Funding the Government

On Monday evening, congressional negotiators announced a deal in principle on border security to avert a government shutdown at midnight tomorrow, provided it passes both chambers and the President agrees to sign it into law. The agreement provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of physical barriers on the southern border, well below the President’s initial $5.7 billion request. The funds are included in a seven-bill omnibus appropriations package that also funds the departments and agencies that were subject to last month’s partial government shutdown, including the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Justice, among others.

The Senate is expected to pass the measure this afternoon. Assuming it passes, the House, where the package faces more opposition, will vote this evening. The White House has not said whether or not the President will sign the bill.

Barr Nomination

Elsewhere, the Senate voted 55-44 on Tuesday to end debate on William Barr’s nomination to be the next Attorney General. Senators Jones (D-AL), Sinema (D-AZ), and Manchin (D-WV) joined most of the Republican caucus in support; Senator Paul (R-KY) opposed. The Senate then voted 54-45 this afternoon to confirm Barr’s nomination. The Senate also voted 92-8 on Tuesday to pass a sweeping bipartisan lands package that permanently authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. On the other side of the Capitol, House committees held hearings this week on drug prices and the impact of the partial government shutdown on aviation. The House Judiciary Committee also advanced two bills aimed at improving background checks for gun purchases.

FTC Announces Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

On Wednesday, the FTC announced series of hearings in March and April on competition and consumer protection in the 21st century, some of which are rescheduled sessions from events that were cancelled during the government shutdown. Of note, the Commission will hold a roundtable with state attorneys general on March 25.