IMGR

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.

Lawmakers weaponize colleagues’ call records
Devin Nunes disclosure could presage conflict over phone conversations

The phone records of House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., have become an issue in the impeachment inquiry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week gave members of Congress a glimpse at a new and distressing weapon in partisan warfare — the exposure of lawmakers’ call records as part of congressional oversight.

The House Intelligence Committee report in its investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine included the call records of the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly under criminal investigation, and his indicted associate Lev Parnas.

Following guilty plea, Duncan Hunter barred from voting in the House
Stripped of committee assignments and banned from voting, his role in Congress is diminished

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is not allowed to vote in the House, following his guilty plea earlier this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee notified Rep. Duncan Hunter that his recent guilty plea means he should no longer cast votes in the House. The instruction is not mandatory, but the panel threatened action against him if he continues to vote.

Hunter last voted on Wednesday, in favor of a measure to crack down on robocalls. He did not weigh in on any of the four roll call votes the House took on Thursday. 

Targeting China, senators want Olympics to move up human rights timeline
10 senators have written to IOC President Thomas Bach

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading an effort to pressure the IOC to speed up implementation of human rights standards . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Looking toward China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, senators from both parties want the International Olympic Committee to speed up the timeline for requirements designed to protect human rights in host countries.

In the letter signed by 10 senators led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, the lawmakers express concern about China’s track record to IOC President Thomas Bach.

Booker’s CROWN Act would ban discrimination against black hairstyles
Federal initiative is part of state-by-state push by group that includes Dove products

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is among those calling for more federal protections against discrimination of hairstyles commonly worn by African Americans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nappy. Kinky. Too curly. These are adjectives sometimes used to describe natural black hair. While they can be insulting, some lawmakers say these perceptions also lead to discrimination against African Americans.

Several recent high-profile incidents involving discrimination and racial insensitivity have convinced lawmakers that more federal protections need to be put in place to prevent prejudice against hairstyles associated with black culture.

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.  

Trump jokes about White House ‘Russian Room’ at UN lunch
‘We’ll take care of that,’ US president tells Moscow’s ambassador to UN

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump just can’t help himself sometimes — not even when it comes to Russia, the country that has dogged his entire presidency.

Amid an impeachment scandal related to his dealings with Ukraine — which the Kremlin invaded in 2014 — Trump dropped a quip Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s homeland.

Don’t know which candidate is stronger? We have a metric for that

Voters fill out ballots in Virginia on election day in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sometimes it’s difficult to discern the strength of a particular candidate running for election, especially when political pundits bandy data and metrics back and forth. 

Luckily, we have a metric for that. 

Ted Cruz pays off World Series bet with Texas barbecue and beer
Senator wore a Washington Nationals jersey for the occasion

Sens. Ted Cruz, left, and Tim Kaine take a photo together Thursday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, where Cruz provided a Texas-themed buffet for his and Kaine’s staffers after losing a World Series bet with Kaine. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Ted Cruz repaid his World Series bet in style Thursday with a feast of Texas barbecue and Shiner beer.

“I agreed to go full bore, so I am painfully going to deliver, although I continue to wave my 2017 rally flag,” the Texas Republican said at a luncheon with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, their staffs and other invited guests.

At the Races: We have 2020 vision

By Stephanie Akin, Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé

Welcome back to At the Races! We are relaunching just as the campaign cycle gets interesting. Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.