Budget

McConnell warns of need for cooperation to complete Christmas wish list
There already may not be enough time if senators object to defense policy, spending measures

There is a backlog of legislation to move before Christmas. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The clock is ticking toward Christmas, and in one of the longest-lasting holiday traditions, a Senate majority leader is warning that without bipartisan cooperation there won’t be enough time to get all the work done before the holidays.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Tuesday’s session with the 2019 version of the regular holiday warning.

Rothenberg’s Best & Worst of 2019 Year-End Awards
This year is more than represented by the worst

Congratulations to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who tops Stuart Rothenberg’s list of Most obnoxious Republican members of Congress for 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — It’s December, and that means it’s time for another of my “Best & Worst of the Year” columns. And since it has been a pretty awful year, there should be a lot of worsts.

As always, I’ll offer a set of nominees for each category. Then I’ll pick my winner. But you too can play along at home by selecting your choices. If you disagree with me, I really don’t care. Amuse yourselves, and send any complaints about my categories or my “winners” to Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia.

Campus Notebook: President nominates pick for Architect of the Capitol

The Cannon House Office Building renovation will be a tough issue to grapple with for Blanton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated J. Brett Blanton to be the next Architect of the Capitol for a 10-year stint.

If confirmed by the Senate, Blanton would provide stability to the helm of an agency that has been led by a succession of acting directors. Christine Merdon, an acting director, announced her resignation in August and was replaced by Thomas Carroll, who worked in the same capacity. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for maintaining the facilities on the Capitol complex as well as renovations.

Lawmakers appear eager to reach year-end spending deal
CQ Budget podcast, Ep. 136

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: Storm clouds pass over the dome of the U.S. Capitol building on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats to punish Trump for obstructing Congress. What about top employees?
House has not gone to court to enforce subpoenas in Ukraine probe, unclear if they’ll take other action

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is among the administration officials who have defied congressional subpoenas. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats plan to punish President Donald Trump for blocking witness testimony and document production with an obstruction of Congress article of impeachment, but it’s unclear if the witnesses themselves who did not show up to testify will ever face any repercussions.

As part of the investigation into allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals, lawmakers deposed 17 current and former executive branch employees willing to comply with subpoenas despite orders from the White House not to.

Senators renew drug price push ahead of House Democrats' vote
Congress “needs to show courage and finally act,” Grassley says

The renewed push on drug pricing legislation by Senate HELP leaders Charles E. Grassley, right, and Ron Wyden comes ahead of a planned House vote on Democrats’ signature drug price negotiation bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee on Friday unveiled an updated version of their bipartisan drug pricing bill, though it’s unclear if the changes will appease skeptical Republican senators.

The renewed push for Republican support by Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, comes ahead of a planned House vote next week on Democrats’ signature drug price negotiation bill.

Foreign aid rider tangles up final spending talks
The White House is concerned the rider could cut out faith-based aid groups from USAID contracts

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., listens during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. Shaheen says her amendment, creating concerns for the White House in year-end spending talks, has nothing to do with funding abortions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Urged on by anti-abortion activists and religious groups, the White House is raising concerns in year-end spending talks about language secured by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in the Senate’s State-Foreign Operations bill they fear could cut out faith-based aid groups from U.S. Agency for International Development contracts.

Shaheen argues the provision in the bill would simply require USAID contractors to adhere to current law, which stipulates they can’t deny services to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, political affiliation or other factors.

NC Rep. George Holding retiring, cites redistricting as factor
Holding’s district became more Democratic under the redrawn boundaries

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., speaks as the House Ways and Means Committee marks up tax overhaul legislation in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 12/10 | Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not run for Congress again in 2020 in his own district or a neighboring one. The North Carolina Republican’s district became more Democratic on a new congressional map.

Holding’s decision comes after he said earlier this week that he would not run in a district that he could not win and that he would not challenge a sitting Republican in a neighboring, and more favorable, district.

Asking the hard questions to implement the National Defense Strategy
Conversation on the changing role of America’s military needs to expand beyond Washington

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Two years ago, the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, shifted America’s military focus to a new era of great-power competition, especially with China and Russia. Welcomed with broad bipartisan support, this groundbreaking document calls on us to make tough choices to reshape our military, reform the Department of Defense, and recommit to strengthening alliances and attracting new partners around the world.

President Donald Trump has committed to rebuilding the foundations of American military power. The NDS provides the blueprint to achieve that objective, and it must be fully implemented. That is why we have made it our priority on the Senate and House Armed Services committees to ensure that we turn the NDS from a strategy on paper into a strategy in action.

Health groups reveal ads pushing Democrats to back drug bill
The groups will build on an ad push supporting the House bill earlier this year by the group Protect Our Care

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., left, and Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., attend a rally in the Capitol Building to call on the Senate to vote on House Democrats’ prescription drugs and health care package on in May 2019. Several left-leaning health care groups are launching a seven-figure advertising campaign that builds on a previous effort by the group Protect our Care pushing for the passage of the pricing bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A left-leaning health care group is doubling its seven-figure advertising push for the passage of House Democrats’ drug pricing bill in an effort to counter industry and conservative opposition to the proposal, according to information shared exclusively with CQ Roll Call.

The effort, which will be paired with additional spending from other left-leaning health groups, comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced the House will vote next week on legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for up to 250 prescription drugs a year.