independents

Democrats seek to put teeth into ‘impoundment’ law
Going to court is only current option to force release of funds

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth wants to make it hurt if a president tries to block funding against lawmakers’ wishes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A fresh legal opinion challenging President Donald Trump’s hold on Ukraine military aid under a Nixon-era budget law may or may not move the needle with senators in the president’s impeachment trial.

But one thing is clear: Trump’s delay of $214 million in Pentagon funds is just the latest in a long line of findings by the Government Accountability Office going back decades that presidents of both parties have run afoul of the 1974 law. That statute was aimed at restricting “impoundments,” where the executive branch refuses to spend money appropriated by Congress.

Life in the ‘Hakuna Matata’ White House
Political Theater, Episode 108

What’s it like covering President Donald Trump? Let us count the ways.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There is a lot to learn from covering the White House for four years. For former CQ Roll Call White House correspondent John T. Bennett, that included realizing aides for President Donald Trump were looking into that “Hakuna Matata” thing; whether the president’s accessibility is a double-edged sword; and how to stay sane in a crazy environment.

Now as Bennett takes on a new assignment as bureau chief with The Independent of London, he shares some of the biggest lessons he got from life in the Executive Mansion in the latest Political Theater podcast.

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.

When it comes to Trump’s future, ‘the people’ would rather decide it themselves
Democrats have failed spectacularly to persuade half the country on the necessity of impeachment

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats should be concerned by polls that show more Americans support letting voters decide the president’s fate and not a one-sided impeachment process, Winston writes. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Abraham Lincoln closed the Gettysburg Address on a hopeful note, promising a “new birth of freedom” so that “government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Today, as the Democrats push their partisan impeachment forward in the Senate chamber, the sentiments expressed so eloquently by a beleaguered president in the midst of the Civil War are worth remembering. It’s worth remembering that a government of the people must, by definition, be formed by the people.

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.

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.

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.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 21
Senate blocks every one of Schumer’s amendments on rules proposal

House impeachment managers address the media in the Capitol on the Senate trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 53-47 along party lines to approve Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, after a long night of debate that stretched to nearly 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Senators almost entirely along party lines to block every motion Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer put forward Tuesday in an attempt to subpoena testimony from Cabinet officials, State Department and White House documents, and communications regarding Ukraine.

Gerrymandering potential sways state legislative targets
Both parties have 2022 on their minds

North Carolina is among the states seeing increased attention from both parties on legislative races ahead of redistricting based on the 2020 census. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

National political parties are targeting a handful of competitive state legislative chambers this year, where the majority parties can draw favorable district lines — with the potential for gerrymandering — after the 2020 census.

The state legislative campaign arms of both parties said wins in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin would help win congressional majorities for the next decade. Those six states send a total of 116 representatives to the U.S. House — more than a quarter of the entire voting body. Republicans outnumber Democrats in their combined delegations, 69-46, with one vacancy in Wisconsin.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 17
Dershowitz, Starr on Trump’s defense team

House impeachment managers, from left,  Reps. Adam B. Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren and Hakeem Jeffries walk to the Senate on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House impeachment managers are working through the weekend, reviewing trial materials and their legal brief.

The House brief, due Saturday at 5 p.m., has already been drafted by staff over the last month, but managers are continuing to refine it, according to a Democratic aide working on the impeachment trial.