Nita M Lowey

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Never mind impeachment, this bipartisan committee is going forward
House modernization panel prepares for its second year

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Amid the partisan polarization of impeachment, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress began examining possible changes Thursday to the chamber’s rules and procedures, seeking out ideas to make the legislative branch function better. 

 The panel, a temporary and bipartisan project to revamp Congress for the modern era, is tasked with offering recommendations about how to update technological savvy on Capitol Hill and how to improve the quality of work for lawmakers and staff. It began earlier this year as a one-year effort but will now carry on through next year with a fresh infusion of funds, and through the divisive 2020 elections.  

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Transcript highlights Ukraine concerns among career OMB staff
Two officials left the agency after the withholding of aid came to light

A quote is displayed on a monitor from a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of Trump in the Longworth Building on Nov. 19, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two Office of Management and Budget officials grew frustrated with the hold on Ukraine military aid ordered by President Donald Trump and resigned from the agency, according to newly released impeachment inquiry testimony.

Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security programs at OMB, testified behind closed doors on Nov. 16 that the two officials left the budget office after the hold on some $391 million in aid became known. House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript of Sandy’s testimony Tuesday.

House, Senate reach agreement on subcommittee spending levels
The 12 subcommittees are expected to begin working on the fiscal 2020 bills immediately

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., talks with reporters in July. Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby have reportedly reached an agreement on subcommittee allocations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The appropriations process appeared to get back on track Saturday after House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby reached an agreement on subcommittee allocations, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

The accord is a positive sign for appropriators, who have been waiting for months to learn how much of the $1.37 trillion in fiscal 2020 funding they would have to spend on each of their bills.

Wasserman Schultz enters race for top Democrat on Appropriations
It’s now a three-way contest for Lowey’s replacement

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will seek the top Democratic spot on the House Appropriations Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The race to become the next top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee widened into a three-way contest Thursday.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz declared her intention to run for the job that will be left vacant when Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey of New York retires at the end of her current term. Lowey, 82, announced last month she would step down after 31 years in Congress.

Trump signs stopgap bill, fending off shutdown for now
Continuing resolution will fund government, avoid shutdown, through Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., was guardedly optimistic about working out differences over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signed a monthlong spending bill Thursday, hours before government funding had been set to expire at midnight.

The continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 20, giving appropriators more time to hash out numerous divides over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. It’s the second time Congress has needed to pass a temporary spending bill since fiscal 2020 began Oct. 1.

Senate holds off on vote avoiding shutdown, keeps stopgap funding vehicle
Sen. David Perdue announced the Senate would instead vote at 11:30 a.m. Thursday to send the stopgap bill directly to the president’s desk

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., exits the Senate subway in May. Lankford and other senators are working to pass a continuing resolution, averting a Thursday shutdown and giving the House and Senate more time to come up with compromise versions of fiscal 2020 spending bills to the president’s desk next month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate no longer plans to change the legislative vehicle for a monthlong stopgap spending bill, following hours of back-and-forth discussions Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hoped to change the legislative vehicle and approve the temporary funding bill by the end of the day.

House votes to avoid shutdown, continue spending talks until December
The measure passed the House on a largely party-line vote, 231-192

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee arrives in the Capitol for a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Feb. 11, 2019. Another shutdown loomed Tuesday as the House sent a continuing resolution to the Senate, which would keep the government open until December. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress moved closer to clearing another stopgap funding bill Tuesday, after the House voted to send the continuing resolution to the Senate.

The bill would stave off a funding lapse that would have begun when the current continuing resolution expires Thursday night. Once signed, it would provide lawmakers and the Trump administration another four weeks to try to reach agreement on the dozen annual spending bills that have stalled amid debate about border wall spending and how best to divide up $1.37 trillion in fiscal 2020 spending.

House to take up Dec. 20 stopgap measure Tuesday
House Appropriations Democrats released the draft stopgap measure Monday afternoon after a morning of last-minute haggling

Disputes over potential add-ons between lawmakers in Congress and the White House on Monday was holding up a potential deal to pass a monthlong stopgap funding measure needed to avoid a government shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is moving forward to quickly take up a monthlong continuing resolution that would extend temporary funding levels for federal agencies. The measure will be on the floor Tuesday, according to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

House Appropriations Democrats released the draft stopgap measure Monday afternoon after a morning of last-minute haggling over special additions. The measure would replace the current CR, which expires Nov. 21, with a new deadline of Dec. 20 to finish up fiscal 2020 spending bills.