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Podcast: Defense, Domestic Budget Increases Crucial for Long-Term Spending Deal
Budget Tracker Extra, Episode 41

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CQ appropriations reporters Kellie Mejdrich and Jennifer Shutt discuss the two-week spending bill that averted a government shutdown and look at how lawmakers may keep the government funded beyond Dec. 22.

Obama Tells Alabama Voters to Reject Roy Moore in Robocall
‘You can’t sit it out,’ Obama says in backing Democratic candidate Doug Jones

Former President Barack Obama, shown here speaking at the North American Climate Summit in Chicago last week, is telling voters in the Alabama special election for Senate “You can’t sit it out.” (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama threw his weight behind Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones in a robocall recorded in recent days, CNN reported Monday.

Obama recorded his message at the same time President Donald Trump stepped up his campaigning for GOP candidate Roy Moore.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing Around the Capitol
Graham hits one out of bounds and more cute dogs on the Hill

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks as Democratic candidate for Senate Doug Jones and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., claps during a campaign rally for Jones at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. And some of the best ones are those that we come across while reporting the big ones.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Collins Pushed Business Partner’s Brother for Judgeship
New York Republican previously supported boosting tax credit his partner used

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New York Rep. Chris Collins is pushing for the brother of his business partner to be nominated for the federal bench.

Collins invested between $3.5 and $14 million in the business of Nick Sinatra, a developer in Buffalo, the Buffalo News reported. Nick Sinatra’s brother is John Sinatra Jr., who Collins is pushing for a federal judgeship.

Brady Aide Pleads Guilty in Payoff Scheme
Agreed to cooperate with federal investigation into Pennsylvania Democrat

An aide to Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., plead guilty to a scheme to pay off a primary opponent to drop out of the race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A strategist for Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., admitted his role in covering up his campaign’s paying $90,000 to a Democratic primary opponent to drop out of the race. 

Donald “D.A.” Jones plead guilty to charges of lying to federal agents and agreed to cooperate in the investigation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

The X-Factor in the Alabama Senate Race
Republicans who don’t support Roy Moore could make it a close race

Democratic candidate for Senate Doug Jones, center, accompanied by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., right, and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., has tried to appeal to GOP voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — For Democrat Doug Jones to win a Senate race in Alabama, he needs some help from voters like 74 year-old Don Jockisch.

“I don’t know,” said Jockisch, a Republican, when asked who he will support in the Dec. 12 election, where Jones will face Republican Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

‘Open Season’ on Immigrants as Discretion Fades
Will Trump’s new DHS pick follow ‘arrest-them-all’ playbook?

Immigrant families stand in line to get bus tickets in 2016 in McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

The recent arrest and detention of an undocumented 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is the clearest evidence yet that President Donald Trump isn’t focused solely on “bad hombres,” immigrant advocates say.

Arrests of undocumented criminals are up under Trump, a testament to his promise to crack down on dangerous immigrants. But arrests of undocumented people without any convictions have also skyrocketed, raising questions about how the administration is using what it says are limited resources to keep the country safe.

Budget Deal Could Bust Caps by $200 Billion
Two-year agreement expected to draw motley crew of supporters

Marc Short, left, White House director of legislative affairs, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse at the Capitol on Dec. 1. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional negotiators have moved well north of $200 billion in their discussions of how much to raise discretionary spending caps in a two-year budget deal.

The higher numbers under consideration follow an initial Republican offer several weeks ago to raise defense by $54 billion and nondefense by $37 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2019 — a $182 billion increase in base discretionary spending.

Opinion: Why a DACA Fix Next Year Would Come Too Late
It takes months for the government to ramp up a new program

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, right, here with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, broke with his party this fall when he announced he wouldn’t support any bill funding the government beyond Dec. 31 until the DACA issue is resolved. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Congress speeds toward its year-end pileup of “must pass” legislation, a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, remains in the balance. President Donald Trump insists it should not be tied to the annual appropriations scramble. But many Democrats — and a few Republicans — are calling for the issue to be addressed this year, with some threatening to withhold their votes to fund the government if legislation for so-called Dreamers is not attached.

Beyond the political posturing and jockeying for leverage, there is a pragmatic reason why any fix, if that is what both parties really want, should happen this year: it takes months for the government to ramp up a new program.

Opinion: How Debt Limit Drama Gets Resolved Is Up in the Air
Policymakers have always extended limit just in time — but the script is now flipped

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resorting to so-called extraordinary measures to pay the government’s bills after the debt limit suspension ended Dec. 8. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the first year of the Trump administration, Capitol Hill has specialized in drama. From health care to taxes, decisions affecting large swaths of the economy have come down to the last minute. Months of wrangling over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act culminated in an ignominious defeat. Tax reform also came down to the wire in the Senate, narrowly squeaking through in a middle-of-the-night roll call. Next up, a debt limit drama could be on the way.

The debt limit’s suspension quietly ended on Dec. 8, the same day policymakers chose once again to punt on negotiating a budget agreement. In what has become ordinary practice over the past seven years, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the implementation of so-called extraordinary measures — accounting maneuvers that temporarily give Treasury extra borrowing room (and thus, cash) to pay the government’s bills while operating at the debt limit. BPC’s projection is that those measures would last until March, although tax reform, spending cap adjustments, and additional disaster relief could shorten the time frame.