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The Week in Washington – 09/13/2019

Democratic Debate

The Democratic debate Thursday evening, now with just 10 candidates, threw into sharp relief a dividing line among Democrats, as the contenders argued how far to go to insure more Americans health and promote fair trade. Former Vice President Joe Biden raised doubts about the cost of “Medicare for All” and defended his public service. In her first time on stage with Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) held back, focusing on Wall Street rather than her Democratic rivals and retelling her personal story.

The rest of the field had brief moments. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) used her time to directly attack President Donald Trump; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro questioned Biden on health care and immigration; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg called for civility and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) repeated his call for a mandatory assault weapon buyback. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang announced that his campaign would give $1,000 a month for a year to 10 families to highlight his proposal for a universal basic income.

House Plans Stopgap Vote

With the first week back from recess in the books, only two weeks remain until the start of the new fiscal year. The House has passed 10 of its 12 fiscal 2020 spending bills, but none of the measures have been picked up by the Senate. To avoid a government shutdown after Sept. 30, the House will vote on a stopgap spending measure, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on the House floor.

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to take any of its fiscal 2020 spending bills to the floor. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved two measures — Defense and Energy and Water spending bills — but scrapped planned markups of the Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations bills after disputes arose over women’s health policies.

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its $694.9 billion fiscal 2020 Defense spending bill by a 16-15 party-line vote and its $48.9 billion fiscal 2020 Energy and Water bill—which backers hope can get full passage by getting attached to the popular defense measure—on a unanimous vote.

  • Under the defense bill, the Pentagon’s regular spending would be $622.5 billion, plus $70.7 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds not subject to budget caps. Democrats objected to the lack of a measure that would rein in President Trump’s ability to transfer U.S. military project funds to a border wall. The bill would also include $1.7 billion in emergency spending and would back a 3.1% pay raise for troops.
  • The total for energy and water funding would be a $4.23 billion increase over the current enacted level, and $10.8 billion more than what Trump requested for fiscal 2020. It is $2.5 billion more than its House-passed companion bill, which would provide $46.4 billion total

House Judiciary Moves Forward with Probe

The House Judiciary Committee bolstered its investigation in the Trump administration. The panel voted 24-17 to adopt new rules for impeachment hearings, allowing staff legal experts to publicly question witnesses and some evidence to be examined behind closed doors. Adopting the procedures represents “the necessary next step in our investigation of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power,” Nadler said.

Categories: Budget & Appropriations, Congress, Politics & Elections

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