policy

Top Trump aide stops short of echoing boss’ claim that economy is ‘best it’s ever been’
But Lawrence Kudlow touts wage growth and low unemployment rate

Larry Kudlow, director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, says the economy under Trump will “rank up there” with previous strong economies. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser on Friday stopped short of endorsing the president’s repeated claim that the U.S. economy is at its strongest point in the country’s history.

“In history? I think it’ll rank up there, yes,” Lawrence Kudlow told CQ Roll Call on Friday. But he notably did not say the U.S. economy is the strongest it’s ever been as his boss heads into what pollsters and strategists in both parties say could be a photo-finish election.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 17
Dershowitz, Starr on Trump’s defense team

House impeachment managers, from left,  Reps. Adam B. Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren and Hakeem Jeffries walk to the Senate on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment managers are working through the weekend, reviewing trial materials and their legal brief.

The House brief, due Saturday at 5 p.m., has already been drafted by staff over the last month, but managers are continuing to refine it, according to a Democratic aide working on the impeachment trial.

Photos of the week
The week ending Jan. 17 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

An Architect of the Capitol worker sorts stanchions in Statuary Hall on Tuesday in advance of the House sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was an historic week in Congress. The House selected its trial managers before sending the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over to the other side of the Capitol.

To rein in Big Pharma over high drug prices, start with patent reform
Bipartisan proposals represent a rare bright spot in a divided Congress

Abuse of the patent system by brand-name drug manufacturers is exacerbating the financial burden faced by American patients for their prescription drugs, Lane writes. (George Frey/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — With the Senate impeachment trial kicking off and partisan tensions running high on several fronts, Americans might be forgiven for thinking that Congress has lost the ability to find common ground. But lately, and despite the proverbial odds, there is a new bipartisan consensus forming on an issue of incredible importance to millions of Americans: prescription drug pricing. Specifically, reforming the U.S. patent system to end abusive practices that are directly contributing to high drug prices.

Across the country, Americans are struggling under the weight of skyrocketing prescription drug costs. It is no secret that affording medicines and treatments is an incredible burden for too many families. On average, Americans are paying considerably more than citizens of other high-income countries for the same exact prescription drugs.

Impeachment isn’t the only obstacle to legislative wins for Congress in 2020
‘Investigate and legislate’ playbook may not work for Democrats again

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony on Wednesday. Democrats have said they can “investigate and legislate,” but that could be harder to pull off this year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump. On Dec. 19, the House approved a major rewrite of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Those two events, just 24 hours apart, marked the culmination of a strategy Democrats have sought to execute since the day they took control of the House last year: investigate and legislate.

“Our view is we are here to make things better for our constituents and stand up for the constitutional oaths that we took,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, a freshman Democrat from New Jersey who ousted a Republican in 2018. “Those things are not in conflict with one another. And by the way, that’s always been true. When Nixon was being impeached, Congress passed a major infrastructure bill. When Clinton was being impeached, the Congress passed major legislation.”

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

GAO: Trump’s hold on Ukraine aid violated budget law
1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending

President Donald Trump boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in October. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Government Accountability Office said in an opinion Thursday that President Donald Trump violated federal budget law when he ordered White House officials to withhold most of a $250 million military aid package for Ukraine last summer.

The finding comes after House Democrats delivered articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress grounds stemming from the Ukraine affair to the Senate Wednesday evening, triggering the Senate trial expected to start next week.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 16
Collins said she may be leaning toward calling at least some witnesses for trial

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., lead the group of House impeachment managers to the Senate side of the Capitol on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats led by Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer reiterated they want to hear the testimony of four witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“We expect we will have votes on these witnesses on Tuesday,” Schumer said Thursday.

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.