The two senators who shepherded the lone appropriations bill to reach the Senate floor last year are showing flashes of optimism about the process this year.
Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Susan Collins of Maine saw their Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bill blocked last year over GOP fears of busting the Budget Control Act caps. This year, though, lawmakers have a sunnier outlook.
“I suspect that this year will be easier because we have a budget and we’ve written the bill to the budget level,” Collins said.
That sentiment jibes with plans made by Democratic leaders and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, with aides confirming that Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to consider some of the bills on the floor during the last two weeks in June and two weeks in July ahead of the August recess.
But as the full committee prepares Thursday to mark up the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce, Justice, and Science bills, a sense of skepticism that Congress really will move all 12 bills is pervasive.
Despite the two-year budget deal, which set the overall spending levels that bind appropriators, there are already signs of mistrust on both sides of the aisle. Privately, Democrats worry that once the bills reach the floor Republicans will seek policy riders that amount to poison pills.
Specifically, aides worry that the funding bill for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments, which is traditionally controversial, could rankle Republicans. The committee has not taken up that bill yet.
For their part, Senate Republicans are abiding by the budget deal. Appropriators have unanimously moved the Agriculture and Veterans Affairs appropriations bills to the floor, for instance.
“The Murray-Ryan budget agreement has provided us the foundation to begin our work,” ranking Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama said in a statement in support of the Commerce, Justice, Science measure.
But Republicans have criticized Senate Democrats for $19 billion in budget outlay requests beyond what House Republicans have sought. Democrats dispute this, saying their budget authority figure matches House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s figure.
The appropriations bills also come to the floor at a time of heightened partisan tension over procedural battles, to say nothing of campaign season. Many political handicappers say Republicans have a good shot at taking the majority. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are angry, having felt the sting of Reid’s rules change, which made it harder for them to block President Obama’s nominees. They also complain — correctly — that Reid prevents them from offering amendments.
Still, the appropriations process is unfolding. Tasked with allocating $1.014 trillion in funds for the government’s discretionary programs and with time until the August recess running down, Mikulski may package some of the bills together in what insiders call “minibuses,” legislation that is smaller than an omnibus but more than a single spending measure.
While the budget deal put spending crises in the rearview mirror for now, senators are suggesting roadblocks remain. “I think there are a number of members who want regular order to occur and want these to move forward,” Murray said. “We’ll see if they get tied up otherwise.”
Meanwhile, the House has already passed three appropriations bills, and aides say leadership will put the THUD bill on the floor when lawmakers return next week.
The Senate has yet to pass even one appropriations bill.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”