Defense & Cyberspace

The Crime Victims Fund is not just for victims
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 104

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)

A fund designed to help crime victims is also used by lawmakers as an annual budgetary gimmick to help pay for other programs. But the victims fund is starting to run dry, making appropriations decisions tougher, as our tax and fiscal policy reporter Doug Sword explains.

Show Notes:

Caribbean Islands becoming hot spots for Chinese investment
Marco Rubio, says he is ‘very concerned’ about China’s efforts to extend influence into Latin American and the Caribbean

The Freeport Container Port on Grand Bahama Island. (iStock)

On Grand Bahama Island, some 55 miles off the continental United States, a Hong Kong-based company has spent approximately $3 billion developing and expanding a deep-water container port.

The Freeport Container Port’s Chinese and Bahamian backers expect to benefit from increased shipping through the region as a result of the expansion of the Panama Canal, not to mention an overall boost in trade between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Trump and Netanyahu: Embattled leaders turn to each other for political boost
President, Israeli prime minister meet Monday amid scandals for both

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in February 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Two embattled leaders will meet Monday at the White House, one hoping the visit will boost him in an election just over the horizon and the other hopeful it will keep his conservative base engaged for an election in 20 months.

President Donald Trump will welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the executive mansion for meetings Monday and a dinner in his honor on Tuesday evening. The longtime Israeli leader faces a Knesset election on April 9 and hopes to showcase to voters at home that his relationship with Trump is too important to oust him from office.

Trump reverses Treasury sanctions on North Korea
President says he would go against his own department to rescind sanctions

Traffic passes a large LED screen as it shows a handshake between U.S President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on the second day of the USA-DPRK summit on February 28, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announced Friday he would go against the order of his own Treasury Department and remove additional sanctions imposed on North Korea. 

Trump, via Twitter, said he would not add to existing sanctions on the country, aimed at slowing its nuclear ambitions. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced Thursday it would impose sanctions on two Chinese-based shipping companies that helped North Korea evade sanctions.

Dems are ‘anti-Jewish’ and ‘wasting everybody’s time’ with investigations, Trump says
The president spoke with press on his way to Mar-a-Lago, where he will meet with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu

President Donald Trump talks with journalists before departing the White House March 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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.

Isakson defends McCain after Trump attacks, but still doesn't support renaming Russell
Isakson says Schumer is playing politics with effort to rename Russell building after the Arizona Republican

Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., left, shakes hands with Disabled American Veterans National Commander Dennis Nixon before the start of the Joint Hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees to receive the legislative presentation of the Disabled American Veterans on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson is leading Republicans speaking out again against President Donald Trump’s bashing of the late Sen. John McCain, but the Georgia Republican reiterated Wednesday that he will not be joining the effort to put McCain’s name on the office building currently named for a favorite son of his home state.

“Lack of respect I would say is the right word,” Isakson said on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Political Rewind referring to Trump’s latest criticism of McCain.

Navy routinely buys defective ships
Former shipbuilding executive: “There’s an old adage: ‘A ship so nice, we built it twice’”

The newest Littoral Combat Ship, the USS St. Louis, is launched in Wisconsin in December. The LCS class has been bogged down by defects. (Courtesy U.S. Navy)

For the U.S. Navy, buying warships that are defective, unfinished or both has become the norm.

The habit is expensive, dangerous and leaves overworked sailors to deal with faulty ships in need of repair from day one — yet it has escaped sufficient scrutiny in Washington.

Trump, Brazil’s Bolsonaro flaunt nationalist bromance
‘There’s zero hostility with me,’ the U.S. contrarian in chief says of Brazil

U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro leave after a joint news conference at the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump got his desired victory lap Tuesday with the Brazilian known as the “Trump of the Tropics” as they stood side by side in the White House Rose Garden in a full display of the nationalism that put both in office.

Hours earlier, in true Trump fashion, he had flashed his contrarian side as he and his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, sat together in the Oval Office.

Trump warns Venezuela with new sanctions, won’t rule out military action
Trump spoke in a joint Rose Garden press conference with new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

President Donald Trump (R) and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) shake hands during a joint news conference at the Rose Garden of the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting President Bolsonaro for a visit and bilateral talks at the White House today. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he may impose new strict sanctions on Venezuela in another attempt to force President Nićolas Maduro from office.

“I’m not being told any specific time,” Trump said on how long Maduro might hold on. But he did predict a “change” is ahead.

How Congress might rewrite Trump’s budget
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 103

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

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 overshadows Brazilian president’s visit by attacking Kellyanne Conway’s husband
President dubs George Conway a ‘total loser’ after attorney challenged Trump’s mental health

Kellyanne Conway speaks to the press outside of the White House on the North Lawn. President Trump and her husband, George Conway, are in the midst of a Twitter feud. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A number of foreign leaders have visited the White House in recent weeks with little fanfare, but President Donald Trump’s aides are setting big expectations for Tuesday’s visit by the “Trump of the Tropics.”

Yet, on what White House officials hope will be a paradigm-shifting day, Trump and his team got an early start on stepping on their own intended message about “fundamentally” overhauling relations with South America’s largest economy.

Rep. Devin Nunes says he’s suing Twitter, parody account pretending to be his mom
California congressman is seeking more than $250 million for emotional distress and damage to his reputation

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., filed a suit against two parody accounts Monday impersonating his mother and a cow. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Devin Nunes says he filed suit in Virginia state court on Monday against Twitter, a conservative political operative and two anonymous Twitter accounts, alleging a conspiracy to defame him and oust him from political office.

The California Republican seeks $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages for “pain, insult, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and mental suffering, and injury to his personal and professional reputations,” according to the complaint, which was first reported by Fox News.

Visit by ‘Trump of the Tropics’ puts ‘America First’ in spotlight
Bolsonaro’s embrace gives Trump another chance to pitch himself as fighting socialism

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, poses with Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared iterim president Juan Guaido during a news conference in Brasilia on February 28. (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

A populist message built on a pledge to put his country “first.” Hardline immigration policies. A get-tough-on China stance. And a controversial relationship with conservative strategist Steve Bannon.

Though that description certainly applies to President Donald Trump, it could also describe the man with whom Trump will appear Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden: Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new president.