Richard C Shelby

Departing Appropriations Chairmen Set to Reap Omnibus Bounty
Fiscal 2018 spending bill a swan song for Cochran, Frelinghuysen

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s swan song as the outgoing chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee may be a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo )

The outgoing chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees are set up for a bountiful swan song as a sprawling $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill comes to fruition this week.

For Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, resigning April 1, it’s a “mic drop” moment as the ailing 80-year-old Mississippi Republican will walk off the stage just after the omnibus measure is expected to become law. Cochran’s departure leaves his state with an enormous loss of clout that he will be anxious to ameliorate in his final go-round.

Senate Passes Bank Deregulation Bill, House May Seek Additions
More than a dozen Democratic senators joined all Republicans

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo sponsored the measure that would ease regulations on all but the biggest banks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would be the biggest bank deregulation since 1999 and would roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

More than a dozen Democrats joined the Republicans to pass the bill, sending it to the House, where conservative Republicans may seek to attach further provisions to roll back the 2010 law. Republicans will be trying to straddle the line between the extensive reversal of bank regulation that they seek and keeping on board the Senate Democrats who will be needed to clear the measure.

Shelby Expected to Assume Appropriations Panel at Prime Time
Budget deal in place as veteran lawmaker expected to slot into big roles

Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby is likely slotting into the Appropriations chairmanship at a good time, with budget figures already agreed upon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, the expected next chairman of the Appropriations Committee, will slide into the role with much of the grunt work already done.

With a slimmed-down legislative agenda, no major policy initiatives on the horizon and spending levels for fiscal 2019 already agreed to, the timing is good to focus on the elusive goal of clearing the 12 yearly appropriations bills.

Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Resigning From Senate in April
Longtime Republican senator cites his health as “ongoing challenge”

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran will not complete his seventh term due to health reasons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 6:28 p.m. | Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran announced Monday he will resign from the chamber effective April 1, giving way to a special election in November. 

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” the Mississippi Republican said in a statement. 

Bipartisan Praise, and Questions, About Thad Cochran
Omnibus spending measure, future awaits veteran Mississippi Republican

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has bipartisan support and respect, but also faces questions about how much longer he will be in office, even as he begins the task of moving an omnibus spending bill wrapping up the current fiscal year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An omnibus bill wrapping up fiscal 2018 spending could serve as a victory lap for Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who continues to battle questions over his health and stamina in the role.

Rumors have swirled quietly for months about the 80-year-old Mississippi Republican’s future. Those whispers became louder last year after Cochran took a prolonged absence from the Senate due to health issues.

Maryland Democrats Blast FBI HQ Plan
Cardin, Hoyer concerned about effort to put new FBI building at current location

Maryland lawmakers are criticizing the GSA and FBI plan to rebuild the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on its current site. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Trump administration’s proposal to keep the FBI headquarters adjacent to the president’s hotel complex in downtown D.C., has raised the ire of Maryland lawmakers.

“Throughout the Bush and Obama Administrations, the FBI and GSA repeatedly told Congress that the FBI needs a new, fully consolidated headquarters, going so far as to stress the need for selecting a new site because the existing location does not allow the FBI to consolidate the almost 11,000 headquarters employees into one facility,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement

Return of the Earmark? If Trump Gets His Way, Yes
President tells lawmakers they could help get things done

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., center, says conversations about earmarks are under way among lawmakers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress should consider reviving geographically directed spending known as earmarks, President Donald Trump unexpectedly told a group of Republicans and Democrats at Tuesday’s White House meeting on immigration policy.

“You know our system lends itself to not getting things done. And I hear so much about earmarks, the old earmark system, how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks but of course they had other problems with earmarks,” Trump said. “But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks,” he added to a boom of laughter in the room and a few strong yells of “yeah!” and “no!” from individual lawmakers.

Podcast: Congress' Spending Quagmire
CQ Budget, Episode 43

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., speaks with reporters in the Senate subway after the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Budget Tracker Extra Podcast is now CQ Budget. New look but same great show. CQ's budget and appropriations reporter Ryan McCrimmon explains the obstacles faced by lawmakers to lifting the spending caps and agreeing to a long-term budget deal.

Show Notes:

Immigration Deal Tangled Up in Spending Talks
Negotiations over DACA threaten a long-term spending deal

Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby anticipates another continuing resolution may be necessary before a spending deal can be reached. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The program that oversees certain immigrants brought illegally to the country as children continues to complicate discussions on government spending.

Democratic senators are insisting a vote on legislation to address the pending expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program occur either before or as part of a fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Three VPs, Football Boasts and a Relief Baseball Pitcher: Not Your Normal Swearing-In Day
With Democrats Smith and Jones, GOP Senate edge now down to 51-49

Sen. Tina Smith, center, walks with fellow Minnesota Democrats, former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, from the Senate floor to the Old Senate Chamber for her ceremonial swearing-in. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The start of the second session of a Congress lacks most of the pageantry of the first, but Wednesday’s arrival of two new senators prompted some pomp and circumstance, including the rare sight of three vice presidents on the Senate floor at the same time.

Democratic Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota took the oath of office from Vice President Mike Pence shortly after noon, each escorted down the chamber’s aisle by a former vice president.