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Democrats fight for Elijah Cummings’ legacy — and a seat in Congress
Support from black women will be key in next Tuesday’s special election primary

Maryland Democrat Maya Rockeymoore Cummings greets worshippers Sunday before a service at the Zion Baptist Church in Baltimore. She is running in a crowded Democratic primary to succeed her late husband, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, in the 7th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BALTIMORE — Two dozen Democrats are running for the nomination in Maryland’s 7th District, but no one looms larger over the race than the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, whose death last fall prompted the upcoming special election.

What Cummings wanted in a successor — and what people think he would have wanted — have become big factors in this contest, where the two best-known candidates are his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and his friend and predecessor, Kweisi Mfume, who left Congress in 1996 to lead the NAACP.

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.

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.

2020 census begins! Decennial headcount starts in Alaska
Effort starts in remote villages before residents disperse for seasonal work in spring

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham addresses state and Alaska Native leaders in Anchorage days before Tuesday’s first count of the 2020 census. (Mark Thiessen/AP)

By snowmobile and small plane, the 2020 census starts Tuesday in Alaska, facing the same language barriers and government trust issues that will make the count difficult on the U.S. mainland on top of actual physical obstacles like the rugged terrain where most of the state lies off the road system.

The geography of Toksook Bay, a fishing village on Alaska’s western coast that’s hosting the first count, shows the difficulty of counting the state’s residents. Many of the state’s villages, including Toksook Bay, can only be accessed by boat, plane or snowmobile. The effort starts in Alaska midwinter to count residents there before they disperse for seasonal work in the spring. 

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.

Ethics expert: GOP ‘crosses the line’ with House hallway ambushes
DCCC complaint says NRCC violated ban on using official resources for campaigns

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Having video trackers shadow candidates to get campaign dirt has become a common tactic, but the National Republican Congressional Committee  went too far if it directed aides to ambush Democrats in House office buildings, experts on congressional ethics said.

Though a GOP spokesman called it “frivolous,” the experts said there was merit to a complaint filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee against the chairman of the NRCC, Rep. Tom Emmer. It could lead to the Minnesota lawmaker facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

How Ed Henry covered impeachment the first time
Roll Call alum is starting a new role at Fox News just as impeachment articles hit the Senate. That brought back some memories

Heard on the Hill alum Ed Henry gets ready for a new role at Fox News. (Courtesy Fox News)

Ed Henry had an interview scheduled with Bill Clinton. It was a relatively sleepy week in Washington, the State of the Union was approaching, and the young reporter planned to ask the president about his relationship with Congress.

Things changed. News of the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, and what was supposed to be a routine sit-down turned into a 15-minute phone call brimming with executive denials: “not sexual,” “not improper,” “not true.”

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.”

Senate receives impeachment articles, takes first step toward trial
McConnell gets unanimous consent on measures expected to start trial Tuesday

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson lead the House Democrats who will manage President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial through Statuary Hall on Wednesday to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate laid the groundwork to begin a trial on whether to remove President Donald Trump after a procession of House Democrats delivered impeachment articles Wednesday evening. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for unanimous consent on a series of measures to set the trial in motion. 

Impeachment managers all represent safe Democratic seats
GOP faces steep challenge to oust prosecutors of Trump

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Wednesday news conference to announce the House impeachment managers: from left, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jerrold Nadler, Adam B. Schiff, Val B. Demings, Zoe Lofgren and Jason Crow. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call photo)

Updated Jan. 16 10:45 a.m. | Speaker Nancy Pelosi went with Democrats from politically safe districts to prosecute the impeachment case against President Donald Trump in the Senate.

All seven impeachment managers named Wednesday are in races that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Democratic. Many of their Republican challengers haven’t even raised any money yet. That could change given these Democrats’ new, high-profile role, but the fundamentals of their races would have to shift significantly to make a difference in the outcome.