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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Democrats are considering a new idea to pressure the Trump administration to comply with their subpoenas. The idea is to use the appropriations process as leverage and threaten to withhold funding until they get the documents and testimony they've requested.

Why it matters: It's a move that has a high risk of failure, since appropriations bills have to be approved by a Republican-held Senate and signed by the president. But given the Trump administration's determination to resist all of the Democrats' oversight efforts, and the prospect that court fights could take years, they're being forced to consider every tool they might have.

How it works: Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee are writing the bills that will fund the federal government for the next fiscal year — including the ones that will fund the Justice Department and the Treasury Department, two of the departments that have been resisting subpoenas.

  • A separate House committee could ask the appropriators to add a provision that would limit funds to a department that isn't complying with the subpoenas.
  • A member of Congress could also try to attach an amendment to one of the appropriations bills when they reach the floor in June.

So far, there's no detailed plan. Axios spoke with several members of Congress and staffers involved in the talks, and as of now they say discussions have been preliminary.

  • "We look at it as, 'Okay what's our recourse?' This is one of them. We also have contempt orders and fines," a senior Democratic leadership aide told Axios.
  • A House appropriations committee aide said the tactic would probably be useful mostly as a threat, adding that "if Dems are trying to target swift compliance, this may not be the most effective option" given how long it takes to pass appropriations bills.

The bottom line: There's probably no oversight tool that won't lead to months of delays if the Trump administration is determined to resist House Democrats.

Go deeper: How Trump is stalling Democrats

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.