Agriculture

Scalise Tells Canada Time Is Running Out to Join NAFTA Update
Trade negotiations with Ottawa remain ongoing despite pressure from Trump administration

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise wants Canada to quickly wrap up NAFTA talks. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

A top House Republican leader warned Canada on Tuesday that his chamber will move ahead with a review and vote on a U.S.-Mexico trade agreement in principle without Canada if Ottawa doesn’t quickly wrap up NAFTA talks.

“Members are concerned that Canada does not seem to be ready or willing to make the concessions that are necessary for a fair and high-standard agreement,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise said in a statement.

Primary Challengers Aren’t Always More Partisan in Congress
Some successors have been more willing to work across the aisle

Ayanna Pressley defeated Rep. Michael E. Capuano in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 7th District earlier this month. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

It’s often said that conservative challenges to Republican incumbents in primary elections — the prime example being Dave Brat’s victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 — have led to more polarization in Congress, with the challengers less willing to compromise than their predecessors.

Now that two incumbent Democrats, Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts on Sept. 4 and Joseph Crowley of New York in June, have fallen to upstart challengers, it raises the question whether the phenomenon has now spread to the Democratic Party, foreboding even more dysfunction at the Capitol.

Watershed Moment as Three Appropriations Bills Clear on Time
House voted 377-20, sending legislation to the president’s desk

The U.S. Capitol building as seen on Friday, June 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A batch of three spending bills is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk following a 377-20 House vote Thursday, marking the first on-time delivery of a quarter of the annual appropriations measures in a decade.

The $147.5 billion package — which funds the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers and the operations of Congress — is the first installment of what lawmakers hope will be nine bills becoming law before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

First Three Fiscal 2019 Spending Bills Readied for Floor
Hurricane Florence presents potential scheduling wildcard

A little girl and a man look through the windows of the Capitol dome miniature model in the Capitol Visitors Center Monday afternoon Sept. 10, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers reached agreement Monday on three spending bills that would provide about $147.5 billion next year for the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, Army Corps of Engineers and lawmakers’ offices and the Capitol complex.

The package came together after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations and at times tense conversations about funding levels and policy language. Aides said it was on track to reach President Donald Trump’s desk by week’s end. The tentative plan at this stage is for the Senate to go first, likely on Thursday, with the House to follow on Friday, although the arrival of Hurricane Florence remains a wildcard. 

Meet More Likely New Members of Congress
For all of them, winning the primary was tantamount to winning the general election

Clockwise from top left, Ben Cline, Anthony Gonzalez, Deb Haaland, Dan Meuser, Rashida Tlaib, David Trone, John Rose, Andy Levin, Michael Guest and Madeleine Dean. (Courtesy Bill Clark/D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call, Anthony Gonzalez for Congress, Meuser for Congress, Rashida Tlaib for Congress, David Trone for Congress, John Rose for Congress, Andy Levin for Congress, Friends of Michael Guest and Madeleine Dean for United States Congress)

With control of the House up for grabs and the number of competitive seats growing to 86, many congressional hopefuls have two more months of grueling politicking to look forward to as they barrel toward Election Day.

But not all of them.

Another Farm Bill Trouble Spot: Ex-Prisoners Growing Hemp
The conference committee met Wednesday morning ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., opened the first public meeting of the farm bill conference committee Wednesday along with along with Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas (not pictured). (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Advocates for criminal justice reform hope to convince lawmakers to reject a provision by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate farm bill that would deny people with drug felony convictions the chance to be hemp farmers.

Nine Senate and 47 House negotiators met publicly for the first time Wednesday to lay out their positions on how to proceed in reconciling House and Senate versions of the five-year legislation. Lawmakers will push to have a compromise bill ready before the current farm and food policy law expires Sept. 30.

Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending
Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters in the Capitol’s Senate subway before the Senate Policy luncheons on August 28, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The multiday media circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh notwithstanding, Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with appropriators struggling to work out their differences on fiscal 2019 spending. 

There are only 11 legislative days this month when the House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session. That means there isn’t much floor time in either chamber to vote on what could be as many as three conference reports with spending totaling more than $1 trillion, even if the legislation is privileged in the Senate and the House limits debate.

John Boehner Wants Everyone to Know He Had a Great Summer
Former House speaker has traveled cross-country fundraising for congressional Republicans

Former House Speaker John Boehner has spent the summer driving his RV across the “asphalt prairie.” (@SpeakerBoehner via Twitter)

Former House Speaker John A. Boehner is traveling cross country to support Republican incumbents this election.

On Sunday, Boehner tweeted a video of himself driving his RV called “Freedom One,” while singing his signature “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

Canada: No Deal Yet With U.S. on NAFTA Update
Dairy central to disagreements

Canada’s Chrystia Freeland speaks with reporters Aug. 31, 2018. (Ellyn Ferguson/CQ Roll Call)

Canada’s top trade negotiator said Friday that talks to update NAFTA have yet to produce an agreement with the United States. The comments come just hours before the administration plans to notify Congress that it intends to sign a trade agreement in principle with Mexico.

“We are not there yet,” said Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland Friday morning.  “We are only going to sign a deal that is good for Canada. My job is to find the deal that works for Canada.″ 

Pentagon Still Faces Possible CR, Even Government Shutdown
Congress may be moving faster than usual this year on spending bills, but no one should be celebrating yet

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Defense Department stands a 50-50 chance of operating under the constraints of a continuing resolution for at least the first couple months of fiscal 2019 and quite possibly beyond, a number of Washington insiders predict.

What’s more, analysts and lobbyists say, one or more government shutdowns are not out of the question.