What To Expect From The Looming Senate Impeachment Trial

The impeachment of President Trump is about to enter a new, historic phase. Beginning next week, a president will be forced to defend himself at an impeachment trial for only the third time in U.S. history.

After Democrats initiated impeachment in the House, it’s now the Republicans’ turn in the Senate. Barring some extraordinary new evidence or developments, Trump is almost certain to be acquitted by the GOP-run upper chamber. But that doesn’t mean the trial won’t be filled with drama and potentially damaging consequences for one party or the other, or both. Continue reading “What To Expect From The Looming Senate Impeachment Trial”

Congress, The Big Tent Circus

The two “I” words completely dominated Capitol Hill this week – Iran and impeachment. And in typical congressional fashion, lawmakers have no clear path or consensus for dealing with either. So just when you thought the three-ring circus that is Congress couldn’t get any crazier, more confusing or more conflicting, it just did. If the first week of the new year is any indication of how the rest of 2020 will go in Washington, buckle up.

Let’s take Iran first. President Trump’s decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani via drone strike near Baghdad sparked intense debate in Congress. No tears were shed on Capitol Hill over the slaying of Iran’s top military commander, as Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. But many in Congress – mostly Democrats but also a handful of Republicans – are troubled by the president’s penchant for carrying out military actions without their OK, or even their consultation. Trump bypassed longstanding protocol when he launched the attack without first giving Congress a heads-up, adding to many lawmakers’ frustrations that the White House is usurping legislative branch authority. Continue reading “Congress, The Big Tent Circus”

The Do Little Congress

Despite the drama that unfolded this week in the U.S. House of Representatives, which for only the third time in U.S. history voted to impeach a president, the mood on Capitol Hill was largely anticlimactic. That’s because the votes on the chamber’s two impeachment articles went down as expected. About the only surprise was how few Democrats broke party rank and didn’t support impeachment. Only two Democrats voted against impeaching President Trump on the first article (abuse of power), while three voted no on the second charge (obstruction of Congress). Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who is running for president, voted “present” on each. Continue reading “The Do Little Congress”

Congress is a Strange Place These Days

If ever there was a single day that highlighted just how chaotic, conflicting and outright strange a place Congress is, it was Tuesday. At 9 am, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a historic press conference to declare that the Democratic-controlled chamber had prepared two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The commander in chief and his fellow Republicans howled, though they certainly weren’t surprised.

Then, just an hour later, Pelosi surprisingly stepped to the microphones again to announce that she and the Trump administration had reached a deal on a long-stalled free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Talk about a schizophrenic morning! Continue reading “Congress is a Strange Place These Days”

Congress Mulling Impeachment, Other Pressing Business

The House’s public impeachment hearings, as expected, have dominated Capitol Hill this week. Even the Senate is largely consumed by the inquiry, as the congressional press corps doggedly queries senators – particularly Republicans – about their thoughts on impeachment. And while Senate Republicans either dodged reporters’ questions or responded with boilerplate GOP talking points, they’re monitoring the proceedings with increasing anxiety. That’s because the prospects are increasing by the day that the House will vote to impeach President Trump, sending the whole show to the Senate. This is not a scenario Senate Republicans relish, as they don’t want to be stuck either having to defend a president many aren’t particularly enamored with or – worse – publicly rebuking him and risking Trump’s wrath (and the resulting potential voter backlash).

Still, as things now stand, a Senate trial would result in Trump’s acquittal. Very few, if any, of the chamber’s 53 Republicans would side with Democrats and vote to convict. And remember, conviction requires support of two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators. That’s a threshold that even many mundane measures don’t achieve in today’s hyper-partisan Congress. Continue reading “Congress Mulling Impeachment, Other Pressing Business”

The Impeachment Drama Begins

It’s been a strange, almost surreal week on Capitol Hill. Things started out slow – a holiday on Monday, then Tuesday was a “fly-in” day with an extremely light schedule. But all that changed Wednesday, when the first public impeachment hearing in two decades commenced (with more to follow over the next week or so). All signs point to the chamber voting to impeach President Trump sometime either just before or after Thanksgiving (probably before), which then would require a trial in the Senate.

It’s not a lock that the House will impeach. Why? Because there are about 30 moderate House Democrats from districts that Trump won in 2016. If all or most of them got cold feet and voted against impeachment, the vote could fail. Still, House Democrats seem unified. So, look for the House to impeach the president, sending the matter to the Senate. Continue reading “The Impeachment Drama Begins”

Tension Rises between Pelosi and the Far-Left “Squad”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hold on the fractured House Democratic Caucus is loosening, as the Californian’s burgeoning feud with a small group of far-left freshmen has spilled into public.

However, President Trump’s decision to target the four Democratic lawmakers—all minority women—with a series of offensive tweets over the weekend, has taken the heat off of Pelosi and handed her an opportunity to unify her caucus.

Continue reading “Tension Rises between Pelosi and the Far-Left “Squad””

Mexican Tariff Turmoil Roils Senate Republicans

President Trump’s proposed tariff on Mexican goods struck the Capitol like a thunderbolt this week, catching lawmakers off guard and forcing Republicans to choose between two things they loathe: pushing back against Trump or allowing him to implement what they consider bad policy. Most, at least in the Senate, are choosing the former.

“There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that’s for sure,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. Continue reading “Mexican Tariff Turmoil Roils Senate Republicans”

Disaster Aid Disaster

Congress’ inability to follow through on a routine task with overwhelming bipartisan support—providing aid to areas hit by natural disaster—bodes ill for making the tough fiscal choices that lie ahead.

A proposed disaster relief package for areas hard-hit by flooding, hurricanes and wildfires has been stalled for months, largely over a squabble about how much money—if any—should go to Puerto Rico. President Trump claims that Puerto Rican officials have mismanaged the federal dollars it already received for 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria and is reluctant to approve more. Democrats disagree and are demanding significant aid for the island. Continue reading “Disaster Aid Disaster”

States Blaze Trail for Marijuana Reform

Few industries operate in a stranger legal and political environment than marijuana. While 33 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized pot for recreational and/or medical use, the federal government still considers it an illicit, controlled substance. In short, pot is simultaneously legal and illegal in these states, depending on the governmental perspective.

The situation has partially handcuffed a nascent industry that otherwise is thriving and shows even greater potential. Legal cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to top $13 billion this year – $3 billion more than 2018. Look for sales to spike to almost $26 billion in 2025. Continue reading “States Blaze Trail for Marijuana Reform”