leadership

Interior nears a contract with a company its secretary used to lobby for
Conservation groups fear water deal will be a hazard for protected salmon and other aquatic life

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testifies in May 2019. The department he leads is close to completing a contract for a water district he represented as a lobbyist. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Interior Department is close to completing a permanent water supply contract for a water district once represented by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist, despite concerns that doing so would imperil aquatic species including endangered salmon. 

Conservation groups say the deal between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District, which serves and is run by farmers in California’s Central Valley, promises to permanently divert more federally managed water to the district just as climate change threatens to make the state hotter and more prone to extreme drought.

McCarthy temporarily puts Jordan on Intelligence Committee for impeachment hearings
Jordan will replace Rick Crawford, who will get his seat back impeachment proceedings conclude

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan will serve on the Intelligence Committee during public impeachment proceedings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Oversight ranking member Jim Jordan will serve on the Intelligence Committee during public impeachment proceedings, temporarily replacing fellow Republican Rick Crawford, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Friday.

Jordan has been the leading Republican in the closed-door impeachment inquiry depositions that have been conducted jointly by the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels. Under procedures the House approved Oct. 31, the Intelligence Committee will be the sole panel participating in the public hearings. (Later, the Judiciary Committee, which Jordan is already on, will conduct additional public proceedings for considering articles of impeachment.)

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 8
Mulvaney balks at investigators subpoena, committees drop Vindman and Hill transcripts

Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine shown here arriving at the Capitol for his Oct. 22 deposition, will be one of House Democrats’ first witnesses in public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As House Democrats pivot to the public phase of their impeachment inquiry, they have filled the first slate of open hearings next week with three highly regarded, longtime civil servants to make the case that President Donald Trump should be impeached.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent will testify Wednesday. Taylor’s predecessor in Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, will testify on Friday.

December stopgap funding seems likely path forward for long-delayed appropriations
Another three- to four-week extension is expected as lawmakers hash out differences

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., left, said he had a “positive discussion” with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the path forward for stalled spending bills. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional leaders and the White House agree they’ll need another three or four weeks to wrap up negotiations on 12 annual spending bills, and are likely to extend stopgap funding to Dec. 13 or Dec. 20, a decision that may finally propel the fiscal 2020 appropriations process forward.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said he had a “positive discussion” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland on Thursday. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer said in floor remarks that “we’re seeing some positive signs that we can get the process back on track.”

Kennedy defends calling Pelosi ‘dumb’ at Trump rally
“I didn’t mean it as disrespectful at all,” Kennedy said

Sen. John Kennedy said he ”didn’t mean it as disrespectful at all“ when he called Speaker Nancy Pelosi ”dumb” at a rally on Wednesday night. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Trump judicial pick blows off Democrats’ questions on Ukraine
An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but still advances

Steven J. Menashi during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on  September 11, 2019. He refused to answer questions on Ukraine, but his nomination was advanced to the Senate floor anyway.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to say whether he played a role in White House events now at the heart of the accelerating House impeachment probe — and Republicans haven’t let that halt his move through the confirmation process.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to advance the nomination of Steven Menashi, who works in the White House counsel’s office. President Donald Trump picked him for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit based in New York.

Despite Ukraine heat, Pompeo seen as front-runner if he seeks Kansas Senate seat
Transcripts show State Department veterans wanted him to stand up to White House pressure

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has faced criticism over how he dealt with White House pressure to fire the ambassador to Ukraine. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recently released transcripts in the House impeachment inquiry have led to criticism of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not stepping up to protect diplomats from White House political pressure over Ukraine.

Republicans in Washington and his native Kansas, however, told CQ Roll Call that nothing they have heard would lead them to back off efforts to recruit Pompeo to run for an open Senate seat in the Sunflower State. They say the former four-term congressman and CIA director would be the immediate front-runner in the race. 

Taylor testimony: 5 key points expected to make a comeback at public hearings
Transcript release provides roadmap for next phase of the impeachment inquiry

William Taylor, center, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will be the first witness for open impeachment hearings. Transcripts of his closed-door deposition were released Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The newly released transcripts of October testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, give a window into the next phase of the impeachment inquiry. Taylor will be the first witness to return to Capitol Hill and testify in an open hearing Nov. 13.

What Taylor has already said behind closed doors and what questions lawmakers are asking offer clues about what evidence Democrats and Republicans will bring forward to the public hearings.

Trump, GOP senators throw themselves a party to celebrate judicial overhaul
Mitch McConnell to POTUS: ‘Boy, you didn’t blow it. Neil Gorsuch is an all-star’

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, speak at the White House on Wednesday. They delivered remarks on federal judicial confirmations. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and Republican senators took a victory lap  Wednesday to celebrate their push to put nearly 150 of their picks on federal benches from coast to coast.

“It starts with Mitch — because you never gave me a call and said, ‘Maybe we can do it an easier way,’” Trump said during a lively ceremony in the White House’s ornate East Room.

Capitol Christmas tree almost ready to get lit!
60-foot blue spruce from New Mexico is scheduled to arrive at the Capitol on Nov. 25

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is displayed on the West Front of the Capitol last holiday season. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree is ready to make its 1,800-mile journey to Capitol Hill, following a rigorous “Bachelor”-like selection process, complete with its own cutting ceremony.

This year’s tree, a 60-foot tall, 21-foot wide blue spruce, comes from northern New Mexico’s Carson National Forest and will soon sit on the Capitol’s West Lawn. This is the third time the state has provided a tree.