Nita M Lowey

Appropriators reach spending agreement, fend off possibility of government shutdown
The deal ends months of negotiations that revolved around border wall funding

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., arrives at the Capitol office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Amid impeachment saga, a kitchen sink of legislative dealing
Sen. Alexander: ‘There’s more to life than judges and impeachment’

Sen. Lamar Alexander says, “There’s more to life than judges and impeachment.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The holiday rush on Capitol Hill is in full swing, and the bipartisan legislative lethargy is showing signs of easing even as the House debates articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Senate and House negotiators are still trying to reach an agreement on a bundle of spending bills, but there has been a relative abundance of other bipartisan deal-making and even actual legislation passing in the Senate.

Lowey: Spending deal looking more likely this week
More than 100 differences on full-year appropriations bills still need to be resolved before current funding runs out on Dec. 20

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Dec. 4, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress and the Trump administration could reach agreement on full-year spending bills as soon as Thursday, according to House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey.

“If all goes well, we could have a deal by the end of the day tomorrow,” Lowey said Wednesday evening after reviewing an offer Republicans sent over midday. “I think their offer was real and we’re discussing it and we can find some agreement.”

Powerful patrons duel over California projects in final spending package
Pelosi seeks Presidio park while McCarthy pursues Shasta Dam expansion

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are pushing for this year’s final spending bills to include projects for their home state of California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House are pushing for their own home-state projects in this year’s final spending bills — a spectacular park overlooking San Francisco Bay and a dam across the largest reservoir in California — but without agreement from each other in the negotiations’ final days.

The two items in dispute — the Presidio park project championed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Shasta Dam expansion sought by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy — are among some 200 disagreements that need to be resolved by leadership to finish up the appropriations legislation.

Wall funding talks ‘tenuous’ as appropriators report progress
Negotiations moving to a trade-off that could allow each side to walk away with a win

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior appropriators on Monday were narrowing gaps on border wall funding that have held up a deal for months, according to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a key negotiator.

But the West Virginia Republican, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said after meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other senior Republicans that there wasn’t yet agreement. 

Road ahead: Impeachment articles and spending bills top the agenda
Senators will continue voting on confirming nominations, including for the Ninth Circuit

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked the Judiciary Committee to move ahead with drafting articles of impeachment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is barreling toward a vote on articles of impeachment, possibly before the holiday recess.

House Judiciary Democrats stayed in Washington over the weekend for impeachment strategy sessions, and a Monday hearing will set the scene for the scope of articles of impeachment.

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.

Lowey: Appropriations deal could be struck this weekend
House Appropriations chairwoman says House could vote next week

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., sounded optimistic that negotiations over a spending bill could wrap up over the weekend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said Friday the House could begin voting on final spending bills for the current fiscal year next week.

After months of partisan stalemate, the New York Democrat struck a decidedly optimistic tone in predicting that negotiations on a final spending deal could wrap up this weekend, clearing the way for floor votes to begin. Lawmakers have been scrambling to complete a deal before current funding runs dry on Dec. 20.

Photos of the Week
The week of Dec. 6 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

The Capitol Christmas Tree was lit on the West Front of the Capitol on Wednesday evening. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.