Dec 21, 2019

Trump signs $1.37 trillion spending deal, averting federal shutdown

President Trump on Dec. 19. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening signed a $1.37 trillion spending measure to avoid a government shutdown, according to CNBC.

Why it matters: Unlike last year, when the U.S. government shut down for 35 days from December through January, Trump was willing to accept less funding than he originally requested for the U.S.-Mexico border. He wanted $8 billion for the wall, but Congress only fulfilled $1.375 billion for fence construction, according to NPR.

Details: The two bills that were signed increase defense spending by $22 billion and give military service members as well as federal civilian employees a 3.1% raise.

  • $25 million will be carved out in funding for gun violence research — the first time Congress will have funded the issue in 20 years.
  • $425 million is directed toward election security grants.
  • $1.5 billion goes into state grants to fight the opioid crisis.
  • The bills eliminate some taxes used to fund the Affordable Care Act, including the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost plans.
  • The bill increases the age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21.

The Trump administration had threatened to veto the carefully negotiated package if House Democrats didn't drop a provision that would have required the prompt release of any future military aid for Ukraine, per the WashPost.

  • "House Democrats tried to insert language in this week’s spending package that would have required the White House Office of Management and Budget to sign off on and release Pentagon funding for Ukraine within 45 days."
  • "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland made clear that the Ukraine provision was among a handful of absolute non-starters for Trump."

What's next: Funding will run out at the end of Sept. 30, 2020, right before the presidential election.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Deficit balloons to $356.6 billion in first quarter of fiscal year

Photo: Bloomberg Creative Photos/Getty Images

The U.S. budget deficit hit $356.6 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, up 11.8% compared to the same period the previous year, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The deficit, which President Trump pledged in 2016 to eliminate within eight years, is on pace to exceed $1 trillion by the end of 2020. The U.S. has not seen $1 trillion annual deficits since the three years that followed the 2008 financial crisis, per the New York Times.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

FDA officially raises age to buy tobacco to 21

No Smoking and No Vaping sign. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration officially raised the age to buy tobacco in the U.S. from 18 to 21, fulfilling a key portion of the federal spending package that President Trump signed into law last week.

The big picture: The decision comes faster than some expected as the FDA had six months to amend their policies after Trump signed the bill and another 90 days to officially adopt the change. 19 states and the District of Columbia had already put in place laws to raise the minimum buying age for tobacco products — including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes — to 21.

Go deeper: Vitamin E acetate is "strongly linked" to the vaping illnesses

Keep ReadingArrowDec 27, 2019

Ukraine aid frozen soon after Trump's call with Zelensky, emails show

Ukrainian President Zelensky and President Trump during a September meeting in New York. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Office of Management and Budget is pushing back on suggestions that an email requesting the Pentagon withhold military aid to Ukraine 91 minutes after President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky was anything other than procedural.

Why it matters: Allegations that Trump froze nearly $400 million of congressionally approved military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate a potential 2020 rival are central to the impeachment case against the president. But an OMB spokeswoman said, "It’s reckless to tie the hold of funds to the phone call. As has been established and publicly reported, the hold was announced in an interagency meeting on July 18." 

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 23, 2019