Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought pauses as he testifies during a hearing of the House Budget Committee about President Trump's budget for Fiscal Year 2021, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

White House tries to assure Congress over withheld money

February 12, 2020 - 2:22 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key White House figure in delaying aid to Ukraine last year reassured lawmakers Wednesday that the Trump administration realizes it is required under the law to spend money approved by Congress.

Acting budget director Russell Vought told the House Budget Committee that "we need to abide by the appropriation ... passed by Congress" when distributing agency dollars.

Vought was at the center of the events last year that prompted Trump's impeachment. As acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, he delayed the release of $391 million in aid to Ukraine. House Democrats impeached Trump in December on charges that he abused his office by ordering delays in aid to Ukraine to strong-arm that country's government into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father managed the U.S. government’s Ukraine portfolio under President Barack Obama.

Vought refused to testify during last year's impeachment proceedings and the subject of Wednesday's appearance was Trump's 2021 budget, released on Monday.

The chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., did not seek a confrontation with Vought on the Ukraine topic.

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