Homeland Security

Also in the Omnibus: Extra Overtime for the Secret Service
Agents have been stretched thin as Trump travels

A Secret Service agent wipes down one of the presidential limousines at the Capitol before President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Secret Service is slated to receive about $2 billion in the fiscal 2018 omnibus bill, including $9.9 million to pay agents for overtime.

The agency’s funding is down $53 million from fiscal 2017 levels, according to a Republican summary of the bill that passed the House Thursday.

No Clear Path to Legislation for Lawmakers Expressing Outrage Over Facebook Revelations
Congress has historically taken a hands-off approach to tech oversight

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has not indicated whether he will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers, motivated by revelations of Facebook Inc.’s handling of users’ data, may take a look at proposals for new data safeguards — but it’s far from clear that Congress has a clear path from lawmakers’ anger over Facebook to legislative action.

Disclosures about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, and the latter’s behavior in the 2016 elections, may have given legislation greater urgency than was the case after companies such as Equifax Inc. lost the data of about 145 million consumers. But legislation doesn’t seem imminent and, to the extent it’s about data protection, may miss the mark.

Trey Gowdy, the Reluctant Congressman
Reclusive yet often in the limelight, retiring S.C. lawmaker is eyeing his next move

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy has been talking about leaving Congress ever since he arrived seven years ago. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trey Gowdy has been talking about leaving Congress since he arrived seven years ago.

It’s what came to his mind when he ran into an old friend in the weeks after he was first sworn into office in 2011: “I hate this place,” he told Republican strategist Luke Byars that January. “I want to go home.”

No Snow Day on Capitol Hill Wednesday
Floor votes and hearings are still expected

A worker clears the sidewalks on the East Front of the Capitol in March 2009. Employees of the office of the Architect of the Capitol also will likely be hard at work to keep the Capitol open for business on Wednesday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Executive agencies might close Wednesday for the snowstorm that’s bearing down on Washington, but it should be closer to business-as-usual on Capitol Hill.

The cold rain and expected changeover to snow is arriving when lawmakers are already safely in the nation’s capital, so the most usual reason to cancel business — flight delays — won’t be an issue.

Senate Intel Unveils First Findings on Russia Election Meddling
Focus Tuesday was on election infrastructure security

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., left, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., lead a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday to preview the committee’s findings on threats to election infrastructure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s recommendations for how to secure U.S. election systems from intrusion efforts by the Russians and others aren’t exactly earth-shattering.

But that’s not to say they aren’t important.

Perry Told to Do More on Grid Cybersecurity After Russian Hacks
‘We don’t need rhetoric at this point, we need action’

Energy Secretary Rick Perry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Energy Secretary Rick Perry got an earful from senators on both sides of the aisle Tuesday about the importance of a robust cybersecurity policy at the Energy Department in the aftermath of last week’s report of Russian intrusion into key energy infrastructure last year.

The response, Perry told the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a fiscal 2019 budget hearing Tuesday, will lie in a new breakout office dedicated to cybersecurity with a direct communication pathway to his office.

Spending Bill Unlikely to Include DACA Fix
White House, Democrats talking past one another

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, says Democrats rejected the latest White House offer. Democrats counter the White House already missed its chance on a DACA fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Prospects are dim that a short-term patch that would extend a program protecting about 690,000 “Dreamers” from deportation will be included in the upcoming fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Conversations remain ongoing between Congress and the White House on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with some aides insisting a last-minute deal is a possibility. President Donald Trump wants to end the Obama administration program, but federal judges have blocked him and Dreamers brought to the United States illegally as children are in limbo.

Opinion: Putin’s Job Is Easy When Americans Do It for Him
Partisan maneuvering undermines the election process

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Vladimir Putin during an anti-Trump “March for Truth” rally on June 3, 2017, in New York City. Putin’s rigged re-election gives him time to meddle in elections elsewhere in world, Mary C. Curtis writes — but given the partisan efforts to affect outcomes in the U.S., he may have little to do here. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images file photo)

Russian president Vladimir Putin easily cruised to a fourth term this past weekend, surprising absolutely no one. The only nail-biters were how many people would head to the polls — always unpredictable when the victor is certain — and how completely Putin would trounce the token opposition. Now, presumably, the newly re-elected leader can turn his attention to meddling in elections in other countries.

Speaking of the United States, while both Democrats and Republicans would prefer a little more predictability in the November midterms, if not Russian-style oversight, it is members of the GOP who seem most nervous about the eventual outcomes, especially in close House races. And while the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was officially disbanded in January, its spirit lingers on in hints from officials that certain votes should count more than others.

Departing Appropriations Chairmen Set to Reap Omnibus Bounty
Fiscal 2018 spending bill a swan song for Cochran, Frelinghuysen

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s swan song as the outgoing chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee may be a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

The outgoing chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees are set up for a bountiful swan song as a sprawling $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill comes to fruition this week.

For Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, resigning April 1, it’s a “mic drop” moment as the ailing 80-year-old Mississippi Republican will walk off the stage just after the omnibus measure is expected to become law. Cochran’s departure leaves his state with an enormous loss of clout that he will be anxious to ameliorate in his final go-round.

Omnibus Unlikely to Defund 'Sanctuary' Cities
Senate appropriator says it would make it too difficult to pass

Sen. John Boozman said it was unlikely the Senate would move to defund sanctuary cities, as House conservatives are pushing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A top Senate appropriator said Tuesday the final omnibus spending bill would likely not include a provision to defund “sanctuary” cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., suggested in two posts on Twitter that Congress should withhold federal grants for sanctuary cities in the omnibus. His remarks follow the Trump administration’s decision to sue California over three state immigration laws, escalating a battle over sanctuary jurisdictions that began shortly after President Donald Trump took office.