EXBR

Lowey to discuss earmarks with freshman, at-risk Democrats
Tuesday meeting marks first step in determining whether there's enough consensus to attempt to bring back the line items

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., is set to meet Tuesday with a group of freshman House Democrats and others considered vulnerable in 2020 elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic leaders are moving ahead with their sales pitch for the return of earmarks — which an aide dubbed “community project funding.”

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., is set to meet Tuesday with a group of freshman House Democrats and others considered vulnerable in the 2020 elections to talk about a possible return of local projects in the spending bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. 

Personal stories on display on anniversary of ‘Muslim travel ban’

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., departs from a news conference Tuesday. On Monday Durbin and other Democrats held a press conference to advocate for the NO BAN Act. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

On the third anniversary of President Donald Trump’s “Muslim travel ban,” Democrats brought advocates to speak in support of a bill that would limit his ability to restrict travel from some Muslim countries. 

The legislation introduced in the House is called the NO BAN Act and is supported by senators including Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin, of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut. Monday’s event gave individuals affected by the travel ban an opportunity to share their stories and how it impacts their communities.

The most wonderful time of the year: budget forecast release week
CQ Budget, ep. 141

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 11: Scaffolding has been removed from the upper section of the U.S. Capitol dome as the Architect of the Capitol works to complete the Capitol Dome Restoration Project before the 2017 presidential inauguration. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House members considering ending ban on earmarks
Lawmakers have cautiously expressed growing interest in allowing special projects inserted into spending bills

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., briefly considered allowing earmarks last year, until announcing in March that they would not be allowed in fiscal 2020 spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House appropriators are considering lifting a nearly 10-year ban on congressionally directed spending, known as earmarks.

While no decisions have been made, a House Democratic aide said lawmakers are in the “early stages” of considering allowing earmarks in spending bills for the coming fiscal year. “There is considerable interest in allowing members of Congress to direct funding for important projects in their communities,” the source said.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 27
Republican senators say they want to hear from Bolton after bombshell report

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., departs from a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 4 p.m.

At least two Republican senators indicated Monday that they and others are inclined to call for the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton after reports that he says in his upcoming book that President Donald Trump told him to withhold aide to Ukraine in return for launching an investigation into political rivals.

Rainy days ahead: States boost reserves, anticipating slowdown
An expanding economy led to expanded budgets. Now, with slowdown looming, rainy-day funds get more attention

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signs the state's fiscal 2020 budget in his ceremonial office in the State House. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As the longest economic expansion in American history continued last year, state governments increased salaries for teachers and other public employees, authorized new construction projects and — recognizing good times won’t last forever — added to reserve funds.

Cash reserves could become more important this year, as experts project the economy to slow down in 2020. Though a full-scale recession seems less likely than it did at points last year, a slower rate of growth still appears likely. Fitch Ratings, a credit ratings agency, projects a 1.7 percent expansion in 2020, which would be the lowest level since 2011.

View from the gallery: Hardly enough time to fidget
Rare Senate weekend session only lasts two hours

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives at the Capitol on Saturday for the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a Saturday, but nearly all the senators were in their workday suits and ties. The Kentucky delegation was one exception, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wearing khakis and blazers.

This was the fifth straight day in the Senate chamber of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators appeared for just two hours during a brief and rare weekend session when President Donald Trump’s team started its opening presentation.

Impeachment trial’s Saturday session is a short one
In first day of Trump defense team presentation, an eye on the clock

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, and lawyer Jordan Sekulow arrive at the Capitol on Saturday before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s lawyers briefly laid out his defense Saturday at the Senate impeachment trial, focusing their attacks on what they called a lack of evidence, the actions of lead House manager Adam B. Schiff and a flawed House investigation.

Trump’s legal team did not make arguments about former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden. Trump and some Republican senators have focused on that issue for the president’s defense that his Ukraine dealings were meant to uncover corruption, not ask the country’s president to influence the 2020 presidential elections in exchange for releasing military aid.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 25
Trump’s defense takes center stage

House impeachment managers Adam B. Schiff, right, Jerrold Nadler, left, and aides are seen in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday walking evidence to the Senate floor before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 12:12 p.m.

The Senate convened for a rare Saturday session as a court of impeachment today, and it was President Donald Trump’s legal team’s turn to begin laying out its case.

View from the gallery: Senators suffer through sniffles and sleepiness at Trump trial
House managers wrap up their presentation before an increasingly restless Senate

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is surrounded by reporters Friday as he arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s fiercest defenders in the Senate, chuckled, bowed his head slightly and rubbed his left eyebrow.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein laughed and met the eyes of their knowing Democratic colleagues.