HSEC

Wasserman Schultz enters race for top Democrat on Appropriations
It’s now a three-way contest for Lowey’s replacement

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will seek the top Democratic spot on the House Appropriations Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The race to become the next top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee widened into a three-way contest Thursday.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz declared her intention to run for the job that will be left vacant when Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey of New York retires at the end of her current term. Lowey, 82, announced last month she would step down after 31 years in Congress.

Trump signs stopgap bill, fending off shutdown for now
Continuing resolution will fund government, avoid shutdown, through Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., was guardedly optimistic about working out differences over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signed a monthlong spending bill Thursday, hours before government funding had been set to expire at midnight.

The continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 20, giving appropriators more time to hash out numerous divides over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. It’s the second time Congress has needed to pass a temporary spending bill since fiscal 2020 began Oct. 1.

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Fiona Hill forceful, direct in countering Republican defense of Trump
Former NSC aide fills in critical blanks after more than a week of impeachment hearings

Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and David Holmes, political counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before testifying during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Intelligence Committee's last witness of the week in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump connected the dots between current and former administration witnesses, pushed back against previous accounts and illuminated fault lines in American diplomacy. 

Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who worked on Trump’s National Security Council, delivered perhaps the most forceful testimony countering the Republican defense of Trump and his dealings in Ukraine.

Trump comes out swinging, but Fiona Hill fights back in dramatic impeachment finale
Kyiv embassy official says he had ‘never seen anything like’ Sondland cafe call with U.S. president

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia adviser, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came out swinging Thursday morning, but two witnesses who testified for hours in the impeachment inquiry pulled no punches as they overshadowed the president’s morning attacks.

Testimony by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia expert, and David Holmes, an official in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, further undercut several contentions pushed by Trump, GOP lawmakers and the president’s surrogates. Hill, for instance, dismissed a conspiracy theory rejected by American intelligence agencies but espoused by Trump and other Republicans that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Democrats seek quick subpoena ruling in Trump tax records case
Case puts Supreme Court in middle of fight over limits for investigations into a sitting president

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 10, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to quickly allow enforcement of a congressional subpoena for eight years of President Donald Trump’s financial and tax records from accounting firm Mazars USA.

In a court filing, Democrats argue that not only was a lower court ruling correct when it backed House power to get the records, but also that a president doesn’t have a right to stall the production of documents, particularly during an impeachment inquiry.

California Supreme Court blocks effort to get Trump's tax returns
Law would have required disclosure to get on 2020 primary ballot

California lawmakers had attempted to require President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to qualify for the state’s primary ballot. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The California Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a state law that would have forced President Donald Trump to release his tax returns from the last five years in order to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot. 

The California legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, passed the law in July. But justices for the state’s high court unanimously declared that the law violated a provision of California’s constitution that requires “an open presidential primary” where the contenders are “recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States.”

Census gets funding boost in stopgap bill
The money provides greater surety going into next year's count

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., ranking member of an Appropriations subcommittee, said census funding had bipartisan support. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

The stopgap funding measure cleared for President Donald Trump on Thursday provides $7.3 billion for next year’s census, a half-billion more than expected, giving next year’s count the resources some lawmakers and advocates have sought for months.

The measure surpasses an earlier Senate version of the funding bill that would have given the agency $6.7 billion and exceeds the $5.9 billion requested by Trump. Democrats in Congress, skeptical of the administration, had pushed for more funding for the count, which will be used to help decide political representation and to divvy up about $1.5 trillion in federal spending annually.

Amid impeachment, groups press for limits on foreign influence
Liberal groups urge overhaul of foreign lobbying rules

Liberal groups are trying to bring their proposals into alignment with a plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As foreign influence takes center stage in House impeachment proceedings, lawmakers, candidates, and outside groups are tossing around proposals to curb, or shed new light on, efforts from abroad to sway U.S. policy and elections.

Liberal-leaning groups, including Public Citizen, are prodding House Democrats to sign on to forthcoming legislation that would overhaul foreign lobbying regulations. The Center for American Progress on Thursday will unveil a set of proposals calling for new limits on the political contributions of companies that have significant foreign ownership.

Teflon veep: Pence emerges largely unscathed as Sondland, Dems say he knew of quid pro quo
Trump’s No. 2 has left it to surrogates like Jim Jordan and Marc Short to swat away allegations

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Wednesday during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers and witnesses this week repeatedly brought up Vice President Mike Pence during public impeachment hearings, but President Donald Trump’s No. 2 has emerged mostly unscathed.

Wednesday was a rough one for Trump, with testimony from a top U.S. diplomat implicating him in a quid pro quo. But no House Democrat during the public sessions has suggested articles of impeachment against Pence.