U.S. Congress

Lawmakers return to Washington on Tuesday for what GOP party leaders are hoping will be an uneventful September for their party's most vulnerable members.

"We want a clean entry and a clean exit," says one Senate GOP aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about internal deliberations.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

Congress has moved a step closer to allowing injured veterans access to in vitro fertilization services after the House of Representatives passed a Veterans Affairs bill that includes a provision aimed at helping injured veterans start families. 

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland headed to Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon to meet with senators, beginning the traditional ritual of any nominee to the Supreme Court.

But for the former prosecutor, the exercise could be in vain. Senate Republicans are holding steadfast in their refusal to even consider Garland's nomination to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly last month.

Republican representatives continue to question the need for about $2 billion in emergency funding requested by the Obama administration to respond to the Zika virus.

Congressmen including Dr. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, asked in a hearing of an Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday whether funds earmarked for combating the Ebola virus couldn't be transferred to the fight against Zika virus.

Republican Congressmen from several Western states are running with a theme that emerged during the recent armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. 

President Obama has signed a $1.1 trillion funding bill that will keep the federal government running until Sept. 30, 2016. Earlier on Friday, the Senate gave final congressional approval to the bill, which includes nearly $700 billion in tax breaks.

The Senate adopted the Omnibus Appropriations Act by a vote of 65-33; the House did so by a 316-113 tally.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports:

Andy Slabaugh

Relief. That was the main reaction from government workers heading back to their jobs at the federal building in downtown Seattle after a couple weeks of forced time off due to the partial government shutdown. A steady stream of people headed through the revolving doors even before sunrise.

Inconveniencing the public is part of the plan.

It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.

"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."

Tonight is your last chance to weigh in on which communities will be included in the state’s congressional districts before commissioners start drafting their proposals. The public is invited to share their thoughts at a forum tonight in South Seattle.