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Campus Notebook: President nominates pick for Architect of the Capitol

The Cannon House Office Building renovation will be a tough issue to grapple with for Blanton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated J. Brett Blanton to be the next Architect of the Capitol for a 10-year stint.

If confirmed by the Senate, Blanton would provide stability to the helm of an agency that has been led by a succession of acting directors. Christine Merdon, an acting director, announced her resignation in August and was replaced by Thomas Carroll, who worked in the same capacity. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for maintaining the facilities on the Capitol complex as well as renovations.

Duncan Hunter and the case of rabbit flights, NFL Red Zone, HBO and more
Office of Congressional Ethics details soon-to-be-former member’s use of campaign money

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., left, spent campaign money on a wide range of personal endeavors. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

An Office of Congressional Ethics report released Monday shows in detail how Duncan Hunter’s campaign committee spent money on a range of personal expenses, including flights for a pet bunny rabbit, NFL Red Zone, Jack in the Box, Starbucks and family trips to Italy and Hawaii.

The OCE report was released by the House Ethics Committee, a panel that will lose its jurisdiction over Hunter when the California Republican resigns after the holidays. Hunter, who represents the 50th Congressional District of California, pleaded guilty last week to campaign finance fraud and subsequently announced his impending resignation.

Sen. Klobuchar dropped ‘bright-colored’ underwear out of her carry-on. Someone had to tell her
The Democrat told the story, and a lot more, in a sit-down with Cosmo Magazine

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the latest 2020 candidate to sit down with Cosmo Magazine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a sit-down interview with Cosmopolitan Magazine, 2020 White House hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar revealed the last thing she lost — it had nothing to do with a presidential race.

The Minnesota senator recalled boarding an airplane to Milwaukee, when “all of a sudden, this guy behind me goes, ‘Hey, hey, hey, senator, Amy? … You dropped something there in the aisle and you might want to pick it up.’” The culprit? A “bright-colored pair of underwear,” the 2020 White House hopeful told editor-in-chief Jessica Pels.

Lawmakers appear eager to reach year-end spending deal
CQ Budget podcast, Ep. 136

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: Storm clouds pass over the dome of the U.S. Capitol building on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats hurtle toward Trump impeachment
Judiciary panel could draft articles this week, possibly lining up a full House vote before Christmas

A poster depicts California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as “missing” on Monday at the House Judiciary Committee. Schiff’s absence was one of the themes pressed by Republicans during the lengthy hearing on the impeachment of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are moving swiftly toward the impeachment of President Donald Trump, and lawmakers tasked with drafting articles of impeachment Monday made what could be their final pitch to the American people.

The House Judiciary hearing was the first since Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California called last week on relevant committee heads to “proceed with articles of impeachment.” And the lengthy proceeding, which featured often testy exchanges between members and staff, appeared to be one of the last items on the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry to-do list.

Wall funding talks ‘tenuous’ as appropriators report progress
Negotiations moving to a trade-off that could allow each side to walk away with a win

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior appropriators on Monday were narrowing gaps on border wall funding that have held up a deal for months, according to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a key negotiator.

But the West Virginia Republican, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said after meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other senior Republicans that there wasn’t yet agreement. 

North Carolina ratings changes offer a taste of redistricting to come
After seats held by Holding and Walker lean more Democratic, one retires with the other deciding

North Carolina GOP Rep. George Holding announced his retirement after the makeup of his district changed dramatically. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ten years is long enough to forget the chaos of covering campaigns during redistricting. But North Carolina, bless its heart, was kind enough to offer us an early taste of the upcoming craziness of a redistricting cycle.

First, new congressional lines can put new pressure on members.

DOJ watchdog finds problems, not politics in Trump campaign probe
Report does not back president’s most sweeping criticisms of FBI investigation

Michael Horowitz, inspector general of the Justice Department, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The FBI had enough evidence to launch a criminal probe into members of President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election, and political bias did not motivate that decision, a Justice Department watchdog concluded.

But DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz also identified “significant concerns” with how the FBI handled aspects of the investigation, particularly how it handled applications to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to a secret court that oversees such requests.

Rapinoe doubtful on Capitol Hill visit, won't seek office (for now)
The USWNT captain says U.S. Soccer wants the women to visit the White House, too

(Photo illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Those hoping to find the world-conquering U.S. women’s soccer team roaming the halls of Congress may be disappointed. Despite an invitation from congressional leaders, it appears the U.S. Soccer federation doesn’t want to arrange a team trip without the team going to the White House as well.

Megan Rapinoe. the team captain, said she would like to “visit Congress with her team, but she doesn’t think U.S. Soccer is willing to organize a trip that skips the White House, with the World Cup coming to the U.S. in 2026,” according to an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine. The 2026 World Cup has nothing to do with the visit, according to U.S. Soccer.

Bill Huizenga: Our beer is better than your beer
Michigan Republican touts Grand Rapids brew over Asheville, N.C.

Is Rep. Bill Huizenga, right, talking about beer, Harry Potter or campaign finance with Capitol Hill personality Rick Hohensee? Perhaps we'll find out more as the ethics investigation into the congressman unfolds. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Bill Huizenga’s interview with the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding an investigation into whether he complied with campaign finance rules yielded some other interesting insights about his diet at Harry Potter World and whom he trash-talks with about beer.

During his July 10 interview, the Michigan Republican was asked by OCE what happens when a member of Congress is invited as a special guest to support a colleague’s fundraiser and who benefits from the funds donated.