Homeland Security

Homeland Security announces easing of facial recognition rule
Lawmakers, civil rights groups and tech companies have raised privacy concerns

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified that facial recognition scans at airports remain voluntary for U.S. citizens. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Homeland Security officials continue to step back from their published plan to require use of facial recognition technology on American citizens at U.S. airports when they arrive from or depart to international destinations.

The Trump administration’s proposed mandatory use of the technology was included in the so-called unified agenda, published in late November, which sets out the regulatory changes agencies intend to pursue in coming months. The proposal sought to expand mandatory facial recognition at U.S. airports “to provide that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure.”

Wall funding talks ‘tenuous’ as appropriators report progress
Negotiations moving to a trade-off that could allow each side to walk away with a win

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior appropriators on Monday were narrowing gaps on border wall funding that have held up a deal for months, according to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a key negotiator.

But the West Virginia Republican, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said after meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other senior Republicans that there wasn’t yet agreement. 

Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 6
Trump asks the Supreme Court to temporarily halt enforcement of another congressional subpoena for Trump’s financial records

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly news conference in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As expected, President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Friday to temporarily halt the enforcement of congressional subpoenas for financial records of the president and his business from Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial Corp.

The president filed an emergency request with the justices to halt an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for “prompt” compliance with the subpoenas — at least until the court can consider Trump’s appeal.

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Denver Riggleman keeps taking flak from other Republicans
Social conservatives look to move nominating process to convention, away from primary

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman has faced mounting pressure from social conservatives in his central Virginia district since he officiated a gay wedding this summer. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 10:29 a.m. | Conservatives pushing for more control of the nominating process in a congressional district in Virginia insist it’s not just because freshman Republican Denver Riggleman officiated a gay wedding this summer.

But it’s hard to talk about the effort to replace Riggleman, a libertarian-leaning business owner, with a more socially conservative Republican without talking about the wedding. It is arguably the most prominent thing Riggleman has done in his 11 months in office.

House pushes ‘dozen bills or none’ approach to spending talks
GOP senators express doubts as House leaders insist on finalizing appropriations by Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he doubts that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year could be finalized before the Dec. 20 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders are insisting that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year must be finalized before any of them can reach the floor, according to sources familiar with strategy talks.

The demand for some kind of grand bargain could complicate hopes for completion of at least a portion of fiscal 2020 appropriations before stopgap funding runs dry on Dec. 20 and Congress adjourns for the winter holidays. 

Schumer outlines Democratic demands on spending bills
Aside from border wall issue, Schumer brings up opioids, infrastructure, VAWA

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Democrats “oppose the president stealing money from our military families” for a border wall. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The top Senate Democrat laid down some benchmarks Monday for his party’s support of final fiscal 2020 appropriations bills.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on the Senate floor that the bills will need to include “significant resources” for programs intended to combat the opioid epidemic and gun violence; infrastructure and child care spending; increased or at least level funding for Violence Against Women Act programs; and additional funds for election security.

Congress seeks to avoid an approps nightmare before Christmas
Appropriators and congressional leadership have just three weeks to resolve dozens of policy disputes between House and Senate spending bills

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are seen during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup in June 2019. Lawmakers have just three weeks to iron out dozens of policy disputes between House and Senate spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress returns to Washington this week with a challenging to-do list for December that not only includes drafting articles of impeachment and finalizing a massive trade deal, but also funding the government.

Appropriators and congressional leadership have just three weeks to resolve dozens of policy disputes between House and Senate spending bills — a daunting but routine exercise that will determine whether there’s a partial government shutdown right as lawmakers are set to leave for their winter break.

IG: DHS knew it couldn’t track migrant kids separated at border
The findings further illuminate the behind-the-scenes chaos in the lead-up to the ‘zero tolerance’ policy rollout

A woman holds an anti-Zero Tolerance policy sign at the Families Belong Together protest outside of the White House in 2018. A new report found DHS knew it lacked the technology to track more than 26,000 children separated at the border. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Department of Homeland Security knew it lacked the technology to track more than 26,000 children it expected to separate from their parents at the U.S. southern border in 2018 as part of its controversial “zero tolerance” policy. As a result, the roughly 3,000-plus children DHS ultimately estimated as being affected may actually be a severe underestimate, the agency’s inspector general reported Wednesday.

“Because of these IT deficiencies, we could not confirm the total number of families DHS separated during the Zero Tolerance period,” the watchdog office said in a report.