Patrick J Leahy

Mueller probe could spark historic balance of powers debate
Lawmakers, administration set for battle over how much of report to make public

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III walks after attending church on Sunday in Washington. He turned in his report on the Russia investigation to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The political spotlight focused brightest on reticent special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for nearly two years, his every legal move and court filing scrutinized by a country eager to decipher what the Russia investigation had uncovered about President Donald Trump.

But with Mueller’s work done, the question changes from what Mueller found to how much of it House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other lawmakers can make public.

Disaster aid vote is expected after recess, but what’s in it is still in the works
Several issues, including Puerto Rico, continue to be sticking points

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate leaders are teeing up a vote after the weeklong St. Patrick’s Day recess on an as-yet-undefined disaster aid package for victims of major storms and other natural disasters during the last two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Thursday filed a motion to limit debate on proceeding to a $14.2 billion disaster aid bill the House passed in January.

Puerto Rico aid among issues complicating disaster bill talks
The size and scope of a disaster aid package has become a flashpoint among Senate appropriators

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters before a meeting with Republican and Democratic negotiators on government spending on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The size and scope of a disaster aid package has become a flashpoint as Senate appropriators construct a supplemental spending bill they hope to move quickly.

The fight appears to be between Democrats who want additional aid for Puerto Rico and states ravaged by 2017 storms, while Republicans are attempting to keep the bill contained to rebuilding from disasters that struck last year.

Democrats vow Judge Chad Readler will be 2020 issue
Murray and Schumer among Democrats blasting his role in targeting health care law

The Senate confirmed Chad A. Readler, President Trump’s nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the 6th Circuit, on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats say they will remember the Wednesday afternoon vote to confirm Chad A. Readler, one of President Donald Trump’s most contentious judicial nominees.

The 52-47 vote to install Readler on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio could easily be lumped in with many other Trump choices pushed through the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Senate to follow House, keep earmarks out of spending bills
Earmarks have also been banned in the Senate since 2011

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., is seen after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators don’t plan to revive earmarks this year, following the House’s lead set late last week by the Democratic majority across the Capitol.

“I would listen to meritorious things, but I don’t see that happening right now. The House has just spoken,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday.

In bid to avoid shutdown, spending deal drops Violence Against Women Act extension, other contentious provisions
House and Senate conferees were signing the document Wednesday night, votes expected Thursday

Senate Appropriations leaders Richard C. Shelby, right, and Patrick J. Leahy led conference negotiations on senators’ behalf. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As negotiators were finalizing a final fiscal 2019 funding package highlighted by border security spending Wednesday evening, it became clear that an extension of the Violence Against Women Act wouldn’t make the cut.

Several policy riders in the mix earlier Wednesday, including back pay for federal contractors for wages lost during the 35-day partial shutdown and the VAWA extension, didn’t make it in the final bargaining over the fiscal 2019 spending conference report, according to aides in both parties.

Top appropriators reach ‘agreement in principle’ on funding border security, rest of government
Agreement could avoid government shutdown

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee walks across the Capitol from the House side for a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top four congressional appropriators said Monday they had reached an “agreement in principle” that would fund the Department of Homeland Security and the rest of the federal government through the end of the fiscal year and could avoid a government shutdown if President Donald Trump signs off on it. 

The agreement is now being drafted into legislative text that the House and Senate hope to advance before Friday’s government funding deadline, the appropriators said.

Negotiators unlikely to meet self-imposed Monday shutdown deal deadline
Both sides were discussing a simple stopgap measure as a fallback if appropriations deal isn’t reached

From left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Appropriations chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N. Dak., talk before the start of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee on Jan. 30, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House and congressional leaders on Monday were buying themselves a little more time for negotiations that appeared to stall out over the weekend, with both sides discussing a simple stopgap measure as a fallback to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Top appropriators met late afternoon at the Capitol in hopes of salvaging a full-year DHS spending bill, as well as completing work on six other fiscal 2019 bills that are largely completed. But it wasn’t clear if the meeting of the so-called “four corners” — Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D- N.Y. and ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas — would yield an immediate breakthrough.

Down to the wire amid setback in government funding talks
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 98

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., speaks with the panel's chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new snag over immigrant detention policy has thrown a monkey wrench into border security negotiations, as lawmakers look to prevent another government shutdown. CQ appropriations reporter Kellie Mejdrich explains what both sides are seeking and how the Trump administration is softening its demand on border wall funding.  

Show Notes:

Appropriators attempt to revive talks Monday as Friday shutdown deadline looms
A meeting between 4 top appropriations leaders from the House and Senate is expected at 3:30 p.m.

From left, Senate Appropriations chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., House Appropriations chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., House Appropriations ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Senate Appropriations ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., talk before the start of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican and Democratic appropriators from both chambers plan to meet Monday afternoon in an effort to revive spending talks as the government heads toward its second shutdown in three months.

The so-called “four corners” — Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D- N.Y. and ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas, — will attend the meeting, according to a Shelby spokeswoman.