State

Ethics expert: GOP ‘crosses the line’ with House hallway ambushes
DCCC complaint says NRCC violated ban on using official resources for campaigns

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Having video trackers shadow candidates to get campaign dirt has become a common tactic, but the National Republican Congressional Committee  went too far if it directed aides to ambush Democrats in House office buildings, experts on congressional ethics said.

Though a GOP spokesman called it “frivolous,” the experts said there was merit to a complaint filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee against the chairman of the NRCC, Rep. Tom Emmer. It could lead to the Minnesota lawmaker facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

Impeachment isn’t the only obstacle to legislative wins for Congress in 2020
‘Investigate and legislate’ playbook may not work for Democrats again

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony on Wednesday. Democrats have said they can “investigate and legislate,” but that could be harder to pull off this year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump. On Dec. 19, the House approved a major rewrite of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Those two events, just 24 hours apart, marked the culmination of a strategy Democrats have sought to execute since the day they took control of the House last year: investigate and legislate.

“Our view is we are here to make things better for our constituents and stand up for the constitutional oaths that we took,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, a freshman Democrat from New Jersey who ousted a Republican in 2018. “Those things are not in conflict with one another. And by the way, that’s always been true. When Nixon was being impeached, Congress passed a major infrastructure bill. When Clinton was being impeached, the Congress passed major legislation.”

How Ed Henry covered impeachment the first time
Roll Call alum is starting a new role at Fox News just as impeachment articles hit the Senate. That brought back some memories

Heard on the Hill alum Ed Henry gets ready for a new role at Fox News. (Courtesy Fox News)

Ed Henry had an interview scheduled with Bill Clinton. It was a relatively sleepy week in Washington, the State of the Union was approaching, and the young reporter planned to ask the president about his relationship with Congress.

Things changed. News of the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, and what was supposed to be a routine sit-down turned into a 15-minute phone call brimming with executive denials: “not sexual,” “not improper,” “not true.”

Do chatty senators really face jail time during impeachment?

Former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood was arrested in 1988 after barricading himself inside his office, locking one door and blocking another with a chair in an attempt to prevent a quorum so that Republicans could stall debate on campaign finance legislation. The sergeant-at-arms escorted Packwood to the Senate chamber, and he was physically carried onto the floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite a dramatic daily warning, if senators fail to stay silent during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, it’s unlikely that they’ll end up arrested. And no, there is not a Senate jail.

At the beginning of each trial day, Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger will declare, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.”

At the Races: Managing impeachment (and the spotlight)

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Democrats try to expand House battlefield by targeting six more districts
With legislation stalled, campaign memo recommends blaming GOP and McConnell

The DCCC has once again added Alaska Rep. Don Young, the longest-serving House Republican, to its target list. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding six new targets to its 2020 battlefield, hoping to flip more Republican-held seats while protecting its House majority.

Having made historic gains in the 2018 midterms, Democrats started the year on defense. Republicans need a net gain of 18 seats to retake the House, and their first targets will be the 30 districts President Donald Trump won in 2016 that are currently represented by Democrats.

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

Rating change: With Hunter gone, California race shifts to Solid Republican
Democrat took 48 percent against wounded incumbent in 2018

Former Rep. Darrell Issa is seeking a House comeback bid from the district recently vacated by his fellow California Republican Duncan Hunter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 2:02 p.m. | California Republican Duncan Hunter finally left the House and took any Democratic chances of winning the 50th District with him.

Hunter won reelection in 2018 by 3 points in a Southern California seat that Republicans shouldn’t have to worry about defending, considering President Donald Trump carried it by 15 points in 2016. Hunter was under indictment at the time, which shows the strength any GOP candidate should have in the district.

GAO: Trump’s hold on Ukraine aid violated budget law
1974 budget law limits presidential authority to prohibit congressionally approved spending

President Donald Trump boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in October. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Government Accountability Office said in an opinion Thursday that President Donald Trump violated federal budget law when he ordered White House officials to withhold most of a $250 million military aid package for Ukraine last summer.

The finding comes after House Democrats delivered articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress grounds stemming from the Ukraine affair to the Senate Wednesday evening, triggering the Senate trial expected to start next week.

Liz Cheney is not running for Senate in Wyoming
Cheney is the only woman in House GOP leadership

Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., announced Thursday that she is not running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Liz Cheney, the only woman in House Republican leadership, announced Thursday that she is not running for an open Senate seat in Wyoming.

“I believe I can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives and working [to] take our Republican majority,” Cheney told the Casper Star-Tribune.