foreign-policy

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.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 16
Collins said she may be leaning toward calling at least some witnesses for trial

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., lead the group of House impeachment managers to the Senate side of the Capitol on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats led by Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer reiterated they want to hear the testimony of four witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“We expect we will have votes on these witnesses on Tuesday,” Schumer said Thursday.

Courtroom experience a commodity as Trump impeachment trial begins
Senators with significant time in front of a judge are sought-after in the run-up to historic trial

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says senators who’ve tried cases can get their points across with questions that are the “pithiest” and “shortest.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has boosted the profile of senators who have specific experience in their background: spending time in front of a judge.

Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who tried cases and pressed appeals as a civil rights lawyer before he entered politics, said Wednesday that Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has started a dialogue with him and other Democratic senators who have courtroom experience ahead of the impeachment trial.

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.

Pelosi’s impeachment team represents the diversity of the Democratic caucus
Speaker hand-picked seven managers with a broad swath of backgrounds

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference to announce impeachment managers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen a small but diverse group of managers to make the House’s case for convicting President Donald Trump on two charges when the Senate impeachment trial begins next week, a move that reflects the membership of her own caucus.

Pelosi announced the managers, which include three women and three minorities, Wednesday morning, just hours before the House is expected to approve them and formally send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate.

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.

Senate could vote to curb Trump war powers, but timing unclear
Bipartisan version of resolution would require immediate cessation of attacks on Iran

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks to the media following the Senate Democrats’ policy lunch on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tim Kaine has lined up the votes to adopt a resolution to restrict President Donald Trump’s ability to attack Iran, though a vote on the matter this week would fall short absent a procedural agreement with Republican leadership.

The Virginia Democrat announced Tuesday he received support from at least four GOP senators for using the 1973 War Powers Act to adopt a binding resolution ordering the Trump administration to immediately end all unauthorized military hostilities against Iran and its government. Those senators are Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Todd Young of Indiana.

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

Senators look to clear legislative decks before impeachment trial
Notice requirements could give just enough time

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks to the media following the Senate Democrats’ policy lunch on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate appears set to try to clear the decks of pending legislative business before diving into the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

That could include delivering a big policy victory to the president on trade.