Justin Amash

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.

Michigan Republicans line up to keep Justin Amash’s seat in the party
Except he’s still in it, and running for reelection as an independent

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash says he’s running for Congress as an independent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Graphic corrected, Jan. 24 | Michigan Rep. Justin Amash may be making new friends in Washington, with some Democrats suggesting the Republican-turned-independent help prosecute President Donald Trump at his Senate impeachment trial.

But back in Michigan’s 3rd District, Republicans — including those who supported him or donated to him in the past — are competing to replace Amash to help the party regain a seat that has long been safely in its column.

Meet the lawmakers who bucked their parties on vote to limit Trump’s war powers
Eight Democrats opposed the resolution, while three Republicans supported it

New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose said he refused “to play politics with questions of war and peace” before opposing a war powers resolution Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Jan. 10 11:30 a.m. | The House voted largely along party lines Thursday to adopt a resolution directing President Donald Trump to not use military force against Iran without congressional approval unless it was necessary to defend Americans.

But 11 lawmakers, mostly Democrats, bucked their parties on the vote. Most of those Democrats face competitive reelections this year.

Congress unlikely to check Trump’s power to start war with Iran
The recent escalation will likely rekindle the debate over whether Trump has the power to battle Iran without Congress’ consent

President Donald Trump signed into law the sweeping fiscal 2020 appropriations measure on Dec. 20, 2019, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, United States. Language limiting Trump's ability to go to war with Iran, which got support in both chambers, was included in the House version but didn’t make it into the final bill. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Last year, months before the United States killed a senior Iranian commander in a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate voted to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

The language never actually made it into law, marking another defeat for lawmakers in both parties who have clamored to reassert Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war since the sweeping war authorizations of 2001 and 2002 that have been used to justify American military incursions since then.

Capitol Ink | Best of 2019
The only constant in this wild year was unpredictability

Quid pro WHOA — what a year!

In January, Democrats took control of the House amid what would become the longest federal government shutdown in history. Springtime brought, besides cherry blossoms, special counsel Robert S. Mueller II’s release of his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election — and a blindsiding by his own boss, Attorney General William Barr.

House impeaches Trump
Chamber votes to impeach for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi presides over the House vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Updated 8:56 p.m. — The House voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president in U.S. history and the first in 21 years to face such House action.

Trump, who has denied the charges in Twitter screeds during the impeachment inquiry that spanned more than two months, will stand trial in the Senate, where members there will decide whether to convict him, resulting in his removal from office, or acquit him.

House members eye high-profile impeachment assignment
Senate trial could be a career-defining moment for some ambitious Democrats

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Maxine Waters listen as Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff speaks during the Dec. 10 news conference to announce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The expected impeachment of President Donald Trump this week will give some lawmakers a potentially career-defining opportunity to present the House’s case against the president to the country during a Senate trial next month.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will decide who and how many impeachment managers will travel to the other side of the Capitol to make arguments, present evidence, question witnesses and more in just the third time in U.S. history that a sitting president has been on trial before the Senate.

Ratings change: Van Drew going Republican tilts NJ race to GOP
Primary may still loom for freshman, who won district carried by Trump in ’16 and Obama in ’08 and ’12

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who is preparing to switch parties from Democrat to Republican, reacts after drawing a disappointing number during the new member lottery draw for office space in Rayburn Building weeks after winning his seat in November 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As if impeachment wasn’t providing enough news, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew has decided to switch parties. Even though it’s not quite official, more than half of his staff resigning should be a significant clue.

His decision changes the partisan makeup in the House by one seat without fundamentally altering the 2020 fight for the majority.

States in the Midwest with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Rust Belt states helped decide the presidency, and have numerous competitive races for House, Senate

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s reelection is one of several that make Iowa at battleground state in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

The 10 most vulnerable House members in 2020: Democrats dominate
Majority on defense after significant gains in last year’s midterms

Oklahoma Democrat Kendra Horn, who won her seat in a surprising upset last fall, is the most vulnerable House member running in 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One year out from the 2020 elections, the most vulnerable member of the House is the Oklahoma Democrat whose upset win surprised even astute politicos last fall. She is joined by a California Republican who is under indictment and numerous Democrats running in districts President Donald Trump easily won in 2016.

Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to win control of the House, and they see their path back to the majority running through so-called Trump districts that slipped from the party’s grasp in the midterms. Whether they succeed depends on next year’s political climate and the strength of their candidates. In some districts, the GOP has worked hard to recruit more diverse challengers, especially after Democrats’ success electing women last year.