Budget

Justice Department sides with Treasury in blocking Trump tax returns
Mnuchin rejected demand by House Ways and Means Democrats

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had refused to comply with a subpoena from House Ways and Means Democrats for President Donald Trump’s tax returns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Justice Department released an opinion Friday that backed up the Treasury Department’s decision not to give Congress copies of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, concluding that the “true aim” was to make the documents public and that “is not a legitimate legislative purpose.”

The Office of Legal Counsel opinion comes after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal last month.

One-year spending cap option, warts and all, gains momentum
Yarmuth signals openness to deal, echoing comments made by Shelby a day earlier

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said Democrats would be open to a one-year spending deal, but acknowledged it might create problems for getting another deal during an election year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior lawmakers are increasingly considering a scaled-back plan to raise discretionary spending limits for just the upcoming fiscal year, in what would be a departure from the two-year deals enacted in 2013, 2015 and again last year.

A decision to limit a deal to only fiscal 2020 appropriations might simplify negotiations that have been stalled for months. But it would also set the stage for another difficult showdown over spending levels next year, just before the presidential election.

Trump — not lawmakers — set to be biggest challenge for new legislative affairs chief Ueland
No matter who runs Hill shop, president’s approach is ‘very unlikely to yield results,’ expert says

Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi, right, introduces Eric Ueland at his confirmation hearing to be under secretary of State for management in September 2017. That nomination was later withdrawn, but Ueland will be President Donald Trump’s third legislative affairs director, starting Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland, hand-picked by President Donald Trump to be his third legislative affairs director, has decades of experience in the D.C. “swamp” his soon-to-be boss loathes. But the former senior GOP aide will quickly learn it is the president alone who is, as one official put it Thursday, “the decider.”

Ueland has been chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and a Senate Budget Committee staff director. Experts and former officials describe him as highly qualified for the tough task of being the messenger between Trump and a Congress with a Democrat-controlled House that regularly riles up the president and a Senate where Republicans lack votes to pass most major legislation.

President Trump puts Eric Ueland in charge of White House legislative affairs
Longtime Senate aide saw his own confirmation to a State Department post thwarted

Eric Ueland is President Donald Trump'schoice to be director of legislative affairs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump intends to appoint Eric Ueland, a senior White House aide with vast experience in the Senate, as the next director of legislative affairs at the White House.

A source familiar with the plan confirmed the expected announcement to CQ Roll Call, which was first reported by Axios.

After rebuke from Jon Stewart, panel approves 9/11 victim bill
Without funding, victims face cuts to promised compensation, as much as 70 percent

Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Speaker Nancy Pelosi talk on the Speaker’s balcony Tuesday after a meeting iabout funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation extending the fund. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A day after comedian Jon Stewart chastised lawmakers for their sparse attendance at a hearing on legislation to help victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill without even calling a roll call vote, extending a victims fund for decades while offering whatever funding is needed.

Stewart and lawmakers representing the victims have expressed frustration with Congress’ pace in moving the legislation, even after the overseer of the victims fund, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced in February that she would have to cut payouts to victims for lack of money.

Getting rid of an agency isn’t easy
‘I would keep OPM,’ says Trump’s original pick

Virginia’s Mark Warner, left, and Tim Kaine are among the Democratic senators who worry that the president’s push to reorganize OPM could politicize the civil service. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s plan to shutter the White House Office of Personnel Management has stirred opposition from employee unions and Democrats in Congress. It is also opposed by the first person Trump nominated to run the agency, George Nesterczuk.

Trump chose Nesterczuk in May 2017 to lead OPM, which oversees government pay, benefits and performance management, but Nesterczuk later withdrew under stiff opposition from the employee unions.

Lindsey Graham confronted with the ghosts of the ‘gang of 8’
“We would have a very different situation” had that bill passed, acting DHS secretary says

Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Security secretary, says the border situation would have been better than it is now had the ‘gang of eight’ legislation from 2013 been enacted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is looking for strategies on moving his immigration overhaul legislation, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan presented one possible path: Graham’s old work with the “gang of eight” that produced a bill the Senate passed in 2013 with a veto-proof majority. 

At a hearing Tuesday before Graham’s panel, McAleenan said the current border situation now wouldn’t be as bad if the bipartisan gang of eight compromise of 2013 — which passed the Democratic Senate 68-32 but was never taken up by the Republican House — had become law.

Military bases unprepared for gathering climate change storm 
Responses to hurricanes, flooding already raising alarm bells in Congress and beyond

Months after Hurricane Michael struck Tyndall Air Force Base in October, the main hangar’s roof is badly damaged. (Elvina Nawaguna/CQ Roll Call file photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — A mangled red, white and blue patrol plane still lies across what was once a park here where families played and picnicked, nine months after Hurricane Michael stormed out of the Gulf of Mexico with its 155-mile-per-hour winds.

And beyond that wreckage and other detritus, about 300 of this Air Force base’s nearly 500 damaged buildings are slated to be razed. The Air Force wants at least $4.25 billion to rebuild Tyndall at its current location on the Florida panhandle, a process the 325th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brian Laidlaw, said could take several years.

Contractors would receive shutdown pay in next spending package
Contractor back pay would provide the same benefit granted to direct federal employees

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. She is seeking to add provisions in a spending bill to aid contractors during a shutdown. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats would make whole federal contractors who didn't get paid during the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in January as part of a $383 billion fiscal 2020 spending bill set to hit the floor next week. 

The package combines five bills: Commerce-Justice-Science will be the vehicle, carrying the Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures as well.

Rep. Hartzler to host $500-per-person event for defense executives on eve of defense markup
The timing may raise eyebrows in the lobbying community and among campaign finance overhaul supporters

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., left, and Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., leave the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on June 13, 2018. Hartzler has invited defense industry executives and other D.C. insiders to a luncheon fundraiser Tuesday, on the eve of the panel’s signature markup of the year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated June 10, 2019, 10 p.m. | Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a high-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, has invited defense industry executives and other D.C. insiders to a luncheon fundraiser Tuesday, on the eve of the panel’s signature markup of the year.

House Armed Services has scheduled its marathon markup of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which sets the Defense Department’s annual policy and budget priorities, for Wednesday.