budget

Capitol Ink | Tax Cuts R Us

Why partisan spending allocations spell trouble for the appropriations process
CQ Budget, Episode 127

From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and John Thune, R-S.D., conduct a news conference after the Senate Policy Luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After months of delay, Senate appropriators finally got to work on their spending bills for the new fiscal year, which begins in just two weeks. But it was a slower start than lawmakers had hoped for, and unlike last year’s effort, it was deeply partisan. The Appropriations Committee approved its overall spending limits for each of its 12 bills, but it wasn’t pretty. Where do they go from here? Listen here.

Senate panel backs special $1 billion military ‘readiness’ fund
Some experts are skeptical that the Defense Department will spend the funds effectively.

The new military readiness fund in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense spending bill would come with very few strings or stipulations attached. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s new Defense spending bill would create a $1.1 billion fund for yet-to-be-determined programs that build military “readiness,” a word that has come to mean just about anything in the Pentagon budget.

The fund, created at a time when military preparedness levels are on the rise after nearly two decades at war, would come with very few strings or stipulations, an unusual move for appropriators who typically guard their power of the purse.

Still confused about Trump’s demands of Congress? Maybe it’s you
President ‘always lays it right out there,’ but Hill slow to ‘adjust,’ Eric Ueland says

President Donald Trump — here in January 2018 with Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Thune of South Dakota and Vice President Mike Pence — has clear legislative goals despite confusion at times on the Hill as to what they are, legislative affairs director Eric Ueland says. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — If you’re a Republican lawmaker or congressional aide who struggles to understand what Donald Trump wants in legislation, take a long look in the mirror.

Because it’s you. Not him.

McCarthy: Addressing debt would be Republicans’ top priority if they take back House
Environment, technology and privacy rights would also top agenda, McCarthy says

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is promising action on the national debt if Republicans retake the chamber next year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — As House Republicans kicked off a 48-hour retreat here Thursday afternoon to plot their path back to the majority, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters the GOP’s top priority if it retakes the chamber in 2020 would be to address the national debt.

“First thing we would do is make sure our debt is taken care of,” the California Republican said. “This is continuing to grow.”

Senate spending bill would slash foreign military aid
Questions raised about how Pentagon is handling funds to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi forces fighting insurgencies

The Pentagon was unable to tell the Senate Appropriations Committee how many weapons purchased under one program had been ordered, received, or were in transit or lost. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing to cut more than $2 billion from U.S. military overseas aid programs largely due to mismanagement, according to documents obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Combined with cuts to previously appropriated funds, the potential reductions would affect programs to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi forces fighting insurgencies and another account to reimburse Pakistan for the same sort of efforts.

Draft stopgap would protect Ukraine aid, deny wall flexibility
Draft CR doesn’t grant administration request to use CBP funds to build sections of southern border wall outside of Rio Grande Valley Sector

North Carolina Highway 12 leading onto Hatteras Island is covered with sand after Hurricane Dorian hit the area on Sept. 6. The draft stopgap spending bill being circulated by Democrats would accommodate a White House request to speed up disaster relief spending for Dorian cleanup as other tropical disturbances still threaten. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The measure would also accommodate a White House request to allow an increased rate of disaster relief spending as cleanup from Hurricane Dorian continues and other tropical disturbances still threaten

House Democrats are circulating a draft stopgap spending bill to fund government agencies beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year that would prevent the White House from blocking military assistance to Ukraine and money for a variety of foreign aid-related programs.

Five candidates on list to replace ‘Mr. Tough Guy’ John Bolton, Trump says
President mocks former national security adviser day after he was fired or quit, depending on the source

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs the Capitol in "The Beast" in March. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is looking closely at five candidates to replace hawkish John Bolton — whom he mocked — a day after he abruptly fired Bolton from his role as national security adviser.

“We have a lot of good people who want that position. … We’ll have five people who want it very much,” Trump told reporters after an unrelated event at the White House. “We’ll be announcing somebody next week.”

Senate appropriations process continues to devolve
Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations spending bills mired in abortion dispute

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has seen the Senate’s appropriations process begin to fray this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators have abandoned plans to mark up two spending bills Thursday that have become mired in a partisan dispute over abortion policy.

The Appropriations Committee announced it will postpone consideration of its fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education bill and its State-Foreign Operations bill. As of Wednesday evening, the panel still planned to take up its Defense and Energy-Water bills at a full committee markup, along with a measure that would divvy up total discretionary spending among the 12 subcommittees.

White House keeping foreign aid spending on a tight leash
Funding plan apportions roughly 2 percent of the remaining funds per day for the remainder of the fiscal year

Last month, the White House considered permanently canceling the funding, but President Donald Trump balked after pushback from top GOP officials on Capitol Hill as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House is slowly releasing its previous hold on State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development funds that lapse after Sept. 30, according to sources familiar with the move. But the agencies still could face difficulty spending it all before the deadline.

The Office of Management and Budget has required that the remaining funds in 10 accounts be “apportioned,” or parceled out, in one-quarter increments on the first four Sundays in September. Last month, the White House considered permanently canceling the funding, but President Donald Trump balked after pushback from top GOP officials on Capitol Hill as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.