Budget

New York Rep. José Serrano has Parkinson’s, won’t seek re-election
Serrano says the disease has not affected his work in Congress, and he will serve the remainder of his term

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., announced that he has Parkison's disease and will not seek re-election in 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Democratic Rep. José E. Serrano announced Monday that he has Parkinson’s disease and will not seek re-election in 2020.

The 75-year-old said he plans to finish his current term, which is his 15th full one in Congress, as the disease has not yet impacted his ability to work.

Road ahead: As Congress digests Mueller conclusions, it has plenty more on its plate
House will attempt to override Trump’s veto, while Senate takes up Green New Deal

A Capitol Visitor Center employee sets up a shade umbrella last Tuesday outside the CVC entrance. The Senate and House minority parties may need an umbrella to block the shade the majorities plan to throw at them this week amid votes on the Green New Deal and overriding a presidential veto. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill spent much of the weekend waiting to find out what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discovered about Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election. But as Congress digests the principal conclusions of his report, prepared by Attorney General William P. Barr, leaders will also try to get members to address other priorities.

Barr’s four-page letter sent to Congress on Sunday afternoon stated that Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.”

Yes, Trump’s budget really does promote evidence-based policies
And it’s doing so in a responsible way

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget isn’t perfect, but it includes many policies that push our government to become more evidence-based, Hart writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — When presidents send budget proposals to Congress, they include funding requests and broad policy statements. But what lies beneath the surface is often critical for understanding real priorities.

The broad contours of President Donald Trump’s latest budget will come as no surprise: increases to defense spending, cuts to nondefense spending, and a goal to eventually reduce the deficit long after his administration is gone.

Barr: Mueller ‘did not establish’ Trump-Russia collusion, but obstruction questions remain
White House says AG’s summary of special counsel report exonerates president

Special counsel Robert Mueller walks with his wife Ann Mueller on March 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Special counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to Attorney General William Barr. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

That assertion is, of course, the opposite of what Mueller wrote in his report, according to Barr’s summary.

“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” from obstruction of justice charges, Mueller wrote.

Lawmakers from both parties resist humanitarian and refugee aid changes
A White House proposal would not only cut funding but reshape humanitarian assistance, particularly for refugees

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters as he arrives for the votes in the Senate to keep the government open on Feb. 14, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they are determined to block a White House budget proposal that would gut the State Department’s refugee operations and slash overall humanitarian aid levels.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request proposes consolidating three separate humanitarian assistance accounts operated by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The new umbrella account would be managed by USAID and, in theory, have more flexibility to respond to rapidly evolving global crises.

8 things I wish I’d known when I worked on Capitol Hill
‘My home life was a toxic mix of reheated pizza and C-SPAN,’ one former staffer admits

Your days on the Hill may be long, but the years will be short, former staffers warn. Above, staffers take the stairs in the Hart Senate Office Building in 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Working on Capitol Hill is the best of jobs and the worst of jobs, all rolled into one. The pay is low, the hours are long, and angry constituents aren’t wrong when they remind you that they pay your salary. But working on the Hill can also give staffers the chance, often at a young age, to build a résumé, make a positive difference in people’s lives, and literally change the world.

The intense experience can come and go in a flash, so I reached out to current and former Capitol Hill staffers to ask them what they’d tell their younger selves about the job that many remember as the hardest, most fun, and most rewarding of their professional lives.

So you want to be on ‘Jeopardy!’? The online test draws nigh
If you’re a political wonk, you can follow in the footsteps of four congressional staffers

Isaac Loeb, a legislative aide of Vermont Democrat Rep. Peter Welch, playing Jeopardy. (Courtesy Isaac Loeb)

Alex Trebek may have pancreatic cancer, but the game show must go on. The longtime host, who announced his diagnosis earlier this month, is still taping new episodes of “Jeopardy!” — and the show is still hunting for new contestants.

Mark your calendars, because the official “Jeopardy!” online test opens in less than a week. The exam is your ticket to an in-person audition, provided you can nail 50 questions, each from a different category. 

Flashback Friday: When Congress put the brakes on nepotism
As Senate majority leader, LBJ had his brother and sister-in-law on staff

Sam Houston Johnson worked as an aide to his brother, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (Yoichi Okam/Courtesy Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)

They say, “Never mix business with family,” but lawmakers in the past had no problem with putting relatives on their staff.

A 1959 Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé in The Washington Daily News found around 90 members of Congress employing their wives, sons, daughters, bothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, uncles, fathers or in-laws as staffers and campaign managers.

Shrinking victims fund signals tough times for appropriators
The program’s finances are drying up, and committees may not be able to depend on it to fill funding gaps elsewhere

Leahy: higher costs, less money to go around in fiscal 2020, even if there's a caps deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s been an unspoken rule among appropriators for years: if the annual Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee allocation feels a little light, fear not. There’s always money in the Crime Victims Fund.

However, the good times may be coming to an end. The program’s finances are drying up, and the Appropriations Committees are facing major new obligations in fiscal 2020 that will stretch the means of panel leaders even if there’s a deal to lift austere spending caps for next year.

Trump’s new order aims to protect conservative voices on college campuses
His education secretary, Betsy Devos, has warned about the dangers of ‘government muscle’ on issue

President Donald Trump announced an executive order he will sign Thursday afternoon during his two-hour appearance at CPAC 2019 on March 2 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday aimed at protecting conservative voices on public and private college campuses, an issue that energizes his political base as he revs up his re-election campaign.

The order will direct the White House Office of Management and Budget to work with grant-issuing federal agencies to ensure higher learning institutions are adhering to the First Amendment, as well as laws, regulations and policies that are part of existing criteria for receiving federal monies. The EO will add free speech to those criteria.