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Senate passes long-stalled disaster aid bill with Trump support
Negotiators agreed to revisit stripped border-related funding after the Memorial Day recess

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and chef Jose Andres talk after running into each other in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Andres was on Capitol Hill for a briefing held by the Power 4 Puerto Rico Coalition, calling on Congress to help Puerto Rico achieve future growth and prosperity after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. On Thursday the Senate approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid deal which included $600 million in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico to help restore funding that ran dry in March. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After months of negotiations, Congress and the White House on Thursday reached agreement on a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that will help communities recover from a series of deadly storms and wildfires. 

The draft bill does not include the border-related funding for migrants at the southern border sought by the Trump administration, the last hurdle that had been preventing a deal on the package.

House Democrats telegraph policy priorities in Capitol Hill funding
Comparison of previous GOP, current Dem spending choices show differences

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a news conference with House Democrats on March 12 to introduce the “Dream and Promise Act.” The new majority’s Legislative Branch Appropriations bill would allow Dreamers to get jobs on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Empowered by their control of the House, Democrats are telegraphing their policy priorities in how they plan to spend taxpayer dollars on Capitol Hill, including exploring student debt relief options and employing Dreamers in Congress.

The fiscal 2020 House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill is signaling what types of issues Democrats want to be talking about and working on, both for their constituents back home and right here on Capitol Hill.

House passes plus-upped disaster aid package

Relief for Puerto Rico after deadly hurricanes is among the issues hanging up a broader disaster aid package in Congress. (Angel Valentin/Getty Images)

The House passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid package to help victims of recent storms and flooding rebuild, with the price tag growing by about $1.8 billion on the floor through amendments to add funds for repairing damaged military facilities, highways, levees, dams and more.

The vote was 257-150, with 34 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the bill drafted by the Democratic majority. President Donald Trump and GOP leaders tried to tamp down defections on the bill, which they oppose because it would pump more money into Puerto Rico, which hasn’t yet been able to spend much of the $20 billion previously appropriated after 2017′s Hurricane Maria.

Shanahan’s confirmation as Defense secretary seems likely, if bumpy
Nominee’s ties to Boeing have come under scrutiny

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan may face some pointed questions from senators during his confirmation hearing to lead the department full-time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate appears likely to confirm Patrick Shanahan as secretary of Defense, barring an unforeseen and damaging disclosure — but not before senators pose some pointed questions of the nominee.

The White House announced on Thursday evening that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Shanahan to run the Pentagon. Shanahan has served as acting secretary since Jan. 1, when James Mattis, the Defense Department’s former boss, quit.

Native American representation on Capitol Hill concerns House lawmakers
Appropriators take aim at what they call offensive art and disrespectful tours

House Appropriators are urging the Architect of the Capitol to work with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to contextualize portrayals of Native Americans on Capitol Hill. Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and pictured here, spoke at the opening of the museum in 2004. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

House lawmakers are raising issues about Native American representation in and around the Capitol — and they aren’t talking about the record number of Native American women in the 116th Congress.

A House Appropriations Committee report released Wednesday highlights disrespectful descriptions of Native Americans on Capitol tours and depictions in artwork around the Capitol campus, which “do not portray Native Americans as equals or Indian nations as independent sovereigns.” 

Biden, unions and the politics of 2020
Democrats will run into trouble if they spend their time chasing the coalition they relied on before Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden has made appealing to unions a big part of his campaign, but that strategy might have its limitations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Shortly after former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he received his first union endorsement. “I couldn’t be more proud to have the International Association of Fire Fighters on my team,” Biden tweeted in response. “Unions built the middle class in this country — and as President, I’ll fight to strengthen them and grow the backbone of this country.”

As CNN noted, “Biden has long enjoyed close ties to labor groups and often attributes his political ascent to unions, referring to them as the ones who ‘brung me to the dance.’” But while Biden’s strength among working-class voters is one reason some observers see him as potentially able to win back Democrats who defected to Donald Trump in 2016, his initial comments about the IAFF endorsement at least raise a question about priorities and strategy.

Stop grading 2020 candidate recruitment, particularly this far from Election Day
Victories by past recruitment ‘failures’ should make parties and press more cautious

The decision by former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams not to run for Senate was branded a Democratic recruitment failure by Republicans, but the state remains competitive, Gonzales writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

Gloating about and reporting on candidate recruitment has become commonplace in the election process. But too often, the grading and grandstanding is premature — and even completely wrong.

This cycle, Republicans are crowing after former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams declined to run for the Senate and freshman Rep. Cindy Axne decided to forgo a Senate run in Iowa. But their decisions don’t change the national dynamic (the GOP majority is still at risk) or the local dynamic (both of those races are still competitive). History tells us we have a long way to go before November 2020.

3 reasons why Trump dumped Herman Cain for Fed seat
‘I’m doing deals and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,’ POTUS said last year

A man walks by the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington, D.C.. Herman Cain will not get a Fed seat after all, President Trump announced Monday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the end, not even Donald Trump and his sky-high popularity with the conservative wing of the Republican Party could give Herman Cain a new political life.

The president announced in a midday tweet that the former 2012 GOP presidential candidate would not get a nomination for a seat on the Federal Reserve.

White House gives Herman Cain an out on Fed amid GOP opposition
Kudlow: ‘It would probably be up to Herman Cain if he wants to stay in’

Presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on Oct. 7, 2011. The White House is giving him an out on a Federal Reserve seat amid mounting GOP concerns. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House appears to be giving Herman Cain, who was forced from the 2012 presidential race amid sexual misconduct allegations, an out in his candidacy for a seat on the Federal Reserve board of governors amid Republican senators’ mounting opposition.

President Donald Trump said earlier this month he is considering Cain for the central bank’s leadership. The president has voiced his anger with the Fed’s decisions on key interest rates, claiming it has slowed economic growth that will be key to his 2020 reelection fight. Cain is a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but exited the race amid a slew of sexual harassment charges.

Herman Cain picks up more GOP opposition to his being on the Fed
Kevin Cramer joins three other Republicans in announcing plans to vote against him

Herman Cain's possible nomination to the Federal Reserve Board has picked up the early opposition of at least four Republican senators, likely dooming his prospects at confirmation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Kevin Cramer said Thursday he would vote against giving Herman Cain a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, likely dooming the nomination before the president officially makes it.

“If I had to vote right now, there’s no way I could vote for him,” Cramer told CQ Roll Call. “I know more things about him that’d keep him out than would qualify him.”