Oklahoma

Disaster aid bill could grow, block diversion of funds to wall
Measure unlikely to go far in Senate

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., (left), is pushing for a disaster aid package. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., opposes an amendment Democrats are preparing that he describes as an “exercise in futility. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is scheduled to take up a $12.1 billion disaster aid package Wednesday that would reopen the nine closed Cabinet agencies for three weeks and, if approved during floor debate, prevent President Donald Trump from tapping the bill’s emergency funds for building a border wall.

The underlying bill would direct aid to victims of recent calamities such as hurricanes that hit Florida and the Carolinas, wildfires that ravaged California and typhoons that struck island territories in the Pacific, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., told the Rules Committee on Tuesday.

John Thune’s new whip office staff learning the ropes and getting to work
Office features a mix of veteran Senate and House aides

Staffers for Sen. John Thune pose in his new whip office in the Capitol on Jan. 10. Front row, from left, David Cole, Scarlet Samp and Jason Van Beek; back row, from left, Cynthia Herrle, Geoffrey Antell, Brendon Plack and Nick Rossi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s Republican majority has a new occupant of the whip’s office, and with it come some new people for senators and their staffs to interact with when trying to get legislation to the floor.

The leader of the operation for Majority Whip John Thune will be a familiar face from the South Dakota’s previous role as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

On Appropriations, Daines, Lankford will not have their cake, eat it too
After being added to Finance Committee, cardinals get clipped

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala.: not a fan of cake, eating it, too. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Appropriations Committee is about to get two new subcommittee chairmen after the top Republicans on the Financial Services and Legislative branch panels got approval to serve rare double duty on the Appropriations and Finance panels.

“There will be some changes,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said Tuesday when asked whether Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and James Lankford, R-Okla., would continue in their previous roles. “When they went to Finance they lost their seniority. They knew that.”

Daines, Lankford to serve on both Appropriations and Finance
Last senator to serve on both panels was Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1944

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., will serve on both the Appropriations and Finance committees in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma will become the first senators since Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1944 to serve simultaneously on the Appropriations and Finance committees, according to panel historical records reviewed by Roll Call.

The two Republicans received waivers from Senate GOP conference rules that limit senators to service on just one of the four so-called Super A committees — Appropriations, Finance, Armed Services and Foreign Relations.

Dear new Congress: Bottle this feeling and carry it with you
We took the oath 38 years ago — but this isn’t a call to go back to the way things were

Newly elected lawmakers pose for their incoming freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — On Jan. 3, 1981, we raised our hands on the floor of the House of Representatives and solemnly swore to support the Constitution of the United States, and we are watching today with pride, hope and a tinge of jealousy as 100 of you take that oath.

Like it was yesterday, we recall the intoxicating mix of optimism and excitement as a new member walks the hallowed halls of Congress for the very first time. We hope you never let go of that feeling and the energy that propelled you to this moment.

McCarthy Names Top Republicans for House Ethics and Rules Committees
House GOP adjusting leadership ranks to life in the minority

Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, will be the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy selected the top Republicans for the House Ethics and House Rules Committees in the new congress, which begins January 3.

Texan Kenny Marchant will be the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee, replacing Indiana’s Susan W. Brooks who had served on the panel for three terms. House rules bar members from sitting on the House Ethics panel for more than three congresses, unless the member leads the panel in their fourth term.

House Passes Trump-Backed Stopgap; Senate to Vote Again Friday
Package may have little chance of reaching president’s desk

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives back to the Capitol after a meeting at the White House about government funding on December 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House voted 217-185 Thursday to send the continuing resolution back to the Senate after adding $5.7 billion for border security and $7.8 billion for disaster relief, despite the package having little chance of getting to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The decision to add those elements to the bill, even though the disaster aid package enjoys broad bipartisan support, complicates efforts to avert the partial government shutdown that is set to begin Friday night when the stopgap spending bill expires.

House GOP Takes Another Shot With Trump-Backed Stopgap
Package has little chance of getting to president’s desk

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and House Republicans are going with a stopgap government funding bill that includes money for a border wall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans on Thursday unveiled a new stopgap spending bill with an added $5.7 billion appropriation for border security and $7.8 billion for disaster relief, despite the package having little chance of getting to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The decision to add those elements to the bill, even though the disaster aid package enjoys broad bipartisan support, complicates efforts to avert the partial government shutdown that is set to begin Friday night when the stopgap spending bill expires. The revised measure would need 60 votes to get through the Senate, where Democrats have said they’ll vote against it.

House Panel Plans Bipartisan Push Against Trump on Syria
Mac Thornberry, Adam Smith on same page as leaders of Armed Services

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, is working with Adam Smith, the panel's top Democrat, to push back on President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from Syria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee say they are launching an unusual bipartisan campaign to push back against President Donald Trump’s proposed withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria.

Texas Republican Mac Thornberry, the committee’s chairman, and Washington Democrat Adam Smith, the ranking member and likely the new chairman in the next Congress, said in separate interviews Thursday that they will join forces to try to slow or shape, if not stop, the president’s move. It was their first public comments on the issue.

House Approves Criminal Justice Overhaul, Sends to President
After years of negotiations and strong bipartisan support, measure headed to enactment

From left, Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, make a social media post before a news conference in the Capitol on the passage of the criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act, on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A sweeping criminal justice overhaul is heading to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature after the House cleared the measure.

The House passed the bill, 358-36, Thursday amid a flurry of other bills approved in a year-end rush.