Richard C Shelby

Shutdown Fears Abound, Despite Temporary Reprieve
Another deadline looming in appropriations standoff

Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, says Transportation-HUD measure not among the “problem child” spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional aides on both sides of the aisle say they don’t see how the appropriations impasse ends without a partial government shutdown just in time for Christmas Eve.

President Donald Trump signed a continuing resolution into law Friday that would change the expiration date of the stopgap measure enacted before the midterm elections to Dec. 21. But he wasted little time in taking aim at Democratic leaders for “playing political games” on border security funding, even as he prepares to sit down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York in the Oval Office Tuesday.

Congress Passes Two-Week Funding Extension to Avert Shutdown
House, Senate sent stopgap measure to president for signature

The House and Senate have passed a two-week extension of government funding, sending it to President Donald Trump for his signature. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An extension of temporary appropriations for nine Cabinet departments and dozens of smaller agencies through Dec. 21 is on its way to the president’s desk after the House and Senate passed the measure Thursday.

The legislation would extend current funding levels for two weeks and buy time to reach final agreement on outstanding spending issues, including President Donald Trump’s $5 billion southern border wall funding request. It also extends a number of expiring authorizations including Violence Against Women Act programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the National Flood Insurance Program for the duration of the stopgap measure.

Informal Nature of Border Wall Request Roils Spending Debate
Trump still hasn’t submitted “budget amendment” on $5 billion demand

President Donald Trump still hasn’t put details of his $5 billion request for border wall funding on paper in any official capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has held up the entire spending wrap-up for fiscal 2019. Yet Trump still hasn’t put the details of that request on paper in any official capacity, a departure from precedent that is in keeping with this president’s unconventional style.

The fact Congress hasn’t gotten a formal letter to change the border ask seems technical. But it has set a stage for debate where no one’s arguing on the same terms. And this has arguably let lawmakers and the White House escape a broader debate on the substance by simultaneously referring to an outdated budget request or a dollar figure that doesn’t exist formally on paper.

Congress Ready to Punt Spending Fight for Two Weeks
Fight over border wall funding on hold as nation mourns 41st president

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., says the new funding deadline “raises the stakes” for negotiators working on the seven remaining spending bills. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers plan to send a two-week extension of interim government funding to President Donald Trump this week, putting their fight over border wall funding on hold to mourn the death of former President George H.W. Bush.

The bill released Monday would push the deadline by which Congress needs to pass a spending package for the remaining 25 percent of this year’s agency budgets from Dec. 7 to Dec. 21 and would provide a temporary extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until the same date. It would also continue an extension for the Violence Against Women Act, which was extended through Dec. 7 in the current stopgap spending law. (Roll Call incorrectly reported in an earlier story that the VAWA extension was not included in the stopgap spending bill.)

Trump Loves Space Force. Can He Convince Skeptical Lawmakers?
Congressional authorization required to create new service branch

President Donald Trump wants to create a “Space Force” to defend vulnerable U.S. satellites. (Matt Stroshane/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump may typically communicate via quickly fired, unfiltered tweets, but when he talks about creating a Space Force to defend vulnerable U.S. satellites and other extraterrestrial interests, his language becomes uncharacteristically poetic.

“The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers,” he said in June as he instructed the Defense Department to create this new force. “But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security — important for our military, so important.”

Granger Selected as New Top Republican on House Appropriations
With Nita Lowey expected to chair, panel is set for historic all-female leadership duo

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is expected to be the ranking member on House Appropriations next Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Kay Granger will likely take over as the House Republicans’ lead appropriator in January after the GOP Steering Committee recommended her on Thursday.

The full House GOP Conference is expected to ratify the decision Friday. While it’s possible the conference could overrule the Steering panel recommendation, conference approval is typically a formality.

Not Even Lame Duckery Can Break the Lockstep of the GOP
It is hard to find evidence that congressional Republicans feel chastened by the midterm verdict

Defeat left Rep. Mia Love feeling “unleashed.” If only other lame-duck Republicans felt the same, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In theory (and the emphasis here is on the word “theory”), the lame-duck session of Congress after a cataclysmic midterm election should be a fruitful time for bipartisanship.

With nearly 90 members of the House and eight senators not returning for the 116th Congress, old rigidities might give way to last-gasp attempts at legislating. The nothing-left-to-lose freedom of the defeated was best expressed by Mia Love, who said at her concession news conference, “Now, I am unleashed, I am untethered and I am unshackled, and I can say exactly what’s on my mind.”

On Chaotic Wednesday, Senators Hunt for an Endgame
Yemen resolution, contentious nominees complicate escape plans

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., arrives Wednesday for a briefing for all senators with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday was not a typical day in the Senate.

On an average Senate day, the visceral, negative response from senators to a closed briefing on U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia might have dominated headlines.

Trump Firm on $5 Billion Border Wall Demand as Deadline Nears, Scalise Says
‘There’s a way to get this resolved,’ House majority whip says

GOP lawmakers say President Trump would veto any must-pass Homeland Security spending bill that would provide less than $5 billion for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will only accept $5 billion of border wall funding in a must-pass spending bill due next week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said after a meeting with the president.

That is the amount needed to “properly secure the border,” the Louisiana Republican said outside the West Wing, reiterating GOP senators’ contention that the President will accept nothing less than $5 billion.

Mitch McConnell Upbeat About Path Forward for Border Funding After Meeting With Trump
Senate majority leader was among Republicans huddling with the president on Thursday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with President Donald Trump about border security funding on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Returning from a meeting with President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was optimistic about a deal on finishing off remaining spending bills without a shutdown showdown over building a wall at the border with Mexico.

“We had a good discussion about funding the government and the other sort of end-of-year items, and we’re optimistic we’re going to be able to get that done, get the farm bill done and move on toward the conclusion of the session,” McConnell said.