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Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 16
More insider testimony on the Hill, no House vote on impeachment, and administration officials refuse subpoenas

An aide and members of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s security team stand outside the deposition of George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House committees considering impeachment of President Donald Trump heard a former assistant secretary of State tell them that he was instructed to “lay low” after he objected to outsiders running foreign policy with Ukraine.

George Kent, who is deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau, responsible for six countries, including Ukraine. told members that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney placed then-special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in charge of Ukraine policy, Virginia Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly, who heard Kent’s testimony, told reporters

Some lawmakers question amount of time spent in committees
How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier sits on four committees and seven subcommittees, one of the most packed rosters in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House parliamentarian brought the hammer down on the Education and Labor Committee in April, ending a long-standing practice that allowed panel members from both parties to vote on bills in committee on a flexible schedule — a violation of the House ban on proxy voting.

Members say their schedules have become so hectic and compressed that the courtesy, which the committee has extended for years, is needed. But the practice raises a bigger question: How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

‘We vape, we vote’: How vaping crackdowns are politicizing vapers
Backlash from vapers and vape shop owners to calls for a ban

Rep. Duncan Hunter is known as the vaping congressman and the California Republican has helped create pro-vaping legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By Rachel Bluth and Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News

Vapers across the country are swarming Twitter, the White House comment line and statehouse steps with the message: “We Vape, We Vote.”

After 184 years, Cherokees seek House delegate seat promised in treaty
Move poses technical and moral questions, including whether Cherokees would get ‘super vote’

Kim Teehee (courtesy Cherokee Nation)

Kim Teehee was an intern combing through dusty archives when she first learned of a largely forgotten agreement between her Cherokee tribe and the federal government.

More than 25 years later, that document has placed Teehee at the center of a historic reckoning of the way Congress treats Native Americans, while raising questions about what representation in Washington really means.

Uber’s commitment to safety
We take seriously our responsibility to riders and drivers

Uber is committed to working with local and federal policymakers to identify the solutions that are best suited for our riders and our driver partners, Burr writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — At Uber, our safety team has a simple, critical mission: to help set the standard for ridesharing safety. We know that every time riders open their Uber app, they are putting their trust in us — to not only get where they need to go, but to get there safely. Local and federal policymakers have proposed solutions to enhance ridesharing safety, and Uber is committed to working with them to identify the solutions that are best suited for our riders and our driver partners.

Over the past three years, we’ve introduced new safety features, including an in-app emergency button; strengthened our driver background check and screening processes; and made investments in new technologies to help improve the safety of the platform. In fact, we’ve developed more safety features in the past couple of years than we did in the previous eight. And that’s just the start of our commitment to safety.

Cunningham, South Carolina fishermen see consensus on climate change
After talking to Charleston area fishermen Monday, Cunningham introduced a bill in Washington to require a GAO study

South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham, left, talks with constituent Taylor Tarvin, who owns a shrimp boat called Miss Paula that the congressman visited while discussing climate change on a tour with local fishermen in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Monday. (Lindsey McPherson/CQ Roll Call)

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — Nationally, climate change is still not a universally accepted science. But here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Rep. Joe Cunningham claims there’s bipartisan acknowledgement of global warming as a real and urgent issue.

The freshman Democrat spent Monday with a group of fishermen from his coastline district who have seen the impacts of climate change firsthand.

Scope of drug pricing bill could thwart Democrats’ hope for political win
Patients raise concerns that legislation impacts limited number of medicines

Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Oct. 2, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are betting their legislation to lower drug prices will be a political winner — but some patients learning the details are skeptical it will help them.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in late September that her signature drug pricing bill received “rave reviews from everyone but the pharmaceutical industry.” And lawmakers tried to tout the bill during the October recess. Two House committees will markup the measure on Thursday.

Democratic impeachment holdout touts legislative focus over inquiry he’s not backing
South Carolina’s Joe Cunningham spent recess discussing climate change, infrastructure, trade

South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham, here examining a turtle excluder device while touring a shrimp boat in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Monday, is one of seven House Democrats not supporting the impeachment inquiry. (Lindsey McPherson/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Rep. Joe Cunningham spent his final day of a two-week district work period here Monday talking to local fishermen about adjusting to climate change and to a conservation group about banning offshore drilling — top issues for constituents of his coastline district.

Cunningham, the first Democrat to represent the 1st District in more than a quarter century, did not talk about the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, except to answer reporters’ questions about why he has not endorsed it. The constituents he interacted with Monday did not broach the topic with him, although some complimented him generally for how he’s navigating a political tightrope.

Taking lead on impeachment legal message, Trump gives GOP cover to defend him
Campaign official says GOP is benefitting from inquiry with voter registration, donation surges

President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on Thursday. His legal argument on impeachment is that he committed no crime. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Senior White House officials and House Republicans are basing their counter-impeachment arguments on House Democrats’ process rather than legal arguments — but President Donald Trump is again doing his own thing and arguing the probe is invalid because, he says, he committed no crimes.

The president has no formal legal training, but that is not stopping him from leading his own legal defense, using tweets and public comments to claim House Democrats have no grounds to impeach him — and the Senate no reason to remove him — because he never outright asked Ukraine’s new president to investigate a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for U.S. aid.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Bernie Sanders for president
Fellow “squad” members, Omar and Tlaib, are also throwing support behind Vermont independent

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is expected to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is expected to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president this weekend, a source with knowledge of the endorsement confirmed Tuesday night.

Sanders also picked up the support of two other House Democratic freshmen. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar endorsed him on Tuesday, while CNN reported that Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib would be backing the Vermont independent’s campaign.