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At the Races: Is Iowa over yet?

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

State of the Union: Democrats, Republicans brace for a hostile Trump
GOP lawmakers urge POTUS to move on from impeachment, but admit they do not know how he will approach speech

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is “expecting the worst” from President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s State of the Union address as the Senate impeachment vote looms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats and Republican lawmakers are bracing for a whole new level of partisan belligerence from President Donald Trump at the State of the Union on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the Senate is expected to vote to acquit him of both articles of impeachment he faces.

“I’m expecting the worst,” Sen. Chris Murphy told reporters Monday, saying that he would not be surprised if Trump made pointed remarks about the press, Democratic lawmakers, and the impeachment managers presenting the case against him over the last two-and-a-half weeks.

With Alexander a ‘no’ on witnesses, impeachment trial enters stretch run
Moderates’ queries hint at remaining hangups they have about the case

Maine Sen. Susan Collins arrives for the continuation of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senators used their second and final day of questioning in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump to tee up debate on whether to subpoena documents and witnesses that did not appear during the House’s inquiry. The late-night announcement that Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander will vote against additional witnesses Friday signals there likely won’t be enough votes to continue the trial much longer. 

After senators exhausted their cumulative 16-hour Q&A session with House managers and Trump’s lawyers, Alexander, who will retire at the end of this term, announced he would vote against hearing from new witnesses.

View from the gallery: Impeachment trial end in sight, senators fight common cold
Outside the chamber and in galleries, much talk of the “Senate plague”

Artists Art Lien, left, and William J. Hennessy Jr. sketch scenes from the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Capitol on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood up to send a question to President Donald Trump’s defense team around 6:45 p.m. Thursday, but first he suggested an upcoming 45-minute break for dinner.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., instead of his usual response of “without objection,” changed it to a phrase that resonated with the haggard senators and others in the chamber. “I’m sure there’s no objection,” Roberts said, causing a murmur of laughter to spread even to the page delivering the paper card with McConnell’s question to the rostrum.

EMILY’s List ‘hyper-focused’ on Senate elections in 2020
Abortion rights group’s leader urges voters who care about Supreme Court to get involved

EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said Thursday that Senate races are critically important in 2020. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

While the presidential race will dominate the 2020 cycle, EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock is imploring Democratic voters to recognize the importance of flipping the Senate, especially because of its role in confirming Supreme Court justices.

If President Trump wins reelection in 2020 and Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Schriock predicted a “massive fight” over the next Supreme Court vacancy.  A vacancy could further shift the ideological balance of the court, which has influence over issues including abortion, a core issue for EMILY’s List. 

View from the gallery: Senators suffer through sniffles and sleepiness at Trump trial
House managers wrap up their presentation before an increasingly restless Senate

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is surrounded by reporters Friday as he arrives for the Senate Republicans’ lunch before the start of the day’s impeachment trial proceedings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s fiercest defenders in the Senate, chuckled, bowed his head slightly and rubbed his left eyebrow.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein laughed and met the eyes of their knowing Democratic colleagues.

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.

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.

Senate sets first ground rules for impeachment trial
McConnell, Schumer announced restrictions to staff and visitors

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have detailed restrictions in Senate operations during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected, Thursday, 8:32 p.m. | Senators and their staffs will be subject to new access restrictions and decorum practices in and around the Senate chamber starting Thursday morning, thanks to the imminent impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Access to the Senate wing will be more limited than usual as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.