Richard C Shelby

Four spending bills on the move; Democrats eye allocations deal
Leaders scramble to make headway on appropriations for fiscal year before stopgap measure runs dry

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. (right), arrive for the House Democrats caucus meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic leaders Tuesday called for bicameral talks to reconcile competing spending allocations for long-delayed fiscal 2020 appropriations bills.

With barely five weeks left before the current stopgap funding measure runs dry, congressional leaders are scrambling to make headway on appropriations for the fiscal year that began on Oct.1. Lawmakers have already acknowledged that another stopgap could be needed to fund at least part of the government and avoid a shutdown before Thanksgiving.

Four appropriations bills slated for Senate floor this week
A procedural vote to take up the bill could occur Tuesday or early Wednesday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks in the Capitol on Oct. 16, 2019. The chamber expects to jump-start the appropriations process, taking up four spending bills with bipartisan support this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders plan to jump-start the stalled appropriations process by taking up a package of four spending bills this week that have strong bipartisan support.

Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, an Alabama Republican, announced plans to bring to the floor a package that combines the fiscal 2020 Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, and Transportation-HUD bills. The Appropriations Committee had advanced all four measures on unanimous votes.

Senate floor debate beckons amid spending bill impasse
Under stopgap law, lawmakers have about five weeks to reach funding agreement

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says there’s a “good chance” the chamber can start debating spending bills next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate next week could debate a package of spending bills that have received bipartisan support in the Appropriations Committee, according to Chairman Richard C. Shelby.

“I’ve been hearing that and conversations lend me to think there’s a good chance,” the Alabama Republican said Wednesday, noting that the final decision is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I think there are five, six, seven appropriations bills that we could pass if we get to the floor.”

Congress did not get the ‘impeachment destroyed legislation’ memo
Trump aides contradicted one another about fate of bills as House Democrats probe Ukraine call

President Donald Trump exits a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday — the first full day of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — The White House wasted little time planting seeds of doubt about the legislative agenda after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry, but officials quickly backtracked from those threats.

Just hours after the California Democrat cited Benjamin Franklin and his challenge to “keep” America’s constitutional republic, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham accused House Democrats of having “destroyed any chances of legislative progress for the people of this country by continuing to focus all their energy on partisan political attacks.”

Lawmaker pay freeze extended in Senate Legislative Branch bill
Pay for lawmakers has decreased by around 15 percent compared to inflation and other factors since 2009

From left, Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., prepare for a Senate Appropriations Committee markup on June 19, 2019. The committee advanced its 2020 Legislative Branch spending bill, which marks an increase of about $256 million over current levels. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced, as amended, a $5.09 billion fiscal 2020 Legislative Branch spending bill that would continue a pay freeze for members of Congress. The issue has proved troublesome in the House, where a spending bill approved by appropriators this summer with a cost-of-living adjustment has yet to be brought up on the floor.

The Senate version, approved by the panel 31-0, would mark an increase of about $256 million over current levels to fund the House, Senate and joint operations, including Capitol Police, the Government Accountability Office, and other offices.

Senate clears stopgap, pivots to endgame spending talks
The bill funds the government through Nov. 21, giving Congress and the White House more time to reach agreement on appropriations

Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prepare for a Senate Appropriations Committee markup on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. The Senate voted Thursday to approve the House-passed bill to fund the government through Nov. 21. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate on Thursday cleared a spending bill that will fund the government through Nov. 21, giving lawmakers and the White House more time to reach agreement on the annual appropriations process. The vote was 81-16, with all of the ‘no’ votes coming from Republicans.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the continuing resolution, holding off another partial government shutdown for at least 52 more days. But this could be the first of several stopgap bills amid tense debates about abortion policy and the border wall.

House, Senate appropriators talking despite impeachment calls
Senate appropriators have begun early talks with House counterparts on next year’s spending bills, despite an impeachment inquiry

Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prepare for a Senate Appropriations Committee markup on June 19, 2019. Senate appropriators have vowed to press on with next year's spending bills as a formal impeachment inquiry begins in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Impeachment inquiry? We’ve still got spending bills to pass.

That’s the attitude of top Senate appropriators, who have begun preliminary talks with their House counterparts about a possible path forward for next year’s spending bills, in advance of formal conference negotiations.

Averting a government shutdown
CQ Budget, Episode 128

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., speaks with reporters in the Senate subway on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed a continuing resolution last week to extend current funding through Nov. 21, giving Congress an extra eight weeks to get its work done. The Senate is scheduled to vote on a measure later this week. But there’s more in this resolution than just a simple funding extension.

New national security adviser faces personality test with Trump’s inner circle
Robert O’Brien is largely a blank slate on policy, which could help him manage internal disagreements

Robert C. OBrien, serving as special envoy for President Donald Trump, arrives at a courthouse in Stockholm during the rapper A$AP Rocky assault trial in August. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images file photo)

Internal debates during President Donald Trump’s first two and a half years in office have been marked by acrimony, tension and high-stakes negotiations. So perhaps it was no surprise that Trump named as his fourth national security adviser the State Department’s lead hostage negotiator, Robert C. O’Brien.

No president has had so many national security advisers in his first term. However long O’Brien lasts in the job, his tenure will be defined less by his policy views and more by how he manages disagreements within Trump’s inner circle.

Farm payment disclosure language delaying stopgap funds
Disagreement remains on how to information on payments made under Trump’s trade mitigation assistance program

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., talks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol on August 13, 2019. On Wednesday, Hoyer said he hopes a stopgap funding bill would be filed as soon as lawmakers can iron out final details, including on language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade mitigation assistance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Disputes over language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade war mitigation program were delaying release of a stopgap appropriations measure needed to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

“Almost ready,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said Wednesday afternoon. She said outstanding issues include how to draft language that would provide adequate reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation for payments made under Trump’s tariff relief program. The CCC is approaching its $30 billion borrowing cap and without the appropriations “anomaly” White House officials say they’d have to stop making payments to eligible farmers and ranchers.