Financial Services

Donald Trump Once Wanted to Buy the FBI Headquarters, Now House Dems Are Asking Questions
New request sent to agency in charge for documents about potential conflicts

The front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Ave. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Key House Democrats pressed the head of the General Services Administration to provide more information Thursday about President Donald Trump’s role in the proposal to rebuild the FBI headquarters building on its current footprint on Pennsylvania Ave.

“As a direct result of President Trump’s clear conflict of interest on this matter, we are now requesting information and documents to determine whether the President is making decisions about the FBI headquarters building based on what is best for the country or what is best for his own financial bottom-line,” wrote the five House members, who are all ranking members of relevant committees or subcommittees.

Blumenauer Sends Blunt Marijuana Blueprint to Democratic Leadership
Goal is to have Congress pass legislation by the end of 2019

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., wants Democrats to legalize marijuana if they take back the House majority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of Congress’s most vocal marijuana proponents, sent Democratic leadership a memo Wednesday outlining steps Congress should take to legalize the Schedule I drug.

“Congress is out of step with the American people and the states on cannabis,” Blumenauer wrote in the memo, citing polling showing that 69 percent of registered voters support legalizing marijuana. “We have an opportunity to correct course if Democrats win big in November.”

Fiscal 2018 Deficit Clocks In at $779 Billion, White House Reports
Largest hole in six years, executive branch finds

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testifies before a House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on the FY2019 Budget for OMB on April 18, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government ran a $779 billion deficit in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the largest budget shortfall in six years, the White House reported Monday.

The official deficit tally for fiscal 2018 marked a $113 billion increase from the previous year and accounted for 3.9 percent of gross domestic product, an increase of 0.4 percentage points. The report confirms the third consecutive fiscal year of rising deficits despite a strong economy. 

K Street Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Grassley
Republican holds the key to cascading possibilities, from Judiciary to Finance to Banking

Will Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, make the leap to head the Finance Committee next year? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Fresh off a divisive Supreme Court battle, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has a complicated decision to make next month that has the business world watching with keen interest: whether to make the jump over to the Finance Committee chairmanship in the 116th Congress.

“Ask me Nov. 7,” was all the Iowa Republican would say earlier this week on the topic. But the allure of returning to the helm of perhaps the most powerful committee in Congress, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade and health care policy, can’t be lost on Grassley, who was Finance chairman for part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt Accused of ‘Unwanted Advances’
Accuser: Watt made it clear he had ‘an attraction’

Federal Housing Finance Agency Direct0r Melvin Watt has been accused by a subordinate of unwanted advances and sexual harassment.  (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Federal Housing Finance Agency manager leveled charges of unwanted advances and sexual harassment against Director Melvin Watt during a hearing Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee.

Simone Grimes testified that beginning in 2015, when she brought to the regulator’s attention that she was to be paid less than her predecessor in an executive position, Watt offered her a “number of positions” but made clear each time that he had “an attraction” to her.

Mel Watt Accuser to Testify Before House Panel
Appearance comes same day as Kavanaugh-Ford hearing over in the Senate

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and ranking member Maxine Waters, D-Calif., left, might hear testimony from a woman who has accused former Rep. Mel Watt, who runs the Federal Housing Finance Agency, of sexual harassment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Financial Services Committee will hear testimony Thursday from a Federal Housing Finance Agency employee who has accused former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C, the agency’s director, of sexual harassment, the same day Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the judge of sexual assault, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Financial Services panel had already scheduled an FHFA oversight hearing for Thursday, where Watt is among the invited witnesses. Watt’s accuser, Simone Grimes, requested to testify at the hearing, according to a letter ranking member Maxine Waters, D-Calif., sent Monday to Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, asking he allow Grimes to do so.

Don’t Call Mazie Hirono a Badass. Call Her a Leader.
Hawaii Democrat is much more than a meme

Sen. Mazie Hirono dropped some choice remarks on her Judiciary Committee colleagues, and the internet went wild. Americans have been without female leadership for so long that it knocks them over when they see it, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Sen. Mazie Hirono is a badass, in case you haven’t been following the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. 

Also, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is notorious, like a rapper. And when Rep. Maxine Waters reclaimed her time last year, she suddenly became everybody’s favorite feisty aunt who isn’t putting up with your fresh talk anymore.

Lawmakers Eye Cyber Bounties to Fix Bugs in Federal Networks
House panel approves Senate bill to set up pilot program at DHS

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a Senate bill last week that would set up a bug bounty program at the Department of Homeland Security. Above, Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., at a 2014 hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers last week moved closer to mandating that the Department of Homeland Security start a bug bounty program that will pay computer security researchers to spot weaknesses in DHS’s computer networks. That requirement would bring the department in line with other U.S. agencies with similar cybersecurity programs.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday by unanimous consent approved a Senate bill that would set up a pilot program at the department. The Senate passed the bill on April 17. The Pentagon, the IRS and the General Services Administration already operate such programs, and lawmakers have proposed legislation that would launch similar efforts at the departments of State and Treasury.

Watershed Moment as Three Appropriations Bills Clear on Time
House voted 377-20, sending legislation to the president’s desk

The U.S. Capitol building as seen on Friday, June 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A batch of three spending bills is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk following a 377-20 House vote Thursday, marking the first on-time delivery of a quarter of the annual appropriations measures in a decade.

The $147.5 billion package — which funds the departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, the Army Corps of Engineers and the operations of Congress — is the first installment of what lawmakers hope will be nine bills becoming law before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

First Three Fiscal 2019 Spending Bills Readied for Floor
Hurricane Florence presents potential scheduling wildcard

A little girl and a man look through the windows of the Capitol dome miniature model in the Capitol Visitors Center Monday afternoon Sept. 10, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers reached agreement Monday on three spending bills that would provide about $147.5 billion next year for the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, Army Corps of Engineers and lawmakers’ offices and the Capitol complex.

The package came together after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations and at times tense conversations about funding levels and policy language. Aides said it was on track to reach President Donald Trump’s desk by week’s end. The tentative plan at this stage is for the Senate to go first, likely on Thursday, with the House to follow on Friday, although the arrival of Hurricane Florence remains a wildcard.