Michael B Enzi

The unglamorous job of federal budgeting
New budget reform legislation would help restore a broken process

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi has joined with Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and other colleagues to introduce the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is no secret that a vast majority of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Too often our political debates are characterized by hyperpartisanship, rather than achieving meaningful outcomes for the American people. Nowhere is this problem more acute than when it comes to our inability to address our country’s unsustainable fiscal course.

Our current budget process is broken, as evidenced by mounting debt and deficits, a patchwork of temporary spending bills, government shutdowns, and budgets that, if passed at all, are quickly ignored. While process reforms alone won’t solve our fiscal challenges, we believe that realigning incentives, creating a more predictable budget pathway and encouraging active engagement in fiscal outcomes are steps in the right direction.

Road ahead: Impeachment to lead headlines, even with House away
Senate returns Tuesday to continue confirming judges

Impeachment will be making headlines at the Capitol, even with the House not in session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is not in session this week, and yet there might still be more attention on that side of the Capitol, with House committees led by the Intelligence panel continuing work on the impeachment inquiry.

The committees are seeking testimony from three officials Monday, but it is not yet clear who, if any, will appear for their scheduled closed-door depositions.

Vulnerable GOP senators back Graham impeachment resolution
Condemnation of Democrats’ process signals strategy for 2020 hopefuls as probe continues

Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution condemning the House’s impeachment probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators who could be vulnerable in next year’s elections, including some who have declined to say whether it would be appropriate for a president to use U.S. aid to get political favors from a foreign leader, have signed on to a measure condemning the House impeachment process.

Their support for a resolution introduced in the Senate on Thursday by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shows the GOP is rallying behind criticism of Democrats’ tactics as a way to blunt questions about President Donald Trump’s behavior.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 25
Federal judge affirms legality of House impeachment inquiry, despite process complaints from GOP

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Justice Department to provide the House Judiciary Committee with materials from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and affirmed the House impeachment probe's legality. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats scored a key victory on Friday when a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to deliver to the House Judiciary Committee all redacted materials, including grand jury documents, from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and in the process affirmed the legality of the House impeachment probe into President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, three Republican senators are still holding out on endorsing South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s resolution condemning how the House is conducting its inquiry.

Senators roll out pilot program to speed asylum claims
Plan would streamline process for migrant families who have legitimate claims

Republican senators behind the asylum proposal include Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of nine senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — is proposing a new pilot program to better manage the influx of families seeking asylum at the southwest border.

“Operation Safe Return,” as the group calls it, would be the first bipartisan step to address the situation at the border, the senators said in a letter Thursday to Trump administration officials. Their plan would streamline the process by which migrant families who have legitimate claims for asylum are processed at the border, and swiftly weed out those who do not.

Lummis running for Senate in Wyoming, predicts ‘barn burner’ if Cheney runs too
Once the only female member of House Freedom Caucus, Lummis chose not to seek fifth term in 2016

Former Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis is running for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 2:57 p.m. | Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis announced Thursday she is running for the open Senate seat in Wyoming, officially jumping into what could turn into a crowded Republican primary.

Longtime GOP incumbent Michael B. Enzi announced in May he would not run for re-election. Whoever wins the GOP primary would be the favorite to replace him given the state’s strong Republican lean.

New legislative affairs chief Ueland has his work cut out for him
One staffer, no matter how talented, may not be enough to curb Trump’s mercurial tendencies, Hill veterans say

Eric Ueland, left, takes over from Shahira Knight as the White House legislative affairs director. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland begins his new job Monday as President Donald Trump’s legislative affairs director, bringing with him hopes for a more productive working relationship between the White House and Congress as Trump heads into the final year of his first term. 

During more than two decades as a top Senate Republican aide, Ueland built a reputation as an effective strategist for conservative legislative efforts, with a knack for using the Senate’s rules to achieve the majority’s goals.

Trump — not lawmakers — set to be biggest challenge for new legislative affairs chief Ueland
No matter who runs Hill shop, president’s approach is ‘very unlikely to yield results,’ expert says

Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi, right, introduces Eric Ueland at his confirmation hearing to be under secretary of State for management in September 2017. That nomination was later withdrawn, but Ueland will be President Donald Trump’s third legislative affairs director, starting Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland, hand-picked by President Donald Trump to be his third legislative affairs director, has decades of experience in the D.C. “swamp” his soon-to-be boss loathes. But the former senior GOP aide will quickly learn it is the president alone who is, as one official put it Thursday, “the decider.”

Ueland has been chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and a Senate Budget Committee staff director. Experts and former officials describe him as highly qualified for the tough task of being the messenger between Trump and a Congress with a Democrat-controlled House that regularly riles up the president and a Senate where Republicans lack votes to pass most major legislation.

Sen. Rand Paul’s austere budget plan goes down in Senate
Kentucky Republican said his plan would reverse a trajectory of ever-rising deficits in coming years

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., arrives in the Capitol for the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch on May 7, 2019. The Senate blocked consideration Monday of a bill by Paul that would require trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the coming decade to bring about a balanced budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate blocked consideration Monday of a bill by Sen. Rand Paul that would require trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the coming decade to bring about a balanced budget.

On a procedural vote of 22-69, the Senate refused to advance a budget plan that the Kentucky Republican said would reverse a trajectory of ever-rising deficits in coming years. “Today, the U.S. Senate can vote to put a stop to it and change course,” Paul said in a statement.

GOP blew Obamacare repeal, not us, former CBO director says
Keith Hall said if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, it’s Republicans themselves

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., left, speaks with Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall in January. Enzi, who took the lead in selecting the CBO director this year, chose not to reappoint Hall. The outgoing director said in an interview that if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, dubbed Obamacare, it’s Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Outgoing Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall held his fire when the agency was under attack in 2017 for estimating that a repeal of the 2010 health care law would throw millions of people off health insurance.

Now that he is leaving the agency, he can speak more freely. In an interview in his office last week, Hall said if anyone is to blame for Republicans’ failure to repeal the health care law, it’s Republicans themselves.