Budget

Brennan Fracas Could Rip Through Senate’s Defense Spending Debate
Security clearances, abortion among amendment topics floated

Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner, here with Chairman Richard Burr, says he plans to introduce an amendment to the 2019 defense spending bill that would block the president from revoking security clearances. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is ready to start voting on amendments to the fiscal 2019 Defense spending bill, possibly including several that could stir spirited debate.

Senators have only agreed so far to vote on two relatively uncontroversial amendments to the the two-bill package that includes both the $675 billion Defense bill and the $179.3 billion Labor-HHS-Education measure. Those first two votes are scheduled for Monday evening.

Lawmakers Wary of Potential Trump Cuts to Foreign Aid
Corker, Menendez doubt legality of reported plan

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and ranking member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., doubt the administration has the legal authority to impound funds in the way they are reportedly planning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sources close to Capitol Hill and within the foreign aid community say that Trump administration officials are preparing a potential foreign aid “rescission” package that could cut between $2 billion and $4 billion in fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018 funds from the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Some $200 million intended to benefit Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is thought to be on the chopping block as part of the request, sources said.

Do Debt and Deficits Matter? It Depends on Who's Minding U.S. Fiscal Policy: Podcast
CQ on Congress, Episode 116

Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, sits in front of books of the U.S. tax code, during a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republicans' tax reform plan in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Congressional Budget Office recently revised its earlier, already dire warning that the national debt will be 150 percent larger than the entire U.S. economy within 30 years — and GOP budget and tax proposals could make a bad situation much worse.

CQ News editors Patrick B. Pexton and Pete Cohn discuss the political landscape of debt and deficits heading into what could be a fateful midterm election.

Senate Busies Itself, Plus Chuck Norris and Some Cactus
The one-day work week is something we can all get behind

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the Senate floor on Thursday for the final vote of the week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

The Senate convened around noon on Wednesday. The Senate adjourned around 4:33 p.m. on Thursday. Now THAT is a work week!

America’s Largest Veterans Group Rains on Trump’s Parade
Trump appears to put blame for higher estimate on D.C. officials who ‘know a windfall when they see one’

President Donald Trump viewed a traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris — and apparently liked what he saw. (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images file photo)

Opponents to President Donald Trump’s plans for a costly military parade in Washington now include the American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.

“The American Legion appreciates that our President wants to show in a dramatic fashion our nation’s support for our troops,” American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan said in a statement Thursday night. “However, until such time as we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home, we think the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible.”

Artificial Intelligence May Help Match Veterans with Civilian Jobs
Software translates military job codes into relevant info for civilian employers

Artificial intelligence could help veterans find jobs in the civilian sector that make the most of their military training. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

One of the problems military veterans have long faced is matching their skills learned in the armed forces to the needs of civilian employers, an issue Congress continues to grapple with in the fiscal 2019 spending bills.

Many military jobs translate perfectly into the civilian sector — repairing an Abrams tank is much like repairing any heavy piece of machinery, for example — but many combat and leadership skills do not, on the surface, directly transfer.

Space Force Proposal Comes With Little Political Risk for Trump
It ‘will look like a quaint idea by 2020,’ one analyst says

Vice President Mike Pence announces the Trump administration’s plan to create a space force by 2020 during an Aug. 9 speech at the Pentagon. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Whether the Space Force becomes a reality or not, the Trump re-election campaign will likely face few consequences in 2020 for shooting for the stars.

Speaking at the Pentagon last week, Vice President Mike Pence laid out an ambitious agenda for standing up a new branch of the military by 2020. Establishing a new agency — much less a new military department to stand beside those of the Army, Navy and Air Force — is a complicated, time-consuming affair, filled with bureaucratic headaches.

Education Funding, Eaten Up by Pell Grants, Once Again on Menu
Senate hasn’t debated education appropriations for 11 years. Since then, a lot has changed

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos isn’t seeing eye to eye with Senate appropriators on education priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While military and health care costs have received plenty of airtime in recent years, the federal education budget hasn’t gotten a thorough vetting on the Senate floor since 2007. That will change if the Senate takes up later this week a massive $856.9 billion spending bill for the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and a smattering of smaller agencies.

In the 11-year stretch since the full Senate last debated education appropriations, the Great Recession came and went, exploding the number of students either finding themselves out of work or in need of retraining.

7 Ways the Senate Can Spend the Rest of August
A few real problems have bubbled up while senators were away

There’s no shortage of things for senators to do while in town this month, Murphy writes. Above, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives at the Capitol for a vote in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Welcome back to the grind, senators and staff. If you were only watching cable news over your abridged recess, you might have been lulled into the idea that the only messes in Washington you would come back to were Omarosa’s habit of recording conversations in the Situation Room and what we’ve learned so far about Paul Manafort’s choice of outerwear from his trial — ostrich. So gross.

But while some in the D.C. media were caught up in the Trump train wrecks of the day, a few real problems bubbled up while you were gone. Somebody has to deal with them, so as long as you’re here — why not you?

Congressional Budget Office Revises Economic Forecast Downward
Director warns that projections are ‘inherently uncertain’

The Congressional Budget Office is revising downward its forecast of the country's economic growth for 2018. CBO Director Keith Hall, pictured, warns, though, that such projections are "inherently uncertain." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Congressional Budget Office projects the economy to grow at a rate of 3.1 percent in 2018, a slight revision to the 3.3 percent growth rate the agency forecast in April.

The CBO attributed the slight decline in its gross domestic product estimate this year to revised projections of discretionary spending and interest rates.