budget

Amid ‘Whistleblowergate,’ Trump again suggests his office has unlimited powers
‘I have the right to do whatever I want as president,’ president said in July

President Donald Trump makes remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands nearby on August 5. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump on Friday insisted it “doesn’t matter” if he asks foreign leaders to target his domestic political foes, again describing the powers of his office as unlimited.

On yet another remarkable Friday that capped yet another remarkable week in his roller-coaster-like term, the president once again opted against distancing himself from allegations that would have amounted to a major scandal for anyone who held the unofficial title of “leader of the free world.”

Meet the key appropriations players of the fall
List includes budget war veterans as well as relative newcomers

Eric Ueland has been the White House legislative affairs chief since June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s the behind-the-scenes work of top legislative aides that makes the Capitol Hill machinery work, and that’s never truer than when lawmakers are trying to hash out spending bills as Congress and the White House will be focused on this fall and winter.

After initial decisions by Republican and Democratic clerks — the top staffers on the Appropriations subcommittees — full committee staff will step in to help work out any remaining issues. Leadership staff will be on hand to address the most intractable disagreements and questions about what legislation can ride with the spending bills, and to make sure the measures have enough votes to pass.

House passes temporary funding bill; Senate vote next week
The vote punts final decisions on fiscal 2020 to just before the Thanksgiving recess

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., departs from a press conference at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The House passed an interim funding bill Thursday afternoon, extending appropriations through Nov. 21. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed a stopgap spending bill that would continue government funding until Nov. 21, after spending the last few days arguing over aid to farmers caught up in the U.S.-China trade war.

The 301-123 tally saw just three Democrats vote ‘no’ and 76 Republicans supporting the measure. The strong bipartisan showing bodes well for quick Senate passage of the continuing resolution next week.

Trump denies ‘inappropriate’ remark to foreign leader that prompted whistleblower complaint
Both intel committees to hear from acting DNI, intel community inspector general

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their summit in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2018. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump denied reports that he made a promise to an unidentified foreign leader that prompted an intelligence community official to file a formal complaint with an inspector general.

“Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

Pelosi says key component of drug pricing bill not open to negotiations
Pelosi rejects idea of negotiating bill that doesn’t allow the government to negotiate prices

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House committee leaders started briefing members on Democrats’ drug pricing plan this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats on Thursday released the outline of a long-awaited drug price proposal, taking a step toward fulfilling one of the party’s signature campaign promises: requiring Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

The bill would allow commercial insurers to benefit from the Medicare-negotiated price as well, and base Medicare’s highest-acceptable price on the lower prices other wealthy countries pay.

State and local tax cap rollback included in year-end tax talks
Democrats leading SALT discussions say they hope to have legislation ready for markup in October

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., and House Democrats are looking to roll back the cap on annual state and local tax deductions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior House Ways and Means Democrat said Wednesday that a full, though temporary, elimination of the current $10,000 cap on annual state and local tax deductions is among the proposals being discussed for a possible markup in the coming weeks.

Committee Democrats also discussed in a Wednesday caucus meeting how a “SALT” rollback and a raft of other tax legislation the committee has advanced or will soon consider might fit into a deal later this year with Senate Republicans, and what offsets might be offered as part of any package, said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-New Jersey.

House stopgap bill would fund farm payments, health programs
The bill could move to the full House for floor consideration as early as Thursday

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., walks down the House steps after a vote on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. House Democrats unveiled a stopgap spending bill after ironing out last-minute disagreements. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats unveiled a stopgap spending bill late Wednesday that runs through Nov. 21 after ironing out last-minute disagreements about payments to farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs.

The measure would reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation for trade relief and other payments as of Sept. 17, so the agency doesn’t breach its $30 billion borrowing cap as it continues to send checks to farmers and ranchers.

Farm payment disclosure language delaying stopgap funds
Disagreement remains on how to information on payments made under Trump’s trade mitigation assistance program

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., talks with reporters after a news conference in the Capitol on August 13, 2019. On Wednesday, Hoyer said he hopes a stopgap funding bill would be filed as soon as lawmakers can iron out final details, including on language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade mitigation assistance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Disputes over language that would let the White House keep making payments to farmers and ranchers under President Donald Trump’s trade war mitigation program were delaying release of a stopgap appropriations measure needed to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

“Almost ready,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said Wednesday afternoon. She said outstanding issues include how to draft language that would provide adequate reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation for payments made under Trump’s tariff relief program. The CCC is approaching its $30 billion borrowing cap and without the appropriations “anomaly” White House officials say they’d have to stop making payments to eligible farmers and ranchers.

Smithsonian has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance, committee told
Buildings with outstanding repair needs include the Castle and the National Air and Space Museum

Cathy L. Helm, inspector general of the Smithsonian Institute, testifies before the House Administration Committee on Oversight of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Smithsonian Institution has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance needs across the more than 600 facilities it oversees, an issue that concerned lawmakers at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing and one that the recently appointed head of the museum complex pledged to address.

Prominent Smithsonian buildings in need of deferred maintenance — maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been — include the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, the Arts and Industries Building and the National Air and Space Museum. The $937 million backlog for fiscal 2017 is an assessment of every building it oversees, according to to Cathy Helm, inspector general for the Smithsonian Institution.

Senate panel wants probe into nuclear weapons glitches
Panel is concerned that problems might reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings that have broader implications

An Air Force F-16C carries a B61-12 bomb on a test flight at Nellis AFB, Nev. Problems with commercially manufactured electrical components have caused months of delays. (Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to order the Energy Department to launch an investigation into technical problems that have recently plagued U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

The committee’s mandate is buried deep inside the report accompanying the $48.9 billion Energy-Water spending bill that the committee approved on Sept. 12.