Jennifer Shutt

Appropriations Vs. Judges: Battle for Senate Floor Time Nears
White House, senators apply pressure on summer recess

Nominations and spending bills — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s twin top priorities this summer — are on a collision course given the scarcity of floor time.

The Kentucky Republican has made confirming conservative judges a core mission this year. He’s also told appropriators he wants the Senate to move back toward real floor debate on spending bills, including amendments, while avoiding another massive year-end pileup with another 12-bill omnibus President Donald Trump said he won’t sign.

Republicans Warming to $15 Billion Cuts Package
Dispute remains over whether proposal is protected from filibuster

Republicans appear ready to advance the White House’s $15.4 billion rescissions request through both chambers of Congress, after the administration dropped the idea — for now — of canceling funds provided in the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted in March.

“If the House is able to pass the rescissions package, we’ll take a look at it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday, noting that the so-called special message “does not breach the bipartisan agreement we reached in the caps deal.”

Partisan Fight Over $15 Billion Rescissions Package Developing
Democrats not ready to play ball, Pelosi suggests

The Trump administration on Monday outlined a roughly $15 billion “rescissions” request it plans to send to Congress on Tuesday, targeting unspent health care and green energy funds for the largest share of the cuts.

The bulk of that request proposes eliminating $7 billion in budget authority from the Children’s Health Insurance Program — $5 billion from fiscal 2017, for which there is no authority to spend the money, and $2 billion from a contingency fund for states that the White House doesn’t expect any states to draw from, a senior administration official said.

Podcast: Spending Bill Strategy
CQ Budget, Episode 58

Republican lawmakers are hoping to be able to pass several of the 12 spending bills before the 2019 fiscal year begins Oct. 1. CQ appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt explains how that might work. ...
Balanced-Budget Amendment Falls Short in House
Roll call vote could provide midterm campaign fodder

Republicans fell short of the two-thirds support needed to send a balanced-budget amendment to the Senate on Thursday, but they succeeded in getting a roll call vote that can be used during the midterm campaigns to criticize Democrats as lax on fiscal discipline.

The 233-184 vote followed four hours of debate that centered on the growth of entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as how balancing the budget would impact the economy.

State Activists Watching Washington Balanced-Budget Kabuki
Rapt audience for Thursday’s symbolic vote

The House’s balanced-budget amendment vote Thursday may be a symbolic gesture aimed at shoring up Republicans’ conservative base in advance of the midterm elections. But it’s all too real for activists at the state level, who are watching closely and thrilled about the national spotlight on an issue that has been percolating quietly outside the Beltway.

Despite the joint resolution’s lack of support within the halls of Congress, there is still optimism that a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution will be sent to the states for ratification during the next few years.

Richard Shelby Officially in as Senate Appropriations Chairman
GOP colleagues ratify powerful committee's vote

Senate Republicans officially chose Sen. Richard C. Shelby as Appropriations chairman on Tuesday after his fellow Republicans ratified the Committee’s Monday evening vote during a closed-door lunch.

David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., confirmed the Alabama Republican’s selection, as well as the approval of Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., as the new Rules chairman, replacing Shelby.

Senate Republicans View White House Rescissions Package as Non-Starter
Senators skeptical of going back on the bipartisan spending deal

Senate Republicans on Monday threw cold water on a forthcoming proposal from the White House that will ask Congress to cut previously enacted spending, including from the $1.3 trillion spending bill that President Donald Trump signed last month.

Republican lawmakers are concerned about how moving forward with a “rescissions” package would affect future bipartisan negotiations over spending bills.

Podcast: Fiscal 2019 Holds Same Old Problems
CQ Budget, Episode 53

The fiscal 2018 omnibus is finally law. But, Congress is already prepping to take on the fiscal 2019 appropriations process. Despite optimism, meeting the Oct. 1 fiscal year deadline will be an uphill climb, says CQ appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt.

Omnibus Bill in Sight After ‘Big Four’ Meet to Iron Out Kinks
Finishing touches on $1.3 trillion package being applied

Congressional leaders and the White House have reached a preliminary deal on a roughly $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. GOP and Democratic aides were putting the finishing touches on the mammoth package and were expected to file it later Wednesday morning for House floor consideration.

Some issues remain unresolved as of Wednesday morning, requiring leadership attention.

Podcast: Abortion Rift Slows Spending Bill Progress
CQ Budget, Episode 51

CQ budget and appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt explains how the latest negotiations to arrive at a fiscal 2018 catchall spending bill have been mired over funding that could reach Planned Parenthood, always a contentious issue for lawmakers. Also, Congress considers changing the start of the fiscal year.

Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Resigning From Senate in April
Longtime Republican senator cites his health as “ongoing challenge”

Updated 6:28 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran announced Monday he will resign from the chamber effective April 1, giving way to a special election in November. 

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” the Mississippi Republican said in a statement. 

With Expectations Low, Select Budget Panel Prepares to Meet
Committee has broad mission, but few hard deadlines

The select committee tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process is mandated by law to meet for the first time this week. But what they plan to talk about remains a mystery.

The law establishing the committee instructs the 16 members to provide “recommendations and legislative language that will significantly reform the budget and appropriations process” before Nov. 30, with an initial meeting to be held by March 11.

Senate Democrats Picked for Select Budget, Pension Committees

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday named eight senators to the select committees tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process as well as providing recommendations for restoring the solvency of multiemployer pension plans.

The New York Democrat selected Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono, both of Hawaii, for the budget panel.

GOP Unlikely to Revisit Spending Ban on Gun Violence Research
Congress has restricted such endeavors for more than two decades

Republicans, at least for now, appear unlikely to allow federal funds for research on gun violence after a nearly 22-year prohibition.

Following yet another mass shooting on Wednesday, at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead, two key Republican appropriators said Thursday they don’t anticipate removing or altering an amendment in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using injury prevention research dollars “to advocate or promote gun control.”

Podcast: Trump Budget Could Conflict With Spending Plans
CQ Budget, Episode 48

Roll Call senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski and CQ appropriations reporter Jennifer Shutt preview the Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 budget request, which is being released just days after Congress passed a $153 billion increase to next year’s discretionary spending cap.

Show Notes:

Shutdown Begins After Midnight Deadline Passes
Senate has a vote on funding scheduled for 1 a.m. Friday

It’s official: The federal government has entered yet another partial shutdown. 

The Senate reopened at 12:01 a.m. Friday after recessing just before 11 p.m. Thursday, as Sen. Rand Paul continued his objections to moving up the timetable for a procedural vote on legislation that would extend government funding past the midnight deadline. That vote is currently set for 1 a.m.

Budget Deal Facing Senate Slowdown, House Objections
Second shutdown in as many months looms larger

Updated at 6:47 p.m.Confidence quickly waned Thursday afternoon that a massive $320 billion budget package with stopgap funding needed to avert a government shutdown at midnight would pass quickly as senators lodged procedural objections.

And if House Democratic leaders move from a passive vote-counting effort against the package to an aggressive one — neither chamber may have the time or the votes to pass the package before the current funding bill expires.