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National Govt & Politics
Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package
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Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

Even without a broader agreement in place with the White House on funding levels for 2020, Democrats in the U.S. House ran into quick trouble in their bid to push ahead with a package of five spending bills this week, as a rebellion among new lawmakers forced Democratic leaders to retreat on a plan which would have given members of Congress their first pay raise in a decade, as part of that spending 'minibus.'

The 667 page bill - totaling $986.8 billion - would fund a variety of departments and agencies, like Congress, the Pentagon, labor and health spending, energy and water programs, foreign aid, and the State Department,spurring debate on efforts to block the President from using Pentagon money to build a border wall, and questions surrounding how the feds handle the detention of illegal immigrant children.

Here are some of the issues which will face House lawmakers in the days ahead:

1. A pay raise for members of Congress. It went down in flames before it even reached the floor, as an effort to give lawmakers their first pay raise in 10 years ran into quick opposition in both parties.  In order to stop the raise, lawmakers must include a provision in a spending bill to block the scheduled cost of living increase for members which is in federal law, and a number of lawmakers in both parties had already filed amendments to stop their $174,000 salary from going up by about $4,400. "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide Members of Congress with a pay raise," reads the simple amendment from freshman Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX). A few Democrats are also raising red flags - freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) has an amendment which would block "cost of living adjustments for Members of Congress." It only took a few hours on Monday for Democratic leaders to ditch the plan, as newly elected members like Ben McAdams of Utah made clear they were not going to vote for a pay raise right now.

2. No military money for the President's border wall. Still stung by President Trump's move to declare a national emergency, allowing him to funnel already approved military construction dollars to the border wall, Democrats have put language in the bill which would specifically block transfers of other money, to prevent the President from dipping into unused pots of money in the Pentagon in order to fund the wall. The move comes after a federal judge last week said Congress does not have the standing to sue the President in court about how money was spent - making the case that Congress has the 'power of the purse,' and can constrain the Executive in that fashion. That's what Section 8127 of the bill does at the bottom of page 334. Also, on page 620, the bill specifically says that no money provided to the Army Corps of Engineers can be used to build a border wall, or other barriers.

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Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

3. House funding bill would block Trump's Space Force. Despite the strong support of President Trump for setting up a new branch of the military devoted to military space matters, the Congress remains unmoved by his calls for action. Mr. Trump had previously asked for over $70 million to start establishing a Space Force - but the language in the funding section for the Department of Defense limits money to $15 million for a study of the matter, and specifically blocks any unilateral move by the President or Pentagon leadership to do it on their own. "Provided, that nothing in this provision shall be construed to authorize the establishment of a Space Force," the bill states on page 223.

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Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

4. "Dreamers" would be allowed to work in Congress. When Republicans were in charge of Congress, provisions passed by the GOP did not allow "Dreamers" - the children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. at a young age - to work for the federal government. This package of five spending bills would change that for the Legislative Branch only, allowing those who have been given a work permit under the DACA program, to be hired by members of Congress, or other agencies related to the Congress. Republicans have asked to make an amendment in order to block this exception for the Legislative Branch.

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Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

5. Federal handling of 'Unaccompanied Alien Children.' While the funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security is not in this package of five spending bills, money for the Department of Health and Human Services is in this plan - and HHS is the organization which deals with the care for illegal immigrant children being held by the federal government, an effort which has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats. One proposed amendment would prevent the Office of Refugee Resettlement from housing the children in jails. Another amendment would require a full accounting of the numbers being held. One part of the bill is interesting in terms of Congressional oversight, as it would not allow any lawmaker from being denied entry to a facility which is holding illegal immigrant children. There have been multiple examples in the past year of where lawmakers show up at such a facility, and aren't allowed in the door.

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Congressional pay raise, immigration, headline House spending package

For those interested in sifting through the details of this 'minibus' spending measure: 

Here is a link to the full text of the bill.

A summary (provided by Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee) of all the provisions in this bill can be found at this link. 

Links to the over 500 amendments filed to this bill can be found on the website of the House Rules Committee.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A Springfield, Ohio, man who pleaded guilty to killing his neighbor’s dog with a baseball bat in April avoided jail time and was sentenced to community service. Jeffrey Sagraves was ordered to 40 hours of community service and to pay $300 in fines for burglary and cruelty to a companion animal. >> On WHIO.com: Springfield man accused of killing dog with baseball bat He was facing a maximum of 18 months in jail for burglary and 12 months for cruelty to a companion animal. In October, Sagraves called 911 to report that there were two pit bulls in his backyard attacking his cat, according to Clark County Common Pleas Court documents. During the call, he reportedly told dispatchers that the dogs belonged to his neighbor and threatened to kill the dogs if police didn’t show up soon The cat died during the attack, according to court records. >> Read more trending news  Minutes later, a neighbor, Lisa Marie Everhart, called 911 and said a man identified as Sagraves reportedly broke into her home and hit her dog in the head with a wooden bat. She was visibly upset, as well as her young children, who were screaming and crying, according to a court affidavit. Everhart was charged with a misdemeanor for failing to confine her dogs.
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  • The wait is finally over! Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the latest addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure is now open. The ride made its debut on Thursday, with some fans claiming they had to wait up to 10 hours just for a chance to ride it.  The 300 million dollar attraction certainly has a lot to cater to fans of the franchise. The ride takes you on a journey through the Forbidden Forest and allows you to encounter some creatures that are both seen and never been seen in the films. It also takes you backwards and forward with speeds up to 50 miles per hour and a free fall that feels like a 17 foot drop.  However, reactions on social media have been mixed:   Some people on social media say that the park offered free water and allowed people to save their place in line as they used the bathroom. Since Friday, the park has begun using a virtual queue in its official park app so goers wont have to wait in massive lines. They will simply be notified on their phone when its time to go back in line. However, during Friday's run, riders experienced mid-way stops and a nearly 3 hour maintenance delay.  Long wait times continue to stretch up to 8 hours throughout Father's Day weekend and are expected to remain so for a while. Park leaders warn people who attend that it may reach capacity before the end of the day, so its always best to arrive early to try and get a spot in line.

Washington Insider

  • NBC News and the Democratic National Committee unveiled the lineups for the first two night debate in late June, setting the stage for the first group face off of the large Democratic field for 2020, with three top candidates getting paired together on the second night. The first night - Wednesday June 26 - features Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), while former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are grouped together on Thursday. Here are the lineups as announced Friday by NBC News, which is hosting this first debate in Miami. The lineup means that four of the top five candidates - in terms of overall polling right now among Democrats - will be in the second debate, with Warren the only one of those leaders going on Wednesday.