Jennifer Shutt

GOP Rep. causes $19.1 billion disaster aid bill to stall in House
The package had been passed in the Senate after border-related funding, sought by the White House, was removed

The House was unable to clear a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill Friday, after a freshman GOP lawmaker objected to a unanimous consent request.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, blocked the measure during the chamber's pro forma session, after telling reporters he had concerns about the process as well as the substance of the legislation.

Senate passes long-stalled disaster aid bill with Trump support
Negotiators agreed to revisit stripped border-related funding after the Memorial Day recess

After months of negotiations, Congress and the White House on Thursday reached agreement on a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that will help communities recover from a series of deadly storms and wildfires. 

The draft bill does not include the border-related funding for migrants at the southern border sought by the Trump administration, the last hurdle that had been preventing a deal on the package.

Senate to take one last shot at disaster, border aid bill
The remaining sticking points are over immigration and oversight provisions related to Trump’s border funding request

Senate Republicans were huddling behind closed doors Thursday morning to discuss their next move on supplemental aid for disaster victims and handling a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

One emerging possibility was to drop billions of dollars in aid the White House is seeking for border-related agencies, including Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

Republicans reviewing Democrats’ latest disaster aid offer
Chair declined to provide offer details, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week

Republican negotiators are mulling a counterproposal from Democrats on a multibillion-dollar package of supplemental aid for disaster victims that would also handle a huge influx of migrants at the southern border.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., declined to provide details on the offer, but said it could be the next step toward a bipartisan bill moving this week.

Federal money hasn’t reached disaster victims
Long after hurricanes, red tape leaves relief aid unspent

It’s been more than a year and a half since Hurricane Maria laid waste to Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing roughly 3,000 people and causing an estimated $90 billion in damages.

But federal money for any long-term rebuilding has yet to reach those in need in the U.S. territory, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma that same month.

White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal Tuesday
“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says

Negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on spending caps and the debt limit Tuesday, hours after a two-year deal seemed possible.

“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after leaving an afternoon meeting between congressional leaders and administration officials.

Trump officials, congressional leaders make ‘progress’ on budget talks
A follow-up meeting is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon

Congressional leaders and top Trump administration officials made “progress” toward a spending caps and debt limit agreement during a two-hour meeting Tuesday morning and are planning to meet again in the afternoon, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The meeting included Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought as well as Mulvaney.

Pelosi: To woo Trump, border aid will likely be attached to disaster bill
Adding a border-related element to the disaster relief bill could garner the Trump administration’s support

An emerging multibillion-dollar disaster aid package will likely include humanitarian assistance to address the surge of migrants across the southern border, an element that could garner the Trump administration’s support.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that lawmakers are planning to add funding to the unreleased package that would help stem the “humanitarian crisis.”

Disaster aid deal nears as White House presses border funds
‘We’re going to have a vote next week,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday

The monthslong Senate effort to draft a bipartisan disaster aid bill could come to a close within the next week, after members of both parties said Tuesday talks have taken a turn for the better.

“We’re going to have a vote next week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday after meeting with GOP colleagues for lunch. “I hope it’s a vote on a deal that has been reached with both sides of the aisle and the White House.”

Trump’s $4.5 billion border demand slows disaster aid talks
McConnell said Republicans are ready to compromise on Puerto Rico aid, but border funding adds new wrinkle

Prospects for a bipartisan disaster aid package appeared dimmer Tuesday after the Senate’s top GOP appropriator said the Trump administration and congressional Democrats are voicing fresh objections.

“I don’t know of a disaster aid bill in recent years that has been this protracted,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby told reporters.

Jeff Sessions, Doug Jones ring in happy birthday for Richard Shelby

The hallways outside the Senate Appropriations Committee filled with the Happy Birthday song Monday afternoon as dozens of senators and staff gathered to wish Chairman Richard C. Shelby a happy 85th birthday.

The closed-door event included coconut cake, champagne and red napkins that read “Happy Birthday Senator Richard Shelby!”

First women to lead spending panel have a mission: keep the lights on
Lowey, Granger had one government shutdown dumped in their laps. Now they’re trying to avoid another one

The first all-female duo leading the House Appropriations Committee since its Civil War-era creation is setting out to avoid the mess they walked into on Day One of their new roles — a government shutdown.

“I want to be very clear; I think there should be a commitment in the Congress — Democrats and Republicans working with the White House — to say, ‘We are adults, these are difficult issues, but we can resolve them,’” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey told CQ Roll Call this week in an interview alongside ranking member Kay Granger. “But throwing a tantrum and shutting down the government is not a responsible way to be a member of the government of the United States of America — whether you are in the legislative branch or the White House.”

Why ‘Queer Eye’ stormed Capitol Hill
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 65

Washington might be Hollywood for ugly people, but every once in a while Hollywood pretties the place up. That was certainly the case when the cast of “Queer Eye” came to the Capitol to advocate for the Equality Act, to the delight of many staffers, members and tourists. Jennifer Shutt discusses how the celebrity advocates used their powers for policy purposes. 

Congress will probably leave town without voting on a disaster bill
Partisan deadlock over how much relief aid should go to Puerto Rico is showing no signs of easing

A partisan deadlock over a disaster relief package showed no signs of easing Tuesday, as the two camps traded barbs over aid for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Senate Republicans made a new offer over the weekend that Democrats dismissed, weakening prospects for a deal before lawmakers leave town later this week for a two-week Easter recess. President Donald Trump has told Republicans he won’t support additional aid to Puerto Rico beyond an extra $600 million in food assistance that is already included in a GOP-written bill.

House puts off vote on spending caps deal; adopts ‘deeming’ resolution

The House set an overall spending cap of nearly $1.3 trillion for appropriators in that chamber to write their fiscal 2020 bills, adopting a “deeming resolution” on Tuesday as part of the rule governing floor debate on separate spending caps legislation — although that legislation hit a snag on Tuesday. 

The tally was 219-201, with no Republicans voting for the rule and seven Democrats voting ‘no.’

Progressives are holding back votes on the spending caps bill
Progressive Congressional Caucus leaders want more nondefense funding over the next two years

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said Tuesday that the current bill to raise discretionary spending caps won’t pass the House unless it’s amended to allow more nondefense funding over the next two years.

“We do think that if we’re going to go negotiate, we should be negotiating from our strongest place and our strongest place is saying we want more nondefense spending. So that’s where many of us are at,” Rep. Mark Pocan said after a House Democratic Caucus meeting.

Culture shock may be in store for House spending panel
A powerful House Appropriations subcommittee is set for new leadership, and that could mean shifting priorities

One powerful congressional panel is set to exchange the South Bronx for rural Pennsylvania in the next Congress — in a manner of speaking.

Following the retirement of Rep. José E. Serrano, four-term Rep. Matt Cartwright is set to become the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Commerce and Justice departments and independent agencies like NASA and the National Science Foundation. The sprawling $70 billion bill is a battleground for numerous hot-button issues facing lawmakers, such as gun rights, immigration policy and climate change.

The ‘Queer Eye’ guys just met with Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill
The group was in town to discuss the Equality Act

Dozens of Capitol Hill lawmakers, staffers and reporters took a break from deadlines and floor speeches Thursday to flock around — and at several points in time run screaming after — four members of the “Queer Eye” fab five.

Bobby Berk, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski, who star in the hit Netflix makeover show, were led around parts the Capitol by freshman Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer.

House panel questions an empty chair because Wilbur Ross doesn’t show up
The made-for-CSPAN moment occurred after Ross canceled with a House Appropriations panel

One congressional subcommittee decided to shirk the typically mundane, policy-focused nature of its hearings on Wednesday by questioning an empty chair.

The made-for-C-SPAN moment came after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross canceled his appearance in front of the House Appropriations panel that determines how much funding his department receives and how they can spend it.

Congress is finally going to pot
Bills to loosen marijuana laws are gaining traction in both parties

An unlikely coalition of lawmakers is plotting how to revise the nation’s marijuana laws during the 116th Congress — a mission that’s become much more viable in recent years as public support for legalizing cannabis shoots up and members introduce bills in higher numbers than ever before.

That legislation languished at the bottom of the hopper during the last Congress as GOP leaders remained steadfast in their opposition. But now advocates are optimistic that Democratic control of the House and mounting pressure to clean up the disparity between state and federal laws could propel some incremental changes through the Republican-controlled Senate — even if it will be a challenge.