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Fiscal crunch won't be immediate, budget scorekeeper says
Low interest rates mean Congress has more time to address growing federal deficits

CBO Director Phillip Swagel testifies before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The threat of rising federal deficits has a silver lining: low interest rates.

Those low rates, which make Treasury debt less costly, mean Congress has more time to address the nation’s fiscal challenges, the head of the Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers Wednesday.

Wildest Iowa caucus ever?
Political Theater, Episode 110

The Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses could see record turnout and a wild finish for delegates. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just a few days to go, and it’s anyone’s guess who will win the Iowa caucuses. What’s the biggest thing on Iowans’ minds as they decide among a jumbled contest among the Democrats? Impeachment? Electability? Personal likability?

The last time we spoke with caucus expert and political scientist David Redlawsk, he was just starting a six-monthlong sabbatical in Iowa. Amid the electoral hubbub of the Iowa State Fair in August, Redlawsk said Iowans were just not sure what to do with all these candidates, as more than 20 Democrats, and even some Republicans, made their cases in the Hawkeye State. 

House Democrats tout five-year, $760 billion infrastructure plan
GOP members offer infrastructure ideas as well, urge bipartisan legislation

Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone Jr., Richard E. Neal and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a news conference Wednesday to announce an ambitious infrastructure framework. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious five-year, $760 billion infrastructure framework, part of a concentrated election-year effort to show they can pursue aggressive legislation even as they make a case for the Senate to remove President Donald Trump from office.

“These are not message bills,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We are hoping we’ll have the support of Republicans and the president of the United States.”

How can a cookie sway the democratic process? The Iowa caucuses explained

Tim Wieland, of Des Moines, a previous supporter of 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, eats a cookie on caucus night in Des Moines, Iowa. This is what democracy looks like. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Some voters skeptical as Trump rallies with recent GOP convert Van Drew
South Jersey trip came after House freshman changed parties, opposed impeachment

With President Donald Trump looking on, Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew speaks at a Wildwood, New Jersey rally on Tuesday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

WILDWOOD, N.J. – Prompted by President Donald Trump, the cheers for freshly minted Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew at a rally here on Tuesday night were deafening. It appeared certain that the thousands who had come to see the president were fully embracing Van Drew, who is up for reelection this year.

But outside the 7,500-seat Wildwood Convention Center, some Republican voters remained skeptical of Van Drew’s conservative bonafides. Yes,he had switched parties after winning a seat in Congress as a Democrat in 2018. Yes, he had pledged his “undying loyalty” to Trump. And yes, he had voted against the impeachment inquiry that Trump has derided as a “hoax.”

Trump's Mideast peace plan puts pro-Israel Democrats in a bind
Possible lasting break between the Israeli government and Democratic lawmakers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House Tuesday announcing a new plan for Middle East peace (Getty Images)

The White House’s release of its long-awaited Middle East plan is notable less for its specifics, which have already been rejected by the Palestinians, than for the bind it puts on traditional pro-Israel stalwarts in the Democratic Party, particularly if Israel decides to formally annex Palestinian land as the administration plan would immediately allow.

The administration’s 180-page “Peace to Prosperity” proposal released Tuesday, also called “The Vision,” is the three-year brainchild of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. “The Vision provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River,” states a White House outline of the proposal.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 29
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Engel says Bolton advised him to look into ambassador’s ouster

Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, arrives at the Capitol to attend the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:53 p.m.

Minutes before the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump was to resume in the Senate, Democratic Rep. Elliot L. Engel revealed that that former national security adviser John Bolton called him after he had been fired in September and told him to look into the ouster of then-ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Momentum on marijuana moves to statehouses
With Congress stalled and state ballot initiatives scarce, legislatures will become main arena for debates

A bill in the House to legalize marijuana faces an uncertain future, the Senate has not moved legislation that would allow marijuana businesses to bank and opportunities to legalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives have winnowed. The result is state legislatures will be the main arena for legalization debates. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Marijuana legalization campaigns will increasingly run through state capitols as Congress remains stalled, advocates say.

A bill in the House to legalize marijuana faces an uncertain future, and the Senate has not moved legislation that would allow marijuana businesses to bank. Meanwhile, opportunities to legalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives have winnowed; while nine other states and the District of Columbia approved commercial sales through ballot initiatives, just 23 states and the district allow such initiatives.

Watch: Roll Call is tired of Congress’ weak sports bets
Clyde McGrady has had enough

LSU and New Orleans Saints helmets on display in the Hart Building office of former Sen. David Vitter on September 6, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Some senators from trade-heavy states opposed US-Mexico-Canada pact
Most opponents put environmental concerns ahead of economic benefits

California Sen. Kamala Harris cited environmental concerns for her opposition to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats felt comfortable supporting President Donald Trump’s renegotiated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico because labor unions, mostly, did.

The unions said the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would be an improvement over its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement.