editorial

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.

FEMA administrator departs, says it’s ‘time for me to go home to my family’
Brock Long departs after questions about use of government vehicles

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long is leaving the agency. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, who during his tenure had to repay the government for using vehicles in a nonofficial capacity, resigned his position Wednesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that Deputy Administrator Pete Gaynor will become the acting administrator.

Senate panel spars over judges, advances GOP effort to cut nomination debate time
Party-line vote in committee could set up a contentious floor debate

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., led the advancement of the proposal to effectively change the rules for debating presidential nominees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee took a predictably partisan turn Wednesday when the panel voted along party lines to advance a resolution that would slash debate time for most presidential nominees.

Ranking member Amy Klobuchar led the opposition to the proposal, arguing that two hours for post-cloture debate was not enough, especially for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Foreign Relations chairman says Trump has met reporting burden on Khashoggi murder; other senators disagree
‘The administration has been very forthcoming, the State Department has been very forthcoming,’ says Jim Risch

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch said the Trump administration has met its reporting requirements. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee insists that the Trump administration has been responsive to congressional requests for information about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, despite claims to the contrary from several colleagues. 

“We received a response to the inquiry that we made last fall,” Sen. Jim Risch said. “I’ve said we have been briefed on this matter numerous times, met with not all of the 17 intelligence agencies, but a good number of the intelligence agencies.”

Mitch McConnell will make Democratic senators vote on the ‘Green New Deal’
Move could be part of 2020 strategy for GOP and McConnell himself

Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., lead the Green New Deal resolution. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he intends to call up the “Green New Deal ” for a vote in the Senate.

The Kentucky Republican’s maneuver is likely an effort to both get the many Democratic senators running for president on the record on the resolution, as well as to demonstrate that there are senators on both sides of the aisle opposed to the outline.

Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on big banks to help workers during government shutdowns
In letters shared first with Roll Call, Warren said inquiries could be particularly important if ‘agreement in principle’ falls apart

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up the pressure on big banks. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers work to avoid another partial government shutdown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up pressure on big banks to make sure they help federal employees and contractors, especially if the “agreement in principle” falls apart.

“We are now less than a week away from the February 15 deadline to fund the government, and President Trump has threatened to drag the American public through a shutdown for a second time,” the Democrat from Massachusetts wrote in a series of new letters shared first with Roll Call.

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.

House members want official office supply store to stock tampons
Three House lawmakers seeking clear guidance on using office funds for feminine hygiene products

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is among the members who want clarity on using official funds for feminine hygiene purchases. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three House lawmakers are asking the new leadership of the House Administration panel to clarify if tampons and other feminine hygiene products can be purchased with official office allowances.

It’s the latest development in a saga that started last summer when Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a New York Democrat, was denied permission to buy tampons for his office using his Members’ Representational Allowance.

Is 2019 over yet? It kind of feels like 2020 already
At State of the Union, it felt like half the room was raring to take Trump on next year

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a presidential candidate, gives a thumbs-up to Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., as senators arrive in the House chamber for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Is it 2020 yet? Sure feels like it. When President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union, it only felt like half the room was raring to take him on next year (looking at you, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, Tulsi Gabbard, Eric Swalwell …) And that’s not even counting other 2020 considerations, like how many claps the president might get from senators in potentially tough races like Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan. We look at the politics of what has basically become one big campaign pep rally in the latest Political Theater Podcast.

John D. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, died Thursday at the age of 92. He was quite a guy. Niels Lesniewski and David Hawkings, now at The Firewall, did the obituary for Roll Call, which is awesome and details the Michigan Democrat’s power, influence and personality over a 60-year career in the House and time on Capitol Hill as a page and student. And then there is this photo from the Roll Call archives, which is just, I don’t know, it’s just …

Shelby: Trump SOTU didn’t move the needle on border security talks
Senate Appropriations chairman was still looking ahead to meeting with experts on Wednesday

The State of the Union did not change the course of the border security conference committee, said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If President Donald Trump’s lengthy State of the Union remarks on immigration were intended to change the course of the congressional talks on border security, it doesn’t seem to have worked.

Trump’s speech does not seem to have changed the dynamic much at all when it comes to negotiating a House-Senate spending compromise that the president would like to include funding for a physical border wall. At least, that was the view of Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby.