budget

Top Trump aide stops short of echoing boss’ claim that economy is ‘best it’s ever been’
But Lawrence Kudlow touts wage growth and low unemployment rate

Larry Kudlow, director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, says the economy under Trump will “rank up there” with previous strong economies. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser on Friday stopped short of endorsing the president’s repeated claim that the U.S. economy is at its strongest point in the country’s history.

“In history? I think it’ll rank up there, yes,” Lawrence Kudlow told CQ Roll Call on Friday. But he notably did not say the U.S. economy is the strongest it’s ever been as his boss heads into what pollsters and strategists in both parties say could be a photo-finish election.

GAO: Trump’s hold on Ukraine aid violated budget law
1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending

President Donald Trump boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in October. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Government Accountability Office said in an opinion Thursday that President Donald Trump violated federal budget law when he ordered White House officials to withhold most of a $250 million military aid package for Ukraine last summer.

The finding comes after House Democrats delivered articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress grounds stemming from the Ukraine affair to the Senate Wednesday evening, triggering the Senate trial expected to start next week.

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

An agonizing dispute among terror victims
Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund splitting payouts under questionable rationale

Kenneth Feinberg, former administrator of the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, said he does not understand the rationale for paying out 9/11 victims from the fund. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four decades ago, William Daugherty, a former CIA operative, was held hostage in Iran for 444 days. His wait for the financial compensation policymakers had promised him will now be a lot longer than that.

A fund created in 2015 for the Iran hostages and other victims of state-sponsored terrorism has become a new source of cash for relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks waged by al-Qaida terrorists on New York and Washington. President Donald Trump in November signed into law a measure that divided the fund in half, splitting the revenue between two competing groups: victims of state-sponsored terrorism like Daugherty and the 9/11 families.

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

Ukraine aid legal ruling could shake up impeachment trial
GAO’s legal opinion on whether Trump and White House officials violated a 1974 budget law could be released this week

Van Hollen sought GAO opinion on legality of aid delay under 1974 budget law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ investigative arm may be about to add a new wrinkle into the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump sparked by the nearly two-month holdup of Ukraine security assistance last year, which Democrats charge Trump orchestrated to extract political favors.

As early as this week, the Government Accountability Office could release its legal opinion on whether Trump and senior White House officials violated the Nixon-era budget law that requires executive branch agencies to spend appropriated funds according to lawmakers’ wishes.  

Appeals court hears arguments over health care cost-sharing subsidies

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the cost-sharing subsidies cases in December, and the high court’s decision could impact the cases over the health insurance industry’s claims that the government maintained an implied contract with the plans even in the absence of appropriations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard arguments Thursday over whether the government owes health insurance plans money through subsidies mandated under the 2010 health care law, which created so-called cost-sharing subsidies for insurers to reduce low-income consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.

President Donald Trump halted the subsidies in 2017, prompting health care plans on the insurance exchanges across the country to increase their premium rates the following year. But Congress never appropriated specific funds for the subsidies, which the federal government argued ended the obligation of the Department of Health and Human Services to pay the plans. 

Trump suggests Iran downed Ukrainian airliner, potentially by accident
U.S. officials haven't publicly stated what caused the crash yet

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House after a rally in Michigan on Dec. 19, 2019. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner earlier this week — possibly by mistake.

“Well, I have my suspicions,” he told reporters following an energy event in the White House. “It’s a tragic thing. … Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side. … It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.

U.S. military won’t leave Iraq anytime soon, Trump says amid tensions
Biden: Iran standoff shows president’s foreign policy ‘incompetence’ is ‘beyond dispute’

President Donald Trump, shown with first lady Melania Trump on New Year’s Eve, said U.S. troops leaving Iraq now is the “worst thing that could happen” to that nation. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will not order the withdrawal of all American military forces from Iraq despite calls from officials there to expel U.S. troops following the White House’s killing of a top Iranian figure outside Baghdad’s airport.

“At some point we want to get out but this isn’t the right point,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office days after Iraq’s parliament voted to force him to get American troops off its soil. “It’s the worst thing that could happen to Iraq.”

Talking taxes 2020
CQ Budget, Ep. 138

UNITED STATES - Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., leaves a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, in the Capitol after agreeing to a spending deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tax reporter Doug Sword sits down with guest host Jennifer Shutt to explain why Congress added so many tax bills to a massive spending package and what exactly those provisions will mean during the upcoming year. CQ Budget delves into what didn't make it into the package and predicts how far those provisions will advance in 2020.