Human Services

Road Ahead: McConnell and Kavanaugh Set the Tone for the Week
Funding, authorization deadlines must work around Supreme Court chaos

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., exits the senators-only elevator as he arrives in the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The dissonance in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech opening the Senate floor Monday set the tone for the week on Capitol Hill.

On the one hand, Republicans and Democrats will be at each other’s throats over how they’re handling the growing number of sexual assault allegations directed at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On the other hand, they need to reach out for each other’s hands to ensure they get deals to fund the government past the end of the Sept. 30 fiscal year and meet other important deadlines. 

‘Regular Order’ Still Not Out of the Woods
Current appropriations process is still a far cry from before the late 2000s

Sens. Richard C. Shelby, left, and Patrick J. Leahy ride the Senate subway in 2011. Shelby, now the Senate Appropriations chairman, has touted the return to regular order in this year’s appropriations process. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Senate leaders have spent the past few months crowing about the return to “regular order” on appropriations, justifiably in many respects. They’ve passed nine spending bills, the first time that’s happened since 2009, and a first before September since 1999. And Congress sent three spending bills to the president’s desk before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year, which hasn’t happened in 10 years.

But by several metrics, the Senate hasn’t matched the fuller appropriations debate in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” that existed prior to the late 2000s. Senators have spent roughly 16 days this year debating their appropriations bills on the floor; the average was nearly 28 days from fiscal 1986 through 2006. The Senate has considered 165 amendments to fiscal 2019 spending bills, compared with 269 per year during the fiscal 1986-2006 period.

New Bill Would Hold HHS Feet to Fire for Unaccompanied Minors
Whereabouts of nearly 1,500 undocumented children are reportedly unknown

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., says the Department of Health and Human Services has a responsibility to ensure the safety of unaccompanied minors even after they’re placed with a sponsor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a bill designed to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services takes full responsibility for, and keeps better track of, unaccompanied children who come to the border seeking entry to the United States and then are placed with U.S. sponsors.

The legislation follows a new report that revealed that the government could not determine the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 children that HHS had placed with sponsors this year.

As Trump Waffles, House Republicans Confident They’ll Avert Shutdown
Still president, conservatives wary of GOP leaders’ government funding strategy

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is confident there will not be a government shutdown despite President Donald Trump’s mixed signals on the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans prepare a legislative strategy with President Donald Trump seemingly on board, only for the president to catch them off guard with a last-minute tweet suggesting his opposition to the plan.

That scenario has played out a few times this year as lawmakers debated immigration and appropriations bills. And it could realistically happen again next week as Congress plans to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown that Trump has already signaled he might force.

Pelosi: Short-Term VAWA Extension ‘Abdication of Our Responsibilities to Women’
Minority leader pens letter to speaker asking for long-term reauthorization

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan urging him to schedule a vote on a long-term re authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 2:39 p.m. | House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi penned a letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Monday criticizing House Republicans’ decision to only temporarily extend the soon-to-expire Violence Against Women Act. 

House Republicans plan to extend VAWA  through Dec. 7 as part of a fiscal 2019 government funding package that would provide yearlong funding for the departments of Defense; Labor, Health and Human Services; and Education and short-term funding for a handful of other agencies. The House is expected to vote on the package the week of Sept. 24. VAWA is set to expire Sept. 30.

Road Ahead: All Eyes on Brett Kavanaugh and the Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate starting with passage of anti-opioid legislation in another short week

All eyes will be on Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A scheduled Thursday afternoon Judiciary Committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was always going to be the most significant event on the schedule.

But the decision by Christine Blasey Ford to come forward publicly with an allegation of attempted sexual assault by Kavanaugh while in high school in Montgomery County, Maryland, has put what could have been a fairly perfunctory (though partisan) proceeding in the spotlight.

Congress Again Blocks F-35 Transfers to Turkey
Turkish president rebuffed Trump request to release detained American pastor

President Donald Trump talks to Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Marillyn Hewson, right, and Director and Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman in front of an F-35 fighter jet during the 2018 Made in America Product Showcase July 23, 2018 at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congress is poised to pass legislation that will block the transfer of the F-35 stealth fighter to Turkey, a NATO ally that helps produce the jet, as Turkey moves forward with plans to purchase Russian-made missile defense systems and refuses to release a detained U.S. pastor.

A provision in the fiscal 2019 Defense spending bill would withhold any funds from being used to deliver the jets to Turkey until the secretaries of State and Defense send Congress a comprehensive report on the U.S.-Turkish military and diplomatic relationships. The provision essentially matches language in the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, which became law earlier this year.    

Legislators Reach Government Funding Agreement Through December 7
Frelinghuysen announces a continuing resolution

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., arrives for the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Appropriators have cut a deal to keep all of the government funded through at least Dec. 7.

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced at a meeting of House and Senate conferees on the combined spending bill for Defense, and Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, that the conference report will include a continuing resolution through that date, for departments and agencies not otherwise funded.

Trump Administration Moves to Detain Immigrant Children Longer
New proposal from DHS would remove 20-day limit established by Flores settlement

A police officer and a U.S. Border Patrol agent take a group of Central American asylum seekers into custody on June 12 near McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

The Homeland Security Department is proposing a new rule that would allow for the prolonged detention of undocumented migrant children by replacing a 1997 legal settlement that President Donald Trump has called a “loophole” causing more illegal immigration.

The 203-page proposed rule, published jointly with the Health and Human Services Department in the Federal Register on Thursday, would trigger the end of the so-called Flores settlement. A federal judge has ruled the settlement means children cannot be held in detention for longer than 20 days and should be released with a parent if possible.

Road Ahead: The House Is Back, Looking for Deals on Spending and Farm Bill
Lawmakers return with hearings headlined by Supreme Court nomination, social media

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and the rest of the members of the House are returning from August recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most of the cameras will be focused on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, but he’s far from the only attraction this week on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s week of confirmation hearings with Judge Brett Kavanaugh and outside witnesses kicks off Tuesday morning, but House members are arriving back in Washington, D.C., this week after more than a month back in their districts.