Nita M Lowey

Photos of the Week: Hot dishes, tulips and high fives
The week of April 12 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Tulips bloom on the West Front of the Capitol on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is heading out of town for its two-week April recess, but members had an eventful week before they hit the road. 

Spring entered full bloom as Minnesota members enjoyed delicious hotdishes during their annual cooking competition, and Democrats pow-wowed in Leesburg, Virginia, for their retreat — with some celebrity guests.

Chao defends delayed 737 Max decision, to House appropriators
The FAA’s handling of the crash raises questions about how the agency operates

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao arrives for the Senate Appropriations Committee Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the proposed Transportation Department budget for FY2020 on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao defended to House appropriators the administration’s decision not to immediately ground the Boeing 737 Max after an Ethiopian Airlines crash last month, even as other countries did so right away.

While Chao was appearing before the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the administration’s budget request for her agency, Chairman David E. Price, D-N.C., and ranking member Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., both said they wanted to understand more about the Federal Aviation Administration's process for certifying the model of the Boeing plane.

Congress will probably leave town without voting on a disaster bill
Partisan deadlock over how much relief aid should go to Puerto Rico is showing no signs of easing

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., exits the Senators Only elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A partisan deadlock over a disaster relief package showed no signs of easing Tuesday, as the two camps traded barbs over aid for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Senate Republicans made a new offer over the weekend that Democrats dismissed, weakening prospects for a deal before lawmakers leave town later this week for a two-week Easter recess. President Donald Trump has told Republicans he won’t support additional aid to Puerto Rico beyond an extra $600 million in food assistance that is already included in a GOP-written bill.

Democrats ponder power of the purse to get full Mueller report

Attorney General William Barr is greeted by full committee chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., before a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on the Department of Justice's budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Top Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee aren’t ready to wield their power over Justice Department funding to pressure Attorney General William Barr to provide the full special counsel report from Robert S. Mueller III — but they aren’t ruling it out either.

Rep. Jose E. Serrano, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the DOJ budget, told reporters that appropriators could prescribe that no dollars be used to block Mueller’s full report from being released — not that he’s saying that would happen.

Mueller’s report could be out within a week, Barr says during hearing
The attorney general appeared in front of House Appropriations to discuss the Justice Department budget

Attorney General William Barr arrives to testifies before a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on the Department of Justice’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Tuesday that he will be in a position to release a version of the special counsel report “within a week,” with color-coded notes explaining why he redacted any information.

Barr, before an appropriations subcommittee, reiterated that he would withhold information from the report such as grand jury material or information that could reveal counterintelligence methods or interfere with ongoing prosecutions.

New York Rep. José Serrano has Parkinson’s, won’t seek re-election
Democrat says disease has not affected his work in Congress, and he will serve the remainder of his term

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., announced that he has Parkison’s disease and will not seek re-election in 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Democratic Rep. José E. Serrano announced Monday that he has Parkinson’s disease and will not seek re-election in 2020.

The 75-year-old said he plans to finish his current term, which is his 15th full one in Congress, as the disease has not yet affected his ability to work.

House Appropriations may start markups in April
Markups have to begin in April or May at the latest to have any chance of bills passing on the floor in June

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee walks across the Capitol from the House side for a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Democratic appropriators are looking at starting fiscal 2020 markups as soon as late April with the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education and Legislative Branch bills, people familiar with the process said.

The Military Construction-VA and Energy-Water bills also are on tap to be among the first five bills marked up, as part of an effort to begin advancing bills across the floor in June.

Senate to follow House, keep earmarks out of spending bills
Earmarks have also been banned in the Senate since 2011

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., is seen after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators don’t plan to revive earmarks this year, following the House’s lead set late last week by the Democratic majority across the Capitol.

“I would listen to meritorious things, but I don’t see that happening right now. The House has just spoken,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday.

Rep. Omar won’t apologize for new comments, Dems plan anti-Semitism rebuke
House Democrats plan vote in response to anti-Israel comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. The Democratic chairman of that panel is among those criticizing Omar for anti-Semitic remarks. The House will vote on a resolution this week in response. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic leaders on Wednesday will call up a vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism — a move meant to respond to anti-Israel comments made by Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Staff from the offices of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch worked on the resolution over the weekend but the text has yet to be finalized, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Earmarks won’t be back this year, at least in the House
‘Pork’ has been banned in the chamber since 2011

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee, won’t bring back earmarks this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats don’t plan to revive home-state earmarks during the upcoming appropriations process, though they expect to continue discussing the issue with their Republican colleagues.

“Unfortunately, there is currently not the necessary bipartisan, bicameral agreement to allow the Appropriations Committee to earmark,” Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey wrote in a letter sent to members of the panel Thursday and released publicly on Friday. “For that reason, I do not expect fiscal year 2020 House spending bills to include congressionally-directed spending.”