LBBY

House stopgap bill would fund farm payments, health programs
The bill could move to the full House for floor consideration as early as Thursday

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., walks down the House steps after a vote on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. House Democrats unveiled a stopgap spending bill after ironing out last-minute disagreements. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats unveiled a stopgap spending bill late Wednesday that runs through Nov. 21 after ironing out last-minute disagreements about payments to farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs.

The measure would reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation for trade relief and other payments as of Sept. 17, so the agency doesn't breach its $30 billion borrowing cap as it continues to send checks to farmers and ranchers.

Kennedy plans to launch challenge to Markey for Massachusetts Senate seat
Grandson of RFK, serving fourth House term, is last member of political dynasty in Congress

Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III plans to launch a challenge to Sen. Edward J. Markey (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III will challenge Sen. Edward J. Markey in a primary, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday evening. Kennedy plans to announce his Senate bid on Saturday, the Globe reported.

Kennedy's decision comes after weeks of speculation that the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy would challenge fellow Democrat Markey, who is serving his the first term. Kennedy had filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission in late August.

Chief Standing Bear statue welcomed in Capitol, replacing William Jennings Bryan
McCarthy: ‘as the tours are given, I promise you: you will stop here’

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., speaks during a ceremony unveiling a statue of Chief Standing Bear, a Native American civil rights icon from Nebraska. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The prominent placement of Nebraska’s new statue of the legendary Chief Standing Bear in Statuary Hall was quite intentional.

So said Sen. Roy Blunt at an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. The Missouri senator was introduced as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, but it was in one of his other capacities that he had shown Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., where he thought the statue should be positioned.

AG Barr takes temperature of Senate GOP on gun background checks
But there's still confusion about what President Donald Trump will ultimately support

Attorney General William Barr spent a second day on Capitol Hill speaking with Congressional members about gun legislation. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr continued to take the temperature of Republican senators on expanding background checks Wednesday after a working document started circulating publicly.

“As the president has made clear he’s interested in exploring meaningful solutions that will actually protect people, make people safer,” the attorney general said. “And I’m up here just kicking around some ideas, getting perspectives, so I can be in a better position to advise the president. The president has made no decision yet on these issues.”

Business fishing for USMCA support from pool of 100 Democrats
The Business Roundtable and other supporters are focusing on about 100 House Democrats in their search for bipartisan approval

Josh Bolten, right, CEO of the Business Roundtable, talks with Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., after a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “Tariffs: Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy and the International Economy,” in July of 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Business Roundtable and other corporate supporters of the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact are focusing on a pool of about 100 House Democrats in their search for votes for bipartisan approval of the agreement.

“We think there’s as many as 100 gettable Democratic votes. A very substantial minority we think can and should vote for it,” Business Roundtable President and CEO Joshua Bolten said Wednesday after a briefing on its quarterly survey of business confidence.

Youth climate activists on climate change: Listen to the scientists

Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, center right, sits with other youth climate activists at a press conference to discuss climate change in Washington on Tuesday September 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A panel of four youth climate activists appeared before a joint hearing on climate leadership Wednesday, urging members to take action on climate change.

Farm payment disclosure language delaying stopgap funds
Disagreement remains on how to information on payments made under Trump’s trade mitigation assistance program

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., talks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol on August 13, 2019. On Wednesday, Hoyer said he hopes a stopgap funding bill would be filed as soon as lawmakers can iron out final details, including on language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade mitigation assistance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Disputes over language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade war mitigation program were delaying release of a stopgap appropriations measure needed to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

“Almost ready,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said Wednesday afternoon. She said outstanding issues include how to draft language that would provide adequate reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation for payments made under Trump’s tariff relief program. The CCC is approaching its $30 billion borrowing cap and without the appropriations “anomaly” White House officials say they’d have to stop making payments to eligible farmers and ranchers.

Trump chastises ally Lindsey Graham, teases Thursday ‘announcement’ on Iran
POTUS: ‘Ask Lindsey how did going into the Middle East, how did that work out?’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds a press conference in the Capitol on March 25. He and President Trump are feuding over Iran. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday teased an “announcement” on Iran over its alleged missile strikes on Saudi oil facilities and chastised a leading Senate ally over the volatile matter.

Since the weekend attack took 6 percent of the world’s oil supply offline, the president has indicated his team sees Iran as responsible, tweeted that he has the U.S. military “locked and loaded,” but also said he does not want a shooting conflict with Tehran.

Trump-California auto emissions fight appears headed to courts
The fight over who can set vehicle emissions standards in California seems headed for the courts

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California justice department on September 18, 2019, in Sacramento, California. Newsom, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols held a news conference in response to the Trump Administration’s plan to revoke California’s waiver to establish vehicle emissions standards. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s fight with California over vehicle greenhouse gas emissions appears destined to become a long court battle, with California and at least one other state vowing Wednesday to sue to sustain the state’s nearly 50-year-old authority to set its own standards.

One day after his EPA administrator vowed to revoke in “the very near future” a waiver that allows California to set stricter mileage standards than the federal government, Trump made the announcement via a series of tweets.

Smithsonian has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance, committee told
Buildings with outstanding repair needs include the Castle and the National Air and Space Museum

Cathy L. Helm, inspector general of the Smithsonian Institute, testifies before the House Administration Committee on Oversight of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Smithsonian Institution has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance needs across the more than 600 facilities it oversees, an issue that concerned lawmakers at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing and one that the recently appointed head of the museum complex pledged to address.

Prominent Smithsonian buildings in need of deferred maintenance — maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been — include the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, the Arts and Industries Building and the National Air and Space Museum. The $937 million backlog for fiscal 2017 is an assessment of every building it oversees, according to to Cathy Helm, inspector general for the Smithsonian Institution.