John Sarbanes

Homeland, Judiciary Democrat asks Pelosi to form election security task force
Rep. Lou Correa cites Mueller's findings as a need for a group to help head off future attacks

Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., is asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to form a select committee that would examine election security proposals. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Lou Correa is asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to form a task force to examine proposals for combating foreign influence and ensuring U.S. electoral systems are secure, according to a letter obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committee member wrote to his fellow California Democrat citing Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings that foreign actors compromised U.S. election security as reason such a group is needed.

HR 1 provides freshman House Democrats a McConnell 101 lesson
First-term lawmakers want to see Senate action on ethics overhaul

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., was among the freshman House Democrats urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow consideration of HR 1. "He won't even take a meeting with us," Rose says of McConnell. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While it is not quite an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, the metaphor is close enough: Freshman House Democrats who roared into the majority in January with ambitious legislative plans are increasingly facing the reality of a Senate majority leader who has little interest in what they want.

The latest reality check came on Wednesday when a substantial portion of first-year House Democrats — 62 members — urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to act on HR 1, a sweeping House-passed bill that seeks to fortify ethics rules for public officials, overhaul campaign finance and expand access to voting.

An ‘obvious trap’? Democrats weigh political cost of impeachment
Vulnerable Democrats may be more open to impeachment but aren’t ready to go there yet

Democrat strategists who’ve worked on competitive House races largely agree that impeachment is a losing issue for the party trying to hold the House in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional Democrats have a decision to make: Where are they going on impeachment, and at what political cost?

A group that has been pushing since 2017 for President Donald Trump’s impeachment will be airing ads this weekend in Iowa and New Hampshire urging Democratic leaders to take action. 

Democratic Caucus oversight discussion does little to resolve impeachment divisions
Some members still want to press ahead, while others still aren’t convinced impeachment is best path

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., departs Wednesday after meeting with House Democrats to discuss possible impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:11 p.m. | A Wednesday morning discussion by House Democrats on oversight matters did little to resolve a stewing intraparty debate about whether to open an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, but it did set off the president.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi organized the meeting to continue to hold her caucus back from heading down an impeachment path with an unknown outcome that could backfire on her party. As she left the discussion to go to the White House to meet with Trump on infrastructure, she had harsh words for the president.

‘No corporate PAC’ pledges aren’t always so pure
Contributions sometimes go through other lawmakers or party committees

Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Malinowski, says he is proud he doesn’t take direct contributions from corporate PACs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corporate PAC money is yucky, but if it comes via contributions from other lawmakers or party committees, the taste seems to suddenly improve.

That’s the message from many incumbents in the club of 50-something Democratic lawmakers who refuse corporate political action committee dollars but still accept donations from colleagues and party committees that take the derided funds.

‘Dead billionaires’ and a tech Peace Corps? Lawmakers float ideas to fix Congress
First hearing of new modernization committee turns into a brainstorming session

Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., left, and John Sarbanes, D-Md., are seen in between testimony during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer kicked off the first hearing of the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with a plea for a return of something from the past: earmarks.

The Maryland Democrat was the first among 30 lawmakers who offered ideas Tuesday to the temporary and bipartisan panel, which has been charged with making recommendations about how to update Congress for the modern era.

House passes HR 1 government overhaul, sending it back to campaign trail
With Senate not planning to take it up, Democrats plan to continue fight into 2020

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., led Democrats' effort to draft the HR 1 government overhaul package as chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. The House passed the measure Friday on a party-line vote. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With passage of HR 1, House Democrats’ political money, ethics and voting overhaul, the mammoth proposal now heads exclusively to the 2020 campaign trail, where candidates in both parties say they believe their message will woo voters.

The House passed the measure 234-193 Friday morning. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the bill’s foe in chief, has assured his side he plans to officially ignore it in his chamber, refusing to bring it for a vote even as the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that he believed his party could win elections against people who support it.

K Street mounts offensive to HR 1
McConnell, Trump join in opposition

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., concludes a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The nation’s business and lobbying interests began publicly mobilizing Tuesday in a coordinated attack against House Democrats’ signature campaign finance, lobbying, ethics and voting overhaul, which the full chamber plans to vote on Friday morning.

More than 300 groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the top spending organization on federal lobbying — and numerous other state, federal and conservative-leaning organizations wrote to lawmakers attacking the bill for “pushing certain voices, representing large segments of the electorate and our economy, out of the political process altogether.”

Michael Cohen draws intricate picture of how Trump operated his business, personal empire
“Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization was to protect Trump”

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, described in intimate detail Wednesday how his onetime boss ran his real estate empire and conducted his personal business — from the intense loyalty he demanded of his top advisers, to deploying Trump Organization employees to physically intimidate his enemies, to fudging his financial statements whenever it suited his interests.

Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee warned their Democratic counterparts that Cohen is someone whose testimony could not be trusted — Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the panel’s top Republican, called him an “admitted liar.” Cohen will report to prison in May for a three-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to one count of lying to Congress and multiple counts of financial fraud.

Anti-corruption, campaign finance overhaul bills preview likely 2020 campaign theme
Issue is likely to remain a signature theme for Democrats running for the White House and Congress

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as House Democrats have made a political overhaul a top priority, numerous lawmakers, including freshman members, have filed their own campaign finance and anti-corruption bills, a sign the topic will dominate into the 2020 campaigns.

Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who unseated Republican Mike Coffman last November, introduced his first bill last week: a measure that could lead to disclosures of donors to 501(c)(4) “social welfare” tax-exempt groups that play in politics.