Adam Smith

Engel promises tough oversight of Trump's North Korea nuclear talks
House Democrats are ready for a deal, but only if it offers permanent denuclearization

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on the “NATO Support Act” before its consideration on the House floor on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration must be more transparent about its North Korea policy if it wants congressional support for implementing any nuclear agreement that could come out of this week’s summit in Hanoi, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Monday.

Chairman Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., said House Democrats are ready to be constructive partners in implementing a possible U.S.-North Korea nuclear deal, but only if it offers a credible path toward Pyongyang’s permanent denuclearization.

Trump’s 2020 budget to contain a big defense boost, and nondefense spending cuts
Russ Vought confirms end-run around spending caps for defense while axing to nondefense appropriations in 2020 budget request

Boxes containing President Donald Trump’s budget request for FY2019 are unpacked by staff in the House Budget Committee hearing room, Feb. 12, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House’s top budget official confirmed plans to do an end-run around statutory spending caps for defense and add substantially to the off-budget overseas warfighting accounts, while simultaneously taking an ax to nondefense appropriations in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request.

In an opinion piece published online in RealClearPolitics, Office and Management and Budget acting Director Russ Vought laid out a case for boosting the Overseas Contingency Operations ledger well beyond what the Trump administration and Congress have sought in recent years.

Democrats could stymie nuclear arms race after US leaves pact
2020 presidential hopefuls have already thrown support behind legislative efforts

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has introduced legislation that would prohibit funding for the flight-testing, acquisition and deployment of U.S. ground-launched ballistic missiles with ranges banned by the INF treaty. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress can do little to halt the U.S. withdrawal from a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, if President Donald Trump is determined to do so. But Democrats could have opportunities to shape and even block the administration’s plans to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Earlier this month, the White House announced it would leave the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in six months. The Kremlin quickly responded that it too would cease honoring its arms control commitments under the accord, though the United States and NATO have long accused Russia of already violating the treaty by deploying an intermediate-range, ground-launched cruise missile.

The insiders: Roll Call’s people to watch in 2019
Some in Congress and the administration will wield power or influence quietly

Four key Hill players from both parties made Roll Call’s list of people to watch in 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The third year of Donald Trump’s presidency promises to be a time like no other in American history. Never before have both the legitimacy and the competency of the president been so vigorously challenged, and the questions will increase exponentially as House Democrats and the special counsel probe deeper.

So it is no surprise that most of Roll Call’s People to Watch in 2019 revolve around the world of Trump.

Parties are swapping war positions in Trump era
Plenty of members of both parties are deviating from the new script — and the battle lines are still taking shape

President Donald Trump, flanked from left by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S. Dak., Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stops to speak to the cameras following his lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Wed. Jan. 9, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Under the presidency of Donald Trump, America’s political parties have scrambled their traditional positions on war and peace.

The GOP has spent the bulk of the last 17 years arguing in favor of launching and then continuing overseas wars. But now some Republicans in Washington — and most Republicans in the country at large — back Trump’s plan to withdraw most U.S. troops from far-flung battlefields.

Lots of questions, but few answers at hearing on troops’ border deployment
First House Armed Services Committee hearing probes rationale, effects of active duty mission

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., used his first Armed Services Committee hearing as chairman to probe the Pentagon's deployment of active-duty troops to the southern border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first House Armed Services hearing of the new Congress, an examination of the deployment of thousands of troops to America’s southern border, did not answer fundamental questions about the mission, now in its third month.

Most lawmakers neglected to adequately press defense officials on the contentious deployment on Tuesday, and Pentagon witnesses were unable or unwilling to answer many of the questions they got.

Barr says he’d resign rather than fire Mueller without cause
Attorney general nominee fills in some blanks with new answers on special counsel probe, border wall, abortion

William P. Barr, nominee to be attorney general, speaks during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Attorney General nominee William Barr assured senators that he would not fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III without good cause or change Justice Department regulations for the purpose of firing him.

“I would resign rather than follow an order to terminate the special counsel without good cause,” Barr said in written answers to questions from Senate Judiciary Committee members released Monday.

Threats over shutdown, emergency declaration hang over coming talks
Amid the optimism, acrimony and hard feelings frame debate

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., seen after a Friday news conference in the Capitol about a continuing resolution to reopen the government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The shutdown wasn’t even over before the next shutdown threat was leveled at Congress by President Donald Trump. 

Yes, congressional leaders and the president struck a deal Friday to end the partial government shutdown, for three weeks at least. But hanging over the negotiations on a broader deal will be Trump’s threats to declare a national emergency or force another impasse to expedite building a southern border barrier, an extra bit of animus coloring the coming talks. 

House Armed Services chairman vows fight if Trump declares national emergency
“There would immediately be a lawsuit,” Adam Smith says

House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith says there is bipartisan opposition to the president diverting billions in military construction and flood-control funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats would promptly file suit against the Trump administration if the president were to declare a national emergency in order to bankroll a southern border barrier, the new House Armed Services chairman warned Friday.

Trump has not declared such an emergency, which would permit him to redirect billions of federal dollars to pay for his wall. But he threatened at the White House on Friday that it is still an option, even as he agreed to sign legislation that would temporarily reopen the shuttered portions of the U.S. government.

Raiding military budget for wall would contradict previous Trump administration statements
Mulvaney complained last year of key military projects being underfunded

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter flies over a piece of border fence on Nov. 7 in Mission, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

If President Donald Trump uses emergency powers to tap the military’s construction budget to bankroll a border wall, it would contradict his administration’s previous statements that the so-called milcon programs need more money, not less.

While the president signed into law last September legislation that allocated about $8.1 billion for military construction projects in fiscal 2019, that figure was nearly $800 million less than Trump proposed. And it was almost $1.5 billion less than the military services had wanted at that time.