Budget

Worries persist despite additional billions for census
Concerns about potential undercounting remain among lawmakers from both parties, even with increased funding

Ranking member Rep. Robert Aderholt, D-Ala., conducts a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on April 4, 2019. Aderhold said that while a new Census funding bill would put the bureau in “good shape,” he’s concerned the country may be facing a “trial run” for the new system that relies for the first time on online responses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House appropriators this week included a hefty boost for the 2020 census above the proposal from the Trump administration, but concerns about potential undercounting remain among lawmakers from both parties.

They fear that despite the additional money, the Commerce Department hasn’t adequately geared up for decennial population count. Democrats continue to oppose a controversial citizenship question they say will depress immigrant response, while some Republicans worry that the use of online questionnaires will lead to shortfalls in rural areas.

Photos of the Week: Pre-Memorial Day weekend edition
The week of May 20 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tosses his jacket as he arrives for his 2020 campaign kickoff rally in Philadelphia  on Saturday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We started off the week with politicians throwing articles of clothing from the stage, and wrapped it up with a tornado warning in Washington.

Pressure mounts on expiring Medicaid programs for U.S. territories, safety net hospitals
Advocates worry the two programs will need more funding by the end of the fiscal year

Participants hold signs during the Senate Democrats’ rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the U.S. Capitol on June 6, 2017. Advocated are worried about two Medicaid programs that need additional funding before the end of the fiscal year — U.S. territories’ programs and funding for safety net hospitals. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Advocates are worried about two Medicaid programs that need additional funding before the end of the fiscal year — U.S. territories’ programs and funding for safety net hospitals.

The end of September marks a number of government deadlines, but advocates and government officials worry that a lack of funding for these two Medicaid programs would be worrisome and could be overlooked.

What’s the state of play on intern pay on Capitol Hill?
Intern compensation funding is up for discussion again

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., says he expects intern compensation funding to continue in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Securing intern compensation funding last year was a huge victory for lawmakers and advocates. Now they just have to figure out how to get the word out and expand the pie. 

As interns descend on Capitol Hill for a summer of public service, more will be paid for their work than ever before. But widespread paid internships are still in their infancy in Congress. This is the first summer that House and Senate offices have dedicated funding available to cut checks.

How to dine like a boss on a tight budget in D.C.
Hill reception circuit offers a lifeline for cash-strapped interns

People grab food provided at the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Week Reception on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Receptions are the lifeblood of the broke Capitol Hill intern’s diet. Besides being a great place for meeting people (ABN: always be networking) they provide a bounty of free food and drinks, and usually the spreads are halfway decent. I once went a whole week without paying a dime for dinner. And honestly, with enough dedication, I could have stretched that to a month.

Besides not wearing your intern badge on your lapel, the earliest lesson you learn working on the Hill is that almost every industry has an association in D.C. to represent it. Whether it’s cement, hydrogen energy or guns, if somebody has an interest before Congress, you can bet it has a lobby organized to influence lawmakers.

Bernhardt defends Interior public records review policy
Bernhardt said the so-called ‘awareness review’ policy was legal and ‘very long-standing in the department’

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testifies during a Senate Appropriations on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2020 budget proposal for the Interior Department in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Bernhardt said to lawmakers the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended on Wednesday the agency’s policy allowing politically appointed officials to review and comment on public records requests that relate to them.

Appearing before a Senate appropriations subcommittee to testify about his department’s budget, Bernhardt said the so-called “awareness review” policy was legal.

Infrastructure talks run off the road by latest Trump, Dem fracas

From left, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., and Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conclude a news conference in Capitol Visitor Center after a meeting on infrastructure at White House was canceled by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A White House meeting Wednesday on infrastructure between President Donald Trump and top congressional Democrats ended almost as soon as it began after the president pledged not to work with Democrats on any policy priorities until they ended investigations into his administration and campaign.

Trump left the meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer after just a few minutes, a move that the two Democrats said was staged ahead of time.

Trump to Democrats: OK new NAFTA before public works bill
‘Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,’ the president said

From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., President Donald Trump, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., exit the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on March 14, 2019. As Democrats head to the White House to meet with Trump over a massive public works bill, the president told them such legislation should take a back seat to his new NAFTA deal, the USMCA. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the eve of his second meeting with congressional Democrats about a potential $2 trillion public works bill, President Donald Trump told them such legislation should take a back seat to his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” the president continued.

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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer agree that spending caps and debt limit legislation will go on the same bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.

These two Democratic presidential contenders voted for a gas tax increase
Both Sanders and Biden voted for the last federal gas tax hike 26 years ago

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, here at the Exxon gas station at Second and Massachusetts Avenue Northeast in Washington in 2007 for a news conference on price-gouging at the gas pumps, voted for a federal gas tax increase in 1993 — the last time it was raised. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

When he meets with Democratic congressional leaders Wednesday, a key question will be whether President Donald Trump backs an increase in the federal gas tax the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been pressing him to support.

Trump reportedly backed an increase in private meetings before, but the 2020 election could be a reason for hesitation.