Michael McCaul

White House lifts pause on State, USAID spending
The move comes after a flurry of congressional criticism of OMB's funding freeze

The White House has agreed to release certain State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding after it had been temporarily frozen. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House has released certain funds appropriated for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development that over the weekend had been temporarily frozen, a senior administration official said Friday.

The action comes after the Office of Management and Budget told those two agencies to cease spending for a range of programs that still have unobligated fiscal 2018 and 2019 balances, and would otherwise expire if not spent by Sept. 30.

Will Hurd’s exit highlights a Texas-size challenge for Republicans in 2020
Democrats are going on offense, targeting multiple House seats in the Lone Star State

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, is not running for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s decision to retire was a gut punch for Republicans, who consider him one of their strongest incumbents in one of the most competitive districts in the country. His exit means the GOP will have to work even harder to hold on to his seat with Democrats going on offense in the Lone Star State. 

Hurd is the third Texas Republican in a week to announce his retirement, and the second to do so in a contested seat after Rep. Pete Olson, who is relinquishing his Houston-area 22nd District. Rep. K. Michael Conaway is the third retiring lawmaker, although his seat, which extends from the outskirts of Forth Worth to the New Mexico border, is not considered competitive.

House votes Friday on war powers and border amendments
Republicans and progressives alike voiced deep reservations this week about the typically bipartisan measure

Friday's votes include an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., that would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House soldiered on through hundreds of amendments to the annual defense policy bill Thursday, but major issues — including authorization to use force and military involvement on the southern border — remain unresolved, as does the ultimate fate of the bill.

Lawmakers plan to vote on some of the most controversial amendments, as well as final passage of the measure Friday morning. Republicans and progressives alike voiced deep reservations this week about the typically bipartisan measure, and it is unclear that the last two days of debate assuaged their concerns.

Trump jets to Japan to wing it at G-20 summit as Iran tensions build
Official unable to lay out agenda for high-stakes meetings with Xi, Putin and MBS

Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump for a rally in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a week of brinksmanship and backing down, President Donald Trump  heads to a G-20 summit in Japan on Wednesday for talks with other world leaders amid a volatile confrontation with Iran and stalled trade talks with China.

Senior administration officials made clear this week that Trump, who admits his negotiating style is based on gut feelings and big bets, will largely wing it at the meeting. Officials declined to describe any set agenda for the president’s talks with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Democrats spar with State official over arms sales maneuver

Rep. David Cicilline accused a senior State Department official of gas-lighting Congress in his assertions about why the administration needed to subvert Congress on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior State Department official on Wednesday appeared to blame Democrats for the administration’s decision last month to declare a state of emergency over Iran to avoid congressional review of billions of dollars of weapon sales to Arab Gulf states.

R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, attributed the emergency order to holds placed in spring 2018 by Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez on $2 billion in proposed precision-guided missile sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Menendez, D-N.J., placed the holds in response to the many civilian casualties in the Yemen civil war, in which the two Gulf nations are fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents.

House works to end Trump’s suspension of aid to Central America
The draft fiscal 2020 State-Foreign Operations spending bill would also provide funds reproductive health programs and international agencies

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., conducts a State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on the State Department's budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 on March 27. Appropriators aim to restore aid funding to Central American countries in a 2020 spending bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House appropriators are trying to end a divisive suspension of foreign aid to Central America made by President Donald Trump, one of many provisions in a spending bill that would counter administration policy on a range of international issues.

The draft fiscal 2020 State-Foreign Operations spending bill released Thursday would also provide more money to reproductive health programs and international agencies.

House Republicans identify vulnerable members for 2020
NRCC announces initial eight members of Patriot Program

The NRCC has added New York Rep. Lee Zeldin to its Patriot Program for the 2020 cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eight House Republicans, including the three from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, have been named to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of incumbents expected to face tough re-elections. 

Members of the Patriot Program typically benefit from fundraising and organizational assistance. The list can be a signal to donors to direct checks to members in need.

Democrats launch Tax Day ad attack aimed at GOP overhaul
Effort on Facebook signals 2018 messaging on tax law is here to stay for 2020

The DCCC is attacking Texas Rep. Pete Olson in its latest round of digital ads (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

To coincide with Tax Day, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is rolling out digital ads on Monday attacking 12 Republicans for the GOP tax plan that passed during the 115th Congress.

The new Facebook ads, obtained first by Roll Call, signal Democrats will continue to use the 2017 tax overhaul, which passed with only Republican votes, as a key part of their economic message heading into 2020, when the party will be trying to protect their midterm gains and expand the map by investing heavily in such places as Texas.

Democrats worry Trump will replace Nielsen with an immigration hard-liner
White House aides struggle to clearly explain what president wants from replacement

Kirstjen Nielsen is on her way out as Homeland Security secretary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers are concerned Donald Trump will replace outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen with an immigration hard-liner, but the White House has yet to clearly explain what the president wants her successor to do differently.

Nielsen’s coming departure will only complicate the Senate calendar, adding another senior administration position the chamber might have to process in coming weeks or months. Senators on the relevant oversight panels will be taken away from other work — such as annual spending bills — to focus on grilling nominees.

Big risks, ‘no silver bullet’ as Trump wades further into Venezuelan unrest
Lawmakers condemn Maduro but don’t call for U.S. military force as Pence dubs him a ‘tyrant’

People assemble in front of the consulate general of Venezuela in Miami on May 20, 2018, to protest against Venezuelan elections, which the U.S. and other western countries called a sham. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration is continuing to ramp up pressure on Nicolás Maduro to relinquish his hold over Venezuela as political allies use the South American strongman’s socialist views as a bludgeon on political foes at home.

The White House dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to neighboring Colombia on Monday for a high-profile visit meant to boost Juan Guaidó, whom the United States and other allies have recognized as the country’s interim president. Following a private meeting, Pence stood with Guaidó and told him the U.S. would “stand with you until your ‘libertad’ is restored,” using the Spanish word for freedom.