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Sitting at ‘Desk 88’ with Sen. Sherrod Brown
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 104

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has a new book, “Desk 88” about the senators who have occupied his current workspace in the chamber. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat Sherrod Brown was first elected to the House in 1992 and just won a third Senate term in 2018. Perhaps aware of the history that surrounds him and his own place in it, he has a new book out, “Desk 88.”

That is where he sits in the Senate, and the book is a series of portraits of the senators who sat there before, a list that includes Hugo Black, Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern.

On impeachment, Pelosi prevailed over Judiciary panel to narrow focus
Articles filed represent latest example of how Nadler’s committee has been marginalized

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and, from left, committee leaders Jerrold Nadler, Maxine Waters and Eliot L. Engel listen as House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff speaks at a news conference Tuesday to announce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Judiciary Democrats spent roughly seven months investigating a litany of allegations that President Donald Trump abused his power, but the charges laid out in the articles of impeachment unveiled Tuesday don’t reflect any of that work.

The result is the latest sign that the panel with sole jurisdiction over drafting articles of impeachment has been marginalized as its probe became overshadowed by allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals, withholding a White House meeting and congressionally appropriated security assistance as leverage.

Democrats ‘got completely rolled’ in NDAA talks, critics say
Litany of progressive provisions fails to make conference committee report

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan is calling for a national conversation on repeated increases to defense spending. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The final defense authorization measure for the current fiscal year represents a victory for Republicans.

That’s the word from a large number of angry Democrats in Congress, their supporters and, more discreetly, from many Republicans.

Trump thumbs nose at impeachment, Dems by hosting Putin’s top diplomat
Russia expert on Oval meeting: ‘It could either enable or obstruct progress on Ukraine’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference to unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

As President Donald Trump live-tweeted his reaction to House Democrats’ impeachment articles, his spokeswoman vowed he would “continue to work on behalf of this country.” Hours later, that business included huddling privately with Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat in the Oval Office.

Trump essentially thumbed his nose at Democrats as they continued linking his July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine’s president to an alleged affinity for Russia’s as he hosted Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s minister of foreign affairs. If Lavrov steps foot in the Oval Office, it’s a safe bet there is a controversy nearby.

Pelosi and Pence eye voters with USMCA agreement
Democrats and Trump appear to see the agreement as a rallying issue as they head into 2020 elections

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal agreement on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed victory for House Democrats Tuesday, saying they had reshaped a trade agreement designed to replace the long vilified 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement that organized labor has blamed for manufacturing jobs lost to Mexico.

In a sign of the potential political importance of the agreement to a core constituency, Pelosi and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., repeatedly thanked Richard Trumka, president of the influential AFL-CIO, for prodding Democrats to get the best deal possible for enforcement of new ambitious labor laws in Mexico that include workers’ right to form unions to negotiate for better pay and work conditions.

Dropped from NDAA, 'forever chemicals' fight to linger into 2020
Getting the EPA to regulate the chemicals could emerge as an issue in next year's elections

Kildee spoke at a Fight Forever Chemicals Campaign kick off event on Capitol Hill on Nov. 19ember 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

House and Senate negotiators dropped from the final defense policy bill language to force the federal government to regulate so-called forever chemicals, pushing into 2020 a partisan debate over how to regulate the toxic legacy of products such as Teflon and fire-resistant clothing.

In a bipartisan summary released Monday night, lawmakers included a provision that would ban the Pentagon from using firefighting foam made with the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS,  after Oct. 1, 2024, except aboard military ships, and would immediately prohibit its use in training exercises at military bases. 

EPA IG: Top official illegally blocked interference probe
Administrator's chief of staff refused to provide information sought by the agency's Office of Inspector General. The agency said the action was within the law

The EPA contends the official's actions were within the law. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The EPA Administrator’s chief of staff illegally blocked an inspector general’s investigation into whether he interfered with a private citizen’s testimony before Congress, the agency’s internal watchdog said Tuesday.

In a response appended to the IG’s report, the agency disputed any wrongdoing by the staff chief, Ryan Jackson, contending that he reviewed the individual’s testimony in a manner “consistent” with past practices. An agency spokeswoman called the report “hyperbolic.”

Florida lawmakers seek assurance offshore drilling plan is dead
Scott and Rubio try to leverage Trump's nominee as deputy Interior secretary to extract a no-drilling commitment from administration

Scott and others in the Florida delegation are seeking assurances that the Trump Administration won’t revive a proposal to allow oil and gas drilling off their state’s coasts. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rick Scott plans to meet this week with Katharine MacGregor, who is nominated to become Interior deputy secretary, as his fellow Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has a hold on her nomination, all to seek assurances that the Trump administration won’t move to allow oil and gas drilling off their state’s coasts.

Although the Interior Department said it was suspending its offshore drilling plan after widespread outcry, including from a bipartisan coalition of Florida lawmakers, Scott and Rubio’s actions show the delegation is not leaving anything to chance.

NDAA provision targets Chinese rail cars and electric buses
Defense bill bars spending federal dollars on vehicles made by state-owned or controlled companies

While other transit systems have two years to implement the spending provision, Washington’s Metro system would have to abide by it immediately.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tucked in the conference report of the NDAA is a provision aimed at blocking Chinese companies from building rail cars or buses used in U.S. transit. 

The final version of the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act released Monday night would bar federal dollars from being used to purchase passenger rail cars or buses from state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, such as those from China.

Do points of order eat up all of a committee’s time?
There are rules in the House Judiciary Committee to ensure that both parties get their allotted time

Rep. Jamie Raskin reads a copy of “The Federalist Papers” during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

While there were a number of them in Monday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, points of order do not take up the opposing party’s time in House Judiciary committee proceedings, according to Communications Director Shadawn Reddick-Smith, and there are several rules in place to ensure that.