Illinois

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.

Targeting China, senators want Olympics to move up human rights timeline
10 senators have written to IOC President Thomas Bach

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading an effort to pressure the IOC to speed up implementation of human rights standards . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Looking toward China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, senators from both parties want the International Olympic Committee to speed up the timeline for requirements designed to protect human rights in host countries.

In the letter signed by 10 senators led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, the lawmakers express concern about China’s track record to IOC President Thomas Bach.

Strange bedfellows as local battles over Airbnb attract Capitol Hill attention
Members of Progressive and Freedom caucuses allied on side of hotel industry

Hawaii Democratic Rep. Ed Case, who returned to Congress after working in the hotel industry, has attracted co-sponsors from both ends of the political spectrum for his bill that would ensure local regulations apply to short-term rental sites like Airbnb. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

 

It was the most expensive local referendum in New Jersey history. Airbnb raised more than $4 million this fall to fight one city’s regulations on short-term rentals. But in a high-profile blow as the company prepares to go public next year, the short-term lodging service lost overwhelmingly, defeated by a coalition of groups that spent one-fourth of the money.

House Democrats to move on temporary ‘SALT’ cap increase
Ways and Means panel could take up legislation as early as next week, Pascrell says

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. says the House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation to increase the SALT deduction cap as early as next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ways and Means Committee could take up legislation as early as next week that would increase a limit on state and local tax deductions that has riled Democrats from high-cost regions, according to a senior panel member.

The “SALT” bill, which has not yet been released, is still in flux, but the $10,000 deduction limit set by the Republican-backed tax code overhaul would be raised to an as-yet undetermined level for three years, according to Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.. A final figure hasn’t been decided on, the New Jersey Democrat said, describing it as “maybe $15,000 or $20,000, whatever that figure’s going to be.”

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. 

Photos of the Week
The week of Nov. 22 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Workers hoist one of three holiday wreaths into place on the front facade of Union Station on Tuesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A marathon of impeachment hearings dominated the week, but we also saw former Speaker John Boehner return to the Capitol for the unveiling of his portrait before Congress left town for the Thanksgiving recess.

Trump’s relationships and other takeaways after Gordon Sondland’s testimony
‘The Gordon problem’: Ambassador quips ‘that’s what my wife calls me’ during an odd day in Washington

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Donald Trump stuck to the script Wednesday, one he personally wrote on an Air Force One notepad in black marker.

As the president gestured with his hands as he spoke to reporters, the pad in his left hand tilted toward journalists assembled on the White House’s South Lawn. His movements revealed the notes, writing in large letters with what appeared to be a thick black marker. (A White House official confirmed it was the president’s handwriting on the white page.)

Lots of no-shows for impeachment inquiry depositions
Overall Democrats participated more than Republicans, who had complained about access

Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., make their way to votes in the Capitol on Friday. Jordan referred to the lack of attendance at the impeachment depositions in appealing for Gaetz to be able to attend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Nov. 21, 2:28 p.m. | Only a fifth of the 104 members on the three House panels that conducted the impeachment inquiry depositions attended and participated in a majority of the proceedings, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of the available deposition transcripts.

The Intelligence Committee has released transcripts for 15 of the 17 depositions it has conducted with two other panels: Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs. 

Women’s health political fights heat up in battleground states
Opponents and supporters of abortion rights gear up for record-setting advocacy campaigns

Control of state governments, Congress and the White House could depend on the ability of proponents and opponents of abortion rights to turn out core supporters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fights over abortion and birth control in all three branches of government are fueling record-setting advocacy campaigns by liberal and conservative groups ahead of the 2020 elections.

Control of state governments, Congress and the White House could depend on special interests turning out core supporters and elevating issues such as the Supreme Court’s consideration this term of a potentially landmark abortion case.

States in the Midwest with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Rust Belt states helped decide the presidency, and have numerous competitive races for House, Senate

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s reelection is one of several that make Iowa at battleground state in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.