Budget

Voters didn’t want a stalemate. But they expected one from Dems
There’s a big difference between what people hope the House will do and what they think it actually will

When it comes to political missteps, little compares to the Schumer-Pelosi “American Gothic” moment, Winston writes. It’s a far cry from what voters wanted — but not from what they expected.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The 116th Congress has arrived, and less than two weeks into the session, America has already tasted the fruits of its electoral labors last November. It’s been quite a debut for House Democrats.

The country has been treated to profanity-laced rants from new Democratic members as a breathless, media-driven cult of personality grows around the newly-elected freshman class. Voters, desperate for real-world solutions to cost-of-living issues, have seen the Democratic Caucus’ increasingly dominant left wing call for budget-busters from a “Green New Deal” to single-payer health care while studiously avoiding a solution to reopen government.

Day 25 of the shutdown and the impasse held fast
Spending bill fails, president holds firm, House freshmen march

Freshman House members, including Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., leave the Capitol office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday after a visit to urge action on reopening the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On the 25th day of the longest government shutdown in modern history, the House failed to advance a spending measure, the president was half-stood up for lunch, and freshman House Democrats marched on the Senate. 

In an already busy day on Capitol Hill, the House failed to advance a stopgap measure to fund shuttered federal agencies through Feb. 1, as Democrats sought to pressure Republicans to end the partial shutdown. 

States scramble to get February food stamps out amid shutdown

The lapse in funding for the Agriculture Department due to the shutdown is complicating people getting their food stamp benefits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State and county workers spent the weekend gathering information needed to make sure 38 million low-income people receive their February food stamp benefits early despite a partial federal government shutdown.

The Agriculture Department prompted the flurry of activity when it announced last week that it would tap the remaining budget authority in an expired continuing resolution to provide states $4.8 billion to cover February benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Burned in the past, Democrats reluctant to give ground in wall fight
Democrats and allies concerned conceding would set a precedent for more rounds of brinksmanship

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, said she “absolutely” expects President Donald Trump would trigger additional shutdowns as a bargaining chip if Democrats make a deal with him on wall funding now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The partial government shutdown, now in its record-setting 24th day, is about more than just a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats and their allies are concerned that if party leaders cut a deal with President Donald Trump on wall funding, it would set a precedent for more rounds of dangerous brinksmanship in the months and years to come.

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

Virginia senators concerned that shutdown could jeopardize security clearances
Furloughed workers cite compounding problems, such as health insurance lapse

Brian Uholik, right, a furloughed Justice Department employee, holds his infant daughter Wynnie while discussing with his wife Jamie how the government shutdown has impacted their family during a roundtable discussion with government employees and Sens. Mark Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Brian Uholik is a proud father of a new baby daughter, but he’s also a furloughed trial attorney at the Department of Justice.

Uholik was among the federal employees from Northern Virginia who met Friday morning with Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats who have been pushing for a quick end to the partial government shutdown.

10 House Republicans cross aisle to support ending shutdown of Interior-Environment programs

Members of the Association of Flight Attendants participate in the National Air Traffic Controllers Association rally to “Stop the Shutdown” in front of the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House voted 240-179 on Friday to pass a fiscal 2019 Interior-Environment spending bill, the latest in a series of standalone appropriations measures the chamber has sent this week to a Senate that has no plans to hold a vote. Ten House Republicans crossed the aisle to support the Democratic-drafted bill. 

Those Republicans mirrored the same ones who voted on Thursday for both an Agriculture funding bill and a Transportation-HUD measure: Rodney Davis of Illinois and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, John Katko of New York, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Will Hurd of Texas, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Elise Stefanik of New York, Fred Upton of Michigan and Greg Walden of Oregon.

Trump continues trying to rewrite his own Mexico paying for wall history
Reporter: ‘You proposed that in your campaign, sir.’ POTUS: ‘No.’

President Donald Trump twice on Thursday tried to explain that Mexico wasn’t going to literally write a check to pay for his southern border wall. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Friday morning continued practicing revisionist history over his campaign-trail pledge to make Mexico pay for his proposed southern border wall that has pushed a partial government shutdown into its 21st day.

The president twice on Thursday raised brows as he flatly denied ever saying that America’s southern neighbor would foot the bill for the border structure that he is struggling to obtain funds for from the U.S. Congress.

Raiding military budget for wall would contradict previous Trump administration statements
Mulvaney complained last year of key military projects being underfunded

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter flies over a piece of border fence on Nov. 7 in Mission, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

If President Donald Trump uses emergency powers to tap the military’s construction budget to bankroll a border wall, it would contradict his administration’s previous statements that the so-called milcon programs need more money, not less.

While the president signed into law last September legislation that allocated about $8.1 billion for military construction projects in fiscal 2019, that figure was nearly $800 million less than Trump proposed. And it was almost $1.5 billion less than the military services had wanted at that time.

‘No wall, no deal,’ Pence declares, pushing for congressional action over national emergency
Courts would be involved if Trump ends up declaring national emergency, vice president acknowledges

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association rally to “Stop the Shutdown” in front of the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“No wall, no deal.” That’s how Vice President Mike Pence succinctly summed up the administration’s position on ending the partial government shutdown, now in its 20th day. 

“Because walls work,” Pence said Thursday during a press briefing at the Capitol.