Washington Update - March 11, 2019

Billy Moore    Dc2

The 2019 spending season begins in earnest Monday when the White House delivers a dead-on-arrival budget that proposes sizeable domestic spending cuts and a military spending increase using accounting gimmicks to downplay the deficit. The plan would not balance until 2035, assuming no recession for a generation. 

Congress will pursue an independent budget path that seeks budget cap increases balanced between military and domestic accounts and raises the debt ceiling. The House plans to advance a budget in April with the Senate to follow. House leaders have set aside floor time in June to pass appropriations bills. This week, the House schedule features several anti-Russia bills.

Last week, Representatives passed the For the People Act to that reforms redistricting and strengthens voting guarantees, ethics and campaign finance rules. The sweeping bill has no future in the Senate, although individual provisions could advance. The House also passed a bipartisan resolution condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination in response to a Muslim Democratic Representative using anti-Semitic tropes.

Senators confirmed three circuit court judges and will confirm another this week. Before adjourning for a weeklong recess, the Senate is expected to pass legislation disapproving President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to build the border wall, clearing the measure for a presidential veto. 

Those portions of the budget impacted by the President's emergency declaration are under threat from key Democrats and some Republicans who plan to eliminate the Pentagon's future ability to reprogram money if it doesn’t wait for lawmaker approval to reprogram fiscal 2019 defense funds for the border wall.

President Trump's 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison on Friday, the longest yet resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

Friday's job report was mixed, showing only 20,000 jobs created in February, offset by a lower unemployment rate and rising wages.