leadership

Familiar offsets could resurface in spending caps talks
Budget watchdog groups start to dust off older proposals, as well as some new ones

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants offsets for any increase to discretionary spending caps. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Another year, another spending caps negotiation — accordingly it’s time once again to check the couch cushions for “pay-fors” just innocuous enough to skate by without kicking up too much lobbying dust.

For instance, extending automatic cuts to Medicare and dozens of other “mandatory” spending accounts, which have become so routine they’re almost unnoticed, has been a mainstay of all three deals in the last five years to relieve the pressure on appropriators. Extending fees collected by Customs and Border Protection on passenger and cargo arrivals in the U.S., first enacted in 1985, has been rolled over constantly as a go-to offset for all manner of legislation, including the 2013 and 2018 spending deals.

After Democratic divisions, House passes border spending bill
White House has already said president will not sign off on House measure

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called for a “strong bipartisan vote” on the border supplemental funding package. In the end, only three Republicans voted for the measure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a day heavy with negotiations between House Democratic leaders and more progressive members, the House passed, 230-195, a $4.5 billion supplemental funding measure to address the influx of migrants and children coming to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Four Democrats voted “no” on the bill, all of them freshman women from the party’s progressive wing: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Three Republicans voted for the measure: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey.

9/11 survivors get Mitch McConnell's commitment for Senate vote on compensation fund
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had announced the bill had 60 supporters in the Senate

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., says the 9/11 first responders and survivors fund reauthorization has 60 co-sponsors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:09 p.m. | The Senate will be taking up 9/11 victims compensation fund legislation this summer, and the bill should be expected to reach President Donald Trump’s desk.

That was the word from first responders and their supporters after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill.

Who staffs the most diverse Congress ever? Sandra Alcala, for one
Meet the House Democratic Caucus’ dream team

Sandra Alcala, a third-generation Mexican American from San Antonio, is director of member services for the House Democratic Caucus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The much-publicized diversity of the House Democratic Caucus in the 116th Congress goes deeper than the lawmakers; it extends to the staff. 

Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, a New Yorker in his fourth term and in his first top leadership post, has assembled an eight-member supporting cast of five women, including three who are black and one who’s Hispanic, and three men, including one who’s black and one who’s Hispanic.

Inhofe, Reed draw on professional, personal relationship in defense policy debate
Oklahoman Republican, Rhode Island Democrat find common ground

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, left, and ranking member Jack Reed have brought the fiscal 2020 defense authorization to the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maybe the annual Pentagon policy bill would have been popular regardless, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the two members shepherding it on the Senate floor this week, Republican James M. Inhofe and Democrat Jack Reed, work together well as leaders of the Armed Services Committee and enjoy a genuinely deep friendship.

“I don’t think there’s two closer friends than Jack Reed and myself,” said Inhofe, the panel’s chairman.

Emergency border funds face delays as money and time run short
House Democrats face possible revolt, Rand Paul threatens to hold up action in Senate

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan says talk from the White House of raids of undocumented migrants have “have many people nervous and agitated.” His caucus has offered House Democratic leadership changes they would like to see to the emergency border package. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Swift passage of billions of dollars in emergency aid to help care for tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, many of them children, was in doubt Monday night as House Democrats were facing a possible revolt and a lone Republican senator was holding up action across the Capitol.

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made their concerns known to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about their chamber’s $4.5 billion package that leaders wanted to put on the floor Tuesday.

Road ahead: House and Senate seek to pass dueling border funding bills
Defense policy, election security and spending also on the agenda ahead of July Fourth

From right, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy and Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin huddle Wednesday before the committee marked up a border supplemental package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders in the House and Senate want to approve spending at least $4 billion more to address the influx of migrants and their humanitarian needs at the U.S.-Mexico border before the July Fourth recess.

Bills in the two chambers differ, however, raising doubts about whether there will be a resolution on President Donald Trump’s desk this month. 

Hearing on Congressional Research Service zeroes in on diversity issue
Rare look inside CRS at House Administration Committee

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said the Congressional Research Service should have a more diverse staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A rare public hearing on Thursday examining the Congressional Research Service revealed concerns about its lack of diversity in its leadership ranks, as members questioned its leader about hiring practices.

At Thursday’s House Administration Committee, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., asked CRS Director Mary B. Mazanec about the staff closest to her, specifically if any were a person of color, which he defined as “African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander.” Mazanec said she had “about 12 direct reports,” and only one of them was a person of color.

Ghirardelli chocolate and Napa Valley wine: Pelosi pays off Warriors-Raptors bet to Trudeau
Consolation prize: Canadian prime minister gives speaker a Raptors championship t-shirt

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exchange gifts as they settle a wager over the NBA basketball championship series between her Golden State Warriors and his victorious Toronto Raptors on. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

If there wasn’t enough salt in Nancy Pelosi’s wounds after the Toronto Raptors defeated her Golden State Warriors for this year’s NBA championship, she can just steal some from the pistachios she gifted Justin Trudeau. Oh wait, never mind — those are salt-free.

The Speaker held up her end of a “friendly” wager with the Canadian prime minister Thursday when she gave him the basket of all baskets, chock-full of some of California’s finest:

3 things to watch: Before any Iran conflict, Trump faces war within his own team
'Iran made a very big mistake,' president warns in cryptic tweet after U.S. drone shot down

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., are among the more promiment hawks when it comes to Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump is facing one of the biggest tests of his presidency after Iran shot down a U.S. military aircraft, prompting him to declare the islamic republic “made a very big mistake.”

His tweet at 10:16 a.m. Thursday broke the nearly 15 hours of essential White House silence on the missile takedown of the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft. But the U.S. commander in chief did not suggest he is ready to respond — even after a top Iranian official admitted the shootdown was meant as a “clear message” to Washington.