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Congress saw more bills introduced in 2019 than it has in 40 years, but few passed
Partisan divide and Senate’s focus on confirmations among factors cited

The 116th Congress is on track to enact a lower percentage of bills than any in modern times. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It would stand to reason that representatives and senators, dissuaded by the gridlock in Congress, would hesitate to introduce legislation. After all, only 105 laws were enacted during 2019, a poor showing by historical standards.

But that’s not what happened last year. In fact, lawmakers are on a pace to introduce more bills and joint resolutions than they have since the 1970s, when Congresses routinely saw 20,000 or more introduced.

Picture Mitch McConnell as a knight riding an elephant
This chess set is no joke, and it’s selling pretty well, says inventor AJ Khubani

This election-themed chess set is no joke, as Heard on the Hill discovered when we gave it a try. (Graham MacGillivray/CQ Roll Call)

Maybe you’ve been up late at night watching MSNBC or the NFL Network, and through your bleary eyes have noticed an ad for a chess set featuring Mike Pence as a queen and Nancy Pelosi as a knight riding a donkey.

Turns out it’s not some waking nightmare, but instead an ad for the 2020 Battle for the White House Chess Set, an off-kilter idea from the same man who brought the world AmberVision glasses and the PedEgg, which is basically a cheese grater for rough feet.

Abortion policy activism heats up for Roe v. Wade anniversary
Groups gear up for ‘pivotal year’ with emphasis on states

Both sides of the abortion rights debate are doubling down on grassroots efforts to energize voters who share their beliefs about abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups pushing for the advancement of abortion rights and those looking to limit the procedure have an ambitious agenda starting this week, foreshadowing a year that could be critical for advocates on both sides of the debate.

In two months, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since 2016, and both sides are revving up for a major presidential election. States are also eyeing a number of new reproductive health bills as their legislatures come back into session.

Potential ballot confusion complicates California special election for Katie Hill’s seat
Voting starts Feb. 3, but there are two elections for the 25th District on the ballot

California Rep. Katie Hill resigned from Congress amid allegations of improper relationships with staffers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An unusual message will soon hit mailboxes and social media feeds in former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s Southern California district: “For once in your life, vote twice!”

The tagline will be featured in mailers and a digital media campaign from Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat running in the special election to replace Hill in the 25th District. The message underscores concerns that voters may be confused by multiple elections for the same office on the same day, March 3.

It’s still difficult to see Trump losing Iowa in November
He may not get as big a win as 2016, but he remains the favorite

A Pizza Ranch restaurant with a pro-Trump sign in Winterset, Iowa, in January 2016.  Donald Trump went on to win Iowa in the general election, beating Hillary Clinton by more than 9 points. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Iowa gave Barack Obama a resounding 9.5-point victory over John McCain in 2008. Four years later, Obama’s margin shrunk to 5.8 points against Mitt Romney. But in 2016, something odd happened.

Donald Trump carried Iowa by 9.4 points — a dramatic change in the state’s recent voting behavior and close to the same winning margin as Obama’s eight years earlier.

Senate approves Trump trial rules, lining up a series of late nights
Chamber shot down attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents and witnesses

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for the start of the impeachment trial on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted to approve Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules to govern the impeachment trial, which, despite last-minute changes Tuesday, earned no support from Democrats.

Senators adopted the updated resolution, 53-47, shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. The resolution will now give House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team 24 hours to make their arguments over three days, instead of the two days initially proposed by McConnell.

K Street firms post big earnings gains for 2019
Trade, health care and immigration issues paced lobbying spending last year

Lobbying firms are working with clients about their agendas for 2021, which will be hugely dependent upon who wins the White House this November. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street’s top-tier firms posted sizable gains last year, fueled by technology, pharmaceutical and big-business interests concerned with such policy matters as trade, health care, taxation and government spending.

And lobbyists say impeachment proceedings and the 2020 campaigns haven’t yet derailed the influence industry’s agenda this year.

White House angers GOP senator with executive privilege claim on car tariff report
Other executive privilege claims could be key in impeachment trial

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is not pleased with the administration's claim of executive privilege ona statutorily required report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration is making a sweeping claim of executive privilege on a topic of interest to the Senate this week, and it has nothing to do with the impeachment trial.

And the White House is angering at least one Republican senator in the process.

View from the gallery: Senators struggle to sit in silence at Trump trial
Senators-turned-jurors sneak in snacks, lunge for phones during rare breaks to weigh in on arguments

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, arrive at the Capitol on Tuesday for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham looked restless during the first hour of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, when none of the senators had access to their cellphones and the president’s lawyers and the House managers traded procedural arguments.

It was an unusual first day of buttoned-down decorum for the exclusive club of 100 senators-turned-jurors, who were made to stay in their floor seats, not eat, not talk and not tweet during only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

Congress faces narrow spending increase as VA health care costs balloon
CQ Budget, Ep. 140

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 15: The U.S. flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol dome on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)