Patrick J Toomey

This is what a giant pile of impeachment candy looks like
If anyone is happy this week, it’s the National Confectioners Association

This is what an impeachment trial looks like. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If you’re wondering how the Senate impeachment trial is going, consider this historic photo.

A pallet of candy stands outside Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, shrink-wrapped. Notice the Hershey’s bars (milk chocolate with almonds). And the Rolos. And the stray Mike and Ikes (flavor: berry blast).

White House angers GOP senator with executive privilege claim on car tariff report
Other executive privilege claims could be key in impeachment trial

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is not pleased with the administration's claim of executive privilege ona statutorily required report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration is making a sweeping claim of executive privilege on a topic of interest to the Senate this week, and it has nothing to do with the impeachment trial.

And the White House is angering at least one Republican senator in the process.

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

Sources: Repealing health care taxes in play on spending deal
Tax talks appear to have picked up steam over the weekend

Sen. Charles E. Grassley tweeted over the weekend his concern that top Democrats might be cooking up a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would be "detrimental to farmers." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders were discussing a permanent repeal of three major health care taxes — on medical devices, health insurers and high-cost “Cadillac” insurance plans — as part of the final appropriations measures advancing this week, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The tentative development follows some skepticism about whether leaders would even be able to agree to attach an extension of expiring tax cuts and other tax policy changes to the package — and little expectation that the costly taxes would be repealed altogether.

Craft distillers, retailers wait anxiously for tax extenders
Stakeholders predict layoffs, hiring freezes if deal is not struck by end of year

Rep. Denver Riggleman says it would be “disastrous” for his wife’s Virginia distillery if a 2017 provision that cut excise taxes is not extended past its Dec. 31 expiration date. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman says a looming tax increase on small craft distillers will lead to layoffs at the distillery his family operates in Afton, Virginia, where they make a handful of spirits with colorful names like Strange Monkey Gin and Blackback Bourbon.

And Jeff Quint, a Swisher, Iowa, distillery owner who makes bourbon from corn grown on his family farm, says the demise of the small distillers’ break will force him to rethink new hires he’d been planning.

Impeachment on collision course with possible shutdown
Schumer already suggesting Trump may “want to shut down the government”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer says he’s worried President Donald Trump “may want to shut down the government again because of impeachment.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Congress could navigate a shutdown and a presidential impeachment inquiry if lawmakers and the Trump administration can’t reach an agreement on government funding during the next three weeks.

The two events haven’t overlapped before in the nation’s history. If that happens next month, however, roughly 2 million federal workers would get hit in their wallets as the holiday season begins, including staffers working on the impeachment proceedings.

Charleston mass murderer got his gun because of background check gaps, internal report shows
Four years later, Congress and White House have made little progress on gun legislation

Mourners enter Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015 after a mass shooting by Dylann Roof, a self-declared white supremacist, left nine people dead. (Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images file photo)

Dylann Roof got the pistol he used to kill nine people in a historic black church in South Carolina without a completed background check because of gaps in FBI databases, legal restrictions on how long the FBI can keep data on gun purchasers and other breakdowns in the system, according to an internal report obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Four years after the 2015 attack at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston — and several more high-profile mass shootings — a bipartisan group of senators is still trying to hammer out a deal with the White House on background check legislation. 

Gun laws may not be changing, but the gun debate certainly is
Fewer and fewer elected Democrats fret much anymore about taking on the NRA

Students march to the Capitol in April 2018, calling on Congress to act on gun violence prevention. Gun control groups have spent more than $1.2 million on federal lobbying so far this year, keeping them on pace to spend the most they ever have. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — That almost nothing has changed in federal gun policy since Newtown or Parkland or any mass shooting before or after belies the enormous transformation underway in the lobbying and political landscapes of the issue.

Gun safety groups now operate a lot more like their opponents: amassing a national network of grassroots activists that descend on Capitol Hill and show up in lawmakers’ districts; spending big on political campaigns; and retaining some of the biggest names on K Street, firms that also represent the likes of Amazon and Goldman Sachs.

AG Barr takes temperature of Senate GOP on gun background checks
But there's still confusion about what President Donald Trump will ultimately support

Attorney General William Barr spent a second day on Capitol Hill speaking with Congressional members about gun legislation. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney General William Barr continued to take the temperature of Republican senators on expanding background checks Wednesday after a working document started circulating publicly.

“As the president has made clear he’s interested in exploring meaningful solutions that will actually protect people, make people safer,” the attorney general said. “And I’m up here just kicking around some ideas, getting perspectives, so I can be in a better position to advise the president. The president has made no decision yet on these issues.”

Ted Cruz: A Trump deal with Democrats on gun control could lead conservatives to stay home in 2020
Depressed turnout ‘could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren,’ Texas Republican says

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning Republicans against deals with Democrats on guns that could depress conservative turnout in next year’s elections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning that President Donald Trump making a deal with Democrats on gun legislation might cause conservative voters to stay home in 2020.

“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights,” the Texas Republican said, “that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren.”