border funding request in its entirety, gambling that either just enough Democrats will fall in line or they’ll be able to send a signal to the White House that it’s time to negotiate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up a yet-to-be-unveiled draft supplemental measure June 19. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday it will contain $4.5 billion, including “more than $3 billion” for food, shelter, medical care and other necessities for the thousands of unaccompanied minors and families seeking refuge from violence in their home countries, many from the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

‘Sex-starved males’ comment sets off House floor kerfuffle
Rep. Norma Torres stirs GOP colleagues with comments during debate

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., referred to some GOP colleagues as "sex starved males" on the House floor, setting off a brief spat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A routine House debate nearly exploded Wednesday when California Democrat Norma J. Torres implied her Republican colleagues were “sex-starved males” for opposing abortion.

“Mr. Speaker, it is tiring to hear from so many sex-starved males on this floor talk about a woman’s right to choose,” Torres said as lawmakers debated a rule setting up amendment consideration for a four-bill spending package that includes funding for public health programs.

On congressional pay raise, maximum political pain and no gain
Hoyer optimistic, but McCarthy cool on member cost-of-living update

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., says the congressional pay raise issue will be addressed, but it is unclear what the path forward is now. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic leaders are learning the hard way that when it comes to the politically dicey issue of raising lawmaker pay, there is maximum risk with a minimum chance of gain. 

Amid the fallout from Democrats in the chamber abruptly pulling a legislative spending bill from a broader package, leaders on Tuesday were left to state an easy to articulate but difficult to achieve goal: that the only path to bigger paychecks was through bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.

Senate to take one last shot at disaster, border aid bill
The remaining sticking points are over immigration and oversight provisions related to Trump’s border funding request

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for a news conference after the Republican Senate Policy Luncheon on May 14, 2019. On Thursday McConnell said on the Senate floor, that his colleagues need to come up with a disaster aid compromise “today, because one way or another the Senate is not leaving without taking action.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans were huddling behind closed doors Thursday morning to discuss their next move on supplemental aid for disaster victims and handling a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

One emerging possibility was to drop billions of dollars in aid the White House is seeking for border-related agencies, including Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

Who’s the guy in the background of all those Capitol Hill TV hits?
Undercover Capitol: taking you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

CQ Roll Call's Jason Dick chats with Rep. Tom Cole about Oklahoma's favorite son, Will Rogers (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call).

He was a Cherokee, a cowboy, an actor and a political commentator. He was born in 1879, but he’s in the background of a handful of Capitol Hill TV news hits every day. 

He’s Will Rogers, Oklahoma’s favorite son. And his statue sits between the House floor and Statuary Hall in one of the few Capitol rooms where TV cameras can regularly shoot interviews. CQ Roll Call’s Jason Dick spoke with Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole about the ‘Old Country Boy’ himself, a Native American multimedia icon whose celebrity star still shines on Capitol Hill.