Kansas

View from the gallery: Senators sit, spin and fidget during Trump trial
They found more ways to pass time during second day of opening presentations

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Thursday’ impeachment trial session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bill Cassidy charted a course along the back corner of the Senate chamber Thursday during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Louisiana Republican walked through an area usually reserved for staff seating, hands in pockets, retracing a short path over and over again for more than 15 minutes.

When Georgia Republican David Perdue took to standing along his path, Cassidy squeezed by and just kept pacing.

Green card gridlock: When will Congress agree on a solution?
The waiting lists for residency status grow ... and grow.

Hundreds of thousands of people may find themselves waiting for decades in green card limbo. (CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, immigration reform stalwart Richard J. Durbin’s announcement on the Senate floor about a rare bipartisan breakthrough flew largely under the radar, overshadowed in the chaotic flurry of impeachment. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had dueled two months earlier over unanimous consent requests on the Senate floor, and had since been deadlocked.

Each had pushed for his own solution to an important but often overlooked symptom of the broken U.S. immigration system: the employment-based green card backlog. Because of it, hundreds of thousands of people — overwhelmingly from India — wait in limbo, sometimes for decades.

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.

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.

Senators bend the rules by wearing Apple Watches to Trump trial
The ‘smart’ accessory could give senators a link to the outside world during impeachment arguments

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, left, dons his Apple Watch as he talks to Texas Sen. John Cornyn before a Nov. 6 Judiciary Committee hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Correction 7:03 p.m. | The rules of decorum state that senators can’t use phones or electronic devices in the chamber during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but what about Apple Watches?

At least seven senators had them strapped on their wrists in the chamber at the start of the trial Tuesday, despite guidelines from Senate leadership that all electronics should be left in the cloakroom in the provided storage.

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.

Watch: Chief Justice Roberts swears in senators, starts impeachment trial
Full swearing in ceremony for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump

Senators raise their hands as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath of the Senate court of impeachment Thursday. (Screenshot/Senate Recording Studio)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. officially began the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history Thursday. Shortly after arriving at the Capitol, Senate President Pro Tempore Charles E. Grassley swore in the justice on the Senate rostrum.

Roberts then administered the oath to lawmakers. Alphabetically and in groups of four, the senators’ names were read by the clerk and the senators approached the Republican desk — normally used by Republican floor staff — to sign the impeachment oath book.

Lack of official guidance on impeachment press restrictions causes confusion

Capitol Police are enforcing new press restrictions in the Capitol although there is a lack of clarity about just what they are. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The absence of any written guidance regarding media restrictions and  conflicting information from Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms staff have created an atmosphere of frustration and arbitrary enforcement as Senate action on impeachment began Thursday. 

Some senators heading to their final legislative vote before impeachment proceedings began were armed with a notecard printed with a script of phrases to use to fend off members of the media, including “please move out of my way,” “please excuse me, I am trying to get to the Senate floor,” and “please excuse me, I need to get to a hearing/meeting.”

Democrats try to expand House battlefield by targeting six more districts
With legislation stalled, campaign memo recommends blaming GOP and McConnell

The DCCC has once again added Alaska Rep. Don Young, the longest-serving House Republican, to its target list. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding six new targets to its 2020 battlefield, hoping to flip more Republican-held seats while protecting its House majority.

Having made historic gains in the 2018 midterms, Democrats started the year on defense. Republicans need a net gain of 18 seats to retake the House, and their first targets will be the 30 districts President Donald Trump won in 2016 that are currently represented by Democrats.

Chris Allen, Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died
Allen handled pensions and tax-exempt organizations issues under Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley

Chris Allen, right, with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in an undated photo. (Courtesy Sen. Pat Roberts)

Chris Allen, a Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died, according to his former boss, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“Chris was beloved by everyone who had the privilege of meeting him,” Roberts said in a statement. “He had a brilliant mind, a generosity of spirit and a passion for serving the country in the United States Senate. His gentle soul made him an amazing husband, father, son, brother and friend.”