North Dakota

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.

Executive privilege standoff could roil Trump impeachment trial timeline
‘Do we recess then, or what do we do?’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the Senate should not ‘pack our bags and go home.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A legal fight over executive privilege in the middle of the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could put it into suspended animation.

If senators ultimately decide to subpoena Trump administration documents or seek witness testimony, House Democratic managers might have to decide whether to now wage court battles that were avoided during the House phase of the impeachment process.

Do Republicans hate or respect Adam Schiff? Maybe it’s both
Some GOP senators have complimented Schiff for his impeachment trial presentation

California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, center, the lead House impeachment manager, has drawn unexpected praise from some Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

To President Donald Trump and his House Republican allies, Rep. Adam B. Schiff is public enemy No. 1. But as the lead House impeachment manager makes his case against Trump in the Senate, the California Democrat has drawn some surprising compliments from a few GOP senators.

That’s not to say that Trump will stop attacking the man he calls “Shifty Schiff,” or that other Republicans won’t use Schiff as the scapegoat for everything they think is wrong with the House Democrats’ impeachment charges.

Schiff, Nadler impeachment tension spills out during trial
The committee chairmen’s stylistic and rhetorical differences on display

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a press conference with the other House impeachment managers before the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump resumes at the Capitol on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The first question at Wednesday’s news conference with House impeachment managers was directed at Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat whose Senate presentation helped prompt a rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and a flood of criticism from Republican senators.

Nadler appeared to take a half step toward the podium as Rep. Adam B. Schiff cut off the CNN reporter. “I’m going to respond to the questions,” the California Democrat and lead impeachment manager said, then turned to call on another reporter for a question on a different topic. Nadler was silent.

Courtroom experience a commodity as Trump impeachment trial begins
Senators with significant time in front of a judge are sought-after in the run-up to historic trial

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says senators who’ve tried cases can get their points across with questions that are the “pithiest” and “shortest.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has boosted the profile of senators who have specific experience in their background: spending time in front of a judge.

Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who tried cases and pressed appeals as a civil rights lawyer before he entered politics, said Wednesday that Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has started a dialogue with him and other Democratic senators who have courtroom experience ahead of the impeachment trial.

Photos of the week
The week of Dec. 16 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters as she passes the Merry Christmas, Happy New Year sign in the basement of the Capitol while leaving the House Democrats’ caucus meeting on Tuesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Photos of the day: House readies for historic impeachment vote against Trump
Dec. 18 as captured by CQ Roll Call's photojournalism staff

The public lines up in the Capitol Visitor Center to watch the House vote on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:16 p.m. | On a crisp, cold Dec. 18 in Washington, the House is preparing for a historic vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. 

CQ Roll Call’s photojournalists are capturing the events of the day on and around Capitol Hill. Check back for updates. 

Targeting China, senators want Olympics to move up human rights timeline
10 senators have written to IOC President Thomas Bach

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is leading an effort to pressure the IOC to speed up implementation of human rights standards . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Looking toward China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics, senators from both parties want the International Olympic Committee to speed up the timeline for requirements designed to protect human rights in host countries.

In the letter signed by 10 senators led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, the lawmakers express concern about China’s track record to IOC President Thomas Bach.

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.