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Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

Is Trump really the MVP of the GOP?
Data shows he underperformed compared to baseline Republican vote in key states

President Donald Trump may not be as extraordinary a candidate as he gets credit for, and his status as GOP savior might be overrated, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a tumultuous 2018 that saw them lose their House majority, Republicans often seem eager to dismiss those midterm results as typical while pining for the next election when President Donald Trump will top the ballot and drive turnout in their favor.

A closer look, however, shows Trump may not be as extraordinary a candidate as he gets credit for, and his status as GOP savior might be overrated.

John Boehner among GOP allies urging leniency for Chris Collins
Sentencing hearing for former New York congressman is Jan. 17

Former Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., will be sentenced on Jan. 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Speaker John A. Boehner is among a robust contingent of Republicans who want a judge to give convicted former Rep. Chris Collins a break on prison time.

The requests for leniency say the New York Republican is a dedicated public servant, father and friend. But the attempt from current and former GOP lawmakers runs contrary to calls from Collins’ former constituents in the 27th Congressional District of New York who say he deserves the maximum penalty for an egregious breach of the public’s trust.

Meet the lawmakers who bucked their parties on vote to limit Trump’s war powers
Eight Democrats opposed the resolution, while three Republicans supported it

New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose said he refused “to play politics with questions of war and peace” before opposing a war powers resolution Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Jan. 10 11:30 a.m. | The House voted largely along party lines Thursday to adopt a resolution directing President Donald Trump to not use military force against Iran without congressional approval unless it was necessary to defend Americans.

But 11 lawmakers, mostly Democrats, bucked their parties on the vote. Most of those Democrats face competitive reelections this year.

Republicans come out against Iran language they previously supported
Many House members who supported amendments on War Powers now opposed

Language from Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., on authorizing military force that Republicans previously supported is unlikely to have that same kind of support as the GOP shifts its stance since the recent hostilities with Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In July, 27 Republicans voted for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to effectively prohibit the president from using military force against Iran without congressional approval. As the House readies to vote on a similar measure Thursday, few, if any, Republicans are likely to support it.

U.S. tension with Iran has escalated since July, resulting in recent attacks from both sides. President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani has drawn praise from Republicans who believe the administration line about the Quds Force commander and criticism from Democrats who say the intelligence does not support that claim.

Relive impeachment week from behind the scenes on Capitol Hill

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., does a TV news interview in Statuary Hall as the House takes up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House voted to impeach President Donald Trump this week. 

The chamber's inquiry that was launched Sept. 24 came to a close Wednesday on a largely party-line vote in the House. CQ Roll Call has covered it from the start. 

Joel Jankowsky, longtime Akin Gump lobbyist, exits K Street

Joel Jankowsky, a longtime fixture on K Street, is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When Joel Jankowsky left Capitol Hill in 1977 to set up shop on K Street, his transition through the revolving door seems bizarre by the influence industry’s current norms: He lobbied both parties.

“The whole thing has changed so drastically,” Jankowsky said recently in his office at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a 42-year gig that he’s retiring from at year’s end.

Senate clears final spending package, wraps for the year
The bills now head to Trump's desk for his signature

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate chamber in the Capitol after making remarks on the House’s impeachment of President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate cleared two spending packages totaling $1.4 trillion Thursday, sending the measures to President Donald Trump ahead of a Friday deadline.

Debate over the massive packages was tucked in between floor speeches about the House's Wednesday vote to impeach Trump — making for a strange mix of bitter partisanship over the impeachment process and broad bipartisan support for a wide-ranging year-end appropriations package.

House passes restored ‘SALT’ deduction bill
Democrats deal symbolic blow to Republicans’ tax code overhaul

Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., left, and Mike Doyle, D-Pa., make their way to votes in the Capitol on Nov. 15, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats dealt a symbolic blow to Republicans’ tax code overhaul Thursday on the two-year anniversary of that law’s passage. 

On a mostly party-line vote of 218-206, the House passed a bill that would make good on a top Democratic tax priority: lifting a $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT. It was amended to prevent households earning more than $100 million from claiming unlimited deductions, however, after a procedural motion offered by Republicans won enough bipartisan support.

How House members who are most vulnerable in 2020 voted on impeachment
Supporters say Ukraine actions crossed a line; opponents see dangerous partisan precedent

Top row from left: Democratic Reps. Jared Golden, Collin C. Peterson, Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose. Bottom row from left, Republican Reps. Chip Roy, Brian Fitzpatrick, John Katko and Fred Upton. (Photos by Tom Williams and Bill Clark)

It’s not clear how impeachment will impact the battle for the House in 2020, when every seat is on the ballot. But lawmakers in both parties will have to explain to voters about why they did, or did not, vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

That’s a particularly delicate task for members of Congress in competitive races. Lawmakers in swing districts break with their parties on occasion, but Wednesday’s impeachment vote fell almost entirely along party lines.