Joe Williams

Democratic Leaders Request FBI Funding to Stop Russian Influence in Midterms
Also call for release of public report

Key Democratic lawmakers urged Republican leadership Wednesday to include additional FBI funding in the fiscal 2018 spending bill to combat possible Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections.

The request comes after the Justice Department charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies Friday over alleged attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Bipartisan Praise, and Questions, About Thad Cochran
Omnibus spending measure, future awaits veteran Mississippi Republican

An omnibus bill wrapping up fiscal 2018 spending could serve as a victory lap for Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who continues to battle questions over his health and stamina in the role.

Rumors have swirled quietly for months about the 80-year-old Mississippi Republican’s future. Those whispers became louder last year after Cochran took a prolonged absence from the Senate due to health issues.

Senators Prepare for Messaging and Uncertainty From Immigration Debate
‘You know it’s an election year?’

Senators say they are ready for what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give them this week: a return to regular order.

But that does not mean it will be easy.

Senate Leaders Strike Budget Deal
Agreement between McConnell and Schumer may not yet have Pelosi support

Senate leaders announced Wednesday the contours of a bipartisan deal to raise defense and nondefense spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years.

The agreement, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced on the chamber floor, would raise defense spending by $80 billion in the current fiscal year and more next year, and nondefense spending by $63 billion in fiscal 2018 and $68 billion in fiscal 2019.

Republican Retreat Heavy on Boasting, Short on Strategy
Divisions within ranks threaten progress on immigration, government spending

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Republicans leave the Greenbrier resort on Friday buoyed by their reflections of the accomplishments of the past year. But they also depart with little consensus on how to address the long to-do list awaiting them in Washington, D.C.

Much of the public portion of the GOP retreat was spent touting the recent tax overhaul, cuts to federal regulations, a record number of judicial appointments and an optimistic economic forecast. But the silence on contentious lingering issues such as health care, government spending and immigration was deafening.

House Budget Chairman Mulls Skipping Budget Resolution
Newly installed Steve Womack says budget process may need changes

Updated 8:13 p.m. | WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Rep. Steve Womack, Budget chairman for less than a month, is considering skipping a budget resolution  — thinking time would be better spent changing the budget process.  

“If I can read the tea leaves on what’s coming from the Senate, that doing a budget resolution that will be meaningful, that we can get House and Senate together on, is very problematic right now,” the Arkansas Republican said at a Thursday press conference here, where GOP lawmakers were having their annual retreat.  

Shuster Hopes to Move FAA Funding Before Infrastructure Bill
Says GOP votes could be sacrificed for bipartisan support

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said he intends to try to pass a long-term reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration before an infrastructure package advances.

Shuster, who will take a lead role in negotiations on the infrastructure bill, also said he expects to lose some Republican support in order to bring Democrats on board and advance a bipartisan bill.

GOP Leaders Confident There Won’t Be a Second Shutdown
Optimism comes despite current opposition from House conservatives and defense hawks

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Republican leaders are confident they can avert another government shutdown next week but provided no clear update on whether a deal on the spending caps or immigration could be reached in the near-term.

Congress has yet to pass a long-term spending bill for fiscal year 2018, relying on a series of short-term continuing resolutions to keep the government open. House and Senate leaders from both parties are negotiating a possible two-year spending deal, but optimism about an agreement being close has degraded.

Republicans Remain Hopeful on Infrastructure, but Funding Still an Open Question
‘Congress will have a say’ in infrastructure framework, Thune says

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Infrastructure is set to be a major topic of discussion at the GOP retreat, but how to fund a package that could total as much as $1.5 trillion remains an open question that Republican lawmakers must grapple with.

Republican leaders said they will rely significantly on funding commitments from private industry to help offset the cost of the yet to be released package. But funding within the bill — possibly upwards of a quarter of the total money — are also expected to be directed specifically to those regions that can’t bring in enough outside capital to pay for certain projects involving roads, bridges and broadband internet.

DACA Debate the Latest to Bypass Senate Committee Process
Decline and fall of regular order has been building for years

For an institution renowned worldwide for its historically open debate of contentious issues, the Senate has done little public deliberation under unified Republican government. The reason could be simple: the decline and fall of the committee process.

The ongoing negotiations on an immigration deal is the latest legislative package to bypass committee deliberation, but it follows a year in which so-called regular order fell by the wayside.

Pence: Republicans Will Maintain Majorities in House, Senate After 2018
VP notes that ‘conventional wisdom’ didn’t play out in 2016

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday predicted Republicans would maintain their majorities in the House and Senate after the midterm elections, but urged GOP lawmakers to tout last year’s conservative victories to constituents.

Pence, who was speaking here at the annual Republican retreat said the White House would be with the members “every step of the way in 2018.”

No Shortage of Agenda Items for GOP Retreat
Funding, immigration and 2018 among items to discuss

House and Senate Republicans head to West Virginia on Wednesday for the annual GOP retreat, leaving Washington even as high-profile negotiations on immigration and government funding remain unresolved.

While those topics are expected to come up during the gathering at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, they could take a back seat to other agenda items such as infrastructure, defense and workforce development.

Republicans Weigh Ways to Block Trump on Trade Actions
Despite concerns about pocketbook effects, president imposes tariffs, bad-mouths trade pacts

Even as members of his own party weigh whether Congress has the authority to push back on his trade actions, President Donald Trump on Tuesday slapped new tariffs on solar panels and washing machines.

“It will provide a strong incentive for LG and Samsung to follow through on their recent promises to build major manufacturing plants for washing machines right here in the United States,” Trump said during an Oval Office signing event, adding the actions “uphold a principle of fair trade and demonstrate to the world that the United States will not be taken advantage of anymore.” That echoes a major theme of his 2016 campaign and the first year of his presidency.

Republican Senators Look to Get Out Front on Immigration

A coalition of Senate Republicans huddled at the White House on Monday to try to persuade the administration to publicly back a new bill to address the pending expiration of a program that covers immigrants who come to the country as children, according to lawmakers and aides.

President Donald Trump met with six Senate Republicans on Monday about the next steps in the push for an immigration overhaul bill, according to a senior White House official.

Senate Breaks Shutdown Logjam and Advances Three-Week CR
Chamber votes 81-18 to end debate on short-term stopgap measure

The Senate on Monday cleared a key procedural hurdle to advance a three-week stopgap funding measure, signaling a likely end to the three-day government shutdown.

The chamber voted 81-18 to end debate on the short-term continuing resolution.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Hoping for Breakthrough on Shutdown
Group of 20 presenting options to break stalemate to leaders

There is growing optimism that the Senate will be able to muster the votes necessary to advance a three-week funding measure to reopen the federal government, Republican and Democratic aides and lawmakers say.

The deal is a central discussion of a coalition of roughly 20 bipartisan members that have been meeting Saturday and Sunday. The group is discussing the offer with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. 

White House Swivels Back to GOP Leaders Amid Shutdown
After Friday talks with Schumer, Trump turns to McConnell

The White House is negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on a way out of the government shutdown after talks with Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer failed on Friday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Roll Call. But because the White House and GOP leaders need some Democratic support to clear a 60-vote threshold in the chamber, it is not clear how this approach would solve the Republicans’ math problem.

It is possible White House officials are working with McConnell on an approach discussed late Friday and early Saturday on the Senate floor by a bipartisan group. Under the groups’ proposal, Senate Democrats would allow a three-week continuing resolution to pass and McConnell would allow a floor debate on legislation to address the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in the coming weeks.

Government Shuts Down as Senate Fails to Advance Spending Measure
Last-minute negotiations come up short

The Senate on Friday failed to cut off debate on a House-passed bill that would avert a government shutdown and extend funding another four weeks, setting into motion a lapse of appropriations under a unified Republican government. Lawmakers will now aim to make the shutdown short-lived, with the Senate scheduled to reconvene at noon Saturday to advance a shorter-term funding bill and send it back to the House.

Senate Schedules 10 p.m. Vote on CR; House Asked to be Flexible

As negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to avert a govenent shutdown continue, the Senate will vote at 10 p.m. on the House-passed bill to extend funding for four weeks, and members of the House have been asked to be available. 

Shortly after Senate leaders set up the late-night vote, the office of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise released a statement to members regarding further votes: “Please remain in town and flexible and we will relay any additional information as soon as it becomes available.... We aim to provide ample notice (approximately one hour) prior to any potential additional votes.”

Senate Democrats, a Few Republicans, Have Votes to Block Spending Bill
Murray: It’s time for GOP to “get real”

Senate Democrats have the votes necessary to block the chamber from advancing a short-term spending bill should the House approve it Thursday evening, according to Democratic senators and aides.

“I do,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen replied when asked if Democrats have enough support to block the four-week continuing resolution.