appropriations

The Great Outdoors Threatened by a Funding Battle
Congress is divided on reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Stony Man Trail, part of the Appalachian Trail, winds through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The $887 billion outdoor recreational economy is a massive economic engine for rural areas. (Courtesy National Park Service)

Sen. Richard M. Burr’s sinking of the $14 billion rescissions package last month was not about saving the Energy Department loan guarantee program or children’s health care contingency funding — which represented the vast majority of the money on the chopping block.

The North Carolina Republican voted against the package because it would rescind $16 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund — which represented approximately 0.1 percent of all the funding in the bill.

When Pig Selfies Fly: Pig Book Provides Ritual Railing Against Pork
Pigs give professed pig castrator Sen. Joni Ernst plenty of space

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with a pig Wednesday at the 2018 Congressional Pig Book launch event hosted by Citizens Against Government Waste . (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Jeff Flake was at it again Wednesday, taking selfies with a potbellied pig.

Each year, the Arizona Republican attempts to snap photos with costumed pig characters, as well as Faye, the potbellied pig that serves as the mascot for the annual “Pig Book” release by watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

Former Ways and Means Aide to Replace Marc Short
Shahira Knight had advised Trump on economic matters

Shahira Knight, then of the House Ways and Means Committee, at a Holiday Wine and Spirits Reception held by Allied Domecq. She’s the new White House legislative affairs director. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Shahira Knight, a former senior aide on the House’s top tax-writing panel, will become President Donald Trump’s top liaison to Congress, the White House announced Thursday.

Her appointment comes after legislative affairs director Marc Short’s long-expected departure became official Thursday morning. It also comes as Knight will inherit an expected fight over Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee and an expected struggle to pass spending bills after the president vowed to never again sign an omnibus appropriations package like the one he reluctantly made law earlier this year.

Citing No Regrets About Retiring, Paul Ryan Bets Kevin McCarthy Will Replace Him
Outgoing speaker will not rule out a future presidential bid

Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday he has no regrets about retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s Thursday interview with David M. Rubenstein, president of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., started with an admission that he has no regrets — “none whatsoever” — about retiring. It then diverted into a wide array of topics including his replacement, future plans and policy goals for his last few months in office.

The Wisconsin Republican reiterated his preference that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy succeed him as speaker when asked about his replacement.

Marc Short Creates Another Void in the White House
Trump has ‘highest turnover of top-tier staff of any recent president,’ professor says

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, outside the Senate Republican policy lunches in the Capitol in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short will leave his post this summer after helping President Donald Trump secure tax cuts, a Supreme Court justice, eliminate part of the Obama-era health law, open the Arctic for energy extraction, and nix a slew of federal regulations.

Short — with his signature shaved head — was the most visible Trump administration official on Capitol Hill, often chatting with reporters as he traversed the hallways going from meetings with leadership and rank-and-file members about the president’s legislative whims and demands. Affable yet firm, Short seemed eager to joust with reporters on cable news, the Hill and even under the blistering summer sun in the White House’s north driveway.

$177.1 Billion Labor-HHS-Education Moves Forward With Family Separation Changes
House Appropriations has approved 11 of 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wants the Labor-HHS-Education bill linked to the Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, a $177.1 billion fiscal 2019 bill to fund the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The committee has now approved 11 of its 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures, following the marathon 13-hour markup of the massive nondefense bill that left lawmakers from both parties exasperated at various points. The debate covered family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun research funding, abstinence-only sex education and thorny political issues around religious adoption agencies.

Trump Opens NATO Summit by Pitching a Fit
Energy deal makes Germany ‘captive’ to Russia, U.S. president says

President Donald Trump, here at the Capitol last month, made sure a NATO summit got off to an awkward start. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump took his war of words with America’s allies to a new level Wednesday, telling NATO’s top official Germany is “captive” to Russia due to a recent energy deal. And he called alliance members “delinquent” on their contributions to NATO’s budget.

Before he departed for the alliance summit in Belgium that starts a week-long trip that also features meetings with U.K. leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said the latter would likely be the “easiest.” He made good on that prediction at the start of the NATO summit, lecturing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in front of media members.

Podcast: How the Summer Spending Stretch Is Shaping Up
CQ Budget, Episode 68

Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., talk before a Senate Appropriations Committee markup June 7, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Opinion: An Open Health Diplomacy Hand Works Better Than a Fist
Investing in global health programs like PEPFAR is a win-win for all

Patients visit the Coptic Hospital, which is partially funded by PEPFAR, in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2006. The United States should expand, not shrink, its strategic health diplomacy, Daschle and Frist write. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images file photo)

Recent headlines have been filled with stories and images of parents being separated from their children by the U.S. government. This is not what our country represents.

In fact, 15 years ago, we enacted the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, to do quite the opposite, and the program has gone on to save the lives of millions, keep families intact, and provide support for millions of orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers. It represents the best of America, and we can be proud of the global legacy it has created.

Health Statistics See Funding Lag Amid Boosts Elsewhere
Advocates are concerned a critical national survey could soon disappear

A heroin user reads an alert on fentanyl in New York City in August 2017. The National Center for Health Statistics produces drug overdose death counts that it updates monthly, but stagnant funding for health statistics puts the future of such surveys in jeopardy. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Stagnant funding for federal health statistics is raising concerns among medical professionals, patient advocates and other groups that one of the national surveys used to assess the death rate from opioid abuse and average life expectancy may soon disappear.

Funding for the National Center for Health Statistics has fallen from $166 million five years ago to $160 million this year. And while the Senate is proposing a $1 million increase for health statistics for fiscal 2019, the House has proposed level funding and the Trump administration is calling for a $5 million cut.