Budget

Senate panel wants probe into nuclear weapons glitches
Panel is concerned that problems might reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings that have broader implications

An Air Force F-16C carries a B61-12 bomb on a test flight at Nellis AFB, Nev. Problems with commercially manufactured electrical components have caused months of delays. (Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to order the Energy Department to launch an investigation into technical problems that have recently plagued U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

The committee’s mandate is buried deep inside the report accompanying the $48.9 billion Energy-Water spending bill that the committee approved on Sept. 12.

Esper brings China focus as Defense secretary
Plan to seek savings in Pentagon operations could face roadblocks

In search of savings, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is looking at spending by organization that provide back-office services to the Pentagon. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Like every new Defense secretary, Mark T. Esper says he wants to make the Pentagon more efficient. He will get some results, but not many and not quickly, experts say.

Esper, now a few months into the job, wants to save money to spend it on preparing for war against China, and to a lesser extent Russia.

Health care riders, farm payouts slow stopgap deal
Bill pulled from House Rules agenda late Tuesday afternoon

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among those objecting to potential provisions in a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trade assistance for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs and the details of several health care program extensions were standing in the way of agreement on a stopgap funding measure Tuesday, sources said.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the bill was likely to include an increase in the Commodity Credit Corporation’s $30 billion borrowing cap that the Trump administration asked for earlier this month. But provisions on “accountability and transparency” were still under discussion, the aide said.

With 5G in mind, senators plan big boost for Pentagon cybersecurity
Much of the future infrastructure is being developed by China

The Trump administration has sought to stop close U.S. allies from adopting Huawei’s 5G technologies. Above, monitors at a Huawei campus in Shenzhen, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images file photo)

Lawmakers are proposing to add more than half a billion dollars to the Pentagon’s 2020 budget for cybersecurity measures, in particular asking the department to include security features enabling its weapons and information systems to safely operate on future 5G worldwide wireless networks.

Much of that future infrastructure is being developed by China and could become the global standard.

Why partisan spending allocations spell trouble for the appropriations process
CQ Budget, Episode 127

From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sens. Todd Young, R-Ind., and John Thune, R-S.D., conduct a news conference after the Senate Policy Luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After months of delay, Senate appropriators finally got to work on their spending bills for the new fiscal year, which begins in just two weeks. But it was a slower start than lawmakers had hoped for, and unlike last year’s effort, it was deeply partisan. The Appropriations Committee approved its overall spending limits for each of its 12 bills, but it wasn’t pretty. Where do they go from here? Listen here.

Senate panel backs special $1 billion military ‘readiness’ fund
Some experts are skeptical that the Defense Department will spend the funds effectively.

The new military readiness fund in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense spending bill would come with very few strings or stipulations attached. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s new Defense spending bill would create a $1.1 billion fund for yet-to-be-determined programs that build military “readiness,” a word that has come to mean just about anything in the Pentagon budget.

The fund, created at a time when military preparedness levels are on the rise after nearly two decades at war, would come with very few strings or stipulations, an unusual move for appropriators who typically guard their power of the purse.

Still confused about Trump’s demands of Congress? Maybe it’s you
President ‘always lays it right out there,’ but Hill slow to ‘adjust,’ Eric Ueland says

President Donald Trump — here in January 2018 with Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Thune of South Dakota and Vice President Mike Pence — has clear legislative goals despite confusion at times on the Hill as to what they are, legislative affairs director Eric Ueland says. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — If you’re a Republican lawmaker or congressional aide who struggles to understand what Donald Trump wants in legislation, take a long look in the mirror.

Because it’s you. Not him.

House Republicans’ 2020 strategy is all about Trump
At retreat, GOP hypes up president as key to their effort to win back the majority

President Donald Trump greets House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday at the House GOP retreat in Baltimore. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — House Republicans are embracing President Donald Trump as a critical asset in their effort to win back the majority in 2020 and are building their policy agenda and campaign strategy around him.

During a 48-hour retreat here Thursday through Saturday, GOP lawmakers lauded Trump for helping them win a North Carolina special election and said they looked forward to riding his coattails in districts across the country next year.

McCarthy: Addressing debt would be Republicans’ top priority if they take back House
Environment, technology and privacy rights would also top agenda, McCarthy says

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is promising action on the national debt if Republicans retake the chamber next year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — As House Republicans kicked off a 48-hour retreat here Thursday afternoon to plot their path back to the majority, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters the GOP’s top priority if it retakes the chamber in 2020 would be to address the national debt.

“First thing we would do is make sure our debt is taken care of,” the California Republican said. “This is continuing to grow.”

Why the GOP victory in North Carolina spells disaster for Democrats in 2020
Republicans had a unified message with a unified focus, NRCC chairman writes

Republican Dan Bishop’s victory in the special election for North Carolina’s 9th District confirms the effectiveness of President Donald Trump as a GOP surrogate and the unpopularity of the Democrats’ socialist agenda, NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Republicans’ special election victory Tuesday in North Carolina’s 9th District is the latest evidence that 2020 will be a very different election from 2018.

Rep.-elect Dan Bishop didn’t just overcome his Democrat opponent’s two-year head start and millions of dollars in out-of-state money. He also outperformed the GOP candidate’s 2018 efforts by 2 points — quite a different narrative from what the cable news pundits want voters to believe and great news for Republican prospects next year.