Arkansas

View from the gallery: Senators sit, spin and fidget during Trump trial
They found more ways to pass time during second day of opening presentations

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol before the start of Thursday’ impeachment trial session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bill Cassidy charted a course along the back corner of the Senate chamber Thursday during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The Louisiana Republican walked through an area usually reserved for staff seating, hands in pockets, retracing a short path over and over again for more than 15 minutes.

When Georgia Republican David Perdue took to standing along his path, Cassidy squeezed by and just kept pacing.

View from the gallery: Senators seek comfort and novelty during Trump trial
Senators decamp to cloakrooms, bring blankets, and sip on milk and water

Republican Sens. James M. Inhofe and Lamar Alexander enter the Senate chamber before the start of the impeachment trial in the Senate on Jan. 22. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton was among the first senators spotted ordering milk to the Senate chamber for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday, and he took small sips to wash down what looked like a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

This was the second day of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators began to search in earnest for comfort and novelty during eight hours of opening statements from House managers.

Impeachment an ‘erosion of rule of law,’ claim state attorneys general

Five state attorneys general and Rep. Mark Meadows addressed the press Wednesday, urging the Senate to acquit President Donald Trump. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call)

Five state attorneys general addressed the media Wednesday, flanked by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., to issue a “friend of the Senate brief,” asking the Senate to reject the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Abortion policy activism heats up for Roe v. Wade anniversary
Groups gear up for ‘pivotal year’ with emphasis on states

Both sides of the abortion rights debate are doubling down on grassroots efforts to energize voters who share their beliefs about abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups pushing for the advancement of abortion rights and those looking to limit the procedure have an ambitious agenda starting this week, foreshadowing a year that could be critical for advocates on both sides of the debate.

In two months, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since 2016, and both sides are revving up for a major presidential election. States are also eyeing a number of new reproductive health bills as their legislatures come back into session.

View from the gallery: Senators struggle to sit in silence at Trump trial
Senators-turned-jurors sneak in snacks, lunge for phones during rare breaks to weigh in on arguments

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, arrive at the Capitol on Tuesday for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham looked restless during the first hour of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, when none of the senators had access to their cellphones and the president’s lawyers and the House managers traded procedural arguments.

It was an unusual first day of buttoned-down decorum for the exclusive club of 100 senators-turned-jurors, who were made to stay in their floor seats, not eat, not talk and not tweet during only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

More votes to terminate Trump's border emergency in the works
Lawmakers can vote again starting Feb. 15, 2020 to terminate the emergency declaration

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

Top Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, said Wednesday that they intended to force another vote on termination of the national emergency that President Donald Trump has used to boost border wall spending.

"Bipartisan majorities in Congress have repeatedly rejected diverting money from critical military construction projects to build a single additional mile of border wall. Robbing the Defense Department of these much-needed funds in order to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build is an insult to the sacrifices made by our service members," Schumer said in a joint statement with Appropriations ranking member Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Armed Services ranking member Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Trump’s threat to bomb Iran ‘cultural’ sites is personal for Iraq War vets in Congress
Gallego urges Trump to uphold U.S. ideals and not stoop to the level of its enemies

Demonstrators and members of the military gather under a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday to mourn and condemn the death of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. (AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and President Donald Trump’s subsequent threat to bomb Iran’s “cultural” sites if it retaliates touched personal nerves for many members of Congress who are veterans of the Iraq War.

Soleimani headed Iran’s elite Quds Force, which is responsible for killing roughly 600 U.S. soldiers during the Iraq War mainly through unconventional tactics such as roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices, the State Department reported last year.

House retirements already outpace average for past election cycles
Decisions by 27 lawmakers compares with average of 23 per election cycle, and more could be coming

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is the latest member of the House to announce his retirement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The number of House members deciding to retire has already exceeded the average for recent election cycles, and more could be coming as lawmakers return to the nation’s capital after the holidays.

Since 1976, an average of 23 House members have retired each two-year election cycle, according to CQ Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales, the publisher of Inside Elections. In 2019 alone, however, 27 House members announced they will retire, opting not to run for reelection nor for another office (these figures do not include lawmakers who have resigned or died while in office). 

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Senate holds off on vote avoiding shutdown, keeps stopgap funding vehicle
Sen. David Perdue announced the Senate would instead vote at 11:30 a.m. Thursday to send the stopgap bill directly to the president’s desk

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., exits the Senate subway in May. Lankford and other senators are working to pass a continuing resolution, averting a Thursday shutdown and giving the House and Senate more time to come up with compromise versions of fiscal 2020 spending bills to the president’s desk next month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate no longer plans to change the legislative vehicle for a monthlong stopgap spending bill, following hours of back-and-forth discussions Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hoped to change the legislative vehicle and approve the temporary funding bill by the end of the day.