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Big Spending Goals, Zero Focus on Deficit in Trump Speech
The word “deficit” appeared in the State of the Union only once

President Donald Trump arrives in the House chamber to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday. The word “deficit” came up in his speech only once. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump laid out plans in his State of the Union address Tuesday for additional spending on infrastructure, border security, defense, workforce training and paid family leave programs.

But he didn’t include any details on paying for those programs. The word “deficit” didn’t appear once in Trump’s speech — except to tout the nation’s “infrastructure deficit,” by which he meant more spending.

Cold Snap Showed Grid Resilience, Lawmakers are Told

Tourists walk past the U.S. Capitol as snow flurries blow in heavy winds in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. A bomb cyclone winter storm battered the east coast of the United states with heavy winds, snow, and frigid temperatures. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The recent cold snap and “bomb cyclone” weather event that chilled much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this month appears to have showed the reliability and resilience of the electric grid as currently operated, energy officials said Tuesday at congressional oversight hearing.

But it also showed some of the vulnerabilities to the grid, especially as they relate to energy infrastructure, including natural gas pipelines, as wholesale market consumers saw high prices in response to record demand.

Trump Heads Down to the Farm (Bureau)
Address to convention will be first by a U.S. president since George H.W. Bush

President Donald Trump will address the American Farm Bureau Federation national convention on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention on Monday — the first president to attend since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The president will discuss key points of an administration report the White House says is designed to boost the rural economy.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, shown here in 2013, are throwing their weight behind legislation to promote evidence-based policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

History Shows You Can’t Bank on Tax Bill Projections
CBO figures are no crystal ball

President Ronald Reagan signs the 1986 Tax Reform Act. (AP file photo)

Opinion: Fiscal Order Goes Way of the Dinosaur in Tax Debate
Latest actions show Congress isn’t serious about debt and deficits

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference Thursday on small-business taxes. Pay-as-you-go requirements do not apply to the current tax reconciliation bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There was a time when members of Congress expressed concerns over the country’s level of debt and deficits. Laws were enacted to create speed bumps and stop signs to establish fiscal discipline. That now seems like a distant memory. Exhibit A is the current tax reform effort.

The permanent pay-as-you-go law is in effect, as is the Senate’s pay-as-you-go rule. The requirement that increased federal spending or tax cuts be matched by reduced spending or revenue increases to avoid expanding the budget deficit dates to the Reagan administration.

Leadership, CBC Differ on Conyers
Democratic leaders call for resignation, CBC members refrain

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called for Michigan Rep. John Conyers to resign, Democratic caucus leaders followed her lead but Congressional Black Caucus leaders did not.

“We’ve already issued a statement; I’ve called upon the same,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley told reporters.

‘Pass-Through’ Changes Dog Senate GOP Tax Overhaul
Republican Ron Johson says plan not generous enough to pass-throughs

From left, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch and Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley participate in the committee markup of the Senate GOP’s tax bill Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Trouble signs emerged Wednesday for the Republican tax overhaul effort, even as the Senate Finance Committee crept closer — slowly, and sometimes painfully — toward approving its bill later this week.

The top tax writers on each side forecast long hours still ahead. “Tomorrow, we are going to be here a while,” Sen. Ron Wyden, the Finance panel’s ranking member, said Wednesday.

Plan to Boost Coal and Nuclear Could Cost Consumers
Should consumers pay more so coal and nuclear plants can survive?

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Oct. 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For years, federal regulation of the electric grid has focused on keeping prices low and competition stiff. But that could change with a recent proposal from the Trump administration to put more emphasis on what it calls resiliency.

According to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the electric grid is more resilient — able to bounce back from disasters of the natural and man-made variety — when it has plenty of so-called baseload power that can run 24/7, with or without sunshine or wind and regardless of supply snags.

RSC Budget Allows Conservatives to Lay Down Austere Marker
Alternative will likely not pass, but gives conservatives an outlet

The Republican Study Committee, chaired by North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, will get a House floor vote Thursday for its more austere budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans will get the chance Thursday to vote for an alternative budget blueprint that offers up more than $10 trillion in spending cuts over a decade. The plan would double the number proposed in the House Budget Committee-approved fiscal 2018 resolution, while balancing the budget in half the time.

The conservative Republican Study Committee has been given assurances its alternative will be ruled in order for a vote when GOP leaders bring the fiscal 2018 budget resolution to the floor, according to an RSC aide.