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November 27, 2014

Posts in "Sequester"

January 13, 2014

A Few Highlights — Or Lowlights — From the Omnibus

On Monday evening, appropriators from both chambers unveiled a massive omnibus spending bill to fund the government through the end of September, the culmination of just a few weeks of work and bipartisan negotiations.

The House is expected to pass the 1,582-page package of all 12 appropriations bills this week, if for no other reason than to dispel anxiety over another government shutdown and encourage a return to the age of “regular order.”

But, as with any major piece of legislation, the final product necessitated some compromises, and there are policy riders that are sure to ruffle feathers from members on both sides of the aisle — even if they won’t be enough to sink the whole ship.

Here are a handful of the provisions House lawmakers will have to swallow in the name of passing the spending bill: Full story

January 3, 2014

Cantor Lays Out January Legislative Agenda

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Cantor, center, outlined the House’s January legislative agenda on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House will have a busy January judging by the lengthy legislative agenda Majority Leader Eric Cantor circulated among his colleagues on Friday.

The Virginia Republican’s memo, obtained by 218, lays out the obvious items of business: passing conference reports for the farm bill and for legislation funding the nation’s water programs, plus an appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal 2014.

The GOP-run House will also continue to assail the president’s health care law, starting next week with a measure to address potential security breaches on Cantor released a memo on that specific priority on Thursday.

Cantor also told lawmakers to familiarize themselves with other initiatives that could come to the floor in the weeks ahead, such as a possible Iran sanctions resolution that has been on the back-burner since late last year.

Full story

December 30, 2013

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.

Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story

December 12, 2013

House Passes Budget Deal

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House passed a budget agreement Thursday night that, though modest, could fundamentally change how Capitol Hill functions for the remainder of the 113th Congress.

Lawmakers voted 332-94 on the deal negotiated by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Breaking the vote down by party, Republicans were split 169-62, while Democrats divided themselves 163-32.

The vote was a difficult one for many members. Full story

December 11, 2013

Democrats Ignore Leaders to Pass Pediatrics Research Bill

House Democrats bucked their leaders Wednesday to join Republicans in voting for a contentious suspension bill that would authorize taking $12.5 million from political conventions and giving it to pediatric medical research.

The House voted 295-103, with 72 Democrats joining all but one Republican (Paul Broun of Georgia) easily clearing the threshold for a two-thirds majority required by suspension bills.

The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, named after a 10-year-old girl who died in October following an 11-month battle with an inoperable brain tumor, was the latest iteration of a proposal that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., unveiled in April.

Democrats and their leadership made it clear this week that their objection was not to pediatrics medical research funding. One Democrat, Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, called the bill “a joke,” and said it was “nothing but a guise and a ruse.”

Indeed, a number of Democrats pointed out Tuesday that it was Republicans who had cut billions from the National Institutes of Health and had proposed additional cuts in GOP budgets.

Full story

Little Evidence of Major GOP Revolt on Budget Deal

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Roskam said he thinks the budget deal will get “strong support” from the Republican Conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There wasn’t much of evidence of a major revolt against the budget deal brewing among House Republicans Wednesday morning, despite some opposition from those in the party’s right wing to an increase in fees on air travel and letting up even a little on the sequester spending cuts.

While some members spoke against the deal struck between Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., during a closed conference meeting, several senior Republicans and some of the party’s right wing told reporters they were inclined to back it and expect a majority of the conference to fall in line, despite opposition from groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.

“Every member is going to make their own decision, but I think it was very well received and I think it’s a good accomplishment in divided government, and I think it’s going to receive very strong support,” said Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, the GOP’s chief deputy whip. Full story

December 10, 2013

Cantor’s Pediatric Research Bill Has Democrats Fuming

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

While the House ties up some legislative loose ends this week before adjourning for the year, there is one suspension bill the public — and House Republicans — might be surprised to find many Democrats opposing: a measure aimed at boosting pediatric medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

The “Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act,” named after a 10-year-old girl who died in October following an 11-month battle with an inoperable brain tumor, would end $12.5 million in funding for party nominating conventions and authorize the money for pediatric research grants instead. It’s the latest iteration of a proposal House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., unveiled in April and is sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.

“They’re politicizing the death of a child by naming the bill after her,” a Democratic leadership aide told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday. “That’s pretty disingenuous and callous to use a tragedy like hers to advance something partisan.” Full story

33 House Republicans Want a Sequester-Level CR, Just in Case

Thirty-three conservative House Republicans — including one committee chairman — have signed onto a letter urging leadership to bring to the floor a “clean” one-year continuing resolution that funds the government at sequester levels.

But don’t construe this plea as a coordinated assault on a budget deal that could emerge as soon as Tuesday afternoon, according to Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, who spearheaded the letter along with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise.

And don’t use it to characterize how all the lawmakers would vote should the deal replace the sequester, as expected.

“The letter is not, ‘What are we going to vote for, what can we support?,’” Mulvaney told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview. “All we’re saying is, ‘Look, if we don’t get anything we can support, we are not going to tolerate a government shutdown.’” Full story

December 6, 2013

All Quiet on the Conference Front

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No news is, well, news, as Congress nears pressing deadlines to reach a budget deal and pass a farm bill — and there doesn’t appear to be an agreement for either one, at least before Monday.

House GOP aides familiar with the status of both negotiations say conferees will continue to talk in the days ahead, but there are no formal scheduled meetings at the moment.

“We’re waiting on some of the proposals that were discussed Wednesday to be scored and then they’ll reassess accordingly,” said a House GOP aide familiar with the farm bill negotiations. The top four farm bill conferees met on Wednesday and described the meeting as “productive.” Full story

December 5, 2013

Pelosi Draws, Then Smudges, Lines in Sand on Budget

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Pelosi, left, wants Republicans to agree to an extension of unemployment benefits. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants unemployment insurance legislation to be passed this year, but she sent conflicting signals Thursday about what Democrats’ demands would be.

First, she seemed to be drawing a line in the sand by saying Democrats would not support any forthcoming budget agreement that doesn’t include an extension of unemployment benefits.

“We are making a very clear statement that we cannot, cannot support a budget agreement that does not include unemployment insurance in the budget or as a sidebar in order to move it along,” Pelosi said at a special hearing convened by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee specifically on the subject of unemployment insurance.

Later she seemed to walk back those remarks during a Democratic leadership press conference, clarifying that she would not make her vote on a budget agreement contingent upon a one-year extension of emergency unemployment insurance aid.

“What I said was … as we go forward with the budget, I wanted to see unemployment insurance in there,” Pelosi said. “It could be separate from that as well.” Full story

Boehner: Budget and Farm Bill Deals Are Not Imminent

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner tempered expectations for deals on the budget and the farm bill Thursday, saying neither issue appears to be poised for conclusion.

At his weekly press conference, the Ohio Republican told reporters “there’s clearly no agreement” on a budget from the two chief negotiators, House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Their self-imposed deadline to reach a deal is Dec. 13, and sources indicated on Wednesday that an agreement could be announced in the coming days.

Boehner didn’t say whether he planned to move forward with passing a short-term continuing resolution next week to float government funding past Jan. 15, though he told his members last week that he would do so if necessary in order to take the threat of another government shutdown off the table.

As for the farm bill, Boehner said, “I’ve not seen any real progress,” and signaled that the House was prepared to pass a one-month extension of current funding for agriculture and nutrition programs to buy farm bill conferees more time. Full story

December 3, 2013

Budget Deal Optimism Emanates From Top House Appropriator

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Rogers is not preparing a fallback plan in case budget conferees fail to reach a deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said Tuesday that he is “somewhat optimistic” that the members of a bipartisan, bicameral budget conference committee will deliver on a broad spending agreement by their Dec. 13 deadline.

Fearing a broad budget deal might ultimately elude conferees, House GOP leaders are reportedly mulling a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government through Jan. 15, when the current CR expires — but the Kentucky Republican doesn’t think that will be necessary.

A House-Senate budget agreement would provide higher spending caps at which to write the twelve appropriations bills, which have been stymied by political fighting over the austere sequestration levels.

Those caps, Rogers said, would allow appropriators to come up with an omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal 2014, negating the need for any stopgap spending measure to float government operations in the interim. Full story

Is a Budget Deal Close? Depends on Whom You Ask

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leadership’s decision to call the chamber back into session next Monday for legislative business — a change to the set 2013 congressional calendar — is sparking all kinds of speculation about what it might mean for fiscal 2014 budget prospects.

Namely, is the budget conference committee nearing a deal to replace the sequester and provide higher spending levels for appropriations bills? Or will the committee’s Dec. 13 deadline come and go with an agreement still elusive?

While some speculation has centered on a possible plan to move a continuing resolution to fund the government, one GOP leadership aide told CQ Roll Call that the chamber was likely set to be in session on Dec. 9, so that the Rules Committee could pave the way for a House vote on a deal secured by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Full story

Boehner Tells Senate to ‘Get Serious’ About Farm Bill, Budget Talks

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Boehner expressed frustration Tuesday about progress on both a farm bill and a budget conference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If Speaker John A. Boehner’s comments are any signal, talks between the House and Senate to craft a farm bill and budget are in trouble with less than two weeks left in the legislative session.

“We can’t defend the Democrats to the point of saying ‘yes,’” Boehner said Tuesday morning.

“It is time for the other chamber to get serious about getting this work done,” the Ohio Republican added.

Boehner argued that House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., had made “nothing but a good-faith effort” to reach consensus with Senate Democrats in a farm bill conference. And yet, with less than two legislative weeks left in this year’s session, a farm bill agreement doesn’t appear near. Full story

November 19, 2013

McConnell Stands By Sequester Level in House GOP Meeting

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell paid a visit to the House Republican Conference’s weekly meeting Tuesday morning to reiterate his support for hanging tough on the $967 billion sequester spending level in negotiations with the Democrats.

The Kentucky Republican has long held the view that the $967 billion discretionary figure is the right position for the GOP, and he’s fought against deals that would increase revenue for additional spending.

Some GOP lawmakers, particularly defense hawks and appropriators, are eager for a deal that would allow more spending this year.

If Republicans and Democrats can’t reach an agreement, that could lead to a yearlong CR that under the sequester law would cut spending to $967 billion — even less than the $986 billion in the CR that ended the government shutdown — with defense absorbing the extra cuts.

A House GOP leadership aide said that while McConnell did not specifically say he supported a yearlong CR, he implied that he would.

A spokesman for McConnell did not address whether he said he supported a CR specifically.

“Sen. McConnell appreciates the efforts of Speaker Boehner and Rep. McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Republican Conference, to make time for his remarks today to the Conference,” a McConnell spokesman said in an emailed statement to CQ Roll Call. “He provided an update on the Senate and had a chance to hear directly from his House colleagues.”

At a news conference immediately following the closed-door meeting, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said he hopes that budget conferees can agree to a common topline number for appropriations bills well in advance of the conference’s Dec. 13 deadline to strike a deal — and avoid a CR.

“It’s important that we do appropriations bills here to fund the government,” Boehner told reporters. “The idea that we should operate under what are called continuing resolutions is a poor way to do business.

“So I understand the frustration of appropriators. They want regular order,” Boehner continued. “Until there’s an agreement out of the budget conference on a discretionary spending number for the year, they are unable to do their work. And frankly, that’s not fair. So I’m hopeful.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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