Defense bill amendments target Trump's business interests

Defense bill amendments target Trump's business interests
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Several amendments to the House’s annual defense policy bill aim to curb President Trump and his family members from potentially using their new political clout for business profits.

An amendment to the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) would require that no Defense Department funds “be used to conduct business, including the purchase of hotel rooms or conference space, with any entity owned by or significantly controlled by the President or a member of the President’s immediate family.”

The language also includes any entities held in a trust.

Trump's properties — in particular, Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. — have been a source of controversy. Trump last month held a reelection fundraiser at the hotel, drawing criticism from Democrats.

There have also been questions about whether foreign officials and dignitaries could patronize the hotel to gain favor with the administration.


Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), meanwhile, offered an amendment that requires the Office of Government Ethics to review security clearance applications submitted by Trump’s family members.

The review would determine “whether they have substantial commercial relationships with foreign enterprises or financial institutions and, if so, whether a relative should be ineligible for a security clearance as a consequence of such a relationship.”

The provision is timely, as reports emerged last week that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint over White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, for not disclosing his interest in the online real estate investment company Cadre.

And a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) would require Defense Secretary James Mattis to provide the House Armed Services Committee with quarterly reports on Trump’s travel expenses.

The report would detail “the direct and indirect costs to the [Defense Department] in support of presidential travel, including costs incurred to properties owned by the President or his immediate family.”

The amendments seek to resurrect provisions voted down last month during the House Armed Services Committee’s NDAA markup.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) had offered an amendment that would have prohibited Pentagon funds from being used at properties owned by Trump or his immediate family members.

The committee voted it down, 30-32.

O’Halleran also offered an amendment similar to his newest language, but it failed on a 31-31 vote.

Republicans opposed the provisions, claiming that Democrats were wasting the committee’s time and re-litigating the 2016 presidential election.

The NDAA amendments must make it past the Rules Committee, which is set to consider them on Wednesday, before coming to a vote on the House floor.