Jennifer Shutt

Extra Hurricane Relief Cash Could Wait Until After Elections
Ryan: ‘Right now FEMA has money in the pipeline’

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has more than enough money to assist states hit by Hurricane Florence and likely won’t need Congress to pass an emergency disaster aid bill in the coming weeks, based on figures provided to lawmakers.

Due to lawmakers’ largesse when they provided more than $136 billion in late 2017 and earlier this year — mostly to respond to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma — government disaster aid coffers are flush with cash. It’s a vastly different situation from last year, when Congress returned in September after Harvey spent five days battering Houston and surrounding areas.

Violence Against Women Act Extension Included in Stopgap Spending Deal
Programs authorized under law set to continue through Dec. 7

The Violence Against Women Act, which was set to expire Sept. 30, will be extended through Dec. 7 under a stopgap spending bill released Thursday.

“Any program, authority or provision, including any pilot program, authorized under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 shall continue in effect through the date specified,” the bill text reads.

Watershed Moment as Three Appropriations Bills Clear on Time
House voted 377-20, sending legislation to the president’s desk

A batch of three spending bills is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk following a 377-20 House vote Thursday, marking the first on-time delivery of a quarter of the annual appropriations measures in a decade.

The $147.5 billion package — which funds the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers and the operations of Congress — is the first installment of what lawmakers hope will be nine bills becoming law before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

Beating the Hurricane: Senators Pass Spending Bill and Finish Votes for the Week
Agreement allows senators to beat any Hurricane Florence delays

Updated 7:49 P.M. | Senators finished their work on the first bundle of fiscal 2019 spending bills and headed for the exits Wednesday, after they reached a deal to effectively complete the week’s tasks just hours after arriving at the Capitol.

The agreement to allow passage of a three-bill spending package and confirmation of President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Internal Revenue Service, Charles P. Rettig, on Wednesday night will allow senators to head out before too many delays arise from Hurricane Florence’s arrival along the Carolina coast.

First Three Fiscal 2019 Spending Bills Readied for Floor
Hurricane Florence presents potential scheduling wildcard

Lawmakers reached agreement Monday on three spending bills that would provide about $147.5 billion next year for the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, Army Corps of Engineers and lawmakers’ offices and the Capitol complex.

The package came together after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations and at times tense conversations about funding levels and policy language. Aides said it was on track to reach President Donald Trump’s desk by week’s end. The tentative plan at this stage is for the Senate to go first, likely on Thursday, with the House to follow on Friday, although the arrival of Hurricane Florence remains a wildcard. 

Potential Fiscal Year Move Sows Discord on Select Budget Panel
Womack, Lowey disagree on moving government operations to a calendar year

The federal government may soon operate on a fiscal year that begins on Jan. 1, if the Republican co-chair of a special committee charged with overhauling the budget and appropriations process has his way. But Democrats on the panel are not sold, throwing into doubt tentative plans to release a full slate of recommendations this month.

Rep. Steve Womack said Friday he expects the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform to change the start of the fiscal year for the first time since 1976, when it was moved to Oct. 1 from July 1. The Arkansas Republican also said the panel is likely to recommend making the annual budget resolution a biennial exercise instead, though it is unlikely to split the appropriations bills over two years, as has been floated.

Ryan: Earmarks Discussion Dead for This Congress
Speaker disappoints Republicans who want to bring back pork

Talk of bringing back local project earmarks in spending bills that has been bubbling within the GOP conference for the past two years won’t advance any further for now, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters Thursday.

“I don’t doubt that the next organizing conference for the next Congress will probably wrestle with this issue,” Ryan said.

Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending
Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills

The multiday media circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh notwithstanding, Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with appropriators struggling to work out their differences on fiscal 2019 spending. 

There are only 11 legislative days this month when the House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session. That means there isn’t much floor time in either chamber to vote on what could be as many as three conference reports with spending totaling more than $1 trillion, even if the legislation is privileged in the Senate and the House limits debate.

Appropriations Rush Before Midterms
CQ Budget, Episode 75

With the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 and midterm elections just around the corner, Republicans hope to pass nine spending bills to tout on the campaign trail. CQ senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak explains why that might be a heavy lift. ...
Democrats on DeVos Gun Proposal: ‘A Fountain of Bad Ideas’
Comes after report Education Department considers letting states use federal funds to buy guns for schools

Democrats are slamming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos over a report that the Department of Education is considering allowing states to use federal dollars to purchase guns for schools.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have the discretion to approve state or local plans to purchase guns for teachers.

Deal on Budget Makeover Gets ‘Closer.’ So Does the November Deadline
Sen. Joni Ernst: ‘We have to wait for the House’

Members of the joint House and Senate panel tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process said they were getting closer to reaching a final agreement on bipartisan recommendations after a private meeting Wednesday.

“We talked about the debt, we talked about recommendations from some of these outside people who came in to testify. So the vortex is narrowing down,” said Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue. “And we’re getting agreement on things like reconciliation, schedule, biennial budgeting, fiscal year. So I’m encouraged. It may not be everything I would want, but we’re getting to something that actually could work.”

House GOP Appropriators Facing Steep Turnover in 116th Congress
Both parties have endured upheaval in wave elections in the past

A Democratic “wave” this November, should one materialize, could result in the departure of as many as five senior House Republican appropriators, which would mark the biggest wipeout of major players from one side of the dais in 26 years.

Three subcommittee “cardinals” are facing tough re-election fights this November: Commerce-Justice-Science Chairman John Culberson and Military Construction-VA Chairman John Carter, both of Texas, and Homeland Security Chairman Kevin Yoder of Kansas.

More Than Just ‘Regular Order’ at Stake in Senate Spending Push
Most vulnerable Senators now have material to take on the campaign trail

Senate approval of a $154.2 billion, four-bill spending package this week wasn’t just a banner moment for bipartisanship and the open debate and amendment process senators have been promoting.

There’s also a more practical reason: giving the most vulnerable senators on both sides of the aisle something to crow about on the campaign trail.

In Case of Shutdown, Most Border Security Staffers Would Keep Working
DHS would keep about 88 percent of its on-board staff during funding lapse

The two federal agencies tasked with enforcing President Donald Trump’s evolving immigration policies wouldn’t be hamstrung in the event of a partial shutdown of government operations, which is perhaps partly why the president has said repeatedly he’d be just fine with that outcome.

“If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” Trump said Monday during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Podcast: Senate Set to Surpass House
CQ Budget, Episode 71

Senate lawmakers will try this week to outdo their House colleagues by passing a four-bill spending package —if they can overcome snags, says CQ appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt. ...
For Once, Senate Set to Eclipse House in Appropriations Pace
But Congress has just 11 legislative days remaining with both chambers in session before Sept. 30

Optimism is building that Congress may send a handful of spending bills to the White House in September — avoiding the need for the entire federal government to operate under a stopgap during the fall and lowering the odds that a lame-duck Congress will resort to a 12-bill omnibus.

That hope is tempered, however, by the uphill climb to negotiate compromise versions of several spending bills that either have passed both chambers already or seem likely to by the end of this week. And the two chambers look to be headed for an impasse over border wall funding that could dominate the post-midterm session.

Rodney Frelinghuysen’s Last Appropriations Markup Hurrah
Colleagues on both sides of the aisle pay tribute to retiring chairman

In a session of Congress marked by bitter partisanship and high-stakes battles at seemingly every turn, the House Appropriations Committee stepped out of the maelstrom Wednesday to pay tribute to its erstwhile chairman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the retiring New Jersey Republican presiding over his last markup of the panel. 

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., joked that Frelinghuysen was getting an “advanced look” at how he would be remembered after he dies.

Budget Chairmen Weigh in on Veterans Funding Fight
‘Proponents of the effort argue that it is needed to ensure adequate care for our veterans. We disagree.’

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., wrote to top appropriators in both chambers Tuesday insisting that funding for veterans private medical care be kept within the topline $597 billion nondefense spending cap for fiscal 2019. 

That’s a direct shot at the Senate Appropriations leadership on both sides, who want to exempt from budget limits additional funds for the so-called Veterans Choice Program, enacted after the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joint Budget Committee Will Meet on the Side to Work It Out
Members face November deadline for developing legislation and report

The 16 lawmakers tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process will begin meeting informally this month to determine if they can agree on bipartisan changes before the end of November, according to House Budget Chairman Steve Womack.

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has an uphill climb before it can produce the type of legislation that a majority of its Democrats and a majority of its Republicans will support — let alone the type of bill that a majority of each chamber will vote to enact.

Trump’s Trade Policies Get a Senate Slapdown
Lawmakers support congressional authority over tariff decisions

Senators delivered a bipartisan, if nonbinding, rebuke to President Donald Trump’s trade policies on the floor Wednesday, voting 88-11 to express support for congressional authority over presidential decisions to impose tariffs for national security reasons.

The motion, offered by GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, would instruct conferees on an unrelated $147 billion spending bill covering the Departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to “include language providing a role for Congress in making a determination” under a law enabling presidents to impose trade restrictions on security grounds.