Omnibus Drops as House Speeds Toward Vote
Lawmakers could vote as early as Thursday on $1.3 trillion package

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, shown here in 2017, huddled with President Donald Trump on Wednesday to sell the $1.3 trillion spending package. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled a $1.3 trillion omnibus package that would erase years of budget cuts and fund some of Republicans’ and Democrats’ top priorities.

The fiscal 2018 measure delivers on two of President Donald Trump’s biggest goals: a massive increase in military spending and new funds for border security and immigration enforcement. The omnibus would provide $700 billion for the Pentagon in all, or 10 percent more than the prior year, and close to $1.6 billion to bolster enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border, including construction of 33 miles of new fencing — though aides said funds for a “concrete wall” were not included.

Emerging Omnibus Plan Lacking Some Big-Ticket Trump Asks

Bipartisan Health Care Compromise Falls Apart, Obamacare Battle Continues

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on legislation to lower health insurance premiums for citizens who pay out of pocket on March 21, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The politics of health care reared its ugly head yet again.

A grand, bipartisan bargain to stabilize the U.S. individual insurance market fell apart this week. And members on both sides of the aisle turned to what they know best: blaming the other party.

Vermont Will Be Last State to Have Never Sent a Woman to Congress
Cindy Hyde-Smith’s appointment marks all-time high for women in chamber

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker, hosted a reception last week to honor Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who is now the longest-serving woman in the House, breaking the previous record set by Massachusetts Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Mississippi governor’s appointment of Cindy Hyde-Smith to the Senate next month marks a milestone: She will be the state’s first woman in Congress.

And that would leave Vermont as the lone state in the union to have never sent a female lawmaker to Washington

Mass House Democrat Defections Likely On Omnibus Without DACA Commitment
‘We believe this is a very, very critical issue to be resolved,’ Hoyer says

House Minority Whip Steny  H.Hoyer, D-Md., suggested Democrats may oppose the omnibus without a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Dozens of House Democrats are likely to vote against the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill if the final deal, which leaders hope to announce Wednesday afternoon, does not include a commitment to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

House Democrats have been frustrated for months by Republicans’ refusal to allow a floor vote on legislation to protect so called-Dreamers — DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. They’ve voted against several stopgap spending bills because of congressional inaction to provide a permanent replacement for DACA, which President Donald Trump tried to end effective March 5 but federal court rulings have kept alive.

No Clear Path to Legislation for Lawmakers Expressing Outrage Over Facebook Revelations
Congress has historically taken a hands-off approach to tech oversight

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has not indicated whether he will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers, motivated by revelations of Facebook Inc.’s handling of users’ data, may take a look at proposals for new data safeguards — but it’s far from clear that Congress has a clear path from lawmakers’ anger over Facebook to legislative action.

Disclosures about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, and the latter’s behavior in the 2016 elections, may have given legislation greater urgency than was the case after companies such as Equifax Inc. lost the data of about 145 million consumers. But legislation doesn’t seem imminent and, to the extent it’s about data protection, may miss the mark.

Cindy Hyde-Smith Gets Appointment to Mississippi Senate Seat
State’s first woman in Congress expected to seek election in November

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is the designated successor to Sen. Thad Cochran. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith will be coming to the U.S. Senate next month.

Gov. Phil Bryant formally tapped the Republican agriculture and commerce commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who is poised to go out with a win on an omnibus spending bill. Currently in his seventh term, Cochran is resigning effective April 1 for health reasons. 

Podcast: Lessons for the Opioid Epidemic from the Ebola Fight
Political Theater, Episode 11

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., attend an event in the Hart Building on Feb. 26, 2015 when Sirleaf offered thanks to Congress for authorizing funds to help fight ebola in her country. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On Omnibus, Congressional Leaders Are All Feeling Good
Ryan, Schumer and Pelosi all say they feel negotiations are in a good place

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speak to reporters following a meeting of House and Senate leaders in Speaker Ryan’s office on the $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders emerged just before 11 a.m. Wednesday from a meeting to negotiate outstanding issues on a fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill predicting a deal was forthcoming in a matter of hours. 

“We feel like we’re in a good place,” the Wisconsin Republican said upon exiting his office, where the meeting was held.

Illinois Primaries: Ratings Changes in Two Races
Land of Lincoln may help Democrats gain seats

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., narrowly survived a primary challenge Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Illinois primaries are in the books, setting the stage for an important batch of congressional elections in November. 

Assuming Democrat Conor Lamb is certified as the winner of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Democrats still need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority. That’s a wide enough gap that Democrats, instead of cherry-picking victories around the country, will look to score big in a handful of states. Illinois might be one of them.

Photos of the Day: Snow Doesn’t Stop Capitol Hill This Time
Photos of the snow day in Washington as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Workers clear the East Plaza of the Capitol on Wednesday. Congress is in session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is in during the snow storm that is expected to bring several inches of snow to D.C. (and much more in the outlying areas). Appropriators are negotiating a 12-bill omnibus to keep the government open past a Friday deadline.

As Washington awaits news of a government funding plan, some in the city have taken to the Capitol grounds for the ever-popular sledding on the West Front.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Cold-weather members of Congress taunt their colleagues and D.C. as spring snow falls

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., closes the door as he prepares to hold a press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating and this is the place for those stories. We look for them, but we don’t find them all. We want to know what you see, too.

Rep. Lujan Grisham Gets Restraining Order Against Former Intern
New Mexico Dem ‘fearful’ of fired intern, who says she was discriminated against because she is transgender

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., obtained a restraining order against a former intern in her office on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham obtained a restraining order Tuesday against a former intern who worked for her on Capitol Hill.

Lujan Grisham, who is vacating her seat in New Mexico’s 1st District to run for governor, said she was “fearful” of former intern Riley Del Rey, and said in court documents that she “believes Ms. Del Rey intends to cause her serious harm or her behavior will harm other people in public settings,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Omnibus Bill in Sight After ‘Big Four’ Meet to Iron Out Kinks
Finishing touches on $1.3 trillion package being applied

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speak to reporters following a meeting of House and Senate leaders in Speaker Paul D. Ryan's office on the $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders and the White House have reached a preliminary deal on a roughly $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. GOP and Democratic aides were putting the finishing touches on the mammoth package and were expected to file it later Wednesday morning for House floor consideration.

Some issues remain unresolved as of Wednesday morning, requiring leadership attention.

Aide to Bob Brady Faces More Charges
Ken Smukler is accused of hiding donations to former congresswoman’s campaign

An aide to Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., is facing additional charges related to former Rep. Marjorie Margolies’ 2014 campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An aide to Pennsylvania Rep. Robert A. Brady, already facing charges from Brady’s 2012 campaign, is facing additional charges of obstructing a federal investigation of former Rep. Marjorie Margolies.

Ken Smukler was charged last year in relation to a scheme to pay off one of Brady’s Democratic primary opponents in 2012.