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House members considering ending ban on earmarks
Lawmakers have cautiously expressed growing interest in allowing special projects inserted into spending bills

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., briefly considered allowing earmarks last year, until announcing in March that they would not be allowed in fiscal 2020 spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House appropriators are considering lifting a nearly 10-year ban on congressionally directed spending, known as earmarks.

While no decisions have been made, a House Democratic aide said lawmakers are in the “early stages” of considering allowing earmarks in spending bills for the coming fiscal year. “There is considerable interest in allowing members of Congress to direct funding for important projects in their communities,” the source said.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 27
Republican senators say they want to hear from Bolton after bombshell report

House impeachment managers Reps. Jerrold Nadler, foreground, and Hakeem Jeffries conduct a news conference Saturday in the Capitol after the Senate adjourned for the day the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 1:43 p.m.

At least two Republican senators indicated Monday that they and others are inclined to call for the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton after reports that he says in his upcoming book that Trump told him to withhold aide to Ukraine in return for launching an investigation into political rivals.

Rainy days ahead: States boost reserves, anticipating slowdown
An expanding economy led to expanded budgets. Now, with slowdown looming, rainy-day funds get more attention

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signs the state's fiscal 2020 budget in his ceremonial office in the State House. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As the longest economic expansion in American history continued last year, state governments increased salaries for teachers and other public employees, authorized new construction projects and — recognizing good times won’t last forever — added to reserve funds.

Cash reserves could become more important this year, as experts project the economy to slow down in 2020. Though a full-scale recession seems less likely than it did at points last year, a slower rate of growth still appears likely. Fitch Ratings, a credit ratings agency, projects a 1.7 percent expansion in 2020, which would be the lowest level since 2011.

View from the gallery: Hardly enough time to fidget
Rare Senate weekend session only lasts two hours

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives at the Capitol on Saturday for the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a Saturday, but nearly all the senators were in their workday suits and ties. The Kentucky delegation was one exception, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wearing khakis and blazers.

This was the fifth straight day in the Senate chamber of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators appeared for just two hours during a brief and rare weekend session when President Donald Trump’s team started its opening presentation.

Impeachment trial’s Saturday session is a short one
In first day of Trump defense team presentation, an eye on the clock

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, and lawyer Jordan Sekulow arrive at the Capitol on Saturday before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s lawyers briefly laid out his defense Saturday at the Senate impeachment trial, focusing their attacks on what they called a lack of evidence, the actions of lead House manager Adam B. Schiff and a flawed House investigation.

Trump’s legal team did not make arguments about former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden. Trump and some Republican senators have focused on that issue for the president’s defense that his Ukraine dealings were meant to uncover corruption, not ask the country’s president to influence the 2020 presidential elections in exchange for releasing military aid.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 25
Trump’s defense takes center stage

House impeachment managers Adam B. Schiff, right, Jerrold Nadler, left, and aides are seen in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday walking evidence to the Senate floor before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

File updated 12:12 p.m.

The Senate convened for a rare Saturday session as a court of impeachment today, and it was President Donald Trump’s legal team’s turn to begin laying out its case.

View from the gallery: Senators suffer through sniffles and sleepiness at Trump trial
House managers wrap up their presentation before an increasingly restless Senate

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is surrounded by reporters Friday as he arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s fiercest defenders in the Senate, chuckled, bowed his head slightly and rubbed his left eyebrow.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein laughed and met the eyes of their knowing Democratic colleagues.

House managers focus on Trump’s ‘defiance’ in closing of impeachment presentation
Trump’s defense team will make the president’s case Saturday

House impeachment managers Zoe Lofgren and Adam B. Schiff, center, walk through the Ohio Clock Corridor on Friday on their way to a news conference before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment managers on Friday concluded their third and final day of arguments to remove President Donald Trump from office by focusing on the House investigation and appealing to authority and emotion.

Lead manager Adam B. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, forcefully laid out the House’s case in his closing statement, arguing that Trump would “remain a threat to the Constitution” if he were allowed to remain in office. 

Comic Maz Jobrani is seriously funny about politics
Political Theater, Episode 109

Comedian and actor Maz Jobrani has thoughts about Washington, performance in the Trump era and hanging out in the fake West Wing. (Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images)

What a time to be heckled by Trump supporters when you’re an Iranian American comedian!

Ph.D. dropout and comic Maz Jobrani takes Heard on the Hill’s Kathryn Lyons “back to school” to talk Trump hecklers, his least favorite 2020 candidate and what it’s like to be in the fake West Wing in the latest Political Theater podcast

Schiff’s emotional closing appeals set expectations for his Friday finale
Former prosecutor tries to appeal to GOP senators’ sense of right and wrong

House impeachment managers Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., left, and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., are wrapping up their arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s prosecutorial tone changed considerably at the end of the first two days of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, a preview that his presentation finale Friday night will feature loftier rhetoric about showing courage and doing what’s right, even when it risks a career.

“Every night we say, ‘Adam save it for the end,’ and every night he outdoes the night before,” Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said.