Paul M. Krawzak

Ex-CBO director knocks GOP on Obamacare and Congress for rising deficits
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 112

In an usually candid interview with CQ Roll Call's budget reporter Paul Krawzak, the recently departed Congressional Budget Office director Keith Hall said the often secretive process the Republicans followed defeated their effort to repeal Obamacare. He also urged Congress to deal with the rising deficits that will fall on the backs of younger Americans, saying that in the coming decade 50 percent of federal funding will be spent on just 20 percent of the population -- people who are 65 and older.

Show Notes:

Republicans reviewing Democrats’ latest disaster aid offer
Chair declined to provide offer details, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week

Republican negotiators are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims that would also handle a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., declined to provide details on the offer, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week.

White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal Tuesday
“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says

Negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on spending caps and the debt limit Tuesday, hours after a two-year deal seemed possible.

“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after leaving an afternoon meeting between congressional leaders and administration officials.

Trump officials, congressional leaders make ‘progress’ on budget talks
A follow-up meeting is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon

Congressional leaders and top Trump administration officials made “progress” toward a spending caps and debt limit agreement during a two-hour meeting Tuesday morning and are planning to meet again in the afternoon, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The meeting included Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought as well as Mulvaney.

Disaster bill negotiators drop divisive harbor fund provision
Senate and House negotiators hoping for a deal before Memorial Day recess

Updated 10:06 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said he has pulled his divisive proposed change in the Harbor Maintenance Fund from consideration in the long-stalled disaster and border supplemental package after meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Alabama Republican also said Trump appeared to support the level of border funding in the package, and White House officials indicated they see the emergency legislation becoming law soon.

Swagel officially chosen for CBO director, replacing Hall
Ex-George W. Bush administration official will take over June 3

Phillip L. Swagel, an economist with extensive service in the George W. Bush administration, has been appointed the new director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi and House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth announced the appointment, which begins June 3.

Sources: Swagel to replace Hall as CBO director
Senate Budget Chairman Enzi expected to announce appointment later this week

Senate and House budget leaders have chosen Phillip L. Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi spearheaded the selection and is expected to announce the appointment later this week.

Alice Rivlin, first CBO chief and Clinton budget director, dies

Alice M. Rivlin, an economist, budget and health care expert respected on both sides of the aisle and the first director of the Congressional Budget Office, died Tuesday at the age of 88 after a battle with cancer.

The Brookings Institution, where she served as a senior fellow, confirmed Rivlin’s death.

White House wants to update poverty thresholds. It could affect food stamps and Medicaid benefits
Critics say move could weaken public assistance programs and increase hardship for low-wage earners

The White House Budget Office is considering its first update to inflation adjustment guidelines for poverty thresholds since 1978, with potential consequences for benefit programs serving low-income households.

The initiative is part of a re-evaluation of six inflation indexes used to track the impact on consumers of rising or falling prices. One of the indexes is used to adjust poverty thresholds, which underlie the calculation of eligibility for a number of benefit programs including Medicaid, food stamps and school lunches and breakfasts for poor children.

GOP conservatives sharpen knives for spending fight
House Republicans express concern about paying for $2 trillion infrastructure tab

Conservatives are making a fresh push to spread their message of fiscal discipline after new estimates that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will soon be depleted, and amid talk of a $2 trillion infrastructure spending package and busting discretionary spending limits.

The House Republican Study Committee released a budget proposal Wednesday that assumes cutting $12.6 trillion in spending over a decade and eliminating the deficit within six years.

House Democrats get a spending jump on the Senate
By marking up 2020 appropriations bills first, they aim to exert some leverage on spending caps talks

Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to start navigating a thicket of budget issues, including a stalled aid package for natural disaster victims and spending levels for the upcoming fiscal year.

Staff-level talks between the “four corners” of the congressional leadership and top White House aides have been taking place to try to bridge a wide gulf between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders on nondefense appropriations. Democrats are pushing for over $100 billion more than President Donald Trump wants for domestic and foreign aid programs in fiscal 2020, once various add-ons to the current spending caps, like overseas foreign assistance and 2020 census preparations, are factored in.

Republican senators to press disaster aid case to Trump

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby will meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday afternoon to discuss a path forward on disaster aid, the Alabama Republican told reporters.

GOP Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Joni Ernst of Iowa will also attend the meeting, Shelby said.

House puts off vote on spending caps deal; adopts ‘deeming’ resolution

The House set an overall spending cap of nearly $1.3 trillion for appropriators in that chamber to write their fiscal 2020 bills, adopting a “deeming resolution” on Tuesday as part of the rule governing floor debate on separate spending caps legislation — although that legislation hit a snag on Tuesday. 

The tally was 219-201, with no Republicans voting for the rule and seven Democrats voting ‘no.’

Progressives are holding back votes on the spending caps bill
Progressive Congressional Caucus leaders want more nondefense funding over the next two years

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said Tuesday that the current bill to raise discretionary spending caps won’t pass the House unless it’s amended to allow more nondefense funding over the next two years.

“We do think that if we’re going to go negotiate, we should be negotiating from our strongest place and our strongest place is saying we want more nondefense spending. So that’s where many of us are at,” Rep. Mark Pocan said after a House Democratic Caucus meeting.

Talks to raise spending caps are underway, Enzi says
The Senate Budget chairman said House Democrats reached out to discuss legislation increasing the caps

The gears are beginning to turn in a way that could launch formal bicameral talks to raise discretionary spending caps for the next two fiscal years.

At the start of the fiscal 2020 budget resolution markup Wednesday, Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi said the House Democratic leadership reached out to him a day earlier to discuss legislation to increase the caps.

House Appropriations may start markups in April
Markups have to begin in April or May at the latest to have any chance of bills passing on the floor in June

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Democratic appropriators are looking at starting fiscal 2020 markups as soon as late April with the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education and Legislative Branch bills, people familiar with the process said.

The Military Construction-VA and Energy-Water bills also are on tap to be among the first five bills marked up, as part of an effort to begin advancing bills across the floor in June.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

Spending deal at mercy of Trump budget, debt limit and border money
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 101

President Donald Trump's fiscal 2020 budget request, due out next week, is likely to skirt a defense spending cap to boost the military while proposing deep cuts to nondefense programs. CQ's Paul M. Krawzak explains how the White House blueprint is sure to trigger a new showdown over spending limits,  along with the need to increase the debt limit and the continuing battle over border wall funds.

Show Notes:

Expect a ‘prolonged fight’ over spending caps
Deal might not be reached until it’s too late to get next year’s spending bills done in time

Lawmakers return to Washington this week looking for quick movement on another two-year budget deal to waive austere spending caps and lay the foundation for an orderly fiscal 2020 appropriations process.

There’s little reason to believe a “caps deal” can be achieved quickly, however. In fact an agreement may not be reached until late in the year, some observers say, when it’s too late to get next year’s spending bills done in time for the start of the new budget year Oct. 1.

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

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.