Budget

Democrats seek to put teeth into ‘impoundment’ law
Going to court is only current option to force release of funds

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth wants to make it hurt if a president tries to block funding against lawmakers’ wishes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A fresh legal opinion challenging President Donald Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid under a Nixon-era budget law may or may not move the needle with senators in the president’s impeachment trial.

But one thing is clear: Trump’s delay of $214 million in Pentagon funds is just the latest in a long line of findings by the Government Accountability Office going back decades that presidents of both parties have run afoul of the 1974 law. That statute was aimed at restricting “impoundments,” where the executive branch refuses to spend money appropriated by Congress.

Trump undercuts military messages on brain injuries
President describes injuries from Iranian strikes as ‘headaches’

President Donald Trump’s description of potential military brain injuries as “not very serious” stands in contrast to the military’s call for such injuries not to be minimized. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s comment Wednesday that U.S. troops suffering concussion-like symptoms had “not very serious” injuries clashed with a yearslong, hard-fought U.S. military campaign to spread the message that a brain injury is not something to be minimized.

Trump was referring to at least 11 cases of troops in Iraq reporting symptoms that officials said may or may not turn out to be so-called traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 22
Coons lauds Schiff for 30 minutes of ‘mastery’; White House defense could begin Saturday

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, followed by Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin, leaves a news conference Tuesday. The Senate rejected all of the amendments Schumer introduced to try to change the rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 10:10 p.m.  

Delaware Democrat Chris Coons said House impeachment manager Adam B. Schiff’s closing 30 minutes was “compelling” and that he showed a “mastery” of the material. Coons also said that there were snacks and coffee in the cloakroom. Coons said there has not been much outreach to him from Republicans.

Abortion policy activism heats up for Roe v. Wade anniversary
Groups gear up for ‘pivotal year’ with emphasis on states

Both sides of the abortion rights debate are doubling down on grassroots efforts to energize voters who share their beliefs about abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups pushing for the advancement of abortion rights and those looking to limit the procedure have an ambitious agenda starting this week, foreshadowing a year that could be critical for advocates on both sides of the debate.

In two months, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since 2016, and both sides are revving up for a major presidential election. States are also eyeing a number of new reproductive health bills as their legislatures come back into session.

Senate approves Trump trial rules, lining up a series of late nights
Chamber shot down attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents and witnesses

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for the start of the impeachment trial on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted to approve Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules to govern the impeachment trial, which, despite last-minute changes Tuesday, earned no support from Democrats.

Senators adopted the updated resolution, 53-47, shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. The resolution will now give House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team 24 hours to make their arguments over three days, instead of the two days initially proposed by McConnell.

Congress faces narrow spending increase as VA health care costs balloon
CQ Budget, Ep. 140

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 15: The U.S. flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol dome on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 21
Senate blocks every one of Schumer’s amendments on rules proposal

House impeachment managers address the media in the Capitol on the Senate trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 53-47 along party lines to approve Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, after a long night of debate that stretched to nearly 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Senators almost entirely along party lines to block every motion Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer put forward Tuesday in an attempt to subpoena testimony from Cabinet officials, State Department and White House documents, and communications regarding Ukraine.

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

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.