Patrick J Leahy

Election Year History Belies Ambitious Talk on Appropriations
Lawmakers’ spending goals could run right into midterm hex

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he’s aligned with the president in not wanting another massive omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

November might seem far away, but the midterm elections’ impact on spending bills is already on display, amplified by internal Republican jockeying for leadership positions in the House.

Election years tend to chill swift movement on appropriations bills — especially when there’s potential turnover in leadership of one or both chambers. That’s in part because lawmakers want to focus on campaigning and are back home more than usual, and party leaders tend to want to shield vulnerable members from tough votes.

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite visual aids from congressional floor-watching

(Courtesy @FloorCharts screenshot of C-SPAN)

From tributes to senators to hours of testimony from a tech giant, spring has been a visual mixed bag in Congress.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help them get their point across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and we’re doing a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

Syria Strife May Cause a Trump Shift Lawmakers Like
‘We need to make Bashar al-Assad pay a price,’ Sen. Roger Wicker says

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December 2015. At left, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump may be forced to change his mind — again. But this time, an about-face on Syria would likely bring accolades from many lawmakers who have been frustrated by his ever-shifting stances.

Another example of Trump going off course only to return to it days later could emerge early this week with the situation in Syria. Reports of a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military on the rebel-held area of Douma might prompt Trump to alter his stance of pulling U.S. forces from the war-torn country.

Facebook’s Lobbying Team Faces Test With Zuckerberg on Hill
Zuckerberg intends to approach appearance in a contrite and humble manner, sources say

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message-shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for questions from members of Congress this week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s highly anticipated debut as a congressional witness this week marks an unprecedented step in the company’s decade-long effort to wield influence in the nation’s capital.    

The social media titan is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for a host of questions from senators on Tuesday and House members Wednesday. Lawmakers plan to probe everything from a scandal involving Facebook users’ data to the secretive sources of campaign ads on the platform.

Photos of the Week: Snow and the Threat of a Veto
The omnibus cleared both chambers and awaits Trump’s signature

Snow falls Wednesday. The Office of Personnel Management closed federal offices throughout Washington, but Congress remained open. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week of March 19 neared its close as Washington waited. Veto or signature. Funding or shutdown.

Remember? It snowed this week. 

Trump Threatens to Veto Omnibus Over DACA and Border Wall
Much of Congress departed D.C. after votes, assuming Trump would sign bill as another shutdown looms at midnight

President Donald Trump surprised Washington by threatening to veto the omnibus spending bill passed by the Senate a few hours earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump said Friday he is considering vetoing the omnibus spending bill passed overnight because it does not solve the DACA issue or fully fund his southern border wall.

Government funding expires at midnight.

Senate Sends 2,232-Page Omnibus Spending Bill to Trump
Passage follows House action Thursday, the day after text was unveiled

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul delayed votes on the omnibus to take time to review the legislation, but the Senate finally cleared the spending bill early Wednesday morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate cleared the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package early Friday, less than 24 hours ahead of what would have been a government shutdown.

Following the 65-32 vote, north of the 60 votes needed for passage, the bill now heads to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.

House Passes $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill, Starting Process to Avert Shutdown
Massive measure was released the night before the vote, so members didn’t have time to read it

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., walks through Statuary Hall on his way to his office after the House voted to proceed with the omnibus funding bill Thursday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday passed a $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, starting the process for averting a government shutdown and ending government funding by stopgap. 

The vote was 256-167. The bill includes funding boosts for defense that Republicans sought, as well as for domestic programs on the nondefense side of the ledger that Democrats sought. 

From Assistant to Chief, Women Heading Hill Offices
‘I don’t want people from the outside world calling and thinking I’m taking dictation in here’

Rep. Rosa DeLauro hugs fellow Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher J. Dodd during a 2010 event. In 1981, she joined a handful of congressional female chiefs of staff when Dodd hired her off the campaign trail. Also pictured, at left, former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Women have been heading up congressional offices dating back to the 1940s, but that “assistant” position looked very different from today’s chief of staff post.

The 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act created the title of administrative assistant, which evolved into chief of staff. In 1947, there were about six female administrative assistants in the Senate, according to Senate Historian Betty K. Koed.

At the Races: Here We Go — 5 Days Until PA-18
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