appropriations

Unorthodox Senate deal clears path for Thursday NDAA vote
Democrats had threatened to filibuster the defense bill unless the Iran amendment received a vote on Friday

From left, Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, conduct a news conference in the Capitol after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. As part of a compromise on the NDAA, McConnell said Wednesday he would allow a vote on language blocking President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders struck an unusual deal Wednesday afternoon to hold a vote on language that would block President Donald Trump from launching a war against Iran without congressional approval, paving the way for a final vote on the massive Pentagon policy measure on Thursday.

But the vote on the Iran amendment will happen on Friday, to accommodate Senate Democrats participating in presidential debates this week, a GOP aide said. If the chamber adopts the language, which has the support of at least two Republican senators, it would then be retroactively included in the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill.

Senate approves border bill; Pelosi and Trump talk compromise

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic leaders are weighing their next move on a border supplemental aid package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:35 p.m. | With the Senate’s passage of its version of a border supplemental funding bill Wednesday, and its rejection of the House measure, negotiations between the White House, Senate and House leaders will now attempt to nail down a compromise before Congress leaves for the July Fourth recess.

Several disagreements lie at the heart of Senate and House differences on the two bills. The Senate bill rejected some of the tight restrictions the House included in its measure on the care of migrant children in government custody. The Senate also added in more money than the House for border enforcement agencies and for more immigration judges.

House Democrats lose procedural vote to GOP minority for first time in months
Approval of Republican motion to recommit on Financial Services spending bill added a last-minute Iran amendment

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the members of his caucus who voted for the GOP motion to recommit felt they had to support the Iran language. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Democratic majority on Wednesday lost a procedural vote to the Republican minority for the first time in four months, as 37 Democrats joined Republicans in adding a last-minute Iran amendment to the Financial Services spending bill.

The amendment was approved through a Republican motion to recommit, or MTR — a procedural tool of the minority used primarily for messaging.

Trump on Mueller testifying before House committees: ‘It never ends’
President signals final deal on trade with China unlikely before he meets with Xi at G-20 summit

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on Tuesday at the White House. On Wednesday he told Fox Business that the U.S. is “taking in a fortune” from tariffs he slapped on Chines goods. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday described former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s upcoming testimony before two Democratic-led House panels as merely part of a phony probe that “never ends.”

The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees announced Tuesday night that the former FBI director will testify during a joint July 17 hearing in what will be one of the biggest moments in Washington in some time.

Familiar offsets could resurface in spending caps talks
Budget watchdog groups start to dust off older proposals, as well as some new ones

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants offsets for any increase to discretionary spending caps. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Another year, another spending caps negotiation — accordingly it’s time once again to check the couch cushions for “pay-fors” just innocuous enough to skate by without kicking up too much lobbying dust.

For instance, extending automatic cuts to Medicare and dozens of other “mandatory” spending accounts, which have become so routine they’re almost unnoticed, has been a mainstay of all three deals in the last five years to relieve the pressure on appropriators. Extending fees collected by Customs and Border Protection on passenger and cargo arrivals in the U.S., first enacted in 1985, has been rolled over constantly as a go-to offset for all manner of legislation, including the 2013 and 2018 spending deals.

Trump admits he lacks exit strategy for an Iran war
Candidate Trump harshly criticized ‘stupid wars’ in Middle East that U.S. couldn’t untangle

Peshmerga fighters are seen driving along the frontline outside the town of Altun Kubri on October 23, 2017 in Altun Kubri, Iraq. President Donald Trump long criticized George W. Bush and Barack Obama for their lack of exit strategies in the Middle East. Now, he might need one for war with Iran. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday he has no plan for how to get out of war with Iran if one breaks out, even though he campaigned on ending protracted American wars in the Middle East that he long has called “stupid.”

Hours after he responded to insults by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by warning him of “obliteration” if a shooting conflict starts, CQ Roll Call asked Trump this during an unrelated event in the Oval Office: “Do you have an exit strategy for Iran, if war does break out?”

Nine spending bills down, three to go in House
Not a single House Republican has voted for any of the spending bills, and the White House opposes them too

Chairman Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., right, full committee chair Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., conduct a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on April 9, 2019. Nine of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 have been passed. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed its second batch of fiscal 2020 spending measures Tuesday, in a $322 billion package that would block Trump administration policies on offshore drilling, a health care court challenge, the 2020 census and more.

On a mostly party-line vote of 227-194, the House passed the Democrat-written measure that combines five of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Those are the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, which is the underlying vehicle, along with the Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and the Interior-Environment bills.

House Democrats offer changes to woo liberals on border funds
Bipartisan Senate measure moving in that chamber, adding to flux

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., talks with reporters before attending a meeting with other House Democrats to discuss potential border bill changes at the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:55 p.m. | House Democratic leaders sought to tamp down a rebellion among their party’s left flank Tuesday as they prepared for a floor vote on $4.5 billion in emergency funding for the surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border.

Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey offered a new manager’s amendment aimed at easing the concerns of Progressive Caucus and Hispanic Caucus members over the care of children who are in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. Her amendment would tack on requirements for CBP to develop standards for medical care, nutrition, hygiene and personnel training, as well as a plan to ensure access to translation services for individuals “encountered” by U.S. immigration agencies.

Democrats weave climate messages into spending bills
Aggressive action on climate change and halting rollback of environmental regulations

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., shepherds action on the House’s environmental spending measure. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are using the budget process to offer a clear contrast ahead of an election year between their embrace of aggressive action on climate change and the rollbacks of environmental regulation championed by Republicans when they controlled the chamber in the 115th Congress.

Many of the provisions they’ve included in the fiscal 2020 spending bills may not survive the GOP-led Senate, but Democrats are aware of national polls showing growing voter concern about the climate crisis.

Congressional compensation: Isn’t there a select committee for that?
Panel tasked with modernizing Congress will look at staff but not member issues

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress meeting in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers engage in a contentious debate about whether to thaw a decadelong freeze on their pay, there’s a logical place where the underlying issues of member compensation and housing could be addressed — the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. 

But the panel currently has no plans to take up such matters, its chairman, Rep. Derek Kilmer, and vice chairman, Rep. Tom Graves, told CQ Roll Call.