John Yarmuth

Potential Fiscal Year Move Sows Discord on Select Budget Panel
Womack, Lowey disagree on moving government operations to a calendar year

Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, who co-chairs the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, says a change to a calendar year would be a motivating force to get spending bills done on time. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government may soon operate on a fiscal year that begins on Jan. 1, if the Republican co-chair of a special committee charged with overhauling the budget and appropriations process has his way. But Democrats on the panel are not sold, throwing into doubt tentative plans to release a full slate of recommendations this month.

Rep. Steve Womack said Friday he expects the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform to change the start of the fiscal year for the first time since 1976, when it was moved to Oct. 1 from July 1. The Arkansas Republican also said the panel is likely to recommend making the annual budget resolution a biennial exercise instead, though it is unlikely to split the appropriations bills over two years, as has been floated.

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party
Party voices in favor of Palestinian rights, BDS are getting louder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, here at the Capitol in March, has backed several of President Donald Trump’s domestic policies, further contributing to his country’s divide with Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the surface, it looks like the U.S.-Israel relationship is having its best year ever. In May, President Donald Trump fulfilled Israel’s dream of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his administration is preparing a Middle East peace plan that will almost certainly have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blessing. Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.

But there are political undercurrents that spell trouble for what has traditionally been unquestioned U.S. support for Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party on the eve of a midterm election that could swing the balance of power in one or both chambers of Congress and perhaps profoundly and permanently change the dynamic between the longtime allies.

Photos of the Week: Summer Arrives in Earnest on Capitol Hill
The week of June 25 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., takes a shot as the Democratic team captain Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., looks on from the golf cart during the First Tee’s Congressional Challenge annual golf tournament at the Columbia Country Club golf course Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Congress has left town for the 4th of July recess week. As the jet fumes fade, the heat is up in the swamp with temperatures expected in the high 90s. We hope your air conditioner is functioning properly.

Before lawmakers left, the Senate passed several appropriations bills, but the process could slow as the chamber’s focus will presumably shift toward a possible Supreme Court nominee. (President Donald Trump is reportedly considering names now.)

Republican Golfers Relax on the Links, Beat Out Democrats
GOP prevails in the 17th annual Congressional Challenge golf tournament

Reps. Luke Messer R-Ind., Rick Allen, R-Ga., right, play against Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Albio Sires, D-N.J., during the First Tee’s Congressional Challenge annual golf tournament at the Columbia Country Club golf course Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

In a rare moment in this divisive Congress, a bipartisan group of members spent a peaceful morning just putting around.

They whispered conversations while waiting for a teammate on the green, told each other “nice shot” or laughed at a bad one, and otherwise enjoyed a quiet morning bonding over their love of golf.

Three Members Who Could Question Zuckerberg Hold Facebook Shares
Social media exec faces questions about Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, under fire over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Nearly 30 lawmakers hold stock in Facebook — including three who could soon be grilling its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, about a British company that usurped his firm’s data without user consent to possibly help steer elections.

Twenty-eight members listed stock in the social media giant, according to Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress project. Among them, Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts sit on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island sits on Senate Judiciary.

Roll Call’s 2018 March Madness — The Final Four
Four Republicans and four Democrats left standing

We are down to the final four teams in both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. 

With Expectations Low, Select Budget Panel Prepares to Meet
Committee has broad mission, but few hard deadlines

Rep. Steve Womack, the new House Budget Committee chairman, is head of the select budget panel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The select committee tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process is mandated by law to meet for the first time this week. But what they plan to talk about remains a mystery.

The law establishing the committee instructs the 16 members to provide “recommendations and legislative language that will significantly reform the budget and appropriations process” before Nov. 30, with an initial meeting to be held by March 11.

Senate Democrats Picked for Select Budget, Pension Committees

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer picked his choices for the bipartisan committees looking for solutions to budget and pension issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday named eight senators to the select committees tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process as well as providing recommendations for restoring the solvency of multiemployer pension plans.

The New York Democrat selected Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono, both of Hawaii, for the budget panel.

When Is a Whip a Whip? House Democrats Might Not Be Best Ones to Ask Right Now
Mixed messages come from party critical of Trump for being inconsistent

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she and her leadership team would not whip the vote on the budget deal. Then they started whipping the vote. Sort of. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders have spent the past 48 hours opposing the bipartisan budget deal but saying they’re not whipping it, and then kind of, sort of whipping it.

The inconsistent messaging is all the more notable given Democrats’ frequent criticism of President Donald Trump for wavering in his own policy positions.

Democrats Look for Inroads in Trump-Friendly West Virginia
DCCC is targeting two of the state’s three House districts

West Virginia’s 2nd and 3rd districts voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016. (Map courtesy iStock, composition by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Few states have trended further away from Democrats over the last decade than West Virginia.

President Donald Trump carried the state by 42 points in 2016. Appearing at a rally with the president last year, the state’s governor, who was elected as a Democrat in 2016, switched to the Republican Party.