budget

Shrinking victims fund signals tough times for appropriators
The program’s finances are drying up, and committees may not be able to depend on it to fill funding gaps elsewhere

Leahy: higher costs, less money to go around in fiscal 2020, even if there's a caps deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s been an unspoken rule among appropriators for years: if the annual Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee allocation feels a little light, fear not. There’s always money in the Crime Victims Fund.

However, the good times may be coming to an end. The program’s finances are drying up, and the Appropriations Committees are facing major new obligations in fiscal 2020 that will stretch the means of panel leaders even if there’s a deal to lift austere spending caps for next year.

Trump’s new order aims to protect conservative voices on college campuses
His education secretary, Betsy Devos, has warned about the dangers of ‘government muscle’ on issue

President Donald Trump announced an executive order he will sign Thursday afternoon during his two-hour appearance at CPAC 2019 on March 2 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday aimed at protecting conservative voices on public and private college campuses, an issue that energizes his political base as he revs up his re-election campaign.

The order will direct the White House Office of Management and Budget to work with grant-issuing federal agencies to ensure higher learning institutions are adhering to the First Amendment, as well as laws, regulations and policies that are part of existing criteria for receiving federal monies. The EO will add free speech to those criteria.

Trump's 2020 budget seeks 7 percent rise in Secret Service funding for 2020 campaign
The budget summary says it seeks to hire 177 additional special agents, officers and professional staff for the agency

A Secret Service agent wipes down a presidential limousine on Inauguration Day 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump's fiscal 2020 budget proposal seeks $2.3 billion to fund the U.S. Secret Service, an increase of 7 percent over the estimated spending for 2019 and some 15 percent above actual spending for 2018, according to budget documents released this week.

Much of the extra money in discretionary budget authority would go to protecting presidential candidates during the 2020 campaign and for the two national political conventions, plus hiring more agents, and more money for research and development and "protective equipment and technology." 

Cybersecurity budget up 5 percent in 2020, White House says
The total request of $17.4 billion for fiscal 2020 compares with $16.6 billion the administration sought in 2019

Copies of President Donald Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 are prepared for distribution at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on March 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House is seeking a 4.7 percent boost in cybersecurity spending across all federal agencies for fiscal year 2020 with the Pentagon and the State Department getting the largest increases, according to details of the request released this week.

The total request of $17.4 billion for fiscal 2020 compares with $16.6 billion the administration sought in 2019. The Pentagon is seeking $9.6 billion or a 10.4 percent increase, and State is seeking $400 million or a 10.2 percent increase. The Justice Department is asking for a 7 percent increase in fiscal year 2020 for a total of $881 million.

Last year’s food stamps battle was contentious. This year Trump upped the ante
The Trump administration budget wants food stamp recipients under 65 to have work requirements

Copies of President Donald Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration would expand the pool of adult food stamp recipients subject to work, job-training or community service requirements to include people up to age 65, according to fiscal 2020 budget documents released Monday.

The proposal is broader than provisions in last year’s contentious House farm bill that called for applying work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, to able-bodied adults between the ages 18 and 59 with no dependents or with children older than 6. The proposal would have raised the age limit for adults subject to the work requirement from age 49.

House Appropriations may start markups in April
Markups have to begin in April or May at the latest to have any chance of bills passing on the floor in June

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee walks across the Capitol from the House side for a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Democratic appropriators are looking at starting fiscal 2020 markups as soon as late April with the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education and Legislative Branch bills, people familiar with the process said.

The Military Construction-VA and Energy-Water bills also are on tap to be among the first five bills marked up, as part of an effort to begin advancing bills across the floor in June.

Trump issues first veto, killing resolution to block border national emergency
Bipartisan resolution 'dangerous’ and ‘reckless,’ POTUS says

President Donald Trump speaks during a Rose Garden event at the White House on Feb. 15, to declare a national emergency at the southern border. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“VETO!” President Donald Trump vowed in a Thursday tweet about a resolution to block his southern border national emergency, a pledge he made good on Friday.

Moments before he signed the veto, he called the bipartisan resolution “dangerous” and “reckless,” and said lawmakers’ votes to pass the measure were made “against reality.”

Disaster aid vote is expected after recess, but what’s in it is still in the works
Several issues, including Puerto Rico, continue to be sticking points

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate leaders are teeing up a vote after the weeklong St. Patrick’s Day recess on an as-yet-undefined disaster aid package for victims of major storms and other natural disasters during the last two years.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Thursday filed a motion to limit debate on proceeding to a $14.2 billion disaster aid bill the House passed in January.

There are at least eight accountants in Congress. Maybe they can pop the debt balloon
Budgeting and running the numbers is what CPAs do

Back when the bipartisan CPA and Accountants Caucus existed, Sen. Mike Enzi was a member. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Whether it is the Green New Deal or a wall along the nation’s southern border, the 2020 presidential race is already teeming with expansive policy proposals and politicians seeking to differentiate themselves from the pack. If there is one theme that unites these proposals, it’s the expense. It’s not easy to excite voters with promises to cut programs, conserve money, or increase taxes.

All the new proposals have their key constituencies, but what about some ideas that speak to all American taxpayers? The ever-increasing national debt is an issue that everyone should care about. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are unlikely to completely solve the problem overnight, there is an easy first step that would send a clear signal to the American people.

Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound: Medicare cuts
Attacking Medicare is about as popular as a national program to confiscate kittens

The president is devoted to his MAGA-hatted true believers, but his phantom budget may have cost him more than a few supporters in Rust Belt states, Shapiro writes. Above, people wave their caps at a Trump rally in Michigan in 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Donald Trump’s political problems are almost all rooted in his personality.

The nonstop lying and boasting that have led to a credibility canyon seemingly flow from the president’s fragile ego. His vicious temperament when crossed produces the torrent of below-the-belt Twitter attacks. His apparent inability to trust anyone beyond his immediate family has produced outrages like Jared Kushner’s dubious security clearance. And Trump’s own tough-guy fantasies are probably connected to his hero worship of Vladimir Putin and his avuncular affection for the murderous Kim Jong Un.