Appropriations

House Work Week Gets Shorter
GOP leaders cancel Friday votes again

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., previously had a different idea about what they would be working on at this point in the year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leaders started 2017 with plans for the lower chamber to have some atypical five-day work weeks to accommodate an ambitious GOP legislative agenda, but they are starting to cut those weeks short as intraparty fueding prevents progress on their top priorities.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Wednesday that the House would no longer be expected to hold votes this Friday, cutting their work week short and allowing lawmakers to head home early for the week-long Independence Day recess.

Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey Announces He Has FTD Amid Health Care Debate
New York Democrat survived bout with colon cancer

Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey a few months ago. (Photo courtesy of the Hinchey Family)

Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s family announced that the congressman has Frontotemporal dementia, a disease that causes nerve cell damage and leads to loss of function in brain regions.

The New York Democrat was diagnosed with the disease known as FTD after a successful battle with colon cancer.

Security Boost in House Legislative Branch Bill Approved
More funding for Capitol Police and sergeant-at-arms, among others

Capitol Police would get a boost from the Legislative Branch spending bill being considered in the House. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

House appropriators have approved a fiscal 2018 Legislative Branch spending bill that would boost security both at the Capitol and in members’ districts.

The House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee at a brief meeting on Friday approved by voice vote the $3.58 billion fiscal 2018 Legislative Branch measure. No amendments were offered.

The Senate at a Deliberative Crossroads
Health care debacle challenges unique traditions, process

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune highlighted bipartisan work ongoing at the Commerce Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The release of the Senate Republicans’ draft health care measure, coming on the heels of the demise of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, provoked a spasm of hard feelings in the chamber and questions about whether senators could restore its now-quaint reputation as the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. 

“This is not the role model in my world, but I also understand that when the Democrats say, ‘We’re not going to vote for anything,’ that limits the options,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican. “But, I would love to see a Senate that functions, in which all hundred senators have the opportunity to present ideas, amendments and take votes.”

Coons: Senate Can Reassert Foreign Policy Clout
Chance to ‘make the Senate great again’

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., suggests that the Trump Administration’s conflicting statements provide the Senate with an opportunity to reassert its clout on foreign policy matters.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s often conflicting statements regarding foreign affairs have provided the Senate an opportunity to reassert its clout in directing U.S. foreign policy, Sen. Chris Coons suggests. 

In a public sit-down conversation with former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright on U.S. global leadership this week, the Delaware Democrat said that “one unexpected outcome of the Trump administration may be to make the Senate great again” by forcing the chamber to draft bipartisan legislation to fill the gaps the Trump administration leaves.

House GOP Still Bickering Over Budget
Defense increase, mandatory spending cuts primary areas of disagreement

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent says Republicans should not waste time arguing over topline levels for nondefense discretionary spending since those will likely be raised in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican squabbling over a defense spending increase and mandatory spending cuts continues to put in danger a fiscal 2018 budget resolution, and subsequently, plans to overhaul the tax code.

After a Friday conference meeting to discuss the budget and appropriations process, their second “family conversation” of the week on the topic, the House GOP appeared no closer to consensus on a budget resolution that could get the 218 needed votes on the floor.

In the House, Full Speed Ahead on Defense Spending

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, wants to increase defense spending. It might not be that simple. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry says he is “moving forward” to mark up a fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill the week before the Independence Day recess at about $705 billion.

But, the Texas Republican said, talks are ongoing among senior lawmakers and it is “possible” there could be “some adjustment” to that amount.

House Republicans Bolster Member Security Funding
Funding will extend to lawmakers’ districts

Members will get a boost in security as part of a deal reached between appropriators and the House Administration Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Air Force Opposes Creation of Space Corps
‘Pentagon is complicated enough,’ Air Force secretary says

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, center, says the military is complicated enough without having a dedicated Space Corps. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Air Force leaders on Wednesday pushed back on a House Armed Services panel’s plan to build a new fighting force dedicated to space.

“The Pentagon is complicated enough,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters following her testimony in front of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”

GOP Frets About Fiscal Restraint Progress
Conservatives pushing cuts to mandatory spending

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says Republicans are still discussing options for the budget and appropriations process, even as conservatives are pushing for steep cuts to mandatory spending. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Fiscal restraint has long been part of the Republican Party’s brand, but GOP lawmakers have made little progress on reducing the amount of money the federal government spends. And frankly, they’re sick of it.

That’s the impetus for what has become a serious push by rank-and-file House Republicans to use the budget reconciliation process to enact mandatory spending cuts.