The Senate on Wednesday approved the conference report to a fiscal 2019 spending package covering the military construction-Veterans Affairs, energy-water and legislative branch spending bills, the first of three minibuses Congress hopes will be signed into law by the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1. The House is expected to take up the conference report today. Also scheduled today is the first meeting among conferees for a two-bill package covering the defense and labor-HHS-education spending titles and a separate four-bill spending package. The defense, labor-HHS-education measure appears to be next in line to be reported out of conference, possibly by early next week, reports CQ. … House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D) made the case for bringing back earmarks during a speech Wednesday describing Democrats’ plan should they take control of the House in the midterm elections. “Republicans eliminated earmarks altogether, and the result has been an abdication of Congress’ power of the purse,” he said, reported CQ. Hoyer pointed out that Democrats reformed the process in 2007, banning earmarks for for-profit entities and requiring lawmakers to publicly disclose all earmark requests.