Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 3, 2015

Posts in "Appropriations"

August 31, 2015

McConnell Expects to Cut Budget Deal, Avert Shutdown (Video)

Immigration reform is dead in this Congress, per McConnell. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell expects government-funding talks with the administration will begin after Labor Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that funding the government is the top challenge facing him when he returns to the Capitol next week.

The Kentucky Republican said he would work with the White House to come up with budget levels to keep the government open past Sept. 30, conceding that President Barack Obama won’t sign a measure with a rider defunding Planned Parenthood.

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August 20, 2015

Senator Warns Defense Secretary of Blockade Over Gitmo

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Roberts and Moran have been against transferring Gitmo detainees to Kansas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress is gearing up for another fight over relocating detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that has Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter making calls.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., spoke with Carter Thursday and reiterated his intent to use procedural tools in the Senate to block the transfer of detainees from the naval base at Gitmo to sites on the mainland of the United States, particularly the prison facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

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August 19, 2015

Tim Kaine: Sequestration, VA Hospital Top Concerns

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

RICHMOND, Va. — While Sen. Mark Warner round-tabled down the street on Tuesday with a group of gig-economy workers, Virginia’s junior senator, Democrat Tim Kaine, met with local black business leaders in Richmond on a five-day economic tour through the state.

Talk primarily focused on federal contracting, which Kaine said later was consistent with the most common concern voiced by Virginia business interests: sequestration and the federal budget. Kaine predicted he’d hear sequester questions wherever he goes.

Roll Call on the Road logo“It might be procurement,” Kaine said. “It might be what happens if sequester hits, what are the defense cuts going to be? So a lot of the concern is in this federal budget space.”

On average, a 20-stop tour will lead to five great ideas for legislation, Kaine said, noting that a recent string of bills he’s introduced on opioids was inspired by a trip to southwest Virginia two springs ago. On Monday, he received a few ideas on how to improve care at a local Veterans Affairs hospital.

“Yesterday, I went to the [Hampton] VA hospital,” Kaine said. “They had the worst waiting times in the nation a year ago, now they are about the national average, from 30 days to about seven.”

Kaine asked what could be done to improve wait times even more, only to learn that red tape prevents Department of Defense hospital specialists from treating patients at VA hospitals without prior authorization. If DOD-qualified physicians could work in VA hospitals, that could speed up wait times, Kaine was told.

“I’d never heard that before,” Kaine said. “I didn’t realize DOD physicians couldn’t do it.”

Kaine also learned that the 2014 VA reform bill created a duplicate and conflicting system for when patients see private physicians.

“There was already within the VA the ability to refer people out to private physicians, but we set up two different structures where the reimbursement rates are different, some of the doctors who are in it are different, and it makes it extremely complicated,” Kaine said.

“Could we take the two programs — and there’s money for both — merge them into one and have a single set of criteria,” Kaine asked. “Makes perfect sense.”

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August 18, 2015

Democrats to McConnell: Start Budget Talks Now

Reid and McConnell Democratic agenda

Democrats want Republicans to agree to budget talks now rather than wait until a government shutdown showdown. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats have united to say Republican leaders should not wait until after Labor Day to get going on budget talks.

“With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period — just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year — to begin talks on a path forward,” wrote the entire Democratic Conference in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “We cannot afford to wait, only to let delay and inaction bring us to the brink of another totally predictable and completely preventable crisis.”

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August 13, 2015

Thune Wants GOP Senators Touting Productivity

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thune, left, says the August recess message is that a GOP majority matters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators were sent home for August recess with a pocket card printed with a simple message.

“When Republicans took control of the Senate, we promised to get the Senate working again,” the card reads. “We are keeping our promise.”

The card lists an assortment of legislation passed in the Senate, from long-term highway and education reauthorizations to the anti-human trafficking bill. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, leads the operation that produces the materials for the August recess.

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August 10, 2015

Graham Plans to Block U.S. Money to the IAEA Over Iran ‘Side Deals’

 

Graham holds a town hall meeting on the Iran nuclear agreement in Greenville on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Graham holds a town hall meeting on the Iran nuclear agreement in Greenville on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Roll Call on the Road logo

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he’s going to use all the leverage he has to get access to additional documents about the international agreement with Iran about the Iranian nuclear program.

Speaking to a few dozen people at a “No Nukes for Iran” town hall meeting in his home state, Graham also said Monday that he plans to block the transfer of $88 million in U.S. funds to the International Atomic Energy Agency until Congress gets access to so-called “side agreements” related to the Iranian nuclear agreement.

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August 4, 2015

Watch Live: Senate Hearing on Federal Prison System

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds an oversight hearing on the federal prison system. Department of Justice officials and Piper Kerman, author of “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,” are among the witnesses expected to testify.

Coverage begins at 10 a.m. Full story

August 3, 2015

What’s McConnell’s Next Move on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan? (Updated)

What McConnell called the Obama administration's "war on coal" was a key theme in his 2014 campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What McConnell called the Obama administration’s “war on coal” was a key theme in his 2014 campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:55 p.m. | The Obama administration’s final Clean Power Plan unveiled Monday sets aggressive goals for reducing carbon pollution — but the first challenge on the road to implementation will be working around Republican opposition on Capitol Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been cautioning state governments against developing their own implementation plans as prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and on Monday he swung the door wide open to a legislative response.

“We can pursue other avenues, like [Congressional Review Act] resolutions and further appropriations riders, as these regulations are published and as they wind their way through the courts. But here’s the bottom line about today’s announcement: if the Obama administration were actually serious about advancing renewable energy, then it would follow the example of what leaders like Sen. [Lisa] Murkowski has been achieving in the Energy Committee,” McConnell said. “She’s showing how we can make big strides on energy diversification, that we can do it in a bipartisan way, and that we don’t have to punish the middle class to do it.”

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July 29, 2015

Highway Bill Might Be Senate’s Last Accomplishment Before August

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s on the road to shipping the House a six-year highway bill before leaving for August recess, despite the fact House members won’t be around to debate it.

Senators voted Wednesday morning to clear the final major procedural hurdle on the highway measure, but that could be the chamber’s last significant bill before the August recess, even with the Senate planning to stick around for another week. Other than advancing a three-month bill to keep transportation programs running past the end of July, there’s little thus far on the schedule for the first week of August. Full story

July 16, 2015

McConnell Uses Clout to Help Hemp Industry

McConnell wants to expand the market for industrial hemp grown in Kentucky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell wants to expand the market for industrial hemp grown in Kentucky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be the best friend in Washington for the nascent industrial hemp industry.

The Kentucky Republican announced Thursday he had secured hemp-processing language in an Agriculture Department spending bill.

“Kentucky’s industrial hemp pilot programs continue to prosper and I want to make sure our legal hemp producers can safely transport their crops between states, including to States that maintain processing facilities, so they can fully capitalize on the commercial potential for this commodity,” McConnell said in a statement.

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June 22, 2015

Schumer Eggs Republicans

Schumer is using eggs to beat up on the GOP. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Schumer is using eggs to beat up on the GOP. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The latest salvo in what’s looking to be a summer of sparring over spending? Eggs.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer is using rocketing egg prices to rip the GOP’s domestic spending tourniquet — one of many kitchen-table arguments we’re told to expect from Democrats ahead of a potential Sept. 30 shutdown showdown.

At his weekly Sunday news conference, the New York Democrat highlighted recent news of an outbreak of bird flu that has led to tens of millions of chickens being slaughtered and thus, an unusually limited supply of eggs. Schumer said the proposed Republican budget for the Agriculture Department includes cuts of about a half-billion dollars.

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June 18, 2015

Senate Waste Watchers Soldier On

From left, Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., appeared with Pigfoot, a mascot for Citizens Against Government Waste. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

From left, Toomey, McCain and Jeff Flake appeared with Pigfoot, a mascot for Citizens Against Government Waste, in May. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A dog-bite prevention website. Vermont puppet shows. Researching the bomb-sniffing capabilities of elephants.

Those are just some government spending projects labeled “wasteful” in this Congress by a crop of lawmakers who continue to take on the mantle of pork busters four years after Ohio Republican John A. Boehner banned earmarks after he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011.

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June 17, 2015

Senate’s Defense Endgame Expected Thursday

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans McConnell and Cornyn are setting up a defense appropriations showdown Thursday with Democrats.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is setting up to make the case that Democrats are flip-flopping on national security.

With the debate time on the defense authorization bill set to expire late Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican indicated in opening the day’s session that votes are likely to be rolled into Thursday. And as soon as the authorization is off the floor, it will be in order to consider his motion to limit debate to take up the Defense Department’s appropriations measure.

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June 11, 2015

Flake Releases ‘Jurassic Pork’ Report

That's Jurassic Pork, not Jurassic Park. It's the latest report from anti-earmark Sen. Jeff Flake. (Screenshot)

That’s Jurassic Pork, not Jurassic Park. It’s the latest report from anti-earmarker Flake. (Screenshot)

Blending dinosaur and swine metaphors, Sen. Jeff Flake released “Jurassic Pork” Thursday — a report aimed at highlighting projects that survived despite the 2010 earmark moratorium.

“Fossilized within the federal budget, these projects continue to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Many have even outlasted the terms of the politicians who created them,” the Arizona Republican wrote. Full story

June 1, 2015

Appropriations Bills Face Democratic Roadblock

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Moran’s among the Republican appropriators eager to see bills on the floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It might be too early to put the nail in the coffin of the fiscal 2016 appropriations process, but get your hammer ready.

After the Senate Appropriations Committee met for its first full committee markup shortly before the Memorial Day break, Democrats made clear they will try and block any effort to pass the bills until a budget deal is reached allowing them to spend more money.

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