government shutdown

One-year spending cap option, warts and all, gains momentum
Yarmuth signals openness to deal, echoing comments made by Shelby a day earlier

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said Democrats would be open to a one-year spending deal, but acknowledged it might create problems for getting another deal during an election year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior lawmakers are increasingly considering a scaled-back plan to raise discretionary spending limits for just the upcoming fiscal year, in what would be a departure from the two-year deals enacted in 2013, 2015 and again last year.

A decision to limit a deal to only fiscal 2020 appropriations might simplify negotiations that have been stalled for months. But it would also set the stage for another difficult showdown over spending levels next year, just before the presidential election.

Contractors would receive shutdown pay in next spending package
Contractor back pay would provide the same benefit granted to direct federal employees

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. She is seeking to add provisions in a spending bill to aid contractors during a shutdown. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats would make whole federal contractors who didn't get paid during the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in January as part of a $383 billion fiscal 2020 spending bill set to hit the floor next week. 

The package combines five bills: Commerce-Justice-Science will be the vehicle, carrying the Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures as well.

Hyde amendment, other abortion riders in the spending limelight
Democrats set for showdown with Republicans, administration

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro opposes the Hyde amendment, but says it needs to be maintained for the spending bills to be signed into law. {Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The debate surrounding abortion access is about to spill over from the campaign trail to Capitol Hill as lawmakers begin debating must-pass appropriations bills.

Starting Wednesday, the House will take up a nearly $1 trillion spending package written by Democrats that would roll back Trump administration anti-abortion policies, including restrictions barring health clinics from recommending abortion services and preventing U.S. foreign assistance to aid groups that perform or promote abortions.

Road ahead: House tackles first spending package and NDAA endurance contest
House also set to vote on a ‘not quite contempt’ resolution Tuesday

A man stands near the Mountains and Clouds sculpture in the Hart Building atrium on June 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House has blockbuster floor action teed up this week, including votes on the first spending package for fiscal 2020 and a measure that would authorize the Judiciary Committee to pursue civil lawsuits against Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials.

House lawmakers have been warned that late-night votes are on the schedule as they work through floor consideration of a five-bill package that amounts to about $990 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2020.

Funding for migrant children running out with no deal in sight
Contractors could be asked to take care of 13,000 kids without pay

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., arrives at the Capitol on July 27, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Congress can’t pass a supplemental spending bill for border agencies within the next month, the administration could have to ask contractors to take care of more than 13,000 unaccompanied migrant children without being paid, according to Sen. Roy Blunt.

“Today there are 13,347 unaccompanied children that are the responsibility of the federal government,” the Missouri Republican said Tuesday. “All of the money to take care of those kids runs out sometime in the next 30 days. The appropriation is gone, the transfer authority is about to be gone and there is no money to take care of these kids.”

It’s not just the citizenship question. 2020 census faces other woes
From cybersecurity concerns to untested methods, last-minute hurdles remain

The 2020 census is not the first to face last-minute challenges. Problems with handheld electronics during the 2010 census required the bureau to reintroduce paper enumeration. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

A project meant to be a decade in preparation, the 2020 census, still faces a number of uncertainties, which experts warn could lead to an inaccurate count with potentially large impacts on federal spending and congressional maps.

Though a pending Supreme Court decision over a citizenship question has dominated much of the conversation surrounding the census, other hurdles include the Census Bureau’s overall funding, cybersecurity concerns and untested methods.

Mueller departs with warning: Don’t forget Russia’s election meddling
Congress has been divided over how to address weaknesses in U.S. election system

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reminded Americans on Wednesday that “there were multiple, systematic efforts” by Russia to interfere in U.S. elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who stepped down from his position Wednesday, had a stark warning for Americans: pay attention to what Russia did to interfere in U.S. elections.

Most of the political wrangling and fallout over Mueller’s report has focused on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice — the report, and Mueller on Wednesday, specifically said he did not exonerate the president on that score — and whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Mueller himself pointed to an aspect of his office’s findings that hasn’t been challenged by either political party.

Iranians set up fake social media accounts to influence 2018 midterms, new report says
‘They promoted material in line with Iranian political interests,’ new report says

A new report says Iran may have orchestrated an influence campaign during last year’s midterms that followed the same playbook as Russia’s from 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Iranians posing as Americans set up fake accounts on social media platforms between April 2018 and March 2019 and espoused policy views on both sides of the U.S. political spectrum, in a replay of the Russian playbook from 2016, according a report by the threat intelligence firm FireEye released Tuesday.

Some of those who were impersonated included Republican political candidates who contested House races, the firm said.

Border battle forces courts to wade into appropriations law
Congress said ‘no’ on funding for Trump’s wall. But was that a hard ‘no’?

The Trump administration has argued that Congress did not expressly spell out that no funds could be used for border wall construction. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

The legal fights over President Donald Trump’s move to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border have forced the federal courts to confront a new question: What does it look like when Congress denies a president’s request for an appropriation?

The answer might seem a straightforward call. The Appropriations Clause of the Constitution says no money can be spent unless it is in a spending law. Courts have already ruled that congressional control over federal expenditures is “absolute.” Congress passed laws to reinforce that control.

Who is Rep. Chip Roy?
Texas freshman who blocked disaster bill is a top Democratic target in 2020

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talk in the House chamber on Feb. 5 before President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | Rep. Chip Roy’s decision to stall a disaster aid bill Friday is bringing new attention to the conservative freshman whom Democrats are looking to unseat in 2020. 

The Texas Republican blocked a request to pass the $19.1 billion package by unanimous consent, raising concerns that the funds were not offset and that the package lacked money to process migrants at the southern border.