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Democrats pick women from key 2020 states for State of the Union response
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar to follow Trump

Texas Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar will give the Spanish language response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic leaders announced Friday that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, who both hail from critical 2020 states, will give the responses to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

Whitmer leads Michigan, a top presidential and congressional battleground that Trump won by less than half a percentage point in 2016. Escobar, who will give the Spanish language response to the president’s address, represents a deep-blue district in Texas, where Democrats are hoping to make gains in the state’s diversifying suburbs. 

Photos of the week
The week ending Jan. 24 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

House impeachment managers Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., at podium, flanked by, from left, Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Val Demings, D-Fla., Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas, Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Jason Crow, D-Colo., address the media in the Capitol on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats seek to put teeth into ‘impoundment’ law
Going to court is only current option to force release of funds

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth wants to make it hurt if a president tries to block funding against lawmakers’ wishes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A fresh legal opinion challenging President Donald Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid under a Nixon-era budget law may or may not move the needle with senators in the president’s impeachment trial.

But one thing is clear: Trump’s delay of $214 million in Pentagon funds is just the latest in a long line of findings by the Government Accountability Office going back decades that presidents of both parties have run afoul of the 1974 law. That statute was aimed at restricting “impoundments,” where the executive branch refuses to spend money appropriated by Congress.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 24
Democrats focus final day on obstruction article, Trump complains defense opens in ‘Death Valley’ time slot

House impeachment managers Reps. Adam Schiff, left, and Jerrold Nadler walk across the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 12:20 p.m.

Democrats will focus on the second of the two articles of impeachment — obstruction of Congress — as they finish presenting their case against President Donald Trump today.

Impeachment managers attempt to preempt Trump’s defense
Trump, Lindsey Graham used to bolster case for removal

House impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler says the president’s defense team will not be able to refute the evidence provided for the abuse of power charge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Regardless of whether Democratic impeachment managers get to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, they are already making their case by using the president’s own words — and even those of a prominent Republican senator — in dramatic fashion in the Senate chamber. 

The managers focused much of their arguments Thursday on the abuse of power charge the House used to condemn Trump, citing history and attempting to poke preemptive holes in the defense team’s upcoming arguments.

View from the gallery: Senators sit, spin and fidget during Trump trial
They found more ways to pass time during second day of opening presentations

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Thursday’ impeachment trial session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bill Cassidy charted a course along the back corner of the Senate chamber Thursday during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Louisiana Republican walked through an area usually reserved for staff seating, hands in pockets, retracing a short path over and over again for more than 15 minutes.

When Georgia Republican David Perdue took to standing along his path, Cassidy squeezed by and just kept pacing.

Mayors see historic opportunity in presidential race
Bloomberg, Buttigieg make presidential pitches to mayors’ conference

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a Democratic presidential candidate, touted a $1 trillion infrastructure plan at the U.S Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A promise to repair potholes won’t get a laugh at most presidential campaign events. 

But Mike Bloomberg knew his audience.

Trump administration restricts U.S. travel for pregnant foreigners
A new State Department rule targets 'birth tourism,' White House says

The rule issued by the State Department goes into effect Friday. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The State Department issued a new rule Thursday that will make it more difficult for pregnant women abroad to obtain visas to the United States, an attempt to curb what the White House is calling "birth tourism."

The department will grant visa officers more discretion to deny nonimmigrant visas to women they believe are entering the United States specifically to obtain citizenship for their child by giving birth here, a State Department spokesperson told reporters during a background briefing.

Do Republicans hate or respect Adam Schiff? Maybe it’s both
Some GOP senators have complimented Schiff for his impeachment trial presentation

California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, center, the lead House impeachment manager, has drawn unexpected praise from some Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

To President Donald Trump and his House Republican allies, Rep. Adam B. Schiff is public enemy No. 1. But as the lead House impeachment manager makes his case against Trump in the Senate, the California Democrat has drawn some surprising compliments from a few GOP senators.

That’s not to say that Trump will stop attacking the man he calls “Shifty Schiff,” or that other Republicans won’t use Schiff as the scapegoat for everything they think is wrong with the House Democrats’ impeachment charges.

Green card gridlock: When will Congress agree on a solution?
The waiting lists for residency status grow ... and grow.

Hundreds of thousands of people may find themselves waiting for decades in green card limbo. (CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, immigration reform stalwart Richard J. Durbin’s announcement on the Senate floor about a rare bipartisan breakthrough flew largely under the radar, overshadowed in the chaotic flurry of impeachment. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had dueled two months earlier over unanimous consent requests on the Senate floor, and had since been deadlocked.

Each had pushed for his own solution to an important but often overlooked symptom of the broken U.S. immigration system: the employment-based green card backlog. Because of it, hundreds of thousands of people — overwhelmingly from India — wait in limbo, sometimes for decades.