Defense & Cyberspace

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.

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.

More votes to terminate Trump's border emergency in the works
Lawmakers can vote again starting Feb. 15, 2020 to terminate the emergency declaration

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Top Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that they intended to force another vote on termination of the national emergency that President Donald Trump has used to boost border wall spending.

"Bipartisan majorities in Congress have repeatedly rejected diverting money from critical military construction projects to build a single additional mile of border wall. Robbing the Defense Department of these much-needed funds in order to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build is an insult to the sacrifices made by our service members," Schumer said in a joint statement with Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Pentagon to talk Space Force plans, uniforms with Trump
Officials expected to brief president on plans for starting up newly authorized military service branch

The Air Force chief of staff sits in the foreground as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Defense Department brass are expected Wednesday afternoon to brief President Donald Trump on their plans for standing up a new military branch called the Space Force, and a Pentagon official said they may even present several logo options for the new armed service.

The White House meeting is expected to include Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, who is on his second day of the job as the first-ever chief of space operations, the top officer in the sixth U.S. military service.

House to vote on military force authorizations this month
Progressive Democrats want votes on language removed from defense bill

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., center, and other Democratic leaders have promised votes on war powers and authorizations before the end of the month. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders committed to progressives Tuesday that the House will vote on legislation to prevent funds for unauthorized military force against Iran and to repeal the 2002 authorization of use of military force the week of Jan. 27.

The bills, sponsored by California Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee, respectively, will get separate votes, according to Khanna and Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal.

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

‘Eliminated’ Soleimani and ‘booming’ economy: Takeaways from Trump’s first 2020 rally
President alleges ‘Crazy Bernie’ condemned U.S. military strike on Soleimani

President Donald Trump speaks during a reelection rally at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday night. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — “Hello, Toledo,” President Donald Trump told an arena full of supporters Thursday night as he made clear he believes the Buckeye State is now solidly GOP territory.

“We love Toledo, you remember, I was here a lot,” Trump said at the top of another raucous campaign rally. “You remember 2016 — what a year that was, right?”

Authorizing conflict: AUMF and Congress explained

A protester dressed as President Donald Trump participates in the No War With Iran rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The United States hasn’t officially declared war since World War II. Instead, conflicts such as the Vietnam War, The Gulf War and the War on Terror are initiated courtesy of an Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF

Watch as CQ Roll Call’s Foreign Policy reporter Rachel Oswald explains AUMF, how it’s used and the implications behind President Donald Trump’s recent military actions against Iran.

Pompeo walks back comments that appeared to contradict Trump on embassy attacks
After Trump told rally about multiple embassies targeted, secretary of State says targets weren’t known

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at the Capitol on Wednesday to brief members of the House on the situation with Iran. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried Friday to clean up comments from the night before  that appeared to contradict President Trump’s claim that the Iranian general he had killed was targeting multiple U.S. embassies.

Pompeo told reporters U.S. officials acted on “specific information on an imminent threat,” and that the “threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. … Full stop.”

Freshman national security Democrats seize political moment

From left, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Mikie Sherrill, Chrissy Houlahan, Elissa Slotkin and Xochitl Torres Small conduct a meeting in the Capitol in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the hours after the targeted killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and with concern rapidly mounting about the potential for a direct military confrontation with Iran, several high-profile House liberals announced plans to constrain President Donald Trump’s ability to wage war.

But it was a lesser-known and more moderate freshman — Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst who did three tours in Iraq focusing on the country’s Iranian-backed Shiite militias — whom Speaker Nancy Pelosi ultimately tapped as the face of Democrats’ arguments for putting guardrails on Trump’s Iran strategy.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 10
Collins says she’s working to make sure Senate trial rules would allow sides to call witnesses

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told reporters the House won’t take floor action Friday on appointing its impeachment managers for a Senate trial. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Sen. Susan Collins told reporters in Maine that she’s been working all week with a “fairly small group” of Republican senators and party leaders to ensure trial rules would allow House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s lawyers to call witnesses.

The Bangor Daily News reports Collins declined to detail how large the group was, but she said, “we should be completely open to calling witnesses.”

Meet the lawmakers who bucked their parties on vote to limit Trump’s war powers
Eight Democrats opposed the resolution, while three Republicans supported it

New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose said he refused “to play politics with questions of war and peace” before opposing a war powers resolution Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Jan. 10 11:30 a.m. | The House voted largely along party lines Thursday to adopt a resolution directing President Donald Trump to not use military force against Iran without congressional approval unless it was necessary to defend Americans.

But 11 lawmakers, mostly Democrats, bucked their parties on the vote. Most of those Democrats face competitive reelections this year.

Between Iraq and a hard place: Congress
CQ on Congress, Ep. 181

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., arrives to the Capitol Visitor Center for a briefing by administration officials for members of the House on the latest developments on Iranian airstrikes in Iraq. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CQ on Congress begins 2020 by examining what's next after the targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. Host Shawn Zeller talks to two Iraq War veterans, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., to get their takes on a House resolution that has reignited the debate over Congress' authority over acts of war, and policy towards Iraq and Iran.