Congress

Former Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to just over two years in federal prison
New York Republican pleaded guilty in October to insider trading charges

Former New York Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison for insider trading. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison Friday for insider trading crimes he committed, ending a legal process that evolved from the New York Republican calling the charges “meritless” shortly after he was indicted to him pleading guilty and proclaiming embarrassment for his actions.

Collins, who represented the Buffalo-area 27th District for seven years and was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, pleaded guilty on Oct. 1 to participating in a scheme to commit insider trading and lying to the FBI to conceal his illegal activity. He resigned from Congress the day before his guilty plea.

USDA official to resign, leaving civil rights post vacant
Lawmakers say her managerial style caused discord and discouraged employees from filing complaints

Department of Agriculture sign in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 4:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 | The effort to fill the top Agriculture Department civil rights post got a setback this week with the resignation of Naomi C. Earp, the nominee for the position who has been serving as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights.

Earp, chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush, has been under fire from Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations.

Campus Notebook: Sen. Bob Menendez spent over $5 million in legal fees associated with corruption scandal
Capitol Police arrested someone for assault with a broomstick

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has depleted and terminated his legal expense trust. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Millions in legal expenses for Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption scandal

The New Jersey Democrat spent $5.16 million on his defense, according to his legal expense fund filing with the Senate Office of Public Records. The trust was formed in 2014 at the beginning of Menendez’s legal woes. It allows people to make contributions to Menendez so he can fight his legal battles associated with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics inquiries and allegations of federal law violations associated with his role as a senator.

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.

Impeachment isn’t the only obstacle to legislative wins for Congress in 2020
‘Investigate and legislate’ playbook may not work for Democrats again

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony on Wednesday. Democrats have said they can “investigate and legislate,” but that could be harder to pull off this year. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump. On Dec. 19, the House approved a major rewrite of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Those two events, just 24 hours apart, marked the culmination of a strategy Democrats have sought to execute since the day they took control of the House last year: investigate and legislate.

“Our view is we are here to make things better for our constituents and stand up for the constitutional oaths that we took,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, a freshman Democrat from New Jersey who ousted a Republican in 2018. “Those things are not in conflict with one another. And by the way, that’s always been true. When Nixon was being impeached, Congress passed a major infrastructure bill. When Clinton was being impeached, the Congress passed major legislation.”

Do chatty senators really face jail time during impeachment?

Former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood was arrested in 1988 after barricading himself inside his office, locking one door and blocking another with a chair in an attempt to prevent a quorum so that Republicans could stall debate on campaign finance legislation. The sergeant-at-arms escorted Packwood to the Senate chamber, and he was physically carried onto the floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite a dramatic daily warning, if senators fail to stay silent during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, it’s unlikely that they’ll end up arrested. And no, there is not a Senate jail.

At the beginning of each trial day, Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger will declare, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.”

House Democrats push through measure to nullify Trump student loan rule
Democrats get only 6 GOP votes as effort moves to Senate

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., is the sponsor of the Democratic measure to overturn the Trump administration's revamp of the Obama-era student borrower debt forgiveness rule. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Thursday passed mostly along party lines a measure that would overturn a Trump administration rule rolling back protections for student loan borrowers, but the margin was well short of being veto-proof.

The joint resolution passed 231-180 with six Republicans joining 225 Democrats in favor. It now heads to the Republican-led Senate but must wait until after the presidential impeachment trial.

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 passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

Chief Justice leaves his friendly confines for Trump impeachment trial
Will anyone in the Senate know his favorite dessert?

President Donald Trump greets Chief Justice John Roberts after addressing a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber in February 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Charles E. Grassley was one of the first senators to suggest Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. might be uncomfortable presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — in part because it will be televised.

The Iowa Republican, who will swear in Roberts for his role Thursday, has long been an advocate for adding cameras to the Supreme Court. But Roberts and the other justices haven’t budged. They still conduct oral arguments and announce opinions in a courtroom without cameras or cell phones.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 16
Collins said she may be leaning toward calling at least some witnesses for trial

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., lead the group of House impeachment managers to the Senate side of the Capitol on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats led by Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer reiterated they want to hear the testimony of four witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“We expect we will have votes on these witnesses on Tuesday,” Schumer said Thursday.

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

Super PACs after 10 years: Often maligned but heavily used
Democrats may slam Citizens United, but they benefit from the PACs the decision unleashed

A man demonstrates against super PACs in front of the Supreme Court in January 2012 to mark the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, which contributed to the rise of super PACs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The reelection campaign of Rep. Angie Craig, a first-term Minnesota Democrat, kicked off 2020 with an email plea to supporters: “We’ve got to overturn Citizens United.”

Noting the 10 years since the pivotal Jan. 21, 2010, Supreme Court decision, which helped spur along super PACs, the Craig campaign urged people to show their allegiance to the cause by providing their email addresses. Later, would-be donors were asked to chip in money for her campaign, even just $15.  

An agonizing dispute among terror victims
Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund splitting payouts under questionable rationale

Kenneth Feinberg, former administrator of the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, said he does not understand the rationale for paying out 9/11 victims from the fund. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four decades ago, William Daugherty, a former CIA operative, was held hostage in Iran for 444 days. His wait for the financial compensation policymakers had promised him will now be a lot longer than that.

A fund created in 2015 for the Iran hostages and other victims of state-sponsored terrorism has become a new source of cash for relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks waged by al-Qaida terrorists on New York and Washington. President Donald Trump in November signed into law a measure that divided the fund in half, splitting the revenue between two competing groups: victims of state-sponsored terrorism like Daugherty and the 9/11 families.