Diplomats testifying in impeachment inspire pride, worry
Positive reviews come with increased fears over safety and political retaliation

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council senior director, and David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Few other parts of the U.S. government under the Trump administration feel as undermined and besieged as the State Department.

The department’s funding has repeatedly come under attack in White House budget requests; the expertise of its diplomats and policy specialists has routinely been ignored in favor of the opinions of Trump loyalists with little foreign affairs experience.

Trump signs stopgap bill, fending off shutdown for now
Continuing resolution will fund government, avoid shutdown, through Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., was guardedly optimistic about working out differences over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump signed a monthlong spending bill Thursday, hours before government funding had been set to expire at midnight.

The continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 20, giving appropriators more time to hash out numerous divides over policy riders and programmatic spending levels. It’s the second time Congress has needed to pass a temporary spending bill since fiscal 2020 began Oct. 1.

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Fiona Hill forceful, direct in countering Republican defense of Trump
Former NSC aide fills in critical blanks after more than a week of impeachment hearings

Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and David Holmes, political counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before testifying during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Intelligence Committee's last witness of the week in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump connected the dots between current and former administration witnesses, pushed back against previous accounts and illuminated fault lines in American diplomacy. 

Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who worked on Trump’s National Security Council, delivered perhaps the most forceful testimony countering the Republican defense of Trump and his dealings in Ukraine.

Trump comes out swinging, but Fiona Hill fights back in dramatic impeachment finale
Kyiv embassy official says he had ‘never seen anything like’ Sondland cafe call with U.S. president

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia adviser, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came out swinging Thursday morning, but two witnesses who testified for hours in the impeachment inquiry pulled no punches as they overshadowed the president’s morning attacks.

Testimony by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia expert, and David Holmes, an official in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, further undercut several contentions pushed by Trump, GOP lawmakers and the president’s surrogates. Hill, for instance, dismissed a conspiracy theory rejected by American intelligence agencies but espoused by Trump and other Republicans that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Democrats seek quick subpoena ruling in Trump tax records case
Case puts Supreme Court in middle of fight over limits for investigations into a sitting president

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 10, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to quickly allow enforcement of a congressional subpoena for eight years of President Donald Trump’s financial and tax records from accounting firm Mazars USA.

In a court filing, Democrats argue that not only was a lower court ruling correct when it backed House power to get the records, but also that a president doesn’t have a right to stall the production of documents, particularly during an impeachment inquiry.

California Supreme Court blocks effort to get Trump's tax returns
Law would have required disclosure to get on 2020 primary ballot

California lawmakers had attempted to require President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to qualify for the state’s primary ballot. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The California Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a state law that would have forced President Donald Trump to release his tax returns from the last five years in order to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot. 

The California legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, passed the law in July. But justices for the state’s high court unanimously declared that the law violated a provision of California’s constitution that requires “an open presidential primary” where the contenders are “recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States.”

Census gets funding boost in stopgap bill
The money provides greater surety going into next year's count

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., ranking member of an Appropriations subcommittee, said census funding had bipartisan support. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

The stopgap funding measure Congress passed Thursday provides $7.3 billion for the Census Bureau, giving next year’s count the resources some lawmakers and advocates have sought for months.

The measure matches an earlier Senate version of the funding bill that would have given the agency $6.7 billion for census operations and exceeds the $5.3 billion requested by President Donald Trump’s administration. Democrats in Congress, skeptical of the administration, had pushed for more funding for the count, which will be used to help decide political representation and to divvy up about $1.5 trillion in federal spending annually.

Amid impeachment, groups press for limits on foreign influence
Liberal groups urge overhaul of foreign lobbying rules

Liberal groups are trying to bring their proposals into alignment with a plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As foreign influence takes center stage in House impeachment proceedings, lawmakers, candidates, and outside groups are tossing around proposals to curb, or shed new light on, efforts from abroad to sway U.S. policy and elections.

Liberal-leaning groups, including Public Citizen, are prodding House Democrats to sign on to forthcoming legislation that would overhaul foreign lobbying regulations. The Center for American Progress on Thursday will unveil a set of proposals calling for new limits on the political contributions of companies that have significant foreign ownership.

Teflon veep: Pence emerges largely unscathed as Sondland, Dems say he knew of quid pro quo
Trump’s No. 2 has left it to surrogates like Jim Jordan and Marc Short to swat away allegations

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Wednesday during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers and witnesses this week repeatedly brought up Vice President Mike Pence during public impeachment hearings, but President Donald Trump’s No. 2 has emerged mostly unscathed.

Wednesday was a rough one for Trump, with testimony from a top U.S. diplomat implicating him in a quid pro quo. But no House Democrat during the public sessions has suggested articles of impeachment against Pence.

Health care workers could deny abortions under this Trump administration rule
‘Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health’ has been held up in courts

Members of National Nurses United union wave signs during a “Medicare for All” rally in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health” is a controversial rule that may be held up in the courts right now but could be appealed by the Trump administration any day. The rule expands who is defined as a health care worker, and could lead to more patients being denied an abortion or other procedure if the worker believes it violates their own religious or moral beliefs.

Georgia Democrat dramatizes message on health care — by giving up her own
Nabilah Islam cancels her health insurance to help cover living expenses while she runs for Congress

Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., narrowly won his seat in 2018 but is not running again. One Democrat seeking the nomination to succeed him is going without health insurance to dramatize the burden working families face. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Georgia Democrat in one of the most competitive House districts in the country is canceling her health insurance, a risky move that she says is  financially necessary as she runs for Congress.

Nabilah Islam is one of a handful of Democrats running for the party’s nomination in the open 7th District. Islam is trying to save money, but she’s also making a political point — about who can afford to run for Congress and the necessity of fixing America’s health care system.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 21
Some Democrats want to subpoena Pompeo, Mulvaney and Bolton after Sondland testimony

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., listens as ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., holds a copy of the “Report on Russian Active Measures” during his opening statement in the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony on Wednesday, some Democrats feel the Intelligence Committee should subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, according to Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee.

Sondland testified that the three senior officials were aware of and signed off on the pressure campaign on Ukraine.

House calendar for 2020 includes presidential election year oddities
Parties’ annual policy retreats are also on the schedule

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer has released the 2020 calendar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Once House members conclude their work for 2019, they will not be expected back on Capitol Hill until the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 7.

That’s according to the new House calendar for 2020 officially unveiled Thursday morning by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.

House Democrats feeling the heat on ‘SALT’ cap rollback
Democrats still haven’t touched the cap on state and local tax deductions

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-Va., says Democrats “have to have a SALT vote.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s been almost a year since Democrats assumed control of the House, and they still haven’t touched the cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by the GOP Congress and President Donald Trump that disproportionately affect blue state districts.

That’s starting to become a problem for the dozen or so freshman Democrats who flipped GOP seats after campaigning in part on getting rid of that $10,000 “SALT” limit, which was included as an offset for the 2017 tax code overhaul.