government shutdown

Trump seeks Supreme Court help on building border wall quickly
Trump administration officials want Supreme Court help to build border barrier before Congress thwarts them Oct. 1

A border fence is seen near the Rio Grande which marks the boundary between Mexico and the United States on February 09, 2019 in Eagle Pass, Texas. The border has become a point of contention as the U.S. President Donald Trump wants to build a wall and the Democrats in Congress are asking for other border security measures. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump administration officials want the Supreme Court to help them hurry up and spend up to $2.5 billion to construct a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border before Congress thwarts them with new spending legislation on Oct. 1.

The administration argues it needs a ruling from the Supreme Court by July 26 so it can spend money on border wall construction before the fiscal 2019 spending law lapses on Sept. 30.

Mnuchin says there is a topline agreement on spending caps and debt limit
Treasury secretary says talks continue on offsets and structure of a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the White House, Senate and House have an agreement on a two-year debt ceiling increase. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that agreement has been reached on spending levels for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 as well as a two-year extension of the debt limit.

“The good news is we’ve reached an agreement between the administration, the House and the Senate on topline numbers for both year one and year two. We’re now discussing offsets as well as certain structural issues. And we’ve agreed as part of that deal there would be a long-term, two-year debt ceiling increase,” Mnuchin said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “So, I think, all of our first choice is to reach an overall agreement and we’re working hard to do that. But if for whatever reason we don’t get there in time, I am encouraging a debt ceiling increase.”

Papaya outbreak highlights FDA’s food safety challenge
‘Inability to track and trace foods with speed or precision’ is agency’s ‘Achilles’ heel’

Salmonella infections caused by contaminated papayas highlight the challenges Food and Drug Administration officials face in fighting foodborne illness. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Salmonella infections caused by contaminated papayas highlight the challenges federal officials face in fighting foodborne illness, as a law from nearly a decade ago meant to modernize the food safety system is starting to show its age. 

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to bring its efforts to track and prevent outbreaks in line with the technology now at its disposal. But because spending for next year is uncertain, Congress could make it difficult for the agency.

House doing ‘deep dive’ to smooth new member office setup
‘It’s been sort of a nightmare,’ House CAO Philip Kiko tells select committee

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other members of the 116th Congress' freshman class had several issues getting their offices up and running, which has prompted a "deep dive" by the House Chief Administrative Officer to address the problems. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the House is conducting a “deep dive” into the problems of setting up offices for the 116th Congress’ large freshman class, according to CAO Philip Kiko.

“It’s been sort of a nightmare,” Kiko told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress during a Thursday hearing on ways to ease the transition for newly elected members.

Pelosi: Debt limit vote possible before August recess
‘We certainly do not want any thought of default on the part of the full faith and credit of the United States of America,’ Pelosi said

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference held by Senate and House Democrats on health care coverage of preexisting conditions on the Senate steps on Tuesday July 9, 2019. Also on Tuesday, she gave some indications about when the House might vote on raising the federal debt limit. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday didn’t rule out voting on a debt limit increase before the August recess, though she indicated the need to raise the discretionary spending caps for fiscal 2020 is still an integral part of the discussions.

“Let’s see how the conversations go,” she said. “We certainly do not want any thought of default on the part of the full faith and credit of the United States of America. That’s never been what we’ve been about, but there are those on the Republican side who have embraced that again and again.”

Congress returns to pressure to get spending deals done
Key to budget deal is agreement between Pelosi and Trump, GOP senator says

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby had hoped to start marking up fiscal 2020 spending bills after the July Fourth recess, but that looks unlikely now. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With only a month to go before the August recess and three months until the end of the fiscal year, House leaders will not bring the two remaining fiscal 2020 appropriations bills — Homeland Security and Legislative Branch — to the floor due to divisions within the Democratic caucus over those bills and diminishing floor time.

Some Democrats are opposed to an inflation adjustment to lawmaker salaries, as allowed in the Legislative Branch bill. Other Democrats are opposed to immigration and border funding provisions in the Homeland Security bill.

Democrats eye Pennsylvania district that became more favorable turf in 2018 redraw
Supreme Court opted not to stop partisan gerrymandering, but Democrats could still gain from state courts

Democrats are optimistic about knocking off Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Scott Perry, who’s running for just the second time in a district that became less favorable to Republicans under a new map. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court’s decision last week not to stop partisan gerrymandering was a blow to congressional Democrats who were hoping several states could see more favorable maps for 2020.

But in at least one state, a new map implemented last year to redress partisan gerrymandering is giving Democrats another 2020 pickup opportunity. That map resulted from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that found the old congressional lines violated the state constitution.  And Democrats are now looking to other state courts in their fight for less partisan maps. 

Senate sets new record for longest vote
Senators began voting at 5:02 a.m. Friday

Senators began voting at dawn and have made history as the longest Senate vote in modern history. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Friday’s prolonged roll call vote to limit debate on a Tom Udall amendment that would bar U.S. attacks on Iran without Congressional authorization made history as the longest Senate vote in modern history.

The vote opened at 5:02 a.m., to allow Senators with early morning flights to vote and then leave town for the Independence Day recess. It is being held open to accommodate the Democratic Senators who were in Miami this week for presidential primary debates. The vote was held  open for a total of 10 hours and 8 minutes, gaveling closed at 3:10 p.m. New Jersey’s Cory Booker was the first of the 2020 candidates to return, casting a yea vote just after 7 a.m.

Nine spending bills down, three to go in House
Not a single House Republican has voted for any of the spending bills, and the White House opposes them too

Chairman Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., right, full committee chair Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., conduct a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on April 9, 2019. Nine of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 have been passed. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed its second batch of fiscal 2020 spending measures Tuesday, in a $322 billion package that would block Trump administration policies on offshore drilling, a health care court challenge, the 2020 census and more.

On a mostly party-line vote of 227-194, the House passed the Democrat-written measure that combines five of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Those are the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, which is the underlying vehicle, along with the Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and the Interior-Environment bills.

U.N. pick asked why almost half her days as Canada’s ambassador were spent elsewhere
Menendez noted the U.N. ambassador was away from her post for 300 days from Oct. 23, 2017, to June 19, 2019

Kelly Knight Craft, nominee to be ambassador to Canada, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017. She was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.N. ambassador, who is also a close friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was chided Wednesday by a senior Senate Democrat for the “excessive” time she spent away from her current post as ambassador to Canada.

Kelly Knight Craft, a longtime Republican Party fundraiser and business consultant from Kentucky whose billionaire husband’s fortune comes from the coal business, does not have the diplomatic resume typical for envoys to the U.N. But her friendship with Kentucky Republican McConnell virtually guarantees her confirmation.