Financial Services

Lawmakers Eye Cyber Bounties to Fix Bugs in Federal Networks
House panel approves Senate bill to set up pilot program at DHS

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a Senate bill last week that would set up a bug bounty program at the Department of Homeland Security. Above, Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., at a 2014 hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers last week moved closer to mandating that the Department of Homeland Security start a bug bounty program that will pay computer security researchers to spot weaknesses in DHS’s computer networks. That requirement would bring the department in line with other U.S. agencies with similar cybersecurity programs.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday by unanimous consent approved a Senate bill that would set up a pilot program at the department. The Senate passed the bill on April 17. The Pentagon, the IRS and the General Services Administration already operate such programs, and lawmakers have proposed legislation that would launch similar efforts at the departments of State and Treasury.

Watershed Moment as Three Appropriations Bills Clear on Time
House voted 377-20, sending legislation to the president’s desk

The U.S. Capitol building as seen on Friday, June 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A batch of three spending bills is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk following a 377-20 House vote Thursday, marking the first on-time delivery of a quarter of the annual appropriations measures in a decade.

The $147.5 billion package — which funds the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers and the operations of Congress — is the first installment of what lawmakers hope will be nine bills becoming law before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

First Three Fiscal 2019 Spending Bills Readied for Floor
Hurricane Florence presents potential scheduling wildcard

A little girl and a man look through the windows of the Capitol dome miniature model in the Capitol Visitors Center Monday afternoon Sept. 10, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers reached agreement Monday on three spending bills that would provide about $147.5 billion next year for the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, Army Corps of Engineers and lawmakers’ offices and the Capitol complex.

The package came together after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations and at times tense conversations about funding levels and policy language. Aides said it was on track to reach President Donald Trump’s desk by week’s end. The tentative plan at this stage is for the Senate to go first, likely on Thursday, with the House to follow on Friday, although the arrival of Hurricane Florence remains a wildcard. 

Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending
Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters in the Capitol’s Senate subway before the Senate Policy luncheons on August 28, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The multiday media circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh notwithstanding, Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with appropriators struggling to work out their differences on fiscal 2019 spending. 

There are only 11 legislative days this month when the House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session. That means there isn’t much floor time in either chamber to vote on what could be as many as three conference reports with spending totaling more than $1 trillion, even if the legislation is privileged in the Senate and the House limits debate.

Trade Talks With Canada Stall, but White House Hopeful of Deal
‘The Senate will make it’s own decisions,’ a senior administration official said

U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House July 31, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Trump administration’s trade talks with Canada stalled Friday without a pact, but the White House told Congress it still intends to include America’s northern neighbor in a preliminary U.S.-Mexico deal. Lawmakers have been firm the White House should only send them a three-way agreement.

President Donald Trump intends to finalize a deal with Mexico “and Canada, if it is willing” in 90 days, a senior administration official said Friday. “With respect to Canada … we believe we made progress. We continue to work toward an agreement.”

Trump Signals Intent to Nix Proposed Federal Pay Increase
Congress can weigh in if it feels need to maintain agreed-upon pay hike

President Donald Trump wants to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, saying he has the authority by citing a national emergency. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signaled his intent to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, informing Congress on Thursday that federal law allowed him to do so in the event of a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

The move drew a quick response from D.C.-area members and is almost certain to draw howls from the Senate, which included a 1.9 percent pay raise in its Financial Services spending bill. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month.

Pentagon Still Faces Possible CR, Even Government Shutdown
Congress may be moving faster than usual this year on spending bills, but no one should be celebrating yet

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Defense Department stands a 50-50 chance of operating under the constraints of a continuing resolution for at least the first couple months of fiscal 2019 and quite possibly beyond, a number of Washington insiders predict.

What’s more, analysts and lobbyists say, one or more government shutdowns are not out of the question.

Here Are All the Republicans Jockeying for Committee Leadership Positions (So Far)
Roughly half of the House committees will have new GOP leadership next year

Dozens of House Republicans are running for committee chairmanships that will be open in the next Congress, hoping to obtain gavels like the one pictured. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

Roughly half of the House’s 21 committees will have new Republican leadership next year, creating several competitive races among colleagues looking to move up the ranks.

The majority of the openings come from retiring GOP chairmen, most of whom have reached the six-year limit Republicans place on their committee leaders.

FBI to Talk to Maxine Waters’ Republican Opponent
Omar Navarro posted fake letter saying Waters wanted to resettle thousands of refugees in district

The Republican opponent for Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., will speak to FBI agents about posting a fake letter purportedly from Waters on Twitter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Maxine Waters’ Republican challenger will speak with the FBI agents after he posted a fake letter that he said was from Waters.

Omar Navarro said he will talk with agents on Wednesday in his campaign office, the Los Angeles Times reported.

IG Confirms Trump’s Involvement in FBI Headquarters Project Across From His Hotel
Democratic congressman says new report shows ‘conspiracy theories’ are true

Democratic Rep. Gerald E. Connolly said Monday that his suspicions had been confirmed regarding President Donald Trump’s involvement in the FBI headquarters construction project. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump was more intimately involved in the debate over relocating the FBI headquarters than Congress was told, a new inspector general report finds.

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat representing parts of Northern Virginia, said the report he requested from the General Services Administration IG confirmed his suspicions that the president was involved in the decision to scrap plans to vacate the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, and move the agency to a campus location in either the Maryland or Virginia suburbs.