John Yarmuth

Fiscal crunch won't be immediate, budget scorekeeper says
Low interest rates mean Congress has more time to address growing federal deficits

CBO Director Phillip Swagel testifies before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The threat of rising federal deficits has a silver lining: low interest rates.

Those low rates, which make Treasury debt less costly, mean Congress has more time to address the nation’s fiscal challenges, the head of the Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers Wednesday.

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.

Ukraine aid legal ruling could shake up impeachment trial
GAO’s legal opinion on whether Trump and White House officials violated a 1974 budget law could be released this week

Van Hollen sought GAO opinion on legality of aid delay under 1974 budget law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ investigative arm may be about to add a new wrinkle into the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump sparked by the nearly two-month holdup of Ukraine security assistance last year, which Democrats charge Trump orchestrated to extract political favors.

As early as this week, the Government Accountability Office could release its legal opinion on whether Trump and senior White House officials violated the Nixon-era budget law that requires executive branch agencies to spend appropriated funds according to lawmakers’ wishes.  

Transcript highlights Ukraine concerns among career OMB staff
Two officials left the agency after the withholding of aid came to light

A quote is displayed on a monitor from a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of Trump in the Longworth Building on Nov. 19, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two Office of Management and Budget officials grew frustrated with the hold on Ukraine military aid ordered by President Donald Trump and resigned from the agency, according to newly released impeachment inquiry testimony.

Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security programs at OMB, testified behind closed doors on Nov. 16 that the two officials left the budget office after the hold on some $391 million in aid became known. House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript of Sandy’s testimony Tuesday.

Is tight Kentucky governor’s race a sign of trouble awaiting McConnell in 2020?
Competitive red state excites Democrats, but GOP says no comparison between Bevin and Senate leader

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin stand during the National Anthem at the 2016 Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Shortly before Kentucky Gov.  Matt Bevin won his first term four years ago, he made an elaborate show of contrition to onetime rival and fellow Republican Mitch McConnell, showing a satirical video at a GOP dinner in which Bevin appeared to get a McConnell-themed tattoo.

Now Bevin is in the homestretch of a bitter reelection battle — against the state’s Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear — that is seen as a curtain raiser to McConnell’s own 2020 campaign for a seventh Senate term. And the Senate majority leader has been returning the love, working behind the scenes to boost his erstwhile antagonist, according to sources familiar with the race.

How the OMB used its powers to delay Ukraine aid
Order to withhold the funds came directly from the president

President Donald Trump alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, talks to the media on March 26, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An obscure agency with outsized sway over federal spending is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry into an alleged “quid pro quo” orchestrated by President Donald Trump trading domestic political aid for security assistance against a common foe.

The White House Office of Management and Budget gave the order to withhold aid to Ukraine intended to combat Russian aggression for almost two months. The decision came directly from the top, catching some administration officials as well as bipartisan majorities on Capitol Hill by surprise.

John Yarmuth, from pinup to budget wonk

Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth inspects a photo of himself as a staffer that was printed in Roll Call in 1971 as an April Fools’ joke. Yarmuth sat down with CQ Roll Call this week for an interview about his time as a staffer. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

John Yarmuth went from Roll Call pinup to Budget chairman
Kentucky Democrat started on the Hill as a staff replacement for Mitch McConnell

Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth holds a photo of himself as a staffer that was printed in Roll Call in 1971 as an April Fools’ joke. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

John Yarmuth got his start on Capitol Hill in 1971 after another young future lawmaker — Mitch McConnell — called and asked him to take his slot on the staff of their home-state senator, Kentucky’s Marlow Cook.

Now a Democratic congressman who represents Louisville, Yarmuth spoke to Roll Call recently about his early days as a Rockefeller Republican and his experience as an April Fools’ pinup for our publication.

House committee leaders demand budget documents related to Ukraine aid holdup
Letter asks OMB to provide trove of information, much of it by Oct. 1

Then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney prepares to testify at a hearing in April 2018. Mulvaney was one of the recipients of a letter from the House Budget and Appropriations Committees that expressed concern over possibly withholding foreign aid funds appropriated by Congress including assistance to Ukraine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairs of the House Budget and Appropriations committees took the Office of Management and Budget to task Friday for possibly illegally withholding foreign aid funds appropriated by Congress including assistance to Ukraine.

In a letter to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, Budget Chairman John Yarmuth and Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said they are concerned OMB actions that withheld military aid to Ukraine “constitute unlawful impoundments in violation” of the landmark 1974 budget law.

Long arc of history guides John Lewis in his call for impeachment inquiry
A man who’s been beaten, bullied and jailed would know a thing or two about justice

Rep. John Lewis, left, here with, from right, Reps. John Yarmuth, Conor Lamb and Anthony G. Brown, announced his support for an impeachment inquiry Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — No one can accuse Rep. John Lewis of lacking patience. The Georgia Democrat showed plenty, as well as steely resolve, as he changed millions of minds — and history — over a life spent working for equal rights for all. So when he speaks, especially about justice, a cause from which he has never wavered, all would do well to listen.

Lewis was not the only voice raised this week, as all sides raced to place a political frame on the narrative of the undisputed fact that a U.S. president asked a foreign leader to work with him and for him to smear a political opponent, perhaps with military aid in the balance. “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” President Donald Trump said, according to a transcript of the conversation based on notes. He also wanted to rope in his personal lawyer and the attorney general, who, by the way, works for the American people, not Trump.